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Scotland AI thread

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Post by Highland Shaun Wed Sep 28, 2022 5:54 pm

First topic message reminder :

Results in aggregate this year for the national team were:

5 February 2022 - Scotland 20–17 England
12 February 2022 - Wales 20–17 Scotland
26 February 2022 - Scotland 17–36 France
12 March 2022 - Italy 22–33 Scotland
19 March 2022 - Ireland 26–5 Scotland
2 July 2022 - Argentina 26–18 Scotland
9 July 2022 - Argentina 6–29 Scotland
16 July 2022 - Argentina 34–31 Scotland
29 October 2022 - Scotland 15–16 Australia
5 November 2022 - Scotland 28–12 Fiji
13 November 2022 - Scotland 23–31 New Zealand
19 November 2022 - Scotland 52–29 Argentina

P 12 W 5 L 7
Erm

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Post by BigGee Tue Oct 18, 2022 5:24 pm

Highland Shaun wrote:So our goal for this autumn is to strengthen our IC numbers BigGee or am I misinterpreting your post :P?

I'd also like to see us increase our wing options too, perhaps Tom Roebuck and another and also our 10 options as at the moment we only have Finn, Adam and Blair so it would be good to see if Ben Healy (if that rumour is indeed correct) and Fib Smith before the world cup but I suspect it will be the 3 mentioned 10s that will be announced tomorrow with Blair at 10 for Oz game.


Yes, I was talking about our strength at OC, but that does kind of highlight the weakness inside. Hopefully someone will step up over these 4 games.

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Post by Highland Shaun Tue Oct 18, 2022 6:51 pm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/63309190

😮😮😮 Maybe the Ben Healy rumours are true after all or will it be Hastings and Kinghorn as our 10 options.

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Post by BigGee Tue Oct 18, 2022 7:00 pm

Yes, just seen the Finn Russell thing as well.

Seems a little odd, he did an interview recently saying all seemed to be good between the 2 of them. Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, I know his partner is not far off having a baby.

I expect we will find out some more tomorrow!

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 12:44 am

If it is for family reasons then fair enough, I really hope that it is. There is no logical coaching decision for Russell being absent from this squad. Especially less than a year out from the rugby world cup.

Are we really about to begin this years autumn campaign with yet more speculative talk about Russell and Townsend’s professional relationship?

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Post by RDW Wed Oct 19, 2022 1:03 am

I hope this means Hastings is going to get decent gametime too. If Toonie really is considering a future without Russell then that's pretty essential. He's been a strong performer for Gloucester since moving. In particular he's a much better goalkicker than Kinghorn!

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 1:43 am

How much more consistency and improved performance can Townsend and Blair hope to get from Kinghorn? If he is on the cusp of becoming an exceptionally better player than he is now then by all means he should be starting for Scotland. However, didn’t Hastings recently kick a match winning penalty to send Gloucester fourth in the EP?

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Post by RDW Wed Oct 19, 2022 1:46 am

bsando wrote:How much more consistency and improved performance can Townsend and Blair hope to get from Kinghorn? If he is on the cusp of becoming an exceptionally better player than he is now then by all means he should be starting for Scotland. However, didn’t Hastings recently kick a match winning penalty to send Gloucester fourth in the EP?

Yep, and in the 6N/WC I have little faith in Kinghorn's goalkicking!

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 2:36 am

Plus Russell has been kicking really well for Racing at the moment. I just hope it is because his partner is close to having their first child.

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 5:15 am

https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/time-has-come-for-gregor-townsend-to-stop-experimenting-scotland-need-to-keep-it-settled-3880390?amp

From yesterday’s Scotsman.

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 6:46 am

bsando wrote:https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/time-has-come-for-gregor-townsend-to-stop-experimenting-scotland-need-to-keep-it-settled-3880390?amp

From yesterday’s Scotsman.

Not sure i even agree with that

The core of his team is there, every coach will keep tweaking to find that extra ingredient

Our dilemmas mainly around centres and now with the latest Finngate saga, maybe around playmaker

Back three
Scrum half
Back row
Second row
Front row

All very settled and stable

We do need a bit more depth in some pisitions though and thst is why he should still bringing players in during the AIs

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 7:30 am

Yeah I agree with you Gee, I think he might be venting some of the frustration that has come with injuries and the kinghorn experiment. There’s a lot of moving parts and on paper we more or less know what Scotland’s best XV is with the bench being a bit up in the air in certain positions.

Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson
Cummings, Gray
Ritchie, Watson
Fagerson (possibly Dempsey soon?)
Price, Russell
Redpath, Harris
VDM, Graham
Hogg

Turner, Schoeman, Nel, Gilchrist, Fagerson (skinner, Haining, Bradbury or Crosbie), White or Horne, Hastings or kinghorn, Bennett or Jones or Smith etc

I’m interested to see how Scotland play this autumn. Is the defence anywhere good enough compared to previous seasons? Will the attack improve and become less blunt?

