10 takeaways from the final round of the Six Nations

Iain Morrison looks back at the highs and lows of a drama-packed campaign

Scotland's Blair Kinghorn consoles himself after defeat in Dublin. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland's Blair Kinghorn consoles himself after defeat in Dublin. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

1. Felicitations La France

And welcome back to the top of the table for the first time since 2010. Europe’s showcase tournament needs their big guns firing live rounds and La France were on form (almost) throughout. The best side by a margin, they deserved the title and the Grand Slam despite that wobble in Cardiff. Opposition teams will study that match for chinks in the French armour but you have to think the problem was psychological rather than anything else. The biggest threat to their crown was always coming from Ireland and the way the French slapped them down in Paris on the second weekend, with huge physicality, more than merited the silverware.

2. This Scotland team adds up to less than the sum of their parts

And that has to worry Gregor Townsend who is on record stating that this is the best squad of Scots ever to compete for the Six Nations. The only thing a coach has to do is cajole his team into performing at, or near, their peak every time they take to the field. In this regard Townsend failed. Scotland gave a gutsy display in Dublin and they did well to overcome a seven point deficit against England but otherwise they played well below par with a lack of accuracy, physicality and discipline in just about every game. Had they played in Cardiff as they did in Dublin they would have won handily and that is difficult to swallow for players and fans alike. Watching them it wasn’t obvious what they were trying to achieve or how they were trying to achieve it? Sam Johnson was picked, dropped and then re-selected but we don’t know why? The sudden selection of Blair Kinghiorn looked like desperation. What is Townsend’s current rugby philosophy? Do Scotland have a discernible style or are we making it up on the hoof? Answers on a postcard please.

3. Key players go missing

Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg have earned a host of headlines between them and for a very good reason but neither man added much to his palmarès in this championship. Russell looks poorly conditioned and would benefit more than most by a change of coach while it’s difficult to know which of Hogg’s decisions were worse … going for a beer after the Italy game or going for the line in Dublin only to be bundled into touch after ignoring support on the inside. He should lose the captaincy and would do so if there was another obvious candidate.


Scotland quartet return to Edinburgh ranks for South Africa double-header

U20s 6N: young Scots are run ragged as Ireland stroll to a Slam

Ireland v Scotland: Scotland player ratings


4. Josh Adams and Mike Lowry show some class

Josh Adams was spotted gifting his man-of-the-match award to Italy’s new talisman Ange Capuozzo after the final whistle in Cardiff which was a nice touch. Incidentally, it was Adams that missed the tackle on Capuozzo early in the move so the little Italian has reason to be doubly grateful. Meanwhile Lowry was on debut for Ireland against Italy in round three and the slight 15 had already scored two tries when another opportunity turned up. Instead of going for the hat trick score, it seemed like a sure thing, Lowry passed the ball to his winger and made a new BFF in Kiwi James Lowe.

5. Ange Capuozzo … baby faced assassin

Along with Darcy Graham, comfortably Scotland’s best back, and Irishman Lowry, the little Italian full-back/winger is proving that small can be beautiful. He looks about 15 years old but, after a brace of tries off the bench against Scotland, Capuozzo danced his way into the history books by setting up that late, late score in Cardiff that ended the longest losing streak in sport outside of San Marino (whose footballers have never won a match in 35 years of international competition). Good work fella.

6. Eddie Jones talks mince

As the old saying goes, when all is said and done there is a lot more said than done, and that phrase could have been coined with Eddie Mince in mind. The gobby Australian has more players to pick from than anyone else, with the possible exceptions of Fabien Galthie, and yet England won just the two games, against Italy and Wales, the latter by an uncomfortably narrow margin. Jones has an excuse for everything and a solution for nothing. He did brilliant things with Japan in RWC’15 but this England team looks rudderless and his selections, George Furbank ffs, are frankly bonkers. He has never prospered anywhere for very long and England need to hand him his jotters or risk Jones talking his team right out of the next World Cup. His latest comment of “I obviously haven’t done a good enough job” is the only sensible thing to have emerged from his mouth in months.

