Russell, Hogg, Price and Graham among six Scotland players disciplined for bar visit

Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu also involved

Stuart Hogg, Ali Price and Finn Russell were among six players who were disciplined after visiting a pub in Edinburgh last Saturday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stuart Hogg, Ali Price and Finn Russell were among six players who were disciplined after visiting a pub in Edinburgh last Saturday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND captain Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell (who has been dropped to the bench for tomorrow’s match against Ireland), Ali Price, Darcy Graham, Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu have all been subject to an internal disciplinary process following a visit to a bar in Edinburgh after last Saturday’s victory over Italy, it has been reported.

The group were punished after leaving the team hotel following the squad’s return from Rome. The players were ordered back to the team base after Scotland management became aware of their illicit excursion.

“The Scotland management team have this week dealt with a post-match matter involving six players following the game against Italy last weekend,” said a Scottish Rugby statement, according to the BBC.


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“The players involved have been spoken to individually and those conversations and outcomes will remain private.

“Preparations for the match against Ireland this week have been good and the whole squad is fully focused on achieving a positive result on Saturday.”

Russell has a tempestuous history with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. He missed the first four rounds of the 2020 Six Nations, before the Covid interruption, due to a fall-out over whether he could have a second beer in the team’s hotel bar on the eve of the start of their pre-tournament training camp, with the stand-off making it clear during the very public spat which developed that he felt the issue ran deeper than that, and related to issues such as game-plan and the fundamentals of his relationship with the coach.

Tuipulotu has been released from the squad and has been named on the bench for Glasgow Warriors against Edinburgh tonight [Friday], while Hogg, Graham, Johnson and Price will all start against Ireland tomorrow.

The presence of Hogg on the trip to the bar is perhaps the biggest concern given his role as captain and his reputation for having tunnel-vision focus when it comes to playing for Scotland.


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About David Barnes 2960 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

62 Comments

  1. In this time of angst, sackcloth and ashes abounding it is maybe time to gain some perspective.

    This Jimmy Johnstone story from football. Oh yes they beat Wales just before this escapade, and England just after.

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/arid-20298011.html

    The good news is that organisations keep going on, those in charge are merely transient custodians. Here today, gone tomorrow.

    New people will come along to take on the mantle, just make sure they are up to the job.

  2. All players involved should have been dropped for this breach of discipline and team protocol. Full stop. They knew the rules, were reminded of them by the coaching staff on the return from Rome and still chose to ignore them before ending up in a well known George Street nightclub drinking and chasing skirt.

    There has to be a consequence or why have any rules or protocols in the first place? These aren’t the actions of dedicated professional sports people in the middle of a major tournament representing their country. The players actions are embarrassing and the fact that all of them bar one were allowed to play for Scotland today sends out the wrong message particularly to young players starting out in the game.

    Consequences aside though, the players should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they thought this was a good idea in the first place. A serious lack of individual and collective judgement, and a lack of respect to the team and the jersey they claim to represent. There is possibly some arrogance thrown in for good measure of course now they have ‘made it’ as international players. Everyone can make a mistake but this was a conscious decision taken by a group including senior players and the team Captain to ignore the rules and carry on regardless. Unfortunately for Russell it’s now becoming a bit of a habit as well.

    As for the game today the result was as predicted. Ireland deserved to win. They are a better, more disciplined and consistently effective side than Scotland at present. The table and the performances witnessed don’t lie. As to Hogg’s post match analysis on Scotland’s performance today…’the score doesn’t reflect how good we are…we had the best training week and were well prepared…we need to keep learning and cut-out the mistakes…this is a team that can continue to grow together…’ etc etc is just Groundhog Day stuff. The same old, same old from Hogg and Townsend throughout this tournament. They may as well play it on a loop and save the interviews. Tired excuses and clearly there is no learning going on either on the pitch, or off it. Bland consultancy speak and devoid of honesty on what has been an underwhelming campaign. The coaching staff have to take responsibility for this.