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Post by NeilyBroon Wed Oct 19, 2022 7:32 am

I'm with gee, I think the issue is more with positions toonie's remained stubborn on, such as oc, despite our clear issues in attack and, to be honest, also defence now. We've built our gameplan around individuals such as Russell (pre 2019) and Harris (post 2019) and are now very much paying the price.

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Wed Oct 19, 2022 7:44 am

bsando wrote:Scotland’s best XV

Redpath, Harris Bennett


Fixed that for you, no charge!

But seriously, our defence as a team has gone backwards significantly in recent times, so if we're not getting the benefits of a working defence what in the holy hell are we crippling our backlines attacking ability for by selecting Harris? Granted the defensive issues are by now means down to Harris alone, but it feels like time for a change in balance away from the Johnson-Harris axis and time to start selecting our form centre. Bennett is finally consistently ripping up trees in a way we've not seen since his bad injury all those years ago, it would be utter madness not to be starting him at this point! So we all know what will happen next....

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Post by Hazel Sapling Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:23 am

Harris has improved his attacking threat a bit over the last 12-18 months where he is in the S Johnson camp of being able to run a line for Russell to use. Certainly improved from when he first came onto the scene

As Bsando said, most of our starting XV is known with arguments to be had at LH and hooker where we have two solid options. Maybe OS is becoming another position with Watson and Darge. Only area where most of us are unhappy is centre which is not a bad place to be a year out.

I would say our biggest problem lies with most of the second/third string. A lot is made about the Toonie/Russell relationship but Hastings has been relegated rather hastily since his move to Gloucester in favour of Kinghorn. I could go on, however the Hastings one is the most baffling to me as Kinghorn is arguably our third (maybe fourth) best FH and yet seems to be the favourite to start!

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:40 am

TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:
bsando wrote:Scotland’s best XV

Redpath, Harris Bennett


Fixed that for you, no charge!

But seriously, our defence as a team has gone backwards significantly in recent times, so if we're not getting the benefits of a working defence what in the holy hell are we crippling our backlines attacking ability for by selecting Harris? Granted the defensive issues are by now means down to Harris alone, but it feels like time for a change in balance away from the Johnson-Harris axis and time to start selecting our form centre. Bennett is finally consistently ripping up trees in a way we've not seen since his bad injury all those years ago, it would be utter madness not to be starting him at this point! So we all know what will happen next....


I would say that Tuipolutu has got a claim to be our in form centre as well, he has been playing extremely well since he has been moved out to 13 for Glasgow this season as well.

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:41 am

No Ben Healey nor John Cooney in either Ireland nor Ireland A squad!

That may or may not be an interesting development.

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Post by jimbopip Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:46 am

BigGee wrote:No Ben Healey nor John Cooney in either Ireland nor Ireland A squad!

That may or may not be an interesting development.

I think Ben Healey (can we call him Den(is) Healey?) is a better 10 than Blairhorn. Mind you, MrsPip looks more like an international 10 than Blairhorn: and she has a better moustache.
Den Healey also didn't cost Glasgow the Pro 14 Final with an utterly childish show and go from 5 yards out with Sam Johnson unmarked outside him.

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:07 am


Edinburgh Rugby flanker Jamie Ritchie has been named Scotland captain for the Autumn Nations Series ahead of the matches against Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina at BT Murrayfield.

The 26-year-old is current co-captain of Edinburgh and previously led Scotland alongside Ali Price, against Tonga last Autumn, having played for the national team for four years amassing 32 caps.


In the forwards, Ritchie is joined by new call-up Jack Dempsey. The 28-year-old Glasgow Warriors number 8 qualifies for Scotland through his Scottish grandfather. Having previously played 14 matches for Australia, Dempsey has made himself available to play for Scotland under World Rugby’s birthright transfer rules which allows a capped player to switch allegiance to another country they are eligible to play for following a three-year cooling off period.

Fellow Warriors forward Richie Gray has also been called up where he will look to add to his 67 caps with the last of those arriving in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

Edinburgh Rugby duo WP Nel and Nick Haining have returned to the squad having featured in this year’s Guinness Six Nations but having missed out on selection for the summer tour.

In the backs, Gloucester Rugby’s Chris Harris and Adam Hastings are included after the latter was ruled out of the tour to Argentina through injury at the last minute.

Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson have been included in the squad once again and will join Hastings in the battle for the number 10 jersey.