7. Kieran Crowley was nicely understated

It must have been an emotional day for the 60-year-old Kieran Crowley who coached Italy to their first win since 2015. The coach’s understated understanding of the game is exactly what Italy needs at the moment. Even when losing every weekend, the Italians seemed like a close-knit bunch. While his players were exhibiting their delight on the field in Cardiff, the taciturn Kiwi kept his cool when interviewed after the game, reluctantly admitting: “Yea, well, err, I am just really proud”. When the entire world seems to wear its heart on its sleeve, this small example of emotional restraint somehow conveyed so much more, even if it wasn’t very Italian.

 

8. Ireland have the hex on Scotland

The two teams are neighbours but none too friendly ones after Scotland voted for France to host RWC’23 rather than support the Irish bid. It still grates. Glasgow and Munster also have previous and the ill feeling seems to have spilled over into the Test arena where Ireland appear to hold all the aces. They beat Scotland in RWC’19 in Japan with something to spare, they haven’t lost to Scotland since and the two teams meet again in RWC’23. Townsend almost certainly needs a win over either South Africa or Ireland in Pool B to progress to the last eight. From 2000 onwards, Scotland have won six of 29 matches against Ireland in all comps. Two of those wins were RWC warm up matches, i.e. meaningless friendlies, so 4/27 is a more accurate summary. The two teams meet in RWC’23 on Saturday, 7th October, 2023 at the Stade de France. Townsend has 18 odd months to come up with a winning formula. The clock is ticking.

9. Townsend still supported by stats

Whatever you think of Gregor Townsend, and he has obviously made mistakes, the Gala man has the best numbers of any Scottish coach … if only just. His winning percentage is 57% compared to the next best, Vern Cotter at 53%. Of course we won’t know what “Stern Vern” might have achieved with this pool of players had his contract been extended but Townsend has done well, if only in patches. On his watch Scotland has beaten England three times and lost once, beaten France four times and lost three, played Australia three times and won every time! Only against Ireland/Wales (played 13, won 1) does Townsend come badly unstuck. Townsend is a smart coach but he lacks some big hitters up front (where is Jason White when you need him) and is desperately short of leadership (where is Jason White when you need him). Townsend doesn’t help himself, a micro-manager and control freak. He is under pressure but rather than soak it up the coach passes that pressure onto the players with overly draconian rules and regulations on drinking etc etc that simply beg to be broken. He is not said to be hugely popular with the players but that will count for nothing if he finds a way to beat Ireland or the Bokke when it matters most, at RWC’23.

10. Why doesn’t anyone think of the children!?

OK, the Scotland U20’s may baulk at being called kids but they had a torrid time of it this year, losing every game, the last one against Ireland by a whopping margin of 59-5, where it did look like men against boys. Ouch! The Scotland 20s lost every game last year too. They got one losing bonus this year, which is one point more than they managed in 2021 so progress of sorts, I suppose. I wrote about the problems of youth development in Scotland for TOL a while back. Scottish Rugby is failing the youth players because, almost 30 years into professional rugby, they have yet to deliver a structure of youth rugby that gives young players the one thing they need above all else … tough matches most weekends. Instead they tinker … re-launch an academy, introduce Super6, hire a new coach, fire an old one. Murrayfield will do anything other than address the problem. So Scottish rugby will continue to struggle until this issue is addressed, especially against Ireland who boast the best youth development structure in Europe, possibly the world.


U20s 6N: young Scots are run ragged as Ireland stroll to a Slam

About Iain Morrison 62 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

45 Comments

  1. I agree with most comments rugby and grass roots in Scotland is a shambles.Until we get more organized the senior team will have to rely on imports to be any way competitive.with the world next year it would probably be not a good time to appoint a new coach

  2. I’ve a lot of sympathy for Gregor Townsend’s evident sincerity and commitment but we’re going to get nowhere without honesty and accountability.

