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Opinion on Gregor Townsend.

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Post by Highland Shaun Sun 14 Mar 2021, 11:39 pm

have seen a couple of Tweets and posts on Facebook questioning whether Gregor Townsend is the right man to lead Scotland so I thought I'd try and gauge opinion on here :-P.

1) Are you still backing Gregor Townsend and if so why?
2) If the answer to question 1 is no then, why and who would you replace him with?

I am new to Rugby as I think I have said on this forum before so I can't really comment on his selection but what I can say is, I personally DO still back him and will do up until after the next world cup (review his position then, not before) as I admire the way he wants us to play and tbh, his record isn't as bad as so called fans make out.

I do, however, sometimes question some of his decisions after squad or match day announcements but I really don't think that is a valid excuse to call for his sacking

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Post by RDW Mon 15 Mar 2021, 1:38 am

We're a long way off getting rid of Townsend IMO. His period in charge started with a bang then fell apart spectacularly during the WC. What is most important is he actually learned from his mistakes and drastically changed our approach, which has made us far, far more competitive.

The main point for me however is a dose of realism in where Scotland are as a rugby nation, as depressing as it sounds. In the 6N era we've been consistently ranked 8-10th in the world. In terms of playing number in Scotland we're significantly at a disadvantage compared to every other 6N team. We're doing incredibly well to compete, never mind be disappointed that we're not challenging to win the competition, and it is against the odds for us to finish anywhere but 5th each year.

The thing is we know we have good players who on their day could pretty much beat every team, as we've shown having beaten every team in recent years. The problem is consistency and also depth - we've lost our top 2 hookers and struggled at 10 this tournament, and we just don't have the depth to fill in with equivalent quality. Losing Fagerson was a huge blow with Nel close to collecting his pension and Berghan nothing more the capable at this level.

I think we'll look back on this tournament as a real chance missed to go on a bit of a roll and see where we could actually get to. The Wales game was a hammer blow, and by the time the France game was cancelled we lost all momentum gained by beating England. Of course even if we had beaten Wales we may still have lost to Ireland and France.

So I think Toonie needs to see it through to the next WC and see how we do. Remember, the odds are for us to finish 5th in the 6N each year up until then and also not leave our group in the WC! That doesn't mean we can't achieve more however and I really hope we do.

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Post by Highland Shaun Mon 15 Mar 2021, 2:56 am

Well said RDW Smile

I just shake my head every time I see a post on Facebook or Twitter calling for sackings because I just don't get what these people want or even who they think can do better.

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Post by George Carlin Mon 15 Mar 2021, 4:38 am

Good questions, Shaun.

I think we all know that any future Scotland coach is going to be the coach of a good professional franchise who wants to step up to test rugby, who wants a squad with some talent but who also doesn't want the usual sort of pressure for instant success. These people do exist, however, and we should always bear in mind that just because they don't do interviews with the Glasgow Herald every month doesn't mean that they aren't there.

Take Dan McKellar at the Brumbies or Leon MacDonald at the Blues, for example. Both guys in their early to mid 40s who have had a lot of success at province level and would presumably love to step up. Both have clearly made a huge difference to their squads and are inspirational leaders. Not many people had heard of Dave Rennie in the Northern Hemisphere but he had a huge reputation (before coming to Glasgow, obviously  Very Happy ) and is now coaching Australia.

Toonie should be given until the next RWC, at which point he can say that he's had a fair shake. The most important point has already been made though - with our greatly reduced player numbers in comparison to the top 10 in the world game (and emerging nations like Japan), by what yardstick are we judging any Scotland coach? What are reasonable expectations? We would probably have a hard time agreeing on that.
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Post by NeilyBroon Mon 15 Mar 2021, 5:57 am

I think most of us are agreed that he deserves a chance now. Post WC was when we should have got rid of him if we were going to, that ship has sailed. He's improved, credit to him, and has hired backroom staff who made a big difference.

It still doesn't change my feelings on the whole cotter debacle but it is what it is. I think we would have stayed on a more consistent trajectory with him at the helm.

As for the measuring stick of success, well it's not like we've not won the 5Ns before, I therefore don't think it's unreasonable to still have that as a goal. Part of the reason why we do lose these tight games is the Scottish inferiority complex (in my opinion), where we think we're much worse than we are or settle for mediocrity. Our depth is probably as good as Wales is at the moment, and they've won it multiple times over the last decades, the difference being their players just know how to win, you get the impression when they play that losing isn't an option.
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Post by bsando Mon 15 Mar 2021, 7:58 am

He's doing a good job if you ask me. Last 6N was all about staying in the competition and patching up the poor defence. That resulted in the best defence in the 6N. However, the attack suffered. The attack has clearly been married up with a slight drop in defence this 6N but Scotland look a more well rounded team. The Scotland side at the start of the RWC got swiped aside by Ireland. Yesterday they were level with 4 mins to go and they matched Ireland physically.

Every team makes mistakes and Ireland made a lot yesterday too. However, Scotland need to find a way to reduce their ill discipline. It's not just this tournament but the autumn and further back. Some players are much better than others at staying onside with the ref, Watson for instance always rolls out and makes it clear to the ref he's making an effort (what a game he had yesterday by the way!). That is one area I think Townsend could be coaching better. Cotter made a big difference to Scotland's discipline as head coach and that would be at the top of my list of improvements heading towards the final two matches.

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Post by Highland Shaun Thu 18 Mar 2021, 12:04 am

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/sport/rugby/2051176/the-breakdown-steve-scott-scotlands-inconsistency-under-gregor-townsend-puts-his-job-in-jeopardy-whatever-his-record/

Very good points made in this column but I still don't agree with the headline saying that GT's job is "in jeopardy" no matter what his record is.

He got a contract extension until next world cup so its, only fair that he is given up until then, possibly even longer

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Post by profitius Thu 18 Mar 2021, 9:56 am

I'd take him for Ireland at the drop of a hat. Look at Scotland attack vs Ireland attack.
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Post by whatahitson Thu 18 Mar 2021, 4:24 pm

Townsend picking Hogg at 10 is why he'll never be a top head coach IMO. He's a backs coach at heart and one who's primarily interested in the 10 position.