Exeter Chiefs full-back Stuart Hogg returns to the squad and so too does Cameron Redpath of Bath Rugby, who featured against Wales in the 2022 Guinness Six Nations before picking up an injury that ruled him out of the championship.

Stafford McDowall is the only uncapped player in the backs and earns his call-up after impressing at Glasgow Warriors.

Scotland will open their Autumn Nations Series account against Australia on Saturday 29 October when they take on the Wallabies for the second year in a row after defeating them 15-13 last autumn thanks, in part, to a debut Ewan Ashman try. Scotland will only be able to select their home-based players for this fixture due to the match falling outside the international window.

Next up will be Fiji who Scotland last played in 2018, when Adam Hastings scored his first try for Scotland in a thrilling 54-17 victory.

On Sunday 13 November the All Blacks will visit BT Murrayfield in what is an eagerly anticipated match with the two sides having last faced each other in 2017, when Scotland were narrowly defeated 22-17.

The series will finish with a match against familiar foes Argentina when Scotland will be looking to end the year with a victory having been defeated 2-1 in the dying moments of the three-Test summer tour.

Scotland Autumn Nations Series Squad

Forwards

Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 4 caps
Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 3 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 22 caps
Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps
Andy Christie (Saracens) 3 caps
Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps
Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 24 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 50 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 55 caps
Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 69 caps
Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 67 caps
Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps
WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 48 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 32 caps
Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 12 caps
Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 22 caps
Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 20 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 27 caps
Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 51 caps

Backs

Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby) 27 caps
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 29 caps
Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 36 caps
Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) 26 caps
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 93 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 34 caps
Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 54 caps
Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 2 caps
Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 19 caps
Ben White (London Irish) 6 caps

Autumn Nations Series 2022 Fixtures

Scotland v Australia, Saturday 29 October, kick-off 5.30pm, BT Murrayfield

Scotland v Fiji, Saturday 5 November, kick-off 1pm, BT Murrayfield

Scotland v New Zealand, Sunday 13 November, kick-off 2.15pm, BT Murrayfield

Scotland v Argentina, Saturday 19 November, kick-off 3.15pm, BT Murrayfield


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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:10 am

So no Roebuck, Healey or Cooney

No Richardson - which is a surprise to me, thought he was a shoe in

Dempsey - as predicted

Stafford McDowell over James Lang, again a bit of a surprise.

Recall for Richie Gray - also a bit of a surprise, you would imagine he has committed to playing through to the WC now.

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:13 am

Wow! Russell has actually been snubbed.. watch Townsend’s squad interview. Almost comical at the end.

https://scottishrugby.org/jamie-ritchie-to-lead-scotland-this-autumn/

Otherwise a very solid squad and great to see Ritchie as captain. And McDowall finally has a shot! He deserves it, I think he may end up flourishing on international stage.

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Post by Tramptastic Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:17 am

Richie Gray was one who previously omitted himself due to his body constantly packing it in (probably as a result of playing every week in the Top14).

Given he's had a full pre season and a lighter work load last year combined with really good form this season maybe it's all coming together for him...

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:20 am

Ritchie as captain, a good choice and one that everyone can surely get behind.

Yes, I just watched the video as well and he did not give any mitigation towards FR being dropped, just said he needs to improve his form with his club.

I have only seen one Racing game this season, which wqs the usual Finn stuff, some sublime some ridiculous, no genuine idea what his form has been like, though it does appear that Racing have tired of him and his contract not being renewed at the end of this season, I wonder if that is playing into the decesion.

No doubt it will be gone into in more depth in the presser with Toonie later this afternoon.

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Post by NeilyBroon Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:20 am

Stafford McDowall has finally been picked, the prophecy can be realised when he and the Messiah line up together.

Honestly hope Hastings is played as starting flyhalf and we dispense this notion of kinghorn being anything other than a reasonable "in case of emergency" back up. Pleased for Hoyland, this is probably his last chance to make an impact on the international stage, after all he could just be a couple of injuries shy of a squad callup next year.

Glad to see Ritchie taking the armband. Hogg's temperament just isn't right for captaincy, it'll probably do his game the world of good too.

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:27 am

Ritchie as captain is absolutely the right call, delighted with that. You can really make a very good backline indeed out of this squad with the right picks. Hopefully Hogg is suitably peed off and it gives him a good kick up the behind. Not having Finn around likely to help with that too as well as reminding him he has work to do if he wants to make the world cup, definitely needs to be Hastings given the starting 10 shirt now.

All in really can't raise any major complaints with that squad!

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 10:33 am

I think we may see the FH shirt shared over the 4 games

Kinghorn will definitely start against Oz

Hastings may get a run against Fiji

Whoever has been judged to have played the best, gets the NZ gig

Thompson presumably will get some bench time

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Post by tigertattie Wed Oct 19, 2022 2:24 pm

Folk saying the SRU need to communicate better and say Finn isn’t in the squad as he’s having a baby.