    The whole team – particularly senior players – need to buy a very, very big mirror to take a long, hard look at themselves.

    Those players all need to make better decisions on and off the park. The unforced errors, penalty count and lack of leadership killed us.

    The coaches need to show some clarity in selection too. The snowball the started this avalanche was inexplicably excluding Hastings from the original squad. Our best team, including capable replacements, is not that hard to judge. Learning needs consistency as well as a mental edge.

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  3. A truly depressing list of Scottish failure that leaves many of us with sleepless nights, wondering if the most talented group of players we’ve had in the last 20 years will ever get close to releasing their potential.
    It’s even more galling because in the 2 years since the world Cup we looked like we had started to find the right blend of pragmatism, flair and professional sharpness.
    But somehow we’ve lost all 3, and have blundered back to the dark days of hopeless rugby, dotted liberally with thick as sh*t decision making and stupid penalties.
    We’re 8 competitive games away from the world Cup, and at this moment we’re heading for the mother of all thrashings from Ireland and SA.
    Townsend seems lost and unable to find the right formulae to get this Scotland team firing.
    I’d love us to get a new coach in, but I fear it’s already too late.

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    • In the RWC Japan we played like we had no coaching, and a tail between the legs exit ensued, then there was a wee spike (it’s the hope that kills us) where we looked like we were joining the top table……..now we’re back looking like we aren’t coached (or over coached). Oh to be a Scotland fan.

  4. By the same stats The Sainted Stern Vern played 14 tests against Eng, France, Ire< Wales and won 3. A 21% success rate.

    If you want to look at 6 nations games and Arg, SA, NZ ok Vern had a winning % of 27% helped by 3 wins over Argentina. Same comparison and Townsend is on 13/34 for a 34% margin.

    And before we start saying Vern developed the Squad his first game at home had 14 of Townsends Glasgow players in the Squad including the entire starting back line.

    Does ther need to be change, Yes but stop with the one eyed Bias.

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    • Cotter had the respect from players & supporters sadly Townsend unfortunately seems to be dwindling. We can’t dwell in the past sru should be bold make a change of coaching staff & move forward nowt tae loose. Interesting to see what Cullen/Lancaster could do with this squad of players.

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    • Cotter inherited a team that was lacking in just about every aspect, then he improved it and managed the team into playing some good rugby. This is the team that Townsend inherited – a much-improved unit. In these 6 Nations, we see that he coached the team into a regressive state. Discipline on and off the field is a problem and his reluctance (?) to severely discipline the Pubgate Six, shows that he has lost confidence himself!

  5. I’m tired of reading stats put forward by Townsend apologists to support their contention that he is doing better than any previous coach. The fact is as ever with stats they can be manipulated to suit various contentions. In the games that really matter against the big four in the 6N and key games in the WC (Ireland and Japan) the stats are somewhat less impressive. Played 22 won 7 drawn 1 lost 14 a win percentage of 31%. Townsend has never triumphed over Ireland in 6 attempts.So after 5 years what is there in those stats that gives anybody cause for optimism moving forward with the current setup.

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    • By the same stats The Sainted Stern Vern played 14 tests against Eng, France, Ire< Wales and won 3. A 21% success rate.

      If you want to look at 6 nations games and Arg, SA, NZ ok Vern had a winning % of 27% helped by 3 wins over Argentina. Same comparison and Townsend is on 13/34 for a 34% margin.

      And before we start saying Vern developed the Squad his first game at home had 14 of Townsends Glasgow players in the Squad including the entire starting back line.

      Does ther need to be change, Yes but stop with the one eyed Bias.

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      • Sorry did I miss something, did I mention Vern cotter in my comment. He is history I don’t know why people keep harping back to his regime. Townsend is a failure in his own right without the need to compare him to previous incumbents.