He has many good qualities and has been a key part in Scotland's improvement but I think when he reverts to type, or acts on instinct, it is to try to treat rugby like it's 7s.

Fair enough, if you're French then a tactical gameplan of 'go out there, try to run the opposition around, and rely on skill and instinct' will work most of the time because they're the best players in Europe. Wales have a few players who can do it as well which is why they go from awful to grand slam champions.

But Scotland don't have the players to do that. They have a world class player in Hogg and a mercurial yet flawed talent in Russell yet the rest of the team is quite clearly the 5th best in Europe and has been for some time. And that's ignoring the elephant in the room with Scotland which is where their players are actually coming from.

If you want to play any sport in a way where basic skills, talent, and instincts to play high risk/high reward tactics are the deciding factor then you need to make sure you're either fundamentally better than most teams, or you have a top to bottom system where you can outplay opposition teams due to different strengths while mitigating your weaknesses.

That's the Scottish plan but it's not really working because even with all the imports there's still a talent gap to the four teams above them. They probably have better backs than Ireland do at the moment but do they have a better half back pairing? On the evidence of the weekend, absolutely not, and Sexton is 36. Their forwards were also dominated by the Irish, which is not surprising as the Irish pack is very good, which means suddenly there's far less of the actual game in which to win/dominate. Namely, Townsend is left looking to Russell and Hogg, and while the latter is (for me) now one of the best players in the world who regularly drags Scotland back in to competitive positions, Russell flatters to deceive time and time again. His talent is clear, his effectiveness at international level is dubious.

The final difficult for Townsend is to address the normality of losing that has sunk in to Scottish rugby over the last 20 years. Each nation has their own kind of pathology - which French team will turn up, Ireland at world cups - and Scotland's is the 'plucky loser' tag where they don't seem to know how to win games.

The 3 point scoreline flattered Scotland at the weekend, and even when they drew back level with barely 5 minutes to go, it never felt like Ireland wouldn't retake the lead. Basically, Scotland had as good as 'lost' the game by 60 minutes, at which point Hogg's genius creates a try for Huw Jones and then they're back in the game once Ireland take their foot off the gas. The moment they're level again, it takes less than 2 minutes for Ireland to regain the lead.

I think there's a British mentality of being uncomfortable with competition and confidence in yourself anyway (it applies to England and Wales as well) but Townsend really needs to shake the 'happy with losing' mentality as quickly as possible if he wants Scotland to become a team that improves on the lot they've had since 2000, which is the 5th team of 6 in Europe.

I thought that losing to Japan and performing so abjectly against Ireland in the world cup was enough to get rid of him and hire a foreign coach like Dave Rennie or Scott Robertson. He clearly has many positives and has Scotland playing exciting rugby but it's not winning rugby and I don't see how it will ever be winning rugby unless the team becomes a team full of fringe Super Rugby players, particularly in the forwards.

If his job isn't under threat considering the actual results since 2017 then that means the SRU isn't serious about being driven by results, which in turn means you're allowing the losing mentality to fester. Mindset is a hard thing to create, you cannot just think your way in a different mentality however much you try to kid yourself. I think one of the big problems for Scotland is they talk a good game just as they're on the up and look like turning the corner and it then goes horribly wrong in the next few games. A few weeks ago they were talking about a Grand Slam having never won the six nations, now they're 5th in the table. The thing about sport and results is it's black and white, it's win or lose, there's no way of manipulating data to try to cover poor management. You win or you lose and the best coaches, Gatland, Schmidt, and Jones, all brought that up north. At the moment there's a lot of praise heaped on Galthie with France but for all their improvement they are not winning tournaments when they clearly have the opportunity to do so. Scotland and Townsend have a similar problem but at a lower level: how to win games back to back, how to compete against the other 4 European teams, and fundamentally it comes down how to win games of rugby.

I enjoy watching Scotland move the ball when they do it well but they don't know how to win rugby matches. I would have thought Townsend as backs coach under some hardnosed, high standards pragmatist like Cotter would have been ideal to revolutionise Scottish rugby in the way it required. Cockerill had a huge impact by bringing that hard edge to Edinburgh and Glasgow's Fijians played a massive role in bringing through the likes of Russell and Price over the last 5-6 years. There's a balance between those two elements of rugby, flair and hardness, and Scotland have consistently lacked the latter under Townsend and as far as I can tell, he doesn't care or consider this a problem despite the fact they keep losing.

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Thu 18 Mar 2021, 7:08 pm

Should never have got the job when he did, should’ve been sacked after the World Cup fiasco. But I wouldn’t get rid of him at the moment. I’m thoroughly unconvinced he has what it takes, or that he’s truly learnt from his mistakes. But there simply isn’t a backlog of highly talented coaches looking to step into his shoes, and having been given his latest extension it makes sense for him to see it through.

I’m glad that we no longer seem to be hearing about how he’s such an innovator of a coach, as that simply wasn’t backed up by facts. I just hope he can show that he can take this team from the odd big victory into one that can consistently grind out results even when things aren’t going well. That’s the major hurdle we have to overcome to be able to truly challenge sides like Wales and Ireland on a consistent basis.

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Post by tigertattie Fri 19 Mar 2021, 9:54 am

Toonie should not have gotten the job when he did. The SRU should have left Cotter in place and gave Cotter the World Cup. After than he could have moved on from natural progression and Toonie could have come in after he'd had a wee shot at coaching Fiji or Italy/Georgia or the like.

We are where we are now though and Toonie needs to stay in place to see how things go.

It will depend on if bridges get burned or not but I can see Tonnie moving on after the next world cup and he'll go off to coach a French team or a few other national sides and then I can see him coming back to Scotland 10/12 yeas after he leaves the first time round. Hopefully by then he'll be a more experianced an better coach.
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Post by TJ Sat 20 Mar 2021, 6:52 am

Toonie is a Poopie coach. a Poopie selector and has wasted the best years of the best team we have had for a generation

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Post by LordDowlais Sat 20 Mar 2021, 7:22 am

At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I am goin to give my two penneth on this as an outsider.