I’m not sure they don’t realise that’s not why he was dropped. He’s not in the squad as Toonie said, due to his poor club form. Not sure how much clearer that needs to be.

Finn must be playing really badly if Kinghorn is seen as being in better form
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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 2:44 pm

Mark Palmer, who it should be recognised is a Finn Russell cheerleader and has not always been honest about his flaws, gives his take on him not being in the squad.




There was something about the way he said it that made me double back. There we were, Finn Russell and I, sitting with a coffee just down from Notre Dame, working up a piece to mark his 30th birthday last month, and I’d asked him how he was getting on with Gregor Townsend.

“We had a very truthful, honest conversation after the Six Nations this year,” Russell said, before jumping to another subject in that artless, puppy dog way of his. “Hang on a minute — you’ve not fallen out again, have you?” I wondered, referencing the great schism of 2020 which saw the fly half out of the side and him decrying the “total absence” of a relationship with his head coach.

“No, we’ve not fallen out,” Russell replied, “but the way I view things as a player can be different to how a coach views them. The more of these truthful and honest conversations that me and Gregor can have the better. It can be tough at the time, and we’ve not spoken since, but there’s been no reason for us to speak after it. I wasn’t on the [summer] tour and the season’s only just getting going.


“With November coming around, you’d expect to hear from him before that. We might not agree on everything, but having that conversation, I’ve got out what I needed to say and he’s heard it and vice versa. Instead of it being, ‘you’re not listening to me, I’m calling it a day,’ or him not picking me, we’ve said what needed to be said.”

Townsend tried to claim yesterday that his decision to exclude Russell from the autumn squad was based purely on rugby reasons; on a perceived lack of form with Racing 92. Nobody with any sense is buying it, and nor, we understand, is it anything to do with the impending arrival of a first child for Russell and his partner, Emma Canning.


The baby is due on November 23, four days after Scotland’s fourth and final match against Argentina — there is absolutely no suggestion that Russell asked for time off, indeed in our interview, he joked that he would be tapping up Jacky Lorenzetti, Racing’s billionaire owner, to borrow his private jet.

The hard but unavoidable truth is that Townsend and Russell do not like each other; do not enjoy each other’s company and, to at least some extent, do not believe the other has or is what it takes to drive them forward.


Russell is no angel, no shrinking violet, and his involvement in that unauthorised visit to an Edinburgh bar in the hours after their March win in Rome was particularly ill-advised. Yet the fact that the then captain Stuart Hogg and a group of other senior players made the decision to go out in the first place spoke to a disconnect between the happy-clappy version of life in the Scotland camp depicted by the SRU’s official channels, and the reality of at least some degree of disquiet about the culture under Townsend.

For a man who goes to great and repeated lengths to demonstrate how far and wide he looks for new ideas and solutions, it is felt that the former Glasgow Warriors coach has been bizarrely reluctant to see any value in tapping into what Russell has picked up in France, or, for that matter, Stuart Hogg at Exeter Chiefs, another elite environment where players drive what happens on and off the pitch.

If Townsend simply does not want Russell involved, or feels his is a negative influence, he should be man enough to say so. Russell has not been at anything like his best for Scotland in the past 12 months, but to argue that he does not merit a place in a 40-man squad is an insult to the intelligence.

Less than a year out from the World Cup, this is a decision which impacts on every aspect of the team’s approach, and is typical of the flip-flopping, the essential lack of clarity, which has characterised Townsend’s reign, be it in selection, tactics or how he explains himself publically.

Is this the end? In that same interview, Russell said that, contrary to speculation, he is in no rush to make a money-spinning move to Japan. He has his heart set on staying in France, although it increasingly looks like that will be away from Racing.

Either way, those in the queue to contract him will now feel like they could be pushing at an open door if they were to suggest that Test rugby should no longer be part of the package. Whatever the ins and outs, whatever the rights and wrongs, there are only losers when a generational talent is marginalised in this way.



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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 2:53 pm

I am going to play devil's advocate here and maybe, Toonie and the rest of the squad, having toured without FR in the summer, may have found the atmosphere a little bit easier and constructive.

That tour, while not being a great success, was no disaster either. Remember Argentina then went on to beat the All Blacks and was certainly something a waekend Scotland could go on and build from.

We have had this debate about Russell time and time again, does what he obviously brings to the squad surpass what he takes away?

There were times last season, when he looked like he could not care less about playing for Scotland and all any coach wants is for his players to work hard and leave everything on the park.

Has Finn always done that?

Maybe Toonie has decided to see just how much FR wants to play for Scotland.