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  6. Ok for what it’s worth here is my take on the 6 nations
    1. We need a new coach. GT was promoted above his pay grade and hasn’t improved. He may or may not have lost the dressing room but he has committed other cardinal sins. His selection policy seems completely random. Why pick players give them 5 minutes at the end of a game then completely dump them. It does not engender confidence in players. Does he know our best side I’m not sure he does hence the toonie tombola selections. What is our game plan, it shouldn’t change week to week. I don’t understand it which is fine but it looks like the players don’t either which is a problem.
    2. As much as the coach is a problem it’s not GT that makes the players give away needless penalties, be inaccurate in their duties or take the wrong options. Our players are not accurate enough or careful enough. In tight games you wil only get 1 or 2 opportunities you have to take them. The needless miss pass against France and Hogg’s greed cost us 2tries at crucial points in the game. Hogg’s mistake was especially thoughtless as he was always only going to score in the corner while the inside pass would have given a much easier conversion.
    3. The talk of extra pro teams is pointless. As it stands only probably half of the Glasgow or Edinburgh lineups are home grown. Why have a third pro team to dilute the talent further. Developing youth rugby is paramount but will take time to reap dividends. Much hard work will be required in Scotland to increase the pool of youth players however there is a large pool of exiles that are qualified that are being overlooked to the point of negligence.
    4. In my opinion we need to look at being more adventurous on the pitch. Russell needs a rocket up his backside but Kinghorn is never going to be the answer at 10. Either we bring Hastings back or we start blooding Thomson. We need attacking centres , Bennet offers much more than Harris and we can either use Scott (remember him) or a fit Redpath at 12, or even Harris at 12, but 13 should be for someone with gas. Steyn was woeful against IrelAnd and personally I theink DVM is too anonymous in games, my personal choice would be Maclean but Kinghorn would be ok. A for the 15 shirt for me it’s anyone but Hogg, he’s is own biggest fan and believes the e hype, he’s greedy , he’s poor at catching ands even worse at tackling and can’t pass.
    5. I don’t think the forwards are too bad if the front row would stop giving away brainless penalties but we could do with being more aggressive at the ruck and in the tackle.

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  7. I guess the positives to take are the form of Schoemann and Darge, both of whom showed up well in their 6n debuts.

    The lions players should get the summer off. For me, none of them have shown good enough form this season and they look a bit jaded and could do with a rest.

    Happy to be corrected on this but I don’t remember us successfully getting any 50:22s in the tournament. I think the kicking tactics need looked at as we did plenty of kicking with not much to show for it.

    The mainland UK teams are all in a lull, Scotland are therefore not the only team with big questions facing them at this time. A full and Frank review of the comp and where we are needs to be carried out. The culture needs looked at including the drinking and players ripping the arse out of it as ZF alluded to after our opening game, not to mention the infamous night after the Italy game.

    Disappointing all round considering we had high hopes of making a real impact on the tournament. As I said elsewhere, groundhog day….

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  8. Smith,
    Kinghorn
    (Hogg)
    Graham
    McLean
    VDM
    Owslett
    Hutchison
    Tuipolotu
    Dingwall if he can be convinced
    Bennett
    Redpath
    Jones
    McDowall
    Taylor
    Scott
    Thompson
    Russell- he does it for Racing, not for GT
    Hastings
    Vellacott
    Horne
    Dobie
    Sheil
    Steele
    Price
    Dell
    Fagerson
    Berghan
    Hislop
    Nel
    Walker
    McCallum
    Rae
    Bhatti
    Ashman
    Turner
    Stewart
    McInally
    Brown
    Macbeth
    Skinner
    Gray, J and R
    Hodgson
    Young
    McDonald
    Craig
    Hunter-Hill
    Watson
    Darge
    Boyle
    Muncaster
    Gordon
    Ritchie-captain
    Christie
    Millar
    Bradbury
    Fagerson
    Bayliss
    Dempsey, if he’s interested
    I am sure there are more.
    All young, all playing well, some given 2 minutes in Scottish colours, presumably to lock them in, and I’m sure they know it.No wonder they won’t play for GT.
    If they don’t play you’ll never know if they can handle it and if they can grow into greatness.
    Townsend has obviously lost the squad, and his tactics are certainly not winning us any games. Watching the French offloading and improvising when necessary but doing the basics well was discouraging. That list I put up do the basics well and improvise when necessary for their clubs but seem stifled for Scotland.
    I am fed up listening to Townsend, after every game, saying we did well,there are lessons to be learned, we trained well, it’s an upward curve etc etc.
    No it isn’t. It’s been steadily downwards,and I can’t see any signs of recovery, only Townsend becoming steadily more desperate