Scotland would be stark raving mad to get rid of Townsend. Who is better, and most importantly who is available ?

Now if Shaun Edwards and Warren Gatland were looking for work, and they would be interested, then sack him. But there is nobody with proven credentials to take over.

The thing is, in my opinion, you can only work with the tools you are given. Unfortunately, and this is where I might upset a few of our Scottish friends on here, Scotland do not have as many good players as you think you have.

We see this when the Lions come around and there is murders when there is only the odd Scottish player picked.

Townsend does a real good job with the players he has at his disposal. If you could have kept the same side throughout the tournament that beat England, I would wager you would have beaten Wales and Ireland. But as soon as your better players got injured, Scotland were knackered. But to still be so competitive in the games against Wales and Ireland is testament to Townsend's coaching.

I debated this with a Scottish member on here only a few weeks ago, Scotland need ALL their players to be at 100% all the time, because there is not enough quality in the squad to carry people. You cannot have players only hitting 75/80%. Two players in the Scottish squad are always playing at around the 100% mark, they are Hamish Watson and Hogg. Two players are not enough to carry a team.

I have seen it far too many times, even in this 6N, against Wales Finn Russel was immense, against Ireland he was back to that 75% player, as were Johnny Grey and Jamie Ritche, and this happens time and again. Even when players like Hogg and Watson are not hitting their high standards, they are still very good. But for the others to be very good, they need to play at 100% all the time.

I will compare this to a team I watch a lot, Wales. Jonathan Davies has not been very good in my eyes this year, yet because other players around him are, he is covered. Gareth Davies and Biggar have been out of sorts when you reflect on past performances, yet even at their lowest they are still decent. But we still have players around them like Navidi, Faletau, Tipuric, AWJ, Cory Hill, Wyn Jones, LRZ, Adams, who all set high standards and make up for players who are "off form" for a better term. Scotland do not have enough of those types of players, sorry.

Please be aware, before I am lambasted out of town, this is only my opinion, and I am not stating it as a matter of fact, so please, play nice. Hug

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sat 20 Mar 2021, 7:50 am

That narrative does ignore what happened in the game between the 2 teams ld. It would have been interesting to see what happened if both teams had remained at 15. Or if jonny Williams had been red carded.

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Post by LordDowlais Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:01 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:That narrative does ignore what happened in the game between the 2 teams ld. It would have been interesting to see what happened if both teams had remained at 15. Or if jonny Williams had been red carded.

Why are you talking supposition ?

If Zander Fergason was a better player, he would have not got correctly, red carded. Also why would Jonny Williams be red carded ?

Anyway, you are derailing this topic, and I suggest you bring it back to talking about Gregor Townsend, not if and butts.

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Post by RDW Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:28 am

I think he's referring to Liam Williams' forearm to James Lang's face, not Jonny Williams.

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Post by tigertattie Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:30 am

I’m with LD (it pains me to say it)

On the 793rd “lions squad” thread I’ve said that the only players we have who are likely lions are Hogg and Hamish.

Ritchie could have been a shout but he’s just coming back from injury and would need two great games to come into contention. Even if he has a great game vs France but we lose as a team he could struggle as you simply don’t stand out as a loser.

Finn Russell when firing is the best 10 in the world but he’s not consistent enough. That could be because the Scottish pack often go missing and he doesn’t get the platform but he’s still prone to mental fragility like his trip earlier in the tournament. He is though working on this but he’s not a kid anymore.

Jonny gray is another who we hype but he’s just not the best 2nd rower out there. He doesn’t stamp his authority like a Martin Johnson or Paul O’Connell. He’s utterly passive, never knocking folk back in attack or defence.

If you asked everyone to pick a lions XV but not choose anyone from their own nation you’d still struggle to see Scottish players being picked when home nation bias is taken out of it.

Our sprinkling of star players isn’t enough to win a 6ns with. We are lacking:
A world class hooker
A brute of a second row
A number 8
A consistent all rounder of a 9
A ball playing or hard carrying 12

Without fixing that spine, magical players like Hogg, Hamish and even Finn don’t stand a chance.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:35 am

RDW wrote:I think he's referring to Liam Williams' forearm to James Lang's face, not Jonny Williams.

No jonny Williams. The tackle where he went off concussed.

The ifs and bits are needed LD f you're talking about judging players and teams ld. If x beats y its doesn't mean x's players are better, or even the team is.

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Post by NeilyBroon Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:40 am

Chill guys. The whole ZF thing is done and there's owt more to be said, Wales deserved their win, Scotland should have won.

LD I think unless you follow Scotland very closely it's hard to comment on the quality of the players. I get how from the outside it looks like we're just a plucky bunch who, bless our hearts, try our best but that's simply not the case.

I agree with the above sentiments regarding cotter. He brought our game into the pro era. He had our players fighting to win regularly. Something Toonie has struggled with his entire tenure with the same group of players (mostly). Cotter wasn't perfect but I think he understood the way Scotland should play better than Toonie. Pragmatism and basic skills were key with VC. Flair and everything else came as a result of that.

I felt early on that Toonie was a good recruiter but bad coach.  I think this point was proven by the loss of McFarland, we saw Scotland pretty much instantly collapse, suggesting most of the good work was done by him not GT. same goes with the positive impact Tandy has had. When you look at our backs, they're great at counter when it requires individual skill, but when it's structured attack they lose it, the area Toonie is responsible for. Gone are the days when we'd try to offload like under VC and Jason OHalloran. It all hinges on having a functional fly half in Toonies plan. In VCs it was a whole team effort.

I don't think Wales have more high quality players than us. They just have a team that when it comes to the fight can really gel together and tough it out. With that comes marginal victories. With that comes confidence. You can hardly say, looking at the Welsh regions, that all the players are superb and superior to their Scottish counterparts. They just work very well at international level. Wales' national team are effectively like a very successful club. They've had huge amounts of gametime together. Scotland were beginning to look similar under cotter until Toonie and the SRU pulled the rug out.