It may well be a valid question and it may well show that Toonie does indeed possess some balls!

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 3:13 pm

Interestingly, Tom English, much less of a Russell/Hogg cheerleader, is a lot less dismissive about Russell being dropped and Hoggy losing the captaincy.

Points out both of them have not had good international games for some time, which is true.

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing Gee. This has been bothering me a lot since the team announcement..

I mean the reaction from Palmer sums up the feeling. A player who has been a star for Scotland in the recent past is dropped once more for reasons that remain ambiguous, if not even more so than the summer tour.

I think fans and journos alike have good reason to be miffed once more. Townsend is a really poor communicator with the media. He obviously just wants to coach and focus on that, which is great if Scotland win games. Part of being an international coach however is being able to explain your process and give the fans some insight. The spotlight is on you anytime the international period arrives. That is something Townsend clearly does not enjoy and is probably why he often comes across as quite patronising in his interviews. Today was a good example of that when he claimed form was the reason for Russell being dropped over Thompson who hasn't had many minutes this season for Glasgow.

Thinking about it from that angle helps dispel all the drama. Russell will play for Scotland again, most likely the 6N and RWC, but Townsend won't be giving us good reasons for any decisions regarding his exclusion anytime soon.

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 3:54 pm

bsando wrote:Thanks for sharing Gee. This has been bothering me a lot since the team announcement..

I mean the reaction from Palmer sums up the feeling. A player who has been a star for Scotland in the recent past is dropped once more for reasons that remain ambiguous, if not even more so than the summer tour.

I think fans and journos alike have good reason to be miffed once more. Townsend is a really poor communicator with the media. He obviously just wants to coach and focus on that, which is great if Scotland win games. Part of being an international coach however is being able to explain your process and give the fans some insight. The spotlight is on you anytime the international period arrives. That is something Townsend clearly does not enjoy and is probably why he often comes across as quite patronising in his interviews. Today was a good example of that when he claimed form was the reason for Russell being dropped over Thompson who hasn't had many minutes this season for Glasgow.

Thinking about it from that angle helps dispel all the drama. Russell will play for Scotland again, most likely the 6N and RWC, but Townsend won't be giving us good reasons for any decisions regarding his exclusion anytime soon.


Will he though?

What if Scotland do well this autumn?


I am genuinely torn about this. I have enjoyed Finn's undoubted brilliance as much as anyone over the years, especially as a Glasgow fan. A team however is far more than about one person and I don't think things have ever been the same since he walked out in the huff a couple of years ago. From my memory, we actually played pretty well without him,

It is very easy to say it is the coach's fault for not getting the most out of his player. Do you honestly think though that Gatland or Eddie Jones would have put up with such prima donna behaviour?

Let's see how this autumn goes and maybe then we will see if there is a way back or not.

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Post by NeilyBroon Wed Oct 19, 2022 4:05 pm

Whilst I think to be honest Hastings should be first choice on merit this season, I don't see much sense in completely dropping Finn from the extended squad. He is, despite recent form, our most experienced fly half and does have value to add in a mentoring capacity. There's no logical reason to keep him out of camp other than, perhaps as has been suggested, too many egos.

To be honest I'm looking forward to a new era after all this Toonie ambiguity and just general lack of vision. Bring on 2023/24!

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Post by BigGee Wed Oct 19, 2022 4:38 pm

Actually, if you are planning on starting Hastings and Kinghorn, there probably is not any sense having Russell in the squad.

If he is not picked, then that will be the story and would just put unnecessary pressure on AH and BK.

Thompson is a little bit of a different case, he is not going to start, baring injuries and in that case Russell probably comes back in anyway, he is the young prospect who sits on the bench and learns the ropes.

I don't think it seriously means that he has picked Thompson on form ahead of Russell, but clearly feels that AH and BK offer more to the squad than Russell does at the moment and that is a valid argument.

If he was to say it like that to the media, then there would probably never be any way back and I assume he does want to keep that option open to see if FR really does want to play in another 6N and WC.

All a big gamble for Toonie but at this stage in his Scotland coaching career, assuming he is done after this WC, maybe he feels he can or needs to roll the dice.

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Post by bsando Wed Oct 19, 2022 5:19 pm

He could justify that line of thinking in a better way than "these are the form players we’ve picked".

I see the point though, if Russell is not fitting the mould for the game plan in mind then fair enough. He’s a professional and will focus on his job at Racing now where he has a good working relationship with Travers.

I agree with you on Thompson, he may have been described as in better form but it’s clearly not about that alone. I’m glad he’s getting the exposure at test level again. Russell being left out allows that.

Ultimately Russell is a much better player than Kinghorn and Thompson. Having him out of the squad is a big loss for Scotland in my opinion but hopefully he will bounce back and earn a call up once again.