    I also recognise Hogg can be a good player on his day but he is out of his depth as the Captain of Scotland. His time is up. The honour of leading your country is about more than being a good player. It is represented by a player who demonstrates the highest standards on and off the pitch and who commands the respect of his teammates, the fans and the public more widely. No excuses either to explain poor performances. It’s time for Hogg to pass on the honour and the players should apologise publicly and focus on their games. Plenty of time for them to drink and chat up the lassies in the close season or when they retire.

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  3. Already have my tin hat on.
    Do we know enough to surmise cause & effect?
    Have we any clues as to motive for jumping the fence?
    One side only of the incident has a well paid professional PR machine – is it an honest agent?
    Will we ever know the entire, clean truth?
    What on earth inspires the “coach” to make such seemingly screwball decisions?
    My impression is that GT is totally out his depth & is kneejerking right, left & centre.
    Can I take my tin hat off now please?

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  4. Townsend has achieved absolutely Zero during his Head Coach tenure and I doubt very much there will be any consolation in Dublin this afternoon. Ireland will very likely show them up as the very mediocre team they are! Are Scotland sure they want GT to still be there for #RWC2023 in France?

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  5. For me according the the rumours that Finn stayed out and went to his parents, i’d bin him. This is a team who have achieved precisely nothing yet they stick two fingers up to the Scottish public with this sort of behaviour. The bond which the national team has with the public for me has been broken. Lets just say farewell to Finn and move on to another fly half who wants to play for his country. Look at how much effort the Scottish Football team have put into every match over the last couple of years with a very mediocre group of players, they’ve rebuilt their bonds with the Scottish public, me for one as a season ticket holder I’m in two minds as to whether I renew. If the players don’t care why should I.

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    • ALERT. FAKE NEWS

      “according to the rumours..” from that then develop all sorts of scenarios.

  6. Let’s face it Townsend is a miserable uninspiring git. He treats some players differently from others. Even Eddie Jones is more cheerful and positive.

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  7. What concerns me about this incident is not that anything particularly bad happened but rather:

    The players were warned not to go out and did so anyway. That they are the most senior players and captain shows a lack of respect and zero relationship between players and management.

    That the SRU then chose to leak this story a day before the actual match is beyond belief. That will undermine morale and distract our key players before the defining match of the season. Why would anyone want to sabotage our already small chances of victory?

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  8. Does anyone hear of any of these disciplinary issues in any other 6 nations squad?

    How many of these issues have we had in the recent past?

    Why do professional players think it’s ok to drink mid-tournament?

    We have won nothing for 20 plus years. Theres many reasons for this. But this playing group have had a real chance to do something. And all they’ve done is flattered to deceive, disappointed, had “internal issues”, and generally been the architects of their own defeat…with the occasional glimpse of hope.

    We don’t deserve this as fans. I’d hate to count the hours, money, and effort I’ve put into supporting Scotland over 40-odd years, and in particular this playing group of recent.

    We are a constant tragedy…it’s always something. Either on the pitch or off it.

    Enough is enough. None of these players have won anything in a Scotland jersey. But yet they strut about like they are owed something.

    Look at who’s won the 6 nations lately and how they go about their business…you see none of this bloody nonsense. Just dedication and they do their talking on the pitch.

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  9. Come May Hoggy & Darcy might be first in the queue for ‘Hut ‘ tickets

    Horses are as scarce as hobbyhorses shyyte. this year mind

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  10. Not exactly captain behaviour. If this is setting an example for the rest if the team to follow, set one by taking yourself home pal. We don’t need players that put a beer before the rest if the team.

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  11. Happy players are better players. Gregor T needs to remember this. International rugby players, one of whom is the team captain, do not rebel for no reason.

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  12. It’s impossible to know what motivated this latest breach. Interestingly it was only the backs who were involved. Whatever the reasons it’s clear from this episode and our performances all is not well in the camp. There have to be some repercussions after the tournament is over. Even if the players were reprimanded dependant upon the underlying reasons it’s extremely difficult to see how the current regime can continue as it is. Question is does Dodson have the cahoonas or the finances to make it happen.