You're right about the situation. We can't really change coach but you're wrong about the players (in my opinion).
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Post by whatahitson Sat 20 Mar 2021, 9:59 am

The quality of Scotland's players shouldn't be the metric for judging Townsend as a coach. No team of players can play at 100% week to week. Scotland are what they are but that doesn't mean a better coach couldn't do better, or an inferior coach do worse, with the same players.

Townsend has been a major part of laying a foundation for Scottish rugby for the next 10-15 years, trying to maximise basic skills and running rugby while the SRU invested in modernising their professional game. This should help in the long run and ideally produce more international quality players so the SRU doesn't have to go looking to the four corners of the earth for qualified and/or potential residency players but it's not much good in the short term if you keep losing games. Results like the England game seem like the exception not the rule for Scotland when a better coach might take that sort of win and build a platform to compete for the rest of the tournament. Scotland were incredibly fortunate with at least two of their tries against Wales so the red card feels like an excuse for a game that looked 50:50 to me as a neutral, and the last thing Scottish rugby needs is more excuses. I do think the Joubert decision hangs over the team/rugby nation like a curse as there's nothing to fall back on for Scotland, no sense of 'we can be a top team' based on recent experience, because they came so close yet so far and in 2015 really did have a legitimate excuse for feeling hard done by. They're clearly not happy being 'nearly men' after the game but everything I see on the field in the 80 minutes suggests that they are happy with exactly that. Only Hogg and perhaps Watson and a few others consistently look like they're playing to win. There's a disparity between the way they play the game most of the time and the soundbites in the media and some of that is inevitably down to the coaching systems and expectations. You can't play every game at 100% and if Scotland sacrifice breakdown and forward strength, as they have done since the England game, then it's much harder to win games of rugby. That's where Townsend is not good enough.

Townsend is doing ok. That's it. The inconsistency gives the impression that Scotland could be doing much better if only they replicate that 'best' form in other games but that's never going to happen. There's always a glass ceiling to how effective something can become and playing this brand of rugby, I don't think Scotland have been too far away from peaking over the last 6 months. It's a trick of the mind to think that you can always operate at your best, or that when things go really well that it will be like that from now on. It comes from inexperience and theory rather than reality and this is where Scotland are, they have spent too long thinking and hoping about winning games so they don't know what it takes to win them. Generation after generation of rugby players, for 20 years now, haven't been competitive in the six nations and it is a very hard cycle to break. So thinking that Scotland 'at their best' is going to become the 'norm' is wishful thinking. Those games are top end of their 'performance curve' with the game against Ireland in Japan being somewhere near the bottom. There is always a limit to how well a team can be over a period of time. Given how every other team now looks like they're starting to turn the corner and really prepare for the world cup after the transition period of 2020, I do think Scotland aren't far away from being at their best under this current set up. Particularly the England game, I don't think they have a better performance in them in this world cup cycle, they dominated England.

A different coach could probably flatten out the inconsistency that Scotland currently show. Would that mean they win more or fewer games? It's hard to say. It might take away the England win but have beaten Wales. A really top coach might have still beaten England and then put the team in a position to go for a grand slam against France next week by grinding out wins against Wales and Ireland. But there aren't too many of those coaches around. If Scotland had a top coach, given how good they are at securing talent from overseas I do think they could win more games than they do under Towsend but can the SRU attract one? Their treatment of Cotter probably shot themselves in the foot as who is going to go there after Townsend knowing they might just get arbitrarily binned 2 years in to what they see as a project to springboard them in to the All Blacks or Springboks jobs? Is a top coach really what Scotland want though? Will that benefit them in the long run, bringing in a coach like Eddie Jones for instance to ensure the national team can realistically win 2-3 games each six nations and finish 2nd or 3rd but neglecting the rest of the set up beneath the national side? Or do they want someone who can make Scotland compete against the southern hemisphere teams, which Townsend has done well? Compete at world cups? Leave a foundation to build on? The problem is they can't get any sort of foothold in the six nations and still haven't looked like winning the tournament in 21 years, so it's not as if they have a realistic choice about what to prioritise: they have to build for the future, they can't go chasing world cups or six nations titles because they cannot win them. In 10 years time? Who knows, maybe they will.

Townsend will be looked back on as a builder rather than a finisher. Someone who played his part in making Scotland a much more skilled team and rugby nation but not one who made them more of a winning team.

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Post by LordDowlais Sat 20 Mar 2021, 10:11 am

You are more or less agreeing with me. Headscratch

I know players cannot be 100% all the time, but unfortunately Scotland need their players to be just that, as they do not have enough players to be good enough if they aren't.

Hog playing at 80% is still better or as good as than most other backs that Scotland have. Hogg at 80% is still better than what most other nations have. They just do not have enough of these level of players.

If you ask me, I think Gregor Townsend is doing a very good job with what he has.

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Post by whatahitson Sat 20 Mar 2021, 10:15 am

tigertattie wrote:I’m with LD (it pains me to say it)

On the 793rd “lions squad” thread I’ve said that the only players we have who are likely lions are Hogg and Hamish.

Ritchie could have been a shout but he’s just coming back from injury and would need two great games to come into contention. Even if he has a great game vs France but we lose as a team he could struggle as you simply don’t stand out as a loser.

Finn Russell when firing is the best 10 in the world but he’s not consistent enough. That could be because the Scottish pack often go missing and he doesn’t get the platform but he’s still prone to mental fragility like his trip earlier in the tournament. He is though working on this but he’s not a kid anymore.

Jonny gray is another who we hype but he’s just not the best 2nd rower out there. He doesn’t stamp his authority like a Martin Johnson or Paul O’Connell. He’s utterly passive, never knocking folk back in attack or defence.

If you asked everyone to pick a lions XV but not choose anyone from their own nation you’d still struggle to see Scottish players being picked when home nation bias is taken out of it.

Our sprinkling of star players isn’t enough to win a 6ns with. We are lacking:
A world class hooker
A brute of a second row
A number 8
A consistent all rounder of a 9
A ball playing or hard carrying 12

Without fixing that spine, magical  players like Hogg, Hamish and even Finn don’t stand a chance.

