RWC23: Scotland debrief: Gregor Townsend turns his focus forward

Will head coach become only the second Tier One head coach to lead the same side into three consecutive World Cups?

Gregor Townsend is already looking ahead after Saturday's World Cup pool exit. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Gregor Townsend is already looking ahead after Saturday's World Cup pool exit. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

LEADING the same nation at three consecutive World Cups is a fair old feat. In fact, apart from Warren Gatland – who is now at his fourth tournament in charge of Wales, albeit after a brief sabbatical between this and the last one – no other Tier One boss has managed it.

While Gregor Townsend was at pains to stress that he is taking nothing for granted, the Scotland head coach certainly sounded like he fancies making it third time lucky in 2027 when he spoke earlier today [Sunday] about his team’s second successive World Cup pool stage exit.

“That is hypothetical,” the 50-year-old Townsend said, when asked if he is gearing up for another tilt at the quarter-finals. “I am not contracted to the next World Cup, I am contracted for the next couple of years so we will see what happens in these next couple of years. Lots can happen during that period.


RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

RWC23: Ireland v Scotland reaction: Townsend praises Irish excellence

RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: crushing defeat sends Scots home


“The focus is to make sure that we learn from this experience, especially from last night’s defeat to Ireland and the South Africa game.

“The response from the team after South Africa was excellent but clearly we did not achieve what we wanted to achieve or believed we could achieve last night. We must learn what we can do better and what Ireland can do really well.

“We know they [Ireland] are ahead of us and we have a bit of work to do to catch them but everybody in world rugby is probably trying to get to the standard they’ve set over the last couple of years.”

Given that Townsend’s current contract – signed in May of this year – runs until April 2026, less than 18 months before the next World Cup, it seems highly unlikely that Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson is minded towards change before Australia 2027 unless there is a dramatic shift in the two men’s relationship.

Below that, there is inevitably going to be some movement in terms of playing personnel although Townsend was hopeful that some of his old-timers share his appetite for at least another season.

“I hope there are no retirements after this World Cup,” he said. “I think some of the older players in our squad have been some of our best performers. WP Nel [aged 37] is physically in the best shape of his life, he’s started more games for us this year than he ever has and he’s played really well.

“I thought Richie Gray [34] was one of our best players, if not the best, on the field on Saturday night. His physical ability is excellent but also his desire to keep going at the opposition was great to see.

“So, they are two of our older players and we obviously hope they are still available for the next couple of seasons.

“But whether it’s people retiring, or injury, or people not being selected because of form, we’ve got to have other players ready to go. We’ve got good depth at the top level so if there are people who are not available for the Six Nations, I’m sure we’ll manage fine.”

In terms of assistant coaches, Townsend indicated that he isn’t looking at a clear-out similar to the aftermath of Scotland’s 2019 World Cup flop, which cost Danny Wilson and Matt Taylor their jobs.

“We need to make a permanent appointment on the attack side,” he explained. “Mike Blair moved halfway through this World Cup cycle to Edinburgh, then we had AB Zondagh, then following the November Tests we brought in Pete Horne and Brad Mooar on a consultant basis, so I see that being a one-person role in the future but I’ve obviously got a bit of thinking to do on that.

“That would be the only change we have to make because we need someone in that role,” Townsend added, before confirming that both Horne and Mooar will be contenders for the role if they want it. “Absolutely, and Pete has been outstanding as a young coach coming in for the Six Nations working on a couple of areas, he’s now grown and evolved to take on more responsibility. He has been brilliant to work alongside.

“It is also great news that a young Scottish coach like John Dalziel in the forwards has progressed really quickly to be coaching really well at Test level.”

 

Whatever happens, there needs to be a proper review of the whole campaign, although it rather looks like the plan at the moment is to follow a similar routine to most other Scottish Rugby self-assessment exercises in recent years – including the last World Cup debrief – meaning limited external involvement and next to no visibility of findings.

“We will have a lot of coaching meetings and will have feedback meetings with all the players in terms of their views on certain areas, [such as] preparation, game-plan, support, and getting their ideas,” said Townsend.

“There is a lot to build on and there is the game to learn from. How could we have played better? How do we play a team like Ireland when we get the opportunity again over in Dublin in a few months’ time.”

There is a very good chance that match – in the final round of the 2024 Six Nations – will be against the reigning world champions who will be defending their Grand Slam title. The fact Scotland were on a par as a rugby nation, and perhaps even slightly ahead across the piece, up until about 15 years ago makes current contrasting fortunes all the more unpalatable.

