Six Nations A-Teams Championship.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 10:22 am

Back in the old days there was a second tier international tournament, between the illustrious under 20s championship and the real thing.

The a-teams ere made of players not in the national squad. The need for a second tier six nations has been lost in recent years as an unnecessary expense by many, or impossible to get release from the clubs, but on a weekend where we have no international rugby to watch, part of me wishes I could watch an A-team championship instead.

We are all consistently reminded that the strength of our international sides are based on the strength and depth of our squads and further our top tier club rugby.

So how do we fair?

Can you name a 23 of players from your country that are neither currently injured or in the current six nations or under 20s six nations squads?

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Post by LondonTiger on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 11:46 am

Concentrating on guys with minimum caps and excluding those in recent 6Ns squads senior and U20:

Hepburn, Singleton, Schoenart, Ewels, Isiekwe, Armand, Clifford, Morgan, Spencer, Simmonds, Thorley, Lozowski, Marchant, Earle, James

Dunn, Catt, Hill, Stools, Mercer, Randall, Francis, James.

Now this could be improved if we were looking at the best players available, included guys in the extended 6Ns squad who are not featuring on game day, plus all those I have forgotten.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:16 pm

Traditionally these teams were a mix of old heads and youthful potential.

1. Rhys Gill
2. Ryan Elias
3. Leon Brown
4. Rory Thornton
5. Seb Davis
6. Ollie Cracknell
7. Ollie Griffiths
8. Josh Macleod
9. Keiran Hardy
10. Jarrod Evans
11. Keelan Giles
12. Jack Roberts
13. Harri Millard
14. Owen Lane
15. Dan Evans

16. Richard Hibbard
17. Rhys Carre
18. Joe Jones
19. Josh Turnbull
20. Will Boyd
21. Rhodri Davies
22. Gavin Henson
23. Jordan Williams

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:40 pm

For Scotland, I reckon most fit players have been in and around the squad TBH. Still, based on players yet to appear in a matchday squad, and who are fit:

1. Alex Allan
2. George Turner
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Richie Gray
5. Tim Swinson
6. Magnus Bradbury
7. Luke Hamilton (is he fit?)
8. Adam Ashe
9. Henry Pyrgos
10. James Lang
11. Byron McGuigan
12. Alex Dunbar
13. Nick Grigg
14. D'arcy Graham
15. Ruaidh Jackson

16. Grant Stewart
17. Gordon Reid
18. Murray MacCallum
19. Scott Cummings
20. Luke Crosbie
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. Duncan Weir
23. Dougie Fife/Rory Hughes

Rather pushing the limits of what should be acceptable TBH: Turner, Fagerson, Bradbury have only returned from injury this week-end, and the latter two could well go straight into the squad for the France game. Equally Graham and Grigg could be involved (pretty likely for Graham).

It's actually not the worst team in the world, though the bench is mostly a case of last man standing.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:41 pm

After watching the Edinburgh backline last night you might have a good chance of winning this

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:45 pm

Actually on current form you'd have Chris Dean ahead of Alex Dunbar at 12, Dunbar has really struggled this season. James Johnstone had a good game last night, but Grigg is a better player IMO.

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Post by robbo277 on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 7:09 pm

LondonTiger wrote:Concentrating on guys with minimum caps and excluding those in recent 6Ns squads senior and U20:

Hepburn, Singleton, Schoenart, Ewels, Isiekwe, Armand, Clifford, Morgan, Spencer, Simmonds, Thorley, Lozowski, Marchant, Earle, James

Dunn, Catt, Hill, Stools, Mercer, Randall, Francis, James.

Now this could be improved if we were looking at the best players available, included guys in the extended 6Ns squad who are not featuring on game day, plus all those I have forgotten.

If we did it with players outside the first 35 only, then I agree you're pretty much there. Clifford (and potentially others) may not have made it to furnish the A team - we possibly would have seen a smaller squad.

We could also have any of: Cipriani, Roko, Sam Hill, Mallinder, Beaumont, Ben Curry, Solomona, Earl or Spencer (who have all had Eddie's eye at some point).

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Post by RiscaGame on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 9:44 pm

maestegmafia wrote:Traditionally these teams were a mix of old heads and youthful potential.

1. Rhys Gill
2. Ryan Elias
3. Leon Brown
4. Rory Thornton
5. Seb Davis
6. Ollie Cracknell
7. Ollie Griffiths
8. Josh Macleod
9. Keiran Hardy
10. Jarrod Evans
11. Keelan Giles
12. Jack Roberts
13. Harri Millard
14. Owen Lane
15. Dan Evans

16. Richard Hibbard
17. Rhys Carre
18. Joe Jones
19. Josh Turnbull
20. Will Boyd
21. Rhodri Davies
22. Gavin Henson
23. Jordan Williams

If you’re doing players outside of the Welsh squad, then you couldn’t have Elias (probably would be Dacey), Leon Brown, Seb Davies and Josh Turnbull.