From the outside I do think Scotland maybe aren't aware of how good their players actually are relative to other nations. But as mentioned that shouldn't be what Townsend is judged on.

Ritchie is a good player and regularly one of Scotland's better performers but he's not going to tour with the Lions. There are so many better flankers available to them even with major injuries to several of them like Jack Willis, Dan Leavy, and Ellis Jenkins.

Where I think Townsend can be criticised (or praised) is the players he picks. Ritchie is a prime example as one where skills are being picked ahead of pragmatism. In my opinion, Ritchie doesn't start for Scotland 10 years ago. Or to put it another way, if Scotland had Strokosch, or Jason White, or Kelly Brown available as a blindside, Ritchie wouldn't be starting for Scotland now. They lack a physical edge in almost all positions and having Ritchie as their 6 just exemplifies this. That set up works well against Australia and New Zealand (though they still lose) but in the six nations it's crying out for someone like Skinner to add bulk to the Scottish pack. Particularly so given that their two best locks (by far) are fairly lightweight. As you say, they could also do with a huge number 8 as well to provide crash ball to go with Skinner's physical graft and lineout work.

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Post by whatahitson Sat 20 Mar 2021, 10:17 am

LordDowlais wrote:You are more or less agreeing with me. Headscratch

I know players cannot be 100% all the time, but unfortunately Scotland need their players to be just that, as they do not have enough players to be good enough if they aren't.

I'm not sure I am agreeing with you. I said that a better coach could make the same players perform better/win more games while a worse one would do the opposite. So it's not as if he's stuck with players who cannot possibly improve their win %. I also think talking about performing at 100% is irrelevant as it's impossible.

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Post by NeilyBroon Sat 20 Mar 2021, 11:22 am

tigertattie wrote:I’m with LD (it pains me to say it)

On the 793rd “lions squad” thread I’ve said that the only players we have who are likely lions are Hogg and Hamish.

Ritchie could have been a shout but he’s just coming back from injury and would need two great games to come into contention. Even if he has a great game vs France but we lose as a team he could struggle as you simply don’t stand out as a loser.

Finn Russell when firing is the best 10 in the world but he’s not consistent enough. That could be because the Scottish pack often go missing and he doesn’t get the platform but he’s still prone to mental fragility like his trip earlier in the tournament. He is though working on this but he’s not a kid anymore.

Jonny gray is another who we hype but he’s just not the best 2nd rower out there. He doesn’t stamp his authority like a Martin Johnson or Paul O’Connell. He’s utterly passive, never knocking folk back in attack or defence.

If you asked everyone to pick a lions XV but not choose anyone from their own nation you’d still struggle to see Scottish players being picked when home nation bias is taken out of it.

Our sprinkling of star players isn’t enough to win a 6ns with. We are lacking:
A world class hooker
A brute of a second row
A number 8
A consistent all rounder of a 9
A ball playing or hard carrying 12

Without fixing that spine, magical  players like Hogg, Hamish and even Finn don’t stand a chance.

I see what you mean tattie but I don't think we should sell ourselves short.

We have two hookers injured who were potential lions. We have a hooker who, until last week, looked like a lions bolter.

Johnny Gray is very highly regarded at a European cup winning side. It's a lot harder to look better when you're losing. Ireland game aside he's been playing well.

Number 8 is an issue but we knew that. Fagerson Jr is still pretty young though, worth bearing that in mind. Gnarliness comes with age. John Barclay was a very different player for example in his latter years with Scotland.

9 is a tricky one and one I blame Toonie for. We had a fit George Horne who he wasn't picking. I think people's feelings would be different if he was starting SH and got the chance to cement the position when he was peaking in form. Obviously injury hasn't helped. We have a 19 year old who looks as good as many seasoned pros already. Steele is necessary for lack of other options although why Toonie doesn't use SHC is beyond me.

12 redpath looks the business but again selection wise long term, blame lies with Toonie. In order to make Harris work he's selected so many different options. When hutch was on red hot form he still refused to pick him. When Matt Scott was on form for Edinburgh he refused to consider him. All these things add up. All these players could be international class but just haven't had the opportunity they deserve. Matt Scott we know is a high quality international.

I think whata has made a good point regarding Toonies selection policy, something we've all questioned a bit recently. Also all players have bad games. Unless they're Hamish Watson.
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Post by 123456789. Sat 20 Mar 2021, 8:07 pm

Townsend has had his ups and downs. I thought he shouldn't have got the job when he did and I thought he should have been sacked after 2019. I thought Cotter should have kept the job and I thought the SRU should have thrown everything at getting Scott Robertson from the Crusaders. But he got the job and he didn't get the sack.

At this point, he seems to have settled on a way of playing and brought together a group of players that have, broadly speaking, clicked. There are some things that must fall on the shoulders of players rather than the coach. I think the Wales and Ireland games must fall on the players shoulders. Wales was thrown away through a lapse in concentration and then an unfortunate red card. You can't blame Gary Graham's stinker on Townsend. Ireland was the result of frequent inaccuracies and ultimately a stinker from Ali Price. Again neither can be pinned on Townsend, the players do have to take responsibility. There are other issues too. Injuries are a part of rugby and coaches need to be prepared for that. We have a smaller playing pool than most and so injuries strike harder. Losing Redpath was a killer.

I do understand the criticism regarding Harris and Price. Jones does look to be returning to form finally and hopefully Toonie will give him the space to do so. His frequent selection of Harris is baffling and frustrating. Price is not good enough but there is a general dearth of good 9s in Europe. In time Dobie will be the 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is our best player at scrum-half but Townsend is not the first coach not to fancy him. Jack Maunder is not in the England squad when they don't have a great selection themselves and SHC is still not starting.

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Post by NeilyBroon Sat 20 Mar 2021, 10:30 pm

123456789. wrote:Townsend has had his ups and downs. I thought he shouldn't have got the job when he did and I thought he should have been sacked after 2019. I thought Cotter should have kept the job and I thought the SRU should have thrown everything at getting Scott Robertson from the Crusaders. But he got the job and he didn't get the sack.