Frankly, it is hard to see a way of ever closing the yawning gap which has now developed between the two nations, and all Townsend can really do as head coach is nibble around the edges to try and create an environment where Scotland can somehow stay competitive despite an inadequate player pathway and a listless professional tier which relies too heavily on journeyman who are never going to substantially raise the bar rather than youngsters who need to be given a chance to sink or swim.

“There’s a lot we can do better from age-group into pro level, I think we all accept that, but there are things we can do at international level as well,” he said. “There are things we can learn off Ireland. For example, they took a bigger squad out to New Zealand last year and played a midweek game against the Māori – so that was an invaluable experience for their first team to play three huge Tests in three weeks and for the other players to be in that environment and play top quality opposition.

“Ireland also took a team out to South Africa, removing them from the URC to play a few games – so these are things we can do with the group just outside the Test level to get them better prepared for Test rugby.”

“Last year was a really important tour for us to give young players an opportunity against Chile, and then against Argentina, which set us up for one of the best years of rugby we’ve had. We have to build on that next summer wherever we go on tour [likely to be North America], by making sure we get more games to give players who might not be playing regularly for their pro team or might not be playing regularly at Test level the chance to experience the environment.”


RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

About David Barnes 3912 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.

100 Comments

  1. Reflecting upon the bigger picture – under the present SRU CEO, the health and wealth of domestic (essentially grassroots) rugby in Scotland has taken a back seat to his own pocket-lining & personal best interests and corporate activities with only the narrowest focus upon the senior international / professional aspects of the Game.

    All this has come to pass primarily under the argis of a Union Chairman with an extensive rugby background, although his highly personal (self-serving?) ambitions and intentions had clearly lain furth of Scotland for several years….

    Now – to cap it all, we appear to be saddled with a couple of “Boards” (SR “Custodians” and SRUL “Business”) charged with running the show, in both rugby and commercial senses, respectively. Astonishingly, both of those “Boards” appear to have become infested with a preponderance of people from a wide variety of often irrelevant backgrounds, mostly professing to have been lifelong “rugby supporters” (whatever that might mean) although possessing little or no relevant rugby experience of any kind, at any discernible level, anywhere.

    That, friends & colleagues, rather highlights where the problems currently besetting Scottish rugby lie, and why. A dripping roast, a trough of plenty for those with brown noses, a convenient pension-boosting gravy train for some, a “closed” club – those at the wheel appear unable to drive, totally out of their depth, invisible, seemingly silent or “feart” as they cower and shy away from addressing issues and / or confronting serious shortcomings in their own management and governance of Scottish rugby, and the business of Scottish Rugby!

    AGM coming up fairly soon – any interest?

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  2. Awaiting Dodson’s take on all this .
    He’s the one who’s made decisions .many of which have went belly up to the detriment of Scottish rugby
    He’s a lot of explaining to do has he not .
    When does he come out of hiding ?.
    Cmon show your face and explain the mess .he must be back from his France freebie by now

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  3. Agree 100% with your assessment. All the players you mention, bar Crosbie, are open sides. Even Dempsey is a 6.5 and not an 8. Remember Paris ’21 when we beat the French with players like Kebble, Haining, Skinner and big Alex Craig’s cameo off the bench? Toonie doesn’t want these big guys – doesn’t fit his philosophy. Marcus Bradbury is another – a big brute who always takes the team forward and has played 19 times for Scotland but apparently is not good enough for the current squad. Watching Richie and Dempsey get beaten up on Saturday night was painful when we have the likes of Skinner, Crosbie and Bradbury watching on. Toonie’s style is ok against teams like Wales and England but competing with Ireland, NZ, France and SA needs a different approach.

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  4. Agree 100% with your assessment. All the players you mention, bar Crosbie, are open sides. Even Dempsey is a 6.5 and not an 8. Remember Paris ’21 when we beat the French with players like Kebble, Haining, Skinner and big Alex Craig’s cameo off the bench? Toonie doesn’t want these big guys – doesn’t fit his philosophy. Marcus Bradbury is another – a big brute who always takes the team forward and has played 19 times for Scotland but apparently is not good enough for the current squad. Watching Richie and Dempsey get beaten up on Saturday night was painful when we have the likes of Skinner, Crosbie and Bradbury watching on. Toonie’s style is ok against teams like Wales and England but competing with Ireland, NZ, France and SA needs a different approach.