Whatever happens it’s going to be an interesting ride full of plenty of speculation now.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Wed Oct 19, 2022 6:34 pm

I've read the posts on here and, as always, some sound reasoning behind it all. I think, as always, we're all trying to rationalise and make sense of another Toonie shock selection. My views are these:

1. Russell is the most talented Scottish 10 in my lifetime. That he isn't picked and Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson are in the squad is frankly indefensible from a rugby perspective (this is a rugby squad right?). It is a travesty that he and Toonie don't get on, and the squad is immeasurably poorer for it. Russell and Hastings are, by a country mile, the best 10s we have. End of.

2. Equally baffling to me is how Rory Hutchinson is continuously ignored. I must be watching a different sport, but he's a real point of difference player for Northampton and a standout player in a tough league. Stafford McDowall is frankly the 3rd choice inside centre in a rank average Glasgow squad. I'm sorry but it's true. He's so average that I'm not convinced he'd be good enough for Scotland circa 2008. Is he better than Andy Henderson and Graeme Morrison?? Not sure. He'd be nowhere near a Scotland squad for my money. Lang, Dean, Scott, Taylor and Hutchinson are all better inside centres in my view. Johnson and Tuipolotu definitely are, as in Redpath. That makes him, in my view, our 9th best inside centre.....

3. I really like Jamie Ritchie. Terrific player. But Scotland captain a year before the WC when he hasn't even captained his club side, in place of Hogg who is the easiest and least controversial team selection we have, and a true World Class player in his position? An established captain. Crackers.

Personally, and to quote the great Sean Connery, I think Toonie is an effing idiot.

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Post by RDW Wed Oct 19, 2022 7:11 pm

Some great chat on here - good to see the place buzzing again. All it takes is some Toonie drama!

I was going to write a lengthy piece on all this, but I think all the various arguments have been covered already. Ultimately Toonie's reign is going to be defined by his relationship with Russell. Whether his decisions were correct or not, we will have to assess after he moves on.

Being pessimistic about it, it's gonna make hee haw difference anyway as we're not gonna win the 6N and we're not going to get out of our WC group with or without Russell! Laugh

p.s. I agree with a lot of what FES as said. It's clear that Toonie still wants the option of a big lump at 12. Stafford (a name which I always hear in a Billy Connolly doing a Bearsden accent) is a pretty uninspiring choice.

p.p.s. I disagree on the captain front - Ritchie is the future. Hogg can focus on being a good player again. I suspect the harmony in camp during the summer was much better without Hogg and Russell, which explains a lot.

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Post by Highland Shaun Thu Oct 20, 2022 3:41 am

I actually feel sorry for Gregor because he can't win, we either have a poor Autumn and the media and certain fans will shout louder for him to be sacked, I mean he's getting it in the neck already from the boys Palmer and Steve Scott already.

And if we have a good Autumn he still gets slated for dropping players such as Richardson, Roebuck and Finn.


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Post by Tramptastic Thu Oct 20, 2022 3:41 am

Ritchie is arguably also first name on the teamsheet. He's got the respect of the players around him despite how young he is and he's absolutely class at 6. The back row should be picked around him in much the way we usedto describe Watson (who now has genuine competition in Darge).

RDW is also correct, we are highly unlikely to win the six nations or even escape our pool at he world cup. The question becomes do you spend this next season giving time to young developing players for the next coach or do we pick our best (but more problematic players) and go down in a blaze of glory?

Agreed on Hutchinson no getting picked, hadn't even noticed that initially. Criminal.

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Post by EWT Spoons Thu Oct 20, 2022 4:05 am

I'm probably airing on the same side as BG devils advocate and Tom English. Finn unquestionably on his day is a great player. However, as we've seen from him walking out the camp previously and the whole going out to the pub last 6n, he really struggles to adhere to the rules of the team. With a new captain in place I can totally get Toonie wanting to ease out people who are not willing to operate within the team environment.

Also lets not pretend Finn is faultless player, too often (especially of late) we've seen him try things that just aren't on, he seems to have regressed back to where he forced some absolutely mad plays. When they come off, brilliant we all rightly praise him to the hilt, but when they don't we lose momentum/possession/territory. We've also won sod all with Finn playing 10, granted the same argument can be made for Toonie, but we're not going to change our coach at this point in the RWC run up.

I know Kinghorn has his detractors and I'd probably have him as back up to Hastings, but Mike Blair and Toonie both rate kinghorn highly and watching him at Edinburgh every week, does show he has the talent and ability to be a very good 10. Is he going to be world class, I would highly doubt it, but overall we have very few world class players so we can't really hold that against him.