At this point, he seems to have settled on a way of playing and brought together a group of players that have, broadly speaking, clicked. There are some things that must fall on the shoulders of players rather than the coach. I think the Wales and Ireland games must fall on the players shoulders. Wales was thrown away through a lapse in concentration and then an unfortunate red card. You can't blame Gary Graham's stinker on Townsend. Ireland was the result of frequent inaccuracies and ultimately a stinker from Ali Price. Again neither can be pinned on Townsend, the players do have to take responsibility. There are other issues too. Injuries are a part of rugby and coaches need to be prepared for that. We have a smaller playing pool than most and so injuries strike harder. Losing Redpath was a killer.

I do understand the criticism regarding Harris and Price. Jones does look to be returning to form  finally and hopefully Toonie will give him the space to do so. His frequent selection of Harris is baffling and frustrating. Price is not good enough but there is a general dearth of good 9s in Europe. In time Dobie will be the 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is our best player at scrum-half but Townsend is not the first coach not to fancy him. Jack Maunder is not in the England squad when they don't have a great selection themselves and SHC is still not starting.

I think the problem I have with price is when he was second choice for Glasgow he was still first choice for Scotland. That, to me, is backwards logic. The only thing that comes to mind is his bromance with Russell. That's the only possible explanation I can think of. Just because he's best mates with a sensational player doesn't make him good! There was a long period that Horne was on much better form than price yet didn't get picked. It's like the whole Jones scenario with a bit of chicken and egg syndrome. I imagine the line of thought was that Horne wouldn't manage a game as well but equally never got the chance to try.
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Post by tigertattie Sat 20 Mar 2021, 10:38 pm

Opinion on Gregor Townsend.  1ea7f310

There. I’ll just leave this here and let others pick the fights with it.
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Post by Highland Shaun Sat 20 Mar 2021, 11:56 pm

Oh well, methinks Gregor is safe for another year at least after today's win, which is very good news imho.

Hopefully there are more new players tried out during the summer and/or autumn, players like Jamie Dobie, Rufus McLean and Josh Bayliss for example.

Any more worthy of getting capped Smile?

And don't say Fraser Dingwall or Finlay Christie lol.

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Post by tigertattie Sun 21 Mar 2021, 12:41 am

Shoeman becomes eligible in the summer.
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Post by chris_501 Sun 21 Mar 2021, 7:32 am

tigertattie wrote:Opinion on Gregor Townsend.  1ea7f310

There. I’ll just leave this here and let others pick the fights with it.

Guscott then said ‘Scotland aren’t improving’ despite the statistics being there right in front of him! Luckily Barclay challenged him and set him straight!

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Post by profitius Sun 21 Mar 2021, 9:59 am

LordDowlais wrote:At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I am goin to give my two penneth on this as an outsider.

Scotland would be stark raving mad to get rid of Townsend. Who is better, and most importantly who is available ?

Now if Shaun Edwards and Warren Gatland were looking for work, and they would be interested, then sack him. But there is nobody with proven credentials to take over.

The thing is, in my opinion, you can only work with the tools you are given. Unfortunately, and this is where I might upset a few of our Scottish friends on here, Scotland do not have as many good players as you think you have.

We see this when the Lions come around and there is murders when there is only the odd Scottish player picked.

Townsend does a real good job with the players he has at his disposal. If you could have kept the same side throughout the tournament that beat England, I would wager you would have beaten Wales and Ireland. But as soon as your better players got injured, Scotland were knackered. But to still be so competitive in the games against Wales and Ireland is testament to Townsend's coaching.

I debated this with a Scottish member on here only a few weeks ago, Scotland need ALL their players to be at 100% all the time, because there is not enough quality in the squad to carry people. You cannot have players only hitting 75/80%. Two players in the Scottish squad are always playing at around the 100% mark, they are Hamish Watson and Hogg. Two players are not enough to carry a team.

I have seen it far too many times, even in this 6N, against Wales Finn Russel was immense, against Ireland he was back to that 75% player, as were Johnny Grey and Jamie Ritche, and this happens time and again. Even when players like Hogg and Watson are not hitting their high standards, they are still very good. But for the others to be very good, they need to play at 100% all the time.

I will compare this to a team I watch a lot, Wales. Jonathan Davies has not been very good in my eyes this year, yet because other players around him are, he is covered. Gareth Davies and Biggar have been out of sorts when you reflect on past performances, yet even at their lowest they are still decent. But we still have players around them like Navidi, Faletau, Tipuric, AWJ, Cory Hill, Wyn Jones, LRZ, Adams, who all set high standards and make up for players who are "off form" for a better term. Scotland do not have enough of those types of players, sorry.

Please be aware, before I am lambasted out of town, this is only my opinion, and I am not stating it as a matter of fact, so please, play nice. Hug


Agree about form and squad size. The majority of players' form fluctuates so even if they're A standard players mostly, they can play like a C standard player on occasions. Only way to combat that is having a big squad and playing form players.
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Post by alive555 Sun 21 Mar 2021, 10:53 am

LordDowlais wrote:At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I am goin to give my two penneth on this as an outsider.

Scotland would be stark raving mad to get rid of Townsend. Who is better, and most importantly who is available ?

Now if Shaun Edwards and Warren Gatland were looking for work, and they would be interested, then sack him. But there is nobody with proven credentials to take over.

The thing is, in my opinion, you can only work with the tools you are given. Unfortunately, and this is where I might upset a few of our Scottish friends on here, Scotland do not have as many good players as you think you have.

We see this when the Lions come around and there is murders when there is only the odd Scottish player picked.

Townsend does a real good job with the players he has at his disposal. If you could have kept the same side throughout the tournament that beat England, I would wager you would have beaten Wales and Ireland. But as soon as your better players got injured, Scotland were knackered. But to still be so competitive in the games against Wales and Ireland is testament to Townsend's coaching.

I debated this with a Scottish member on here only a few weeks ago, Scotland need ALL their players to be at 100% all the time, because there is not enough quality in the squad to carry people. You cannot have players only hitting 75/80%. Two players in the Scottish squad are always playing at around the 100% mark, they are Hamish Watson and Hogg. Two players are not enough to carry a team.