  5. Perhaps the best way would be stop buying tickets for Murrayfield and show our discontent with our feet

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    • I dont think that would help. The issue isn’t Toonie or the players who are doing their best with what they have got. The issue is there is simply not enough players in Scotland playing rugby, clubs struggle to field teams,and the development pathways currently don’t work. Significant funding in clubs and state schools is the answer

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      • Do you honestly believe it is simply down to playing numbers. If that was the case England and France between them would win every tournament they enter. Seriously!

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      • TT – Andy didn’t say it was “simply down to playing numbers” did he? He also highlighted failing development pathways for a start.

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  6. Scotland and Ireland on a par 15 years ago?
    Really?
    15 years ago was 2008.
    Ireland by that stage had a couple of 6N triple crowns under their belt and would win their 1st championship a season later in 2009 with a grand slam.
    The year before in 2007 Scotland took the wooden spoon in a season which included a thrashing by Italy at Murrayfield!

    We were nowhere near Ireland 15 years ago and haven’t been during the entire 6N period give or take the odd result like 2001 and 2010.

    We used to batter them in the 80s and 90s but that’s 25-40 years ago!

    I don’t know if we can catch them up. Our issue is in the forwards. If you put the Scotland backs behind the Ireland pack they would be lethal and capable of beating everyone consistently. The backs are not the problem, the forward are.

    This is not to say our forwards are bad players, they’re not, but as a unit, they’re imbalanced.

    Look at our flankers. With the exception of Crosbie they’re all the same kind of players – Darge, Ritchie Fagerson and even Watson are all really opensides or maybe mobile 6.5s who specialise in link play and jackaling rather than smashing over the gainline, and they fit perfectly into a tradition going all the way back to the likes of David Leslie and the Calders.
    The same is true of our 2nd rows. Even though some of them are big units the way they play is still rangy and maverick and that’s a tradition going all the way back through Doddie Weir to players like Al McHarg.

    I don’t know why we produce so many players like this. I expect Some of it will relate to numbers, some of it to culture and the way kids are taught to play but a bit more balance in our forward play would probably make a difference.

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    • I mean is there any relevance to the fact that we’re one of the few top-tier sides to be coached by a back, and a “silky” one at that? does toony really know how to set up a team to have a ferocious pack, with the balance and attitude that looked like such a huge gap (and always has last 7 years) between us and Ireland pack? I don’t know, I’ve not played rugby much (just an avid watcher over many years) and I know he has forwards coaches, but the overall tone/culture/attitude is set from him presumably.

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    • Agree 100% with your assessment. All the players you mention, bar Crosbie, are open sides. Even Dempsey is a 6.5 and not an 8. Remember Paris ’21 when we beat the French with players like Kebble, Haining, Skinner and big Alex Craig’s cameo off the bench. Toonie doesn’t want these big guys – doesn’t fit his philosophy. Marcus Bradbury is another – a big brute who always takes the team forward and has played 19 times for Scotland but apparently is not good enough for the current squad. Watching Richie and Dempsey get beaten up on Saturday night was painful when we have the likes of Skinner, Crosbie and Bradbury watching. Toonie’s style is ok against teams like Wales and England but competing with Ireland, NZ, France and SA needs a different approach. On a side note, Ireland are far the better team and rightly deserve their current No.1 status but last saturday they benefited from some awful decisions from the officials and TMO which made a difficult job much harder for Scotland. If officiated properly, Ireland would not have been 20+ points better than Scotland.

    • I agree with some of your points and certainly the idea of our backs behind their forwards sounds nice. I left the game thinking it was all about our forwards but when i watched the game later i realised the backs defence was also poor at times and could have been better. I earlier posted about our drift defence giving them far too much time on the ball rather than using a rush defence – this is a tactical choice that our coaches have made and could be changed.

      I agree the forward balance is not right and have always thought Skinner at 6 would help and yes just play one genuine 7. Whether this would suddenly help us match Ireland I’m not sure but when the 6 Nations comes round we need to need to try some of these things otherwise we we will just get the same result. I think this will be a good indicator of the coaching teams willingness to change direction slightly.

  7. Mr Barnes, carrying a thematic analysis through these comments would provide an interesting report to be possibly shared among the pages of a national newspaper…
    ‘from the voices of those who ride the waves of Scottish Rugby’! Could be the start of something. When has the game here ever needed more attention to create the changes required for the future?

  8. Super6 would be a good place to start.
    If we want to grow the game and have a bit of money to throw at it why only 6 franchises and why 3 in Embra?
    Ideally to take semi pro round the country we should try for 2 in the North, 2 in Glasgow and another in Dumfries. Aspiring athletic kids who fancy giving rugby a go as a career need to know they can do so whilst continuing their education/ part time job, not have to travel to the capital.