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    • To your list I would add Schoeman, Sutherland, Cummings, Young, Gilchrist (?) and White. Maitland still looks good whenever I see him.

  9. There are some inexplicable things going on.
    Is £600k on a bottom of the table Major League Rugby outfit that doesn’t appear to have a single SQP in its squad a good investment?

    £600k goes quite a long way in the world of grass roots rugby. You could train and pay the expenses of quite a few junior coaches with it.

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  10. The Townsend era started with a bang, and he took as to a new level in his first games against Aus & NZ. It was unfair not to give Vern another World Cup after all he’d done for us, but he had his humiliating defeats and head-scratching selections too (particularly in the back row).

    The wheels then started to come off when McFarland left, and we looked clueless either side of RWC19. So Townsend got Tandy involved and reinvented us as a mean defensive team that earned the right to play. I hoped that was the start of something truly special but we’re now back to, if not quite the Twickenham ‘19 first half nadir, something close to it.

    Great coaches can reinvent themselves and bring things back from the brink. But having to do that twice in such quick succession might just be a step too far.

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  11. We were level pegging and maybe even ahead when rugby went “ open” in 1995 . Since then Ireland have streaked ahead winning an u19 World Cup and numerous U20 Grand Slams/ 6 Nations as well as success at the senior level .
    Let’s not be proud – copy what Irelandchave done with player pathways , create more competitive play time for academy and good young club players , involving the Pro sides too and get a third Pro side up and running

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    • Ireland seem to be the side that we should seek to emulate. England and France are just completely different beasts in terms of thir playing numbers and pro-team numbers.

      Ireland dominate the URC (3 out of top 4 places currently) and Wales are v poor (3 out of the bottom 5 !!)

      Our U20s are performing badly, which must be the most worrying sign, but I liked what I read from Kenny Murray, in the U20 article, perhaps if these actions are taken we may see improvements.

      Third Pro-side seems a pipe dream, but why don’t we get a better relationship with London-Scottish, they seem a ready made vehicle to use? (or Newcastle if that won’t work?)

      • I hate to say it but as things stand I am not sure that London Scottish could cope even with the Super 6 they are being hammered in the Green King League.
        However I agree there should be some support from the SRU and surely we could find a 4th club, Wales have managed why can’t we?

      • London Scottish are a basket case. They have used almost as many loan players as they have their own and are going nowhere except backwards and fast.

        I can’t see what they would bring to the Super Six/Eight except a massive drain on finances in an attempt to make them anywhere near competitive. Far better to spend that money on a Scottish based team.

        Maybe someone at the SRU will spot that Glasgow is in Scotland soon.

  12. Townsend has been lucky first with Glasgow then with Scotland to inherit teams on the up – one – two good seasons then everything starts to go backwards. Finn is awesome with Racing and poor for Scotland. It’s clear the team are not behind the coaches, the systems and the set up if they even understand them? Hogg takes everything personally and when under pressure tries too hard, the captaincy has not helped his game. Like Finn its a different happier more fluid Hogg at Exeter. When you micro manage real talent you destroy it and that’s what is happening the coaches have to change.
    With regard to the U20s have we studied NZ, Ireland, more particularly Italy? Do we understand what they are doing to foster young talent? We need to learn and copy and hopefully better their success. Time for an in-depth review but done quickly and then implemented but being honest that it will take 5-10 years to bear fruit and the interim could be very rocky.

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    • Not sure why a couple of people disagree, perhaps the 5 to 10 years suggest that it could be done in less.