I have seen it far too many times, even in this 6N, against Wales Finn Russel was immense, against Ireland he was back to that 75% player, as were Johnny Grey and Jamie Ritche, and this happens time and again. Even when players like Hogg and Watson are not hitting their high standards, they are still very good. But for the others to be very good, they need to play at 100% all the time.

I will compare this to a team I watch a lot, Wales. Jonathan Davies has not been very good in my eyes this year, yet because other players around him are, he is covered. Gareth Davies and Biggar have been out of sorts when you reflect on past performances, yet even at their lowest they are still decent. But we still have players around them like Navidi, Faletau, Tipuric, AWJ, Cory Hill, Wyn Jones, LRZ, Adams, who all set high standards and make up for players who are "off form" for a better term. Scotland do not have enough of those types of players, sorry.

Please be aware, before I am lambasted out of town, this is only my opinion, and I am not stating it as a matter of fact, so please, play nice. Hug

So Scotland who are so bloody awful. the welsh needed a man advantage to get a fortuitous 1 point win? Its disrepectful nonsense.

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Post by BigGee Sun 21 Mar 2021, 11:25 am

I really don't understand this debate about Toonie

He is not going anywhere this side of the WC. All the debates about whether or not he should have been appointed over VC are history now and pointless.

He also has us playing well and capable of beating just about any side on its day. He just needs to add consistency to that formula and we will be genuine contenders. We are closer now than we have been at any stage since the advent of professional rugby.

Quantity and quality of good players is always going to be an issue for us, we just have to live with that unfortunately.

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Post by whatahitson Sun 21 Mar 2021, 12:09 pm

chris_501 wrote:
tigertattie wrote:Opinion on Gregor Townsend.  1ea7f310

There. I’ll just leave this here and let others pick the fights with it.

Guscott then said ‘Scotland aren’t improving’ despite the statistics being there right in front of him! Luckily Barclay challenged him and set him straight!

To be fair they haven't improved since Cotter was coach. So it's hard to say Townsend has had a huge positive impact on that statistic.

The simple test would be to break down the Scotland squad each season and analyse the % of foreign raised and trained players.

This season, it is over 50% (18 of 35). I would be very surprised if it was anywhere near that high back in 2010-2012. More importantly would be breaking down those percentages and seeing how many are coming from the global south which plays a higher standard of rugby than Europe.

That is the single biggest difference to the Scotland team since 2010 so it's no surprise it has an impact on results and performances.

It's hard to judge Townsend against results from 10 years ago. Not just have the SRU changed their model to include project players in a big way but also rugby has changed and the Haddnes and Robinsons are dinosaurs in this day and age.

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Post by NeilyBroon Sun 21 Mar 2021, 1:11 pm

BigGee wrote:I really don't understand this debate about Toonie

He is not going anywhere this side of the WC. All the debates about whether or not he should have been appointed over VC are history now and pointless.

He also has us playing well and capable of beating just about any side on its day. He just needs to add consistency to that formula and we will be genuine contenders. We are closer now than we have been at any stage since the advent of professional rugby.

Quantity and quality of good players is always going to be an issue for us, we just have to live with that unfortunately.

Aye it's all speculation at the best of times but you're right it's definitely moot. I think I object more to people suggesting we should settle for being "near" to competition.
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Post by Shifty Sun 21 Mar 2021, 1:32 pm

Great player in his day with a reckless streak.

As for his coaching, I'm not exactly sure what Scottish fans are looking for, your limited by 2 professional teams, he's doing as well as anyone could possibly do.  
Who on earth could come in as coach and get better out of these players?

Scotland have had nothing but abject failure since the turn of the century, they are finally a half decent team and fans are unhappy?!
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Post by TJ Sun 21 Mar 2021, 1:37 pm

We are unhappy because they are not performing to their potential, selection is confused and we have not progressed in 4 years.

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Post by BigGee Sun 21 Mar 2021, 2:08 pm

TJ wrote:We are unhappy because they are not performing to their potential, selection is confused and we have not progressed in 4 years.


When you say selection is confused, what do you mean by that? The bulk of the team is extremely settled with some genuine competition for a few places. Surely that is healthy, not confusing?

Over the past few years, we have beaten England and Wales away, have beaten a very good French side last year and in the 6N have been within a score in every game.

If by not progressed you mean we had a poor WC and are still inconsistent I would agree with you. I am struggling however to remember us being that much better before when we were battling Italy for the wooden spoon. VC's reign seems to have become viewed as a golden age, largely because of the WC run. People tend to forget that we had a very decent draw that time around and it still nearly went wrong ( I was at the Samoa game and we so nearly made a hash of that one). Yes we were done by a bad call, but we fundamentally put ourselves in that situation by being unable to maintain composure and close out a game that we should have done.

In my opinion, we are as good as we ever have been in the professional era.

Can we improve, of course we can.


Are we going to win Slams and championships? That will remain incredibly difficult, not least because of the quality of the teams we are playing in the 6N, who bar Italy, are all extremely good teams.

I live in hope though, a bit of luck and momentum and anything is possible.

As another poster said further back, Toonie is doing well with the resources he has got.


If you are searching for a team that are truly under performing, look no further than England!

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Post by TJ Sun 21 Mar 2021, 2:28 pm

Confused selection - ignoring Darcy who was on fire for the WC opener. Ignoring Huw Jones when in fine form, Playing Harris and lang etc etc

We have wasted 4 years under him to get back to where VC took us. the WC was an utter disaster and townsend must take the blame.

he is learning on the job but its cost us 4 years of underperforming

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Post by BigGee Sun 21 Mar 2021, 2:53 pm

TJ wrote:Confused selection - ignoring Darcy who was on fire for the WC opener. Ignoring Huw Jones when in fine form,  Playing Harris and lang etc etc

We have wasted 4 years under him to get back to where VC took us.  the WC was an utter disaster and townsend must take the blame.

he is learning on the job but its cost us 4 years of underperforming

I think by 'confused selections' you mean selections you don't agree with, which is fine, as we are all entiltled to our opinions on selections, this is what makes a fans forum interesting and fun.