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  9. Whereas we were cursed with the worst group possible, it’s incredibly frustrating that we haven’t really fired a shot in a world cup since 2015.

    I don’t know if that’s coaching, or mental preparation, or simply an inherent lack of belief.

    But it’s something that needs to be looked at urgently.

    • We didn’t fire a shot then with….first halves against USA Samoa and a knackered Japan. We were swept aside by SA and couldn’t retain a line out to Australia. We never beat tier 1 nations at RWC. Hoping for an easy draw doesn’t really count as a strategy.

  10. Time is probably up for GT. he’s done a good job overall but it is not so much the results but the manner of defeats. Think things have got a bit cosy and we need some fresh perspectives.

    We are punching above our weight and we may have reached as high as we can without improving the youth structure which is a 5-10 year job. Nevertheless, we’ve got to keep pursuing the dream of a 6N. Frankly I don’t care about the RWC.

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  11. We are definitely at a fork in the road point on the national team journey. Do we accepts that this is about as good as it gets. After all we are at a world high ranking of 5th and can give France and possibly NZ a scare in a one off game if not Ireland and South Africa. I would also say that of the top 9 in the world we have the smallest player pool and could therefore could be described as over achievers. However, I look back at the rankings and see that Wales and England were both number 1 at some point during 2019 with main point of difference being coaching and now we’re better than them. I dont see why we shouldnt aspire to go there. We can grow the player pool from the grass roots up if we want to. Its a game of fine margins and we can fix the lineout, ruck and defence, tweak the attack and improve the mentality with the right coaching. If we dont choose that road now then when?

    • im not sure we are over achieving …when most people on here voiced that they feel like we did not ‘leave it all out there’ ..that we could have done better with the players we had.
      We looked like we were underprepared again ..which is a joke against a team we have lost 8 straight too…we looked like we had no alternative plays or tactics to go to when Ireland were dominating play… our defense looked disorganized and passive.
      We don’t have a coach that could motivate a team when the going gets tough….he couldn’t motivate a great white to eat a tuna fish 2 ft in front of him. We have too many soft hearted players that need a kick up the **** when faced with these matches. We have talent and we are not using it well enough.
      I often think if we had a Sir Alex Ferguson type he would not select half the players GT does, he would consider them too soft to win anything. He would have far more success and be a team that is really tough to beat. Thats the difference between an ok coach and a great one.

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    • Hi Big Al,
      This is a reply to you and all the other comments on here. I’m Irish so I believe that enables me to make the following comment.
      We have ‘won’ more wooden spoons than any/every other nation when it was The 5 Nations. For many years we could occasionally beat the others in Dublin…………but Scotland were always our Achilles heel. I used to wonder what the hell do we have to do to beat Scotland ? Year after year we got a bloody nose from Scotland home and away, I used to pray please can we beat them just once….AND THEN…..
      The answer came with professionalism, we literally overhauled EVERYTHING, we got proper non Irish professionals in and listened to them. It starting with the schools and working its way up. We had to do that ‘cas we couldn’t go any lower. It took probably 12 years before it slowly started to bear fruit. As the saying goes ‘the roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet’.
      I understand Scottish pain ‘cas pain was our ‘friend’ for many years. The word ‘IF’ has been used so many times in all these comments but ultimately ‘if the Queen had balls she’d be the King’.
      Scotland needs to grasp the nettle and do what Ireland did. I mean WE copied the All Blacks (and so what).
      The ‘sea of pain’ possibly awaits Scottish rugby so deep breath and in you go.

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  12. When is the message going to get through?

    We need a comprehensive national program to bring more kids into playing rugby. This is from pools of population where they would not normally play. How do you think Ireland did it? Exactly that…they targeted other sports with similar physical & mental requirements from a very early age.

    We need to foster a competitive Youth system that looks after kids so they don’t leave the sport at those ages. Too many kids drift off at 16, 17, 18 and are lost to other sports or nothing at all.

    We need to stop fooling ourselves its still 1990. We are owed nothing and should stop greetin, moaning, and boasting to the media. Shut up and get the job done. Let your playing do the talking. We are getting a reputation as complainers who think the world is against them and owes us a living.

    Look at the current situation – U20’s, 7’s and Super 6. We have nothing coming through as its an utter shambles. We are a Tier 2 nation thinking we are Tier 1. Try and find a comprehensive public statement of intent about our development pathways anywhere that isn’t window dressing…all you have to do is look at our U20’s to let you know where we are for the next 10 years.