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  13. Well we’re do we start. Russell cannot stand playing for Townsend
    Russell will be back playing brilliantly as soon as he is back in Paris. Townsend and his little side kick Tandy have made the environment toxic they are treating grown men some with character about them as naughty little schoolboys. We will not move forward until Townsend buggers off and see how well he does away from his safety net of the SRU.

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  14. Forget covid. 99% of “cases” aren’t cases,they are positive tests and will never have any symptoms.
    It makes you wonder if the team in general are berated for straying from Townsend’s gameplan, whatever that is. Those with a lot of individuality rebelled, maybe with a view to trying something different. The second half in the 38-all draw is a case in point.
    Sticking to the plan did nothing against Wales and we seem to have lost the ability to defend as well.
    We need a new gameplan. The players in the squad all play much better for their clubs, and then seem to deteriorate for country.
    Consistency is needed. Skinner was excellent against Italy but then benched. Why? Hogg hasn’t been good for a few games. Baxter dropped him, Townsend doesn’t seem to be able to. Maybe a drinking trip suggests that Hogg is also not buying into the plan.
    NZ and France seem to play what is in front of them rather than some rugby- by- rote. Are Scotland being stifled?

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    • A fair point; but on the flip side it was not following the game plan that did for us so badly against France (only kicking 3% of ball as opposed to usual 12-15%), and not following the game plan accurately against Wales ( that awful string of howlers in the second half). I’d say that neither side comes out of this well.

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  15. It will come as no surprise to many Hawick folk that this has happened with Hogg. Some of us will also remember the disrespect shown by Russell a couple of years back at a premier function in Jed as well. Ingrained character flaws.

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  16. I would send them all back to there clubs, no player or players are bigger than the national side?

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  17. Underwhelming on the pitch. Now ructions off it. Russell uninspired (uninterested?). Hastings nowhere to be seen. Kinghorn at 10 nothing more than a desperate gamble. The excellent Skinner benched. Vellacott gets 5 minutes over entire competition. McInally underused. Ashman nowhere. I could go on. Understatement to say all is not well. Tomorrow could get very ugly. If so will the suits change coaches 18 months out from a world cup? Somehow I doubt it. Would be an admission of failure. If they do-Stuart Lancaster anyone?

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  18. So… trumped up primadonnas who have an overinflated view on their standing in world rugby, or a Coaching team who is proving to be simply inept…..

    Probably both, and neither acceptable.

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  19. This is a shambles. We have a fragmented squad, senior players rebelling against the coaching regime and coach falling to pieces. No one emerges with any credit. And we’ll get hammered tomorrow. What a shambles.

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  20. This is a farce. Grown men being treated like children. These lads are together for 5/6 weeks with limited family time and working in a pretty constant environment. Give them peace to unwind. Rugby needs characters, always has and always will. Rugby doesn’t need professional robots.
    If someone has performed badly then drop them. If alcohol impacts playing ability then drop them after the bad performance and soon enough the player will realise themselves what the issue is.
    If people feel hard done by spending money going to watch these guys then I’d suggest you don’t go.
    Scotland aren’t losing because 6 lads decided to go out for some beers…

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  21. It says a lot that a bunch of the players felt the need to get away and release the pressure/tension of the Scotland camp. I don’t blame them, there is only so much a person can take and i suspect it would have improved the those individuals performance to have let off some steam and get back mentally into the right frame of mind.

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  22. None of them should be playing tomorrow. Hoggy should now loose the captaincy. Absolute no common sense or professionalism shown by their actions. Not a fan of GT but these players are bang out of order.

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  23. GT has clearly lost respect among some, if not all, the payers & I’m not really surprised. The fact that Hogg was involved says it all. Time to refresh, starting with a new coach.

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  24. Townsend lost the dressing room a few years back, how much worse has it to get before the crooks at the top get distracted from there snouts in the trough and do what there paid to do ?

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  25. Now the truth comes out. Goes some way to explain the failures after the England game I suspect.

