Junior World Trophy reaction: Kenny Murray demands improvements from Scotland after Zimbabwe win

Five second half tries conceded is a cause for concern

Geordie Gwynn scored a hat-trick of tries for Scotland Under-20s. Image: World Rugby
Geordie Gwynn scored a hat-trick of tries for Scotland Under-20s. Image: World Rugby

SCOTLAND Under-20s head coach Kenny Murray was generally satisfied with his team’s performance in the win versus Zimbabwe in the World Rugby Trophy this [Saturday] morning, but warned his players that they must improve defensively going forward.

The young Scots won the Pool A clash in Nairobi in Kenya 64-33, scoring 10 tries in total, but they switched off for a period in the second half and Zimbabwe capitalised in some style with three counter attack scores.

“We are pleased to win and get a game under our belts,” said Murray. “Performance-wise we dominated the game well in the first half and got ourselves into a well-deserved lead, we controlled the game well, executed things well and took a few of our opportunities.

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“If we are to be critical of ourselves we weren’t clinical enough in attack and we left a few tries out there in the first half and then again in the second half.

“So, going forward we want to be more clinical with the ball in hand while after the break we had a really poor 10-15 minute spell defensively, we were a bit narrow and switched off.

“They got their tails up and we didn’t react quickly enough so there are a lot of learnings we can take from that period.

“We knew they would play wide, we didn’t react, so we have to work harder in defence going forward and boys need to take it on the chin, that 10-15 minute spell wasn’t good enough.

“At this level you will get punished if you don’t defend well.

“We have things to work on before the next game, but overall it was a positive start and was just good to get the boys out there on the pitch after a long build up since the Six Nations.

“We will take the win and move on quickly because we know we have to win four games while we are out here to be successful.”

Next up for Scotland is USA on Thursday at noon UK time and Murray was going to be back at the Nyayo National Stadium to watch them play Uruguay on Saturday afternoon [that game finished 33-31 to the South Americans].

“We have already done a review of the USA and I’ll pick up some more things from watching them live,” he explained.

“They are quite a strong team, quite a physical team, but now that we have a game under our belts here and are a bit more used to the conditions we will be focusing on ourselves in the coming days.

“At training we will be working on tidying up a few things, looking at being more clinical and defensively we will be working on being tough at the breakdown for 80 minutes because we can’t give away five tries in a match going forward.”

In terms of injuries, hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty went off in the first half against Zimbabwe and and hat-trick hero Geordie Gwynn.

“Jerry got a bit of a bang to the hand, he is away getting it checked out just now,” said Murray. “Fingers crossed it is just a wee stave, but he needs to get it checked out while Geordie got a bang to the cheek and he is away getting a scan on that, so we will hopefully know more soon.”

The Scotland players wore black armbands during the Zimbabwe game in memory of former full internationalist Greig Oliver who passed away recently in South Africa.

Junior World Trophy: Scotland start strongly against Zimbabwe

About Gary Heatly 463 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.


  1. Not really sure of the answer to this myself, but what are the views on how the u20’s would fair if they were to play as a team in the Premiership? My own feeling is that they’d probably lose more than they won.

    That gives me some concern about, what will be a weaker squad than the one currently in Kenya, will fare in the upcoming Super Series. I think they could be in for some demoralising defeats.

  2. It was clear that altitude played its part in the drop off of work rate… but that really shouldn’t of been a thing as management must surely of known where they were playing and what the effects would be. The worry will be now that teams will have a plan for us now 🤷‍♂️ And did the debut 10 get a concussion as we seem to be going through 10’s at an alarming rate 🤔😳🤞🏽

    • I don’t disagree with your point, but the team were unable to train properly due to the civil unrest and that will have affected them at the altitude. Zimbabwe’s capital is at nearly 5000ft so they will have been much more used to playing at the altitude the game was played at.
      Hopefully with a game behind them and proper training, the drop-off at 60ish minutes won’t be as bad. The USA train in Colorado which is a similar altitude, so the Scots will need to be careful with that against them, but after that Uruguay is quite a flat country so they won’t have that advantage and Spain/Samoa won’t be all too used to altitude either. Hopefully Scotland will have learned from this though and be better next Thursday.

      Re: the 10, I didn’t see a head-knock in the game and he’s not mentioned in the article as an injury concern. I imagine he was taken off to keep him fresher for the next game and to see how King went at 10.

      • Fair point on the lock-in, I didn’t make the connection to the missing training 👍 and on the 10 I rembered seeing him with a cut around the eye, then King was at 10.

  3. A strange comment “At this level you will get punished if you don’t defend well” – I’ve news for you Mr. Murray I think you might find that is the case at any level.

      • I was trying to judge the standard of Zimbabwe yesterday. I’d have said definitively not Prem standard, their tackling/organisation was woeful at times.

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