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      • I think wales might end up going down to 3, which we could make up with London Scottish.

        Could then play 3 Sco & 3 Wal conference; 4 Irish and 2 Italian, and 6 SA (re-admit the cheetahs and add another team like the Griquas or whoever, just not the southern kings).

    • I’m not sure Finn is awesome with Racing. Played well against Northampton but that’s about it this year. The French fans are that keen if you read Equipe

  13. What a difference a year makes. Last season we could, possibly should, have had a Grand Slam. We beat both France and England away from home and lost one match by one point when down to 14 men and the other by 3 when Price gave away that last minute penalty against Ireland.
    This year we looked lightweight, ill disciplined and lacked cutting edge going forward. Selections by Townsend bemused and tactics difficult to fathom. Kingholm is not a No 10 as many on here posted before the Ireland game. The loss of Ritchie had a real effect with the balance in the back row ruined. Hogg might benefit from not having the captaincy with both Gray and Ritchie viable options. Price is often too slow moving the ball. Harris is not a threat. Zander Fagerson has gone backwards and gives away too many penalties. Finally Russell looked jaded and needs to be rejuvenated.

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  14. Let’s be brutally honest, because the situation has now gone beyond good manners and an almighty shake-up is required to get us out of this downward spiral. Townsend no longer has a grip on his team and his random selections do nothing to promote stability. In terms of penalties conceded Scotland were the worst-performing team in the tournament and discipline both on and off the field has gone. Our defence is flaky, while our try count has halved from last year. The flawed genius of characters like Russell and Hogg have not paid off for some time now, while I firmly believe that the latter lacks the maturity and self-discipline to offer effective leadership and an example to his team mates. Except when marching them down the pub. A strong character is sorely needed – an Aitken, Sole, Calder or Hastings – to get a firm grip and instil some authority. I’m fed up of hearing the same old story from the coach and captain every time they fail to deliver. Abject dross is routinely dressed up as progress, which is even worse than the result itself and an insult to all of us. Apologists still point to Townsend’s win ratio, despite the fact that it is diminishing all the time as far as the big games are concerned. Quite simply, he inherited a gold mine that is now spitting out rocks. Big Vern must be spinning in his hammock somewhere on a sunny Fijian beach right now, for most of his outstanding work has been undone and we are broken once more.

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    • What gold mine did cotter have?? No wins against England including our worst ever defeat to them, no wins at all against SA NZ n Oz….no wins in Ireland Wales or France? Never better than 4th in 6n….His 6n record was worse than mcgeechans second term and most saw that spell as a disaster. He was given a similar standard of player to Townsend and somehow did worse!! Much worse. The respective records aren’t even close. And in his next job he did so badly that he was stood down from coaching the players and had his contract terminated early so they could be rid of him. It undoubtedly time for a new coaching set up but let’s not pretend that cotter would be the answer. One decent performance v Oz which was still a loss cos we couldn’t organise the line out and some scruffy wins over Italy was as good as it got with him. You won’t find any players from his era keen on him returning. It’s time to look forwards not backwards. McFarland has to be an avenue worth exploring but if we could redirect some if Dodson’s ridiculous salary Pat Lam would be great to try to reinvigorate our attack.

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      • The ‘gold mine’ to which I refer is a crop of talented young players, with Russell and Hogg then in the relatively early stages of their careers and a talented generation coming up behind them. Whatever else, Big Vern started from a very low base and transformed the team from an utter basket case into one increasingly capable of performing at the highest level – to wit the World Cup. It is a great shame that the man was not given the opportunity to finish what he started, otherwise we wouldn’t need to have this debate now. I’m not saying that Cotter would have had all the answers and other coaches are certainly available, but for sure the current guy isn’t working and the situation is bordering on toxic. You mention McFarland and Lam, others say Robertson. But one thig is certain, the SRU will do absolutely nothing until after the next World Cup, which frankly is looking increasingly ugly for us. A large rock is heading our way and it certainly doesn’t contain any gold. Waiting for Townsend to bring international success is like waiting for Godot. We deserve so much better, whoever that might be.