  26. Hmmm according to Zander there were plenty out on lash after England game. Seems to be a la k of consistency in what is and isn’t allowed. My take is in 2021 professional athletes shouldn’t be near alcohol in the middle of a tournament. Our competitors are racing ahead of us in every aspect of the game and this sort of team indiscipline points to deep underlying problems in the group. We have clearly moved on results wise from cotter but it’s hit a plateau. Time to press the red button and give a new coaching team the reigns to complete the RWC cycle. The Ulster coach has been a loss since he left so let’s try to get him back in.

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  27. Following your article on this years collapse in Cardiff I raised the issue of our teams lack of professionalism regarding their approach to alcohol mid tournament- as a result of Zander Fagerson’s admission that some of his teammates had taken it a little too far (his language was less choice).
    Clearly there’s an unhealthy culture around the Scotland camp now, and that needs to change. Young players breaking into the squad should be discovering a sports science machine, with peak performance it’s only goal.
    These men are professional athletes, I’ve spent over £1,000 taking my family to the two home matches this campaign. We have a right to demand they make the sacrifices required of a modern professional athlete.

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  28. Wish we could hear Finn’s take on this .
    Can’t be easy getting the flair coached out of you..
    Only hearing one side of this

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  29. What do you think Eddie Jones would have done with this lot … ?
    I sincerely doubt they would have still been playing…
    Weak from GT , there can’t be rules for some and not for others , if this had been less experience players they would undoubtedly have been dealt with differently and dropped.
    For this to come out now , the day before a test is also very poor judgement..
    There is an inherent cultural weakness within this group and this also manifests in performances.
    Hoggy can’t bleat on about team togetherness and then be stupid enough to do this , their morale compasses are way off not to mention common sense re Covid infection rate …
    These actions jeopardise the whole squad not to mention the enjoyment of thousands of supporters who are travelling to Ireland based on the fact they are going to see a full Scotland team.
    Absolutely brainless from all of them and sanctions should have been clear and severe.

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  30. Am I alone in thinking that Russell might just walk away from international rugby after tomorrow? Racing would surely prefer to have him all to themselves and he seems to love it there. Maybe a few more € if he does …

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  31. Players on the piss and Townsend pissing away our best crop of players since the game went professional.

    After the Ireland thrash us tomorrow can we please ditch Townsend and employ a coach that has an idea how to build a performing environment and make the most of his players? Dan McFarland?

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    • To be clear, the players are well in the wrong but this signals a camp that is not at all happy or has no respect for their coach.

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    • Sad to hear this. If it’s some sort of mutiny… we can only speculate if Scotland would’ve performed better with another coach.

  32. Toonie should have dropped the lot. Kinghorn could have started at 15, Graham and Johnson replaced by McLean if fit and Bennett, Hasting to start at 10 and White at 9.

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    • Hastings is on the piss at Cheltenham. Don’t blame him. Why he’s not in the squad is very strange. And our under 20s getting pulverised. It’s a bleak future out there. A few bright lights -Jamie Dobie etc I guess. Finn is like cricketing KP

  33. The smells a bit like the backs rebelling and meeting up off site to try and come up with an alternative game plan rather than just needing a beer. Alternatively they might just have been needing to get some stuff sorted out between them to clear the air. Either way these players are too senior to be taking a risk like this unless there is something going seriously wrong in camp.

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  34. Such a poor decision by the supposed ‘leadership group’. Going for a drink aside, the Covid implications are huge and could have crippled the team. There’s a time and a place for this and this echoes of going on the piss after the England game then failing to turn up against Wales. A real lack of judgement and respect for the management group, team mates and fans.

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  35. Embarrassing, rugby players visit bar on a Saturday night. Not like they are professional players and athletes that can make their own decisions…the pantomime continues will it ever end

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    • Under normal circumstances a pint or two in a nearby pub would be encouraged after a game. But – we still gave Covid restrictions which prohibit this.How many of the sad six will test positive before the KO tomorrow? Is the protocol communication not crystal or is this a rebellion? Either way, what it isn’t- is professional.

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