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Scotland Autumn Series 2021

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Post by Highland Shaun Sun 08 Aug 2021, 12:22 am

First topic message reminder :

I know it's probably too early for this but seeing as my Summer Tour thread was well received, I thought I'd start another one for the Autumn Series with my thoughts on the teams etc, I've got to stay on the right side of the members hahaha.

It's certainly far too early to even predict a squad as no club matches have taken place yet, both Scottish sides are in the rebuild phase (I'll be watching closely) but that's for a later date.

I would like to echo what I said on Facebook a few weeks ago which is that I hope we get to see Ashman, Auterac, Sebastian, Henderson, Tuipolotu in the autumn, in other words, hopefully they ain't poached from us haha.

Anyway, here goes with our opposition:

First up is Tonga on October 30th, KO tbc: I do not really know much about them but I would imagine we would see a youngish team in this test, seeing as a lot of them missed out on the summer tour and, supposedly this is outside the test window which means clubs aren't forced to release players if they wish. I did notice that Tonga got hammered by New Zealand who humiliated them by over 100pts, however, I see them put up a better fight against us but do fully expect us to win this one.

Then we move on to November, when clubs are obliged to release players.

7th November: Australia, KO: 1415hrs: This will be a tough test because Australia are a very good team that recently managed a test series win over France. They have very good wingers that will be tough to stop so I'm predicting a very close test which we will lose narrowly.

13th November: South Africa, KO 1300hrs: This will be our toughest test of the series imho. I've watched a lot of them over the past month and tbh they are an excellent team with quality all over the park. Even in the first test, they were creating numerous chances, Lions just got lucky with some of the ref or tmo decisions imho. What I took out of the first test was that, if you keep Kolbe quiet then you have a chance no pressure there then DVDM, Darcy etc. I'm predicting a loss here too, probably by about 15pts,though I hope I'm wrong.

20th November: Japan, KO 1300hrs: This test has the makings of being entertaining and high scoring if previous affairs are anything to go by. Against the Lions and Ireland, they put up brave fights but ultimately lost due to errors and individual brilliance of their opponents but they will believe that they can win because they have done so before. I think this will be very high scoring with us getting the win by a margin of 5.

October and November can't come quickly enough imho lol, I just can't get excited by Edinburgh and Glasgow, both will struggle in the upcoming pro 14, especially as they are rebuilding.

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Post by BigGee Sun 31 Oct 2021, 12:08 pm

Maybe a little harsh on Zander who was solid znx z little generous on Dsrcy eho drspite his eye catching stuff did get flattened a couple of times in the tackle and did not bring the man dow at best you could say he slowed him down!

Thought Johnson had a solid game as well just did sll the basics very well.

A in all though a pretty fair assessment

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Sun 31 Oct 2021, 12:19 pm

Yeah agree it seems a bit harsh on Z. Fagerson, who I thought was solid enough. The dropped pass was IIRC an inside ball from a forward (maybe Ritchie?) and he probably wasn't expecting to receive that one. And possibly a bit generous on Graham, whose defence was a bit suspect (albeit not easy to tackle those huge Tongans!).

I think I'd also switch Price and Kinghorn's ratings around. As I said on the match thread, I though Price had a quietly very good game. I do agree he seems to be playing with an extra bit of confidence after the Lions tour, and I thought he marshalled the game very well yesterday. Whereas Kinghorn I thought had a bit of a mixed bag: some really good stuff, but also a couple of dodgier moments which he got away with, and as you rightly say place kicking needs work.

7/10 for the team is about right I think.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Sun 31 Oct 2021, 12:25 pm

On the predicted team vs Australia, I agree with the starting XV: I think Steyn did enough yesterday with his all-round game to force his way into the other wing spot, while the rest broadly picks itself at this point.

I think Haining will be on the bench ahead of Bayliss though, or maybe even the new boy Richardson. Kinghorn covering FH, wing and FB makes him a tempting bench option, but I'd prefer to see Hastings there for FH cover really, Graham is probably a better back 3 cover option?

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Post by thefinalthistle Sun 31 Oct 2021, 12:39 pm

All fair points! Graham's defence was certainly questioned - hopefully he won't go up against too many Tongans in the near future. He'll be feeling those hits for the next few weeks!

I agree, Price has developed far beyond expectations and is now one of the best in the world in his position. Being given the co-captaincy (not sure I see the benefit in all honesty) was a sign of how far he is come and how is game management has progressed. Hopefully Dobie can learn a lot from him.