    We are asking coaches to nominate players into pathways for U15 and above. Where are the scouts and leaders from the SRU who should have their fingers on the pulse of who is coming as a player from clubs and schools?

    The we come to the “Rugby Development Strategy 24-28” visiting the same old hotspots to get the same old faces in the same old rooms with the same old outcomes.

    Encompassed in this is the “State School Strategy 22-28″…who the hell thought that name up??? You might as well say “Poor People School Strategy”. 6 “Rugby Officers” for a whole nation of schools….6! There are 5,052 schools in Scotland, of that 2,001 are comprehensive primary schools and 357 comprehensive secondary schools. How are they meant to cover that ground? Fanciful nonsense dressed up as effort!

    The IRFU and the Irish provinces have a community officer attached to every club to look after their area including schools. They have KPI’s to meet every season. Usually they come from the club where they are based and know the local social landscape well. They invest time in local schools and network with parents to bring on kids who would not normally play rugby. That is connected to the Minis and Youth Coaches at each local club. They track what schools they are getting kids from and then target those where the numbers are low.

    We are dreaming if we think that Scottish Rugby is going anywhere in the next 10 years other than importing players who qualify through ancestry or residence. We are slowly killing our game from the inside and we are watching it happen.

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    • Grant absolute nail on the head! It can be done but it seems some like wallowing in failure. A cynic might think there is no money to be made from developing our own players when there’s all sorts of skullduggery at play with foreign recruitment. Only surprise is that Dodson hasn’t got Sam Allardyce in as a consultant….

    • …so Ireland do for Rugby what Scotland already does for football at ‘poor people school’.
      It just seems to me …that rugby in Scotland is still too pretentious. Part of our problem is that we put too much focus on too on privileged kids schools and put only obligatory minor effort into sourcing and developing kids from less wealthy demographics. The irony is that we would probably have had a team that actually fought like Ireland do, were more streetwise, something our side clearly lacks…… if we just sourced more players with challenging backgrounds…players with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove. Thats where we’ll find winners imo….and we have that in spades…we just aren’t making the effort to find and develop them.

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      • I live and coach in Ireland. It has a been a resounding success, and kids from all walks of life have been playing Rugby for quite a few years now.

        Do a large number still come from fee paying schools…Yes. But that is balanced out with those that do not. Tadhg Furlong is a great example of that. Club driven player who also played Gaelic Football & Hurling as a teenager. Very transferable skills.

        But its not just about those making it to test sides.

      • Exactly Grant…looking for transferable skills is done reactively, if at all, in Scotland and its probably too late.
        I went to a very working class school…yet went onto University just as others from far more privileged backgrounds did. At my school Rugby was completely non existent and never an option…and I never really enjoyed football but wanted to play a team sport that was more of a contact sport. I would have loved to play rugby…but only really came to it when it was much too late. So many kids would love to play it that are simply not exposed to it in Scotland. Imo we would have a much larger pool of players and also display a more accurate representation of Scotland and its culture on the field.

  13. The CEO has to go first. The key indicator of his performance in post must be the number of players age 21-30 who are playing regularly for our club sides. These figures must be available for the last 15-20 years and certainly during Dobson’s time in post. I am convinced they will show regrettably a downward trend.

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  14. You know it comes down to all of us here and as I said on the players ratings page in our communities. We all come with ideas and thoughts which may all be very different. However, we all want Scottish Rugby to succeed. Therefore to support the future and to see us succeed what it takes firstly is for us ALL to invest in our local sides and put in what we can to the younger players, our children, nieces, nephews, pupils etc. We may not change the culture at the top possibly until those up above see the efforts and wishes and wants that has the potential to create the change – and that is grassroots. Its our game and its our nation. # Time for Change!

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  15. Just take a look at Ireland’s coaching group, Farrell, Catt, O’Connell and Easterby, all winners, all clear thinkers when playing all leaders. What do Scotland have? Needing a complete clear out, forwards a dreadfully badly coached beaten at every turn by Ireland and the Boks.
    We’re on a cycle when key components of the forward pack won’t be around in 4 years time, so I can’t see us getting the quarter finals any time soon.

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      • I wonder how long it will be before England throw a chunk of change at Farrell to coach them….and how committed to Ireland he will be.

  16. The other concern is that not only has GT said that there is little to change on the coaching side …he thinks convincing a 37 yr old prop Nel and 34 year old lock R Gray to refrain from retirement is going to help us moving forward. What is the point?…we just got mullered by Ireland for something like the