As an aside Ritchie has captained Edinburgh 2-3 times this season and is absolutely the right choice as Scotland captain.

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Post by BigGee Thu Oct 20, 2022 4:15 am

Tramptastic wrote:

Agreed on Hutchinson no getting picked, hadn't even noticed that initially. Criminal.


I have a feeling he might have got injured last weekend.

Or maybe with Redpath back fit, he does not feel the same need to have 2 playmaking 12s in the squad. On balance I would pick Redpath over Hutch, though both have struggled to string any international games together as they keep getting injured.

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Post by jimbopip Thu Oct 20, 2022 4:57 am

Morning Peeps, some very interesting comments this morning. Though I'm surprised FES had time to post. I thought it must be his turn to be Home Secretary this week.

Anyhoo. As you know I have a tendency to refer to John Wooden who Toonie sees as a guru in coaching terms. Wooden very much believed that the key to being a very successful athlete was first of all to be the best person you could be.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

In his personal life Wooden was, to put it mildly, austere. I think he would have found the whole WAGS and Celebrity culture of today's professional footballers utterly repugnant. If Toonie is close to Wooden in terms of personal beliefs, then Dancer is almost diametrically opposed.
However, as the slow motion car crash which is this week's government is showing us...either the troops fall in line behind the leader or everyone is Friar Tucked.
In his Mark Palmer interview Dancer says his line manager travelled to Paris and they had a full and frank exchange of views with some very painful things said on both sides. Is this a normal working relationship? They have worked together, at club and international level, for years now. If they don't understand and respect each other or share common goals and agree on basic working practices then when will they?
As some one said earlier Dancer is probably the most talented 10 any of us have seen in a Scotland jersey. Is he the best? Will he win games that we otherwise would have lost? Will he lose us games? In the final reckoning is he a credit or a debit?

Or, as High McIlvanney said of the man who wore the 10 shirt in the round ball game; "If your life depended on a player scoring a goal in a match, you would want that player to be the Lawman." Would any of us put all our chips on Dancer to win games consistently for Scotland?
Then again Michael Atherton, another big fan of Wooden, said living by John Wooden's personal rules was very easy. If you were a monk.

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Post by bsando Thu Oct 20, 2022 5:15 am

EWT Spoons wrote:I'm probably airing on the same side as BG devils advocate and Tom English.  Finn unquestionably on his day is a great player.  However, as we've seen from him walking out the camp previously and the whole going out to the pub last 6n, he really struggles to adhere to the rules of the team.  With a new captain in place I can totally get Toonie wanting to ease out people who are not willing to operate within the team environment.

Also lets not pretend Finn is faultless player, too often (especially of late) we've seen him try things that just aren't on, he seems to have regressed back to where he forced some absolutely mad plays.  When they come off, brilliant we all rightly praise him to the hilt, but when they don't we lose momentum/possession/territory.  We've also won sod all with Finn playing 10, granted the same argument can be made for Toonie, but we're not going to change our coach at this point in the RWC run up.

I know Kinghorn has his detractors and I'd probably have him as back up to Hastings, but Mike Blair and Toonie both rate kinghorn highly and watching him at Edinburgh every week, does show he has the talent and ability to be a very good 10.  Is he going to be world class, I would highly doubt it, but overall we have very few world class players so we can't really hold that against him.

As an aside Ritchie has captained Edinburgh 2-3 times this season and is absolutely the right choice as Scotland captain.

I don’t think Russell has any fans on here that believe him to be faultless. He does make questionable decisions at times and being the first five eighth is arguably the toughest position on the park. However, everyone is looking ahead to the RWC and want to see the best Scottish side available heading over the channel to France. If Russell isn’t a part of that then Townsend needs to cut out the whishy washy media responses and be a bit more assertive in his decision making. There’s too much ambiguity and all the various theories and press articles out today conform that.

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Post by RDW Thu Oct 20, 2022 5:15 am

Is someone able to list the squad by position? I'd normally do it but am not at a computer so it's a ballache...

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Post by EWT Spoons Thu Oct 20, 2022 5:43 am

bsando wrote:
EWT Spoons wrote:I'm probably airing on the same side as BG devils advocate and Tom English.  Finn unquestionably on his day is a great player.  However, as we've seen from him walking out the camp previously and the whole going out to the pub last 6n, he really struggles to adhere to the rules of the team.  With a new captain in place I can totally get Toonie wanting to ease out people who are not willing to operate within the team environment.

Also lets not pretend Finn is faultless player, too often (especially of late) we've seen him try things that just aren't on, he seems to have regressed back to where he forced some absolutely mad plays.  When they come off, brilliant we all rightly praise him to the hilt, but when they don't we lose momentum/possession/territory.  We've also won sod all with Finn playing 10, granted the same argument can be made for Toonie, but we're not going to change our coach at this point in the RWC run up.