Re: Richardson and Bayliss, surely they will move to cap them as soon as possible? They are both magnificent prospects. That said, though Haining made a superb impact off the bench.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Sun 31 Oct 2021, 12:53 pm

Yeah I think Scotland will want to cap both Bayliss and Richardson in this series. Certainly Richardson has been on the SA radar, so they'll want to tie him down sooner rather than later.

Co-captains is a strange one, agreed. I think Toonie is clear that his captain is Hoggy, and he simply wanted to give Price and Ritchie some kind of recognition of being the 'leaders' in the teamsheet yesterday. It did seem to be Ritchie doing most of the talking to the ref, mind, which makes sense I guess. I said on the match thread that I was impressed by Ritchie, and would like to see Edinburgh make him their captain sooner rather than later, with a view to him becoming Scotland captain after Hoggy (he feels like a natural leader to me)...

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Post by BigGee Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:44 pm

https://twitter.com/thistlerugbypod/status/1454902316222529539

Marshall Sykes is certainly a big lad!

In this photo he makes Schoeman (who has apparently lost 10kg) and Hodgson look pretty svelte!

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Post by Highland Shaun Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:59 pm

Anyone fancy a stab at picking the team for next Sunday :P

I think it's going to be a tough decision for GT that's for sure.

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Post by RDW Mon 01 Nov 2021, 2:28 am

I think we're in need of a new match thread!

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Post by RDW Mon 01 Nov 2021, 2:30 am

BigGee wrote:https://twitter.com/thistlerugbypod/status/1454902316222529539

Marshall Sykes is certainly a big lad!

In this photo he makes Schoeman (who has apparently lost 10kg) and Hodgson look pretty svelte!

Pro rugby player size is definitely mis-leading. Hodgeson to me looks quite skinny relatively speaking but when you look at his Instagram of him in a normal environment he is an absolute giant of a human being!

I've said it a few times over the years but I remember seeing Max Evans walking down the street towards me and he was honestly one of the most muscle-bound humans I've ever seen - and he was pretty tiny in pro rugby terms!

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Post by Highland Shaun Mon 01 Nov 2021, 5:02 am

RDW wrote:I think we're in need of a new match thread!

Is that a hint :P?

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Post by BigGee Mon 01 Nov 2021, 9:07 am


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Post by EST Mon 01 Nov 2021, 9:20 am

RDW wrote:
BigGee wrote:https://twitter.com/thistlerugbypod/status/1454902316222529539

Marshall Sykes is certainly a big lad!

In this photo he makes Schoeman (who has apparently lost 10kg) and Hodgson look pretty svelte!

Pro rugby player size is definitely mis-leading. Hodgeson to me looks quite skinny relatively speaking but when you look at his Instagram of him in a normal environment he is an absolute giant of a human being!

I've said it a few times over the years but I remember seeing Max Evans walking down the street towards me and he was honestly one of the most muscle-bound humans I've ever seen - and he was pretty tiny in pro rugby terms!

Seems absolutely crazy that Glasgow let him go given the 2nd row situation at the club now - he has a big future I reckon.

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Post by BigGee Mon 01 Nov 2021, 10:17 am

We may well see some incoming at Glasgow in the row for next season.

We are still pretty good when Gray and Cummings are fit, it is just our depth that is the issue.

Bean and Mcdonald are good squad plsyers and we have 2 good youngsters coming up, they will hopefully get some game time as the season goes on.

We could definitely do with a class operator to tie us over though hopefully there is something in the du Preez rumour!

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 01 Nov 2021, 10:50 am

RDW wrote:
BigGee wrote:https://twitter.com/thistlerugbypod/status/1454902316222529539

Marshall Sykes is certainly a big lad!

In this photo he makes Schoeman (who has apparently lost 10kg) and Hodgson look pretty svelte!

Pro rugby player size is definitely mis-leading. Hodgeson to me looks quite skinny relatively speaking but when you look at his Instagram of him in a normal environment he is an absolute giant of a human being!

I've said it a few times over the years but I remember seeing Max Evans walking down the street towards me and he was honestly one of the most muscle-bound humans I've ever seen - and he was pretty tiny in pro rugby terms!

Totally agree. I played against Tony Underwood...(of the Lomu rag doll variety). i was actually shocked at how incredibly muscularly built he was. Puts in to perspective what Lomu were like...


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Post by EST Mon 01 Nov 2021, 11:31 am

BigGee wrote:We may well see some incoming at Glasgow in the row for next season.

We are still pretty good when Gray and Cummings are fit, it is just our depth that is the issue.

Bean and Mcdonald are good squad plsyers and we have 2 good youngsters coming up, they will hopefully get some game time as the season goes on.

We could definitely do with a class operator to tie us over though  hopefully there is something in  the du Preez rumour!