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  15. Sorry Christine. That’s a step too far!! Re point 3 above-there is an excellent captaincy candidate – Jamie Ritchie (when fit again obviously)

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  16. Would it not make sense to have amalgamated club and school tournaments?

    Clubs have taken up a lot of the slack left by the decline of state school rugby.

    And why are so few U20s getting gametime in the S6 and why is there such limited player movement between the S6 and pro team squads?

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    • my memory tells me that combining school and club age groups fixtures was approved years ago, but the private schools would not play ball. And no-one can make them. Big problem as we rely on them so much to produce players (often nicked on scholarships from state schools)

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  17. Quite simply, the current development systems and domestic structure of the game in Scotland are deficient – and have been for quite some time.

    No articifially-contrived fix or “magic bullet” carbuncle in the form of S6 or a disproportionately-funded derivative thereof can possibly resolve the fundamental failings in all of this.

    Maybe a time to revisit the tried & tested District model for development & representative competitions at Age-Grades to Senior levels – managed by clubs / funded by the SRU, retaining traditional connections and allegiances alongside historical rivalries – creating a strong & stable basis of the Scottish sporting pyramid? Where else to allocate the unspent £18 million of SG covid bailout funding totalling £20 million that the SRU has been happy to leave comfortably nestling within its own reserves? Despite those loan & grant awards being intended specifically to support “grassroots community rugby clubs”……

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  18. Point 10 is the most pertinent of them all. Scotland should be wooden spoon favourites for the next 5 years on the basis of where our under 20s are. This lies squarely at the door of the SRU and needs addressed with urgency.Current incumbents at SRU not fit for purpose. Needs a total overhaul and refocus on sorting youth system

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    • Public schools rugby and youth rugby in general for lower league clubs is a shambles. Unless you go to a private school or one which concentrates on rugby, you have no chance. Nowhere near enough structure or cash being fed into lower league rugby or development. To continually produce at the top, you require to be solid in your foundations.

      • but when it comes to the Club game, SRUs stated objectives was “fewer, but stronger”.

        Clubs have been starved of funding to develop facilities, to get coaches into schools and to build the game across our communities.

        Talk of solid foundation is great in theory, but it needs a serious investment of cash.

    • Grassroots has been failed across the board. Biggest issue, without doubt, is that the competitive standard of rugby being played at school/club week to week is poor, with only two or three decent high level games each year. Perhaps with exception of top school and club conference. Players are just not tested at the highest level until they play national, and then found to be wanting.

      Somehow we need to get a structure which allows our best players to get competitive rugby on a regular basis. We should be seeing the regional rugby double, so that there are 6-8 games. Then we see who actually is able to cope with pressure and higher level rugby. And that will give confidence as they move forward.

  19. Major issues with the team as we saw. Coaching staff and certainly players need replacing. The physicality and quality of play on the pitch was inferior to what is expected from a national team. Disgraceful I hate to say but true. The players at times played with no idea what to do which must come down to tactics and therefore coaching staff.
    Then the issue of lack of discipline and lack of respect to be chosen to play for their country but also what they were told from Townie about going out in Edinburgh. It is apparent they care less for their coach and even less for being chosen to play for their country.
    Grass roots Scottish rugby is also shocking with U20/U18 getting thrashed by competition almost every match.
    Not an exciting future but one which must be grasped by all and shaken violently then reset and start again.
    At this rate it is Scotland who should be relegated and not Italy…think on that SRU!

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  20. Nice piece Iain.

    France were scintillating in full flow and deserved winners of the championship.

    There’s a great article on the Guardian which replayed some of Jones commentary when he had a column in the Daily Mail. The question was what would Jones the columnist make of Jones the coach?

    Here’s Jones questioning Lancaster’s approach “They went away from what they had practised for most of the year and that breeds confusion amongst the players. If you don’t have clarity, you have a problem.”

    Might just be me but alarming parallels with Scotland.

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