If you had to name Dragons at 21 and 22, it would be Rhodri Williams at SH and Tyler Morgan over Henson probably. Other Dragons’ players worth consideration would be Jarvis, maybe Bevington, Keddie, Basham and possibly Rosser. I wouldn’t have Jordan Williams anywhere near an international squad of any description either.

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Post by 123456789. on Sun 17 Feb 2019, 12:44 am

With Toonie as head coach you have to go pretty far down the pecking order to be sure it's not players who are going to be playing at the weekend.
I'd imagine it'd be something like this:

1. Reid
2. Kerr
3. Welsh
4. Davidson
5. McKenzie
6. Crosbie
7. Fusaro
8. Beattie
9. Steele
10. Lang
11. Graham
12. Dean
13. Johnstone
14. Jones
15. Jackson

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sun 17 Feb 2019, 6:12 am

123456789. wrote:With Toonie as head coach you have to go pretty far down the pecking order to be sure it's not players who are going to be playing at the weekend.
I'd imagine it'd be something like this:

1. Reid
2. Kerr
3. Welsh
4. Davidson
5. McKenzie
6. Crosbie
7. Fusaro
8. Beattie
9. Steele
10. Lang
11. Graham
12. Dean
13. Johnstone
14. Jones
15. Jackson

Reckon you can allow for the likes of MacCallum, Cummings, Swinson, Pyrgos/SHC in there. Sure, Toonie could go full tombola and bring them in (and Swinson is probably only one injury away from a call-up), but I would think it very unlikely. I would have thought Graham is closer to a call-up TBH, and Jones (presuming you mean Lee) is currently injured. Wingers would have to be from the likes of Hughes, Fife, McGuigan.

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Post by 123456789. on Sun 17 Feb 2019, 7:50 pm

Mad for Chelsea wrote:
123456789. wrote:With Toonie as head coach you have to go pretty far down the pecking order to be sure it's not players who are going to be playing at the weekend.
I'd imagine it'd be something like this:

1. Reid
2. Kerr
3. Welsh
4. Davidson
5. McKenzie
6. Crosbie
7. Fusaro
8. Beattie
9. Steele
10. Lang
11. Graham
12. Dean
13. Johnstone
14. Jones
15. Jackson

Reckon you can allow for the likes of MacCallum, Cummings, Swinson, Pyrgos/SHC in there. Sure, Toonie could go full tombola and bring them in (and Swinson is probably only one injury away from a call-up), but I would think it very unlikely. I would have thought Graham is closer to a call-up TBH, and Jones (presuming you mean Lee) is currently injured. Wingers would have to be from the likes of Hughes, Fife, McGuigan.

Completely forgot about some of them if I'm honest, SHC especially.

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Post by tigertattie on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 10:52 am

It's madness. Madness I tell you.

Every Union says it needs to work on its strength and depth but we've binned the A teams???

It's easy, the A team travel with and stay with the full cap team and mirror the matches. You trying to tell me that if you played Scotland A vs Wales A at say Scotstoun on the Friday night you'd not manage to get a decent crowd? In this day and age of the red button surely the BBC could cover the thing too? Imagine an A game o nthe Friday night and therefore you'd not need to watch the soaps???????

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 12:09 pm

Not sure for Scotland an A team would work during the 6n.  We've lost so many players to injury, the full squad is already operating with a "who's fit" policy.  Then we have a number of players involved in Pro14 games.  If there were 'A' games on top of that, we'd really struggle to get anyone to play.  Especially as Edinburgh and Glasgow may be specifically resting someone, only for them to disappear off to play 80 mins against the French A team (for example).

Sure some nations can accommodate this, but with the current league fixtures and full internationals (along with u20s) adding in another fixture would stretch our already depleted resources too far. If there were no Pro14 fixtures during the 6n (which is an entirely sensible argument) then yeah maybe an 'A' league would be fine, but not with the current setup.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 12:27 pm

It only worked when clubs didn’t arrange fixtures during internationals

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 12:30 pm

EWT Spoons wrote:Not sure for Scotland an A team would work during the 6n.  We've lost so many players to injury, the full squad is already operating with a "who's fit" policy.  Then we have a number of players involved in Pro14 games.  If there were 'A' games on top of that, we'd really struggle to get anyone to play.  Especially as Edinburgh and Glasgow may be specifically resting someone, only for them to disappear off to play 80 mins against the French A team (for example).