Yeah, it just seems a bit strange that we would let him go when he was so obviously talented and then need to sign somebody like Lewis Bean to fill the gap.

In a parallel universe, Glasgow have a replacement second row pairing of Henderson and Sykes - can easily see that combo starting for Scotland in the not too distant future!

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Post by BigGee Mon 01 Nov 2021, 11:57 am

Henderskn and Ashman are in an intetesti g situation at their respective clubs. Both highly regarded but neither getting much in the way of gametime.

That needs to change and maybe we need to lure either or both of them back up north in order for the to develop their potential!

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Post by Highland Shaun Wed 03 Nov 2021, 1:01 am

I was reading the Rugby Paper earlier and saw that Sam Skinner is being eyed by Wasps.

I'm not sure if this move would be good for Sam or not.

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Post by BigGee Wed 03 Nov 2021, 6:48 am

Well he is probably not a starting lock for Exeter when everyone fit and was struggling for game time at the end of last season, so maybe a move not a bad idea for him.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Wed 03 Nov 2021, 10:13 am

Put in the silly season thread, Skinner to Wasps works for both parties. Wasps have a slowly aging back 5 in the scrum (30-32 for most of them) and Skinner would be a transition to the next generation with the Willis brothers and Barbeary.

Hislop has done well at Wasps and, if Millar-Mills hangs around, that is a decent contingent to keep an eye of should it happen.

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Post by BigGee Thu 04 Nov 2021, 9:13 am

A good article by JB in the Times. He is actually very articulate and writes very well and is becoming a pretty good pundit as well.

Here he gives some insight into Cockers coaching style at Edinburgh and also, at long last, a bit of insight as to where it went wrong between him and Scott Johnson. There are always 2 sides to a story and I doubt we will ever here SJs version of this and there is no doubt that a younger JB did have a petulant side, but it is interesting all the same.


When I read Owen Slot’s piece in The Times last Friday about what it’s like to work for Eddie Jones, my first thought was how things might develop now that Richard Cockerill is also involved with England. My experiences under the new England forwards coach lead me to conclude that he is cut from a very similar cloth to the Jones portrayed in the article.

At Edinburgh, Cockerill, too, could be “brutal, rude, aggressive” in his dealings with players and staff. There is clearly potential for him and Jones to end up going at each other. I do believe, however, that Cockerill could function well in a Test set-up, where the onus is on delivering extreme detail to very capable players in a concentrated burst.

Over a short period, his methods can be invigorating and sharpen you up. It’s when you are exposed to them for months and years at a time that they drain you and drag you down.


The eminent psychologist Robert Vallerand describes two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. The former is collegiate and sustainable over time and therefore most often found in teams that repeat success; the latter is usually transactional and characterised by the “brutal” and “pressured”, with any benefits accrued attenuating and often reversing.

As an Edinburgh player, I would pull into Murrayfield each morning, park up, and dread the day that lay ahead. I wasn’t alone. Cockerill, 50, has no gears — his default, and only, approach is to rant and rave every day. He is obsessive. He hopes the players have the mental capacity and resilience to return stronger.



That style had a place, but to me it is a relic. Players are more reflective now; there are enough metrics to quantify their own performance and plenty of coaching opportunities to realise the necessary change.

They do not need a bad cop asking needlessly pointed questions and heaping on pressure; most good players, with the proper coaching, can ask those questions of themselves. They know when they’ve been good, they know when they’ve been bad and they know where they need to improve: if they don’t, they’re probably not right for your team.

I am not advocating some new age “safe place” approach to professional rugby training, but the hairdryer treatment is most impactful when it’s unexpected. When Mike Blair or Gregor Townsend — the present coaches of Edinburgh and Scotland, who are generally softly spoken — read the riot act, you take note. When coaches who scarcely lose their cool start shouting, it’s powerful. Sometimes you do need a bit of a rocket, but when the behaviour is normalised, it loses its desired effect and becomes toxic very soon after. Moreover, I have found that it is much more effective if the upbraiding comes from within the playing group. Good coaches know this.


I’m all for a hard environment, an uncomfortable environment where you train like Spartans — spending time under controlled pressure builds resilience and fosters an ability to solve problems. But there must also be a release from pressure, an ability to relax and connect emotionally with team-mates. In that kind of set-up, where there is a bit of trust and players are treated like adults, players will figure out themselves what is required and execute it.



How you are treated off the pitch will inevitably be reflected in how you play on it. If the environment is so suffocating and autocratic that players don’t feel empowered to make decisions, you end up thinking: “What will he want me to do?” rather than, “What should we do?” Sometimes it’s the same thing, but often it’s not. If you have purposefully eroded people’s ability to make decisions, you can’t expect them to think on their feet in the heat of battle.