I think if you look at the stats though, you will find the Toonie era is just as, if not slightly more successful as the VC one and Toonie has been going for a longer period.

The main difference and what brings Toonie down is the WC, but in truth they are hard to compare as the draw and the scheduling made them very different events for us and whereas the VC team pulled a rabbit out of the hat against Samoa and got a quarter final. Toonie's team (handicapped by a 4 day turnaround and the uncertainty of whether the game would take place tripped over at the death. Such are the margins of international sport unfortunately.

Toonie is also being judged to a higher standard, because he was a successful Scottish coach and he is perceived to have stolen the job from VC. I don't recall for instance, calls for VC head when we got so royally stuffed by England at Twickenham that year, nor after some of the other poorer performances under his regime. SH coaches are often perceived to have his aura about them, which means they can be seen to do little wrong. When things go wrong for them, the players get the blame, not the coach.

Anyway, for better or worse, Toonie will be with us for the foreseeable and it will continue to be nothing if not entertaining!

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Post by whatahitson Sun 21 Mar 2021, 3:29 pm

The problem is with the Cotter v Townsend comparison is look what they've both done outside the Scotland job. It becomes clear who has by far the better record as a head coach. If Townsend weren't Scottish would he still be in the job? Probably not.

I don't think that's a bad thing necessarily. If international rugby isn't about preferrential treatment for people from that nation then what the flip is it about?

The problem Scotland have is making the leap from plucky underdogs who now produce a shock win here or there while giving the other teams (mostly) decent games, to regularly winning every other game is absolutely massive. The jump to where they are now from where they were 10 years ago took a lot of money, time, and effort and it still relied on importing talent from outside Scotland.

Personally, I think a better head coach could make this Scotland team better. Townsend doesn't have the balance right and never has, in my opinion, and there's nothing to suggest he ever will either. What he will do is produce an incredibly exciting team of at least a few flair rugby players who will cause an upset here or there. It's not much good for tournament rugby and I don't expect Scotland could dream of getting beyond the quarter finals with Townsend at the helm but a return to an Irish style, Dan Parks 10 man type of rugby would be even worse.

A top coach would come in and sort out their breakdown and forward pack in 6-12 months I have no doubt about that. That alone would make them more effective and with the genius of Hogg and the talent of a few players like VDM all they really need is consistency and stability at the basics, particularly with things that aren't out and out attack. The players they do have, like Huw Jones, will never offer that but they're at least exciting to watch and that's what makes Townsend a backs/skills coach to my mind. He doesn't have the balance right but at least it's fun for the rest of us.

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Post by Highland Shaun Thu 25 Mar 2021, 12:00 am

https://lastwordonsports.com/rugby/2021/03/24/scotland-head-coach/

What the f***!!!

I was doing a browse of the Scottish Rugby News via News Now and came across this thinking it could be regarding the ladies team but opened it, only to be shocked :-O.

Does someone want to tell the journalist that GT ain't going anywhere!! Or am I misreading the article lol.

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Post by RDW Thu 25 Mar 2021, 12:09 am

Definitely jumping the gun there!

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Post by NeilyBroon Thu 25 Mar 2021, 7:31 am

Yeah I doubt he's going anywhere, he's still got to fully redeem himself for the f**k up in Japan so will have 2023 on the radar.

If we come second this tournament that makes up missed opportunities somewhat, even if it is by default! I guess we shall see on Friday.
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Post by whatahitson Thu 25 Mar 2021, 7:40 am

It's just a lazy list of 'coaches what are doing well'. Baxter, McCall, Cockerill, Lam, and Robertson. It's hardly an inspired list that suggests they have insider info.

I think Scotland would be well placed to go and find a relatively unsung Kiwi coach after Townsend. They won't get a big name like any of the men above, apart from maybe Cockerill, so they should get their money's worth and a Kiwi would make more sense than a Saffer for the rugby they play.

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Post by R!skysports Thu 25 Mar 2021, 10:54 am

Personally, still think he is the wrong coach. The early success was based on Cotter and I think Cotter was the right one to take us further with the players we have.

Still think Townsend seems a one trick pony and poor selector. He is here to stay though so I hope he proves me wrong at some point...but hasn't yet

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Post by RDW Thu 25 Mar 2021, 11:51 pm

Worth noting that if we had beaten Wales - a game generally discussed to have been decided by very fine margins - we would have been going into tomorrow's game for a title decider. We were literally millimeters away from Duhan romping in for a try to win the game instead of being tap tackled. Obviously the other nations have had their 'what if' moments too, but having a few of those go your way in a tournament makes the difference between a title win and finishing 4th.

Even having lost to Wales we're a 5 point win away from finishing 3rd (our equal best ever) and an 8 point win away from finishing 2nd (our best ever 6N finish).

I know this is touting the usual glorious defeat line that we're so accustomed to as Scotland fans, but I genuinely think there's very little between the top 5 teams right now - backed up by the margin of deafeat in the games we've lost. Remember for so long it was basically a top 4 plus us and Italy.

The key thing he has brought in the last year is consistency, something we didn't have in his early time in charge. Of course we may get humped tomorrow which will prove me all wrong!

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Post by Cyril Fri 26 Mar 2021, 12:22 am

RDW, you could equally say if Russell had got his deserved ref for the deliberate trip that Emgland would have beaten Scotland. It really was that close, especially at that point. Or, the wrongly given tries against England vs Wales. England should have been going for a slam by the time they played Ireland.

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Post by RDW Fri 26 Mar 2021, 12:25 am

RDW wrote: Obviously the other nations have had their 'what if' moments too, but having a few of those go your way in a tournament makes the difference between a title win and finishing 4th.


Yep Cyril - that's why I said this bit thumbsup

My point being we're at the stage of fine margins being the difference between a title hunt and 4th place, which is a big improvement from us being nowhere near the title every year. Finishing 4th is even a big improvement on most 6N years from 2000-2015!

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Post by Oakdene Fri 26 Mar 2021, 7:47 am

If Scotland win tonight & we win the title I think he should be knighted!!

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