Sure some nations can accommodate this, but with the current league fixtures and full internationals (along with u20s) adding in another fixture would stretch our already depleted resources too far.  If there were no Pro14 fixtures during the 6n (which is an entirely sensible argument) then yeah maybe an 'A' league would be fine, but not with the current setup.

Agreed with this. It could only work if you scrap Pro14 games during the 6Ns*. At least for Scotland and Italy (did they ever have an A team). It's a shame as on paper I rather like tattie's idea. Friday evening Scotland A against Ireland A at Scotstoun? Sounds like a smashing idea.

*Not a debate for here, and arguments can be made on either side as to whether there should be Pro14 games during the 6Ns.

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Post by BamBam on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 12:46 pm

I'd be all for it as an England fan too, but can't imagine it would ever get off the ground

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Post by lostinwales on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 2:26 pm

It was a great stepping stone up into the 1st team, and it is sad it has gone, but times change.

Would be great to see more use of A teams in the summer though

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 2:53 pm

tigertattie wrote:It's madness. Madness I tell you.

Every Union says it needs to work on its strength and depth but we've binned the A teams???

It's easy, the A team travel with and stay with the full cap team and mirror the matches. You trying to tell me that if you played Scotland A vs Wales A at say Scotstoun on the Friday night you'd not manage to get a decent crowd? In this day and age of the red button surely the BBC could cover the thing too? Imagine an A game o nthe Friday night and therefore you'd not need to watch the soaps???????

Heaven!

Mirror games is what they do with the Under-20s tournament (and the women's as it happens). I guess they feel there's less value with each additional fixture.

I guess the issues with A teams therefore are the marginal revenue won't be that high, and all the guys you are playing will already be getting 30 games a season, so do they need the extra matches bunged on top?

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Post by tigertattie on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 3:22 pm

My argument would be for all regular league games to be played out with the international window.

English teams can largely cope with some internationalists being away, but the whole thing is skewed and doesn’t give a level playing field for all teams. This is especially relevant when teams such as the two SA clubs, don’t have many (or any) players away on international duty.

Look at the Pro 14. Edinburgh are needing league points but they have half (yes that’s right, half) their team away on international duty. They come up against a Kings team completely unaffected by the international window and therefore the Kings have an advantage to win the game. Then in 2 months’ time, Scarlets are playing the Kings but the Scarlets now have all their internationalists playing so are not handicapped like Edinburgh were.

Playing league games during the international window punishes teams that produce international players! It’s silly.

How you fix the silliness though is another question
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Post by The Great Aukster on Tue 19 Feb 2019, 1:25 pm

robbo277 wrote:
tigertattie wrote:It's madness. Madness I tell you.

Every Union says it needs to work on its strength and depth but we've binned the A teams???

It's easy, the A team travel with and stay with the full cap team and mirror the matches. You trying to tell me that if you played Scotland A vs Wales A at say Scotstoun on the Friday night you'd not manage to get a decent crowd? In this day and age of the red button surely the BBC could cover the thing too? Imagine an A game o nthe Friday night and therefore you'd not need to watch the soaps???????

Heaven!

Mirror games is what they do with the Under-20s tournament (and the women's as it happens). I guess they feel there's less value with each additional fixture.

I guess the issues with A teams therefore are the marginal revenue won't be that high, and all the guys you are playing will already be getting 30 games a season, so do they need the extra matches bunged on top?

Agree Robbo, having an 'A' fixture is unworkable. The Scotland U20 game v Ireland in the heart of the borders at Netherdale attracted so little interest it wasn't even televised. At least the u20s are building towards the JWC but an A tournament isn't going anywhere, unwatched, unloved and risking injuries to already stretched club and cover resources is an impossible sell.

Strength in depth is only created by exposing players at the highest level to the intensity they will encounter if called upon. That isn't developed by mismatching scratch teams in front of a few hundred spectators.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Tue 19 Feb 2019, 1:31 pm

tigertattie wrote:My argument would be for all regular league games to be played out with the international window.

English teams can largely cope with some internationalists being away, but the whole thing is skewed and doesn’t give a level playing field for all teams. This is especially relevant when teams such as the two SA clubs, don’t have many (or any) players away on international duty.

Look at the Pro 14. Edinburgh are needing league points but they have half (yes that’s right, half) their team away on international duty. They come up against a Kings team completely unaffected by the international window and therefore the Kings have an advantage to win the game. Then in 2 months’ time, Scarlets are playing the Kings but the Scarlets now have all their internationalists playing so are not handicapped like Edinburgh were.

Playing league games during the international window punishes teams that produce international players! It’s silly.

How you fix the silliness though is another question

Would you rather Edinburgh players were getting Test experience or not selected? The best teams are the hardest hit by call-ups and arguably that makes them even stronger over the season as they have better depth.

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