To me this is best demonstrated by England last year. There is no doubt that Jones, 61, is a great coach — he has made huge improvements with England — but there’s a reason why most teams are now going with a more collaborative approach: you need only look as far as Harlequins’ revival for proof.

As a player, all you want to do is play for your club or country. With this kind of coach, direct questioning can lead to dire consequences, as I discovered with Scott Johnson, the Australian who coached Scotland from 2012 to 2014.


The morning after Scotland had lost 28-0 to South Africa in November 2013, he called me at 7am asking me to come down to the team room. All the coaching staff were sitting in a circle, and he made me sit in the middle while he showed clips of my errors from the previous evening’s match. I had recently had shoulder surgery but had played six games for Scarlets. There was absolutely no doubt I was good to go, but Johnson made a big show of saying: “I’m giving you this opportunity to admit you weren’t fit to play.”



I replied by asking if everyone else was also being brought down to justify their performance, we got into an argument and he never picked me for Scotland again. I didn’t win another cap for two years, by which time Vern Cotter was in charge.

I would dread coming to training under Johnson. It was the worst possible environment in terms of getting the best out of people; very similar to what Dylan Hartley describes in his book when discussing life under Jones.

It is in stark contrast to the culture that Townsend has built with Scotland, where the players feel like the coaches are only interested in helping them become the best version of themselves. There is full and unapologetic recognition that the best way of improving the collective is to invest in the individuals within it.

It is no surprise that the present Scotland squad is demonstrably the most successful of the professional era and much more besides. They are also very happy in their work — and the two are inextricably linked in team environments.

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Post by RDW Thu 04 Nov 2021, 9:16 am

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/eed99b5c-3cce-11ec-9bef-aa3112940013?shareToken=f0631309fb2de92451c90987623ce9fc

Another John Barclay article about life under autocratic coaches.

We finally hear what happened with Scott Johnson - according to Barclay, at 7am the morning after a loss to SA he was called down to the team room and Johnson played a video of all his mistakes and asked him to admit he wasn't fully fit to play. JB seemed to be the only one getting this treatment. Needless to say there was am argument and JB didn't play again under Johnson's watch.

There does seem too be a common theme in all the stories that he comes out with (i.e. him) but I also suspect there's a lot of truth in what he says!

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Post by RDW Thu 04 Nov 2021, 9:16 am

Beat me to it Biggee!

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Post by BigGee Thu 04 Nov 2021, 9:32 am

RDW wrote:https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/eed99b5c-3cce-11ec-9bef-aa3112940013?shareToken=f0631309fb2de92451c90987623ce9fc

Another John Barclay article about life under autocratic coaches.

We finally hear what happened with Scott Johnson - according to Barclay, at 7am the morning after a loss to SA he was called down to the team room and Johnson played a video of all his mistakes and asked him to admit he wasn't fully fit to play. JB seemed to be the only one getting this treatment. Needless to say there was am argument and JB didn't play again under Johnson's watch.

There does seem too be a common theme in all the stories that he comes out with (i.e. him) but I also suspect there's a lot of truth in what he says!


I never felt that Barclay was blameless in that episode and remember he also fell out with Toonie whilst at Glasgow, when he was cut adrift and not resigned, an event which probably ended up being the making of him as he had to go off and prove himself as a player at Scarlet's.

A couple of strong characters going head to head, it was not the first time and won't be the last time that happens!

JB does seem to have been a player that falls out with coaches from time to time.

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Post by BigGee Mon 15 Nov 2021, 1:07 am


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Post by Highland Shaun Sun 21 Nov 2021, 12:16 am

Well it's 3/4 from our AIs so I'd say that was a success, despite some of the performances being below fans expectations :P.

How would you sum up our Autumn Series and what have the 12 (?) new caps brought to the team/are they likely to be involved again etc Smile?

For me, Schoeman, Ashman and Bayliss will certainly be pushing to get into the starting 15/23 come 6N time but other than that, I'm not sure on the other 9 new caps.

As I said in another thread, the next in line for debuts will be Cameron Henderson and Rory Darge and I'm fairly certain there will be a handful more, especially in the summer (I think against USA and I saw a tweet on Thursday hinting at Argentina and /or Uruguay) but our focus now has to turn towards the 6N.

Imho, we are still a "work in progress (or is it working progress lol) but we need to play a lot better, especially against England, Ireland and France because all 3 looked impressive this November, though I do think it's good that we winning despite not being at our best, it shows that we can now grind out wins.

I look forward to your contribution to my above questions from the AIs and will certainly keep posting here during them.

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