I know Kinghorn has his detractors and I'd probably have him as back up to Hastings, but Mike Blair and Toonie both rate kinghorn highly and watching him at Edinburgh every week, does show he has the talent and ability to be a very good 10.  Is he going to be world class, I would highly doubt it, but overall we have very few world class players so we can't really hold that against him.

As an aside Ritchie has captained Edinburgh 2-3 times this season and is absolutely the right choice as Scotland captain.

I don’t think Russell has any fans on here that believe him to be faultless. He does make questionable decisions at times and being the first five eighth is arguably the toughest position on the park. However, everyone is looking ahead to the RWC and want to see the best Scottish side available heading over the channel to France. If Russell isn’t a part of that then Townsend needs to cut out the whishy washy media responses and be a bit more assertive in his decision making. There’s too much ambiguity and all the various theories and press articles out today conform that.

Why?

Who does it benefit for him to come out and say "Finn's a bit of a prick and we're better off without him" or whatever his reasons are. The reason behind him not being selected is between the coach and the player. One of them coming out speaking to the media about the exact reasons doesn't benefit anyone.

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Post by jimbopip Thu Oct 20, 2022 5:47 am

Here's another John Wooden quote hich may give us some insight into Toonie's thinking.

A player who makes a team great is better than a great player.

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Post by NeilyBroon Thu Oct 20, 2022 5:49 am

I think Bsando has hit the nail on the head. If Toonie was actually clearer in what he wants to achieve we'd probably be having a different conversation. BVC made some controversial decisions but was very clear in how he wanted his team to play. All we've had from Toonie is "The fastest rugby in the universe" and "the stodgiest defence in the universe". He seems to have given up even laying out a vision of what he wants which of course leaves a load of unanswered questions. Looking at how Scotland have played I'm not sure he knows the answers either. I've made it no secret I'm not a Toonie fan but I'd be a lot happier if he at least seemed to have a plan. The only thing I can see is Richie in to maybe sure up the lineout a bit, though I think the problem seems to stem more from throwing than out jumpers.

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Post by BigGee Thu Oct 20, 2022 6:39 am

NeilyBroon wrote:

The only thing I can see is Richie in to maybe sure up the lineout a bit, though I think the problem seems to stem more from throwing than out jumpers.


You clearly did not see Glasgow's lineout last weekend!

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Post by RDW Thu Oct 20, 2022 6:42 am

NeilyBroon wrote:I think Bsando has hit the nail on the head. If Toonie was actually clearer in what he wants to achieve we'd probably be having a different conversation. BVC made some controversial decisions but was very clear in how he wanted his team to play. All we've had from Toonie is "The fastest rugby in the universe" and "the stodgiest defence in the universe". He seems to have given up even laying out a vision of what he wants which of course leaves a load of unanswered questions. Looking at how Scotland have played I'm not sure he knows the answers either. I've made it no secret I'm not a Toonie fan but I'd be a lot happier if he at least seemed to have a plan. The only thing I can see is Richie in to maybe sure up the lineout a bit, though I think the problem seems to stem more from throwing than out jumpers.

How would you describe that out of interest?

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Post by NeilyBroon Thu Oct 20, 2022 6:50 am

BigGee wrote:
NeilyBroon wrote:

The only thing I can see is Richie in to maybe sure up the lineout a bit, though I think the problem seems to stem more from throwing than out jumpers.


You clearly did not see Glasgow's lineout last weekend!

That's what I mean though, it seemed more down to the hookers not hitting their mark. That being said that was also against a very good sharks lineout!

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Post by NeilyBroon Thu Oct 20, 2022 7:06 am

RDW wrote:
NeilyBroon wrote:I think Bsando has hit the nail on the head. If Toonie was actually clearer in what he wants to achieve we'd probably be having a different conversation. BVC made some controversial decisions but was very clear in how he wanted his team to play. All we've had from Toonie is "The fastest rugby in the universe" and "the stodgiest defence in the universe". He seems to have given up even laying out a vision of what he wants which of course leaves a load of unanswered questions. Looking at how Scotland have played I'm not sure he knows the answers either. I've made it no secret I'm not a Toonie fan but I'd be a lot happier if he at least seemed to have a plan. The only thing I can see is Richie in to maybe sure up the lineout a bit, though I think the problem seems to stem more from throwing than out jumpers.

How would you describe that out of interest?

Simple pod system in attack with a mobile pack aiming to win turnover ball, and a focus on basic skills in the backs, quick offload and passing. Basically what it was under Toonie in 2018, but was rebranded as the fastest rugby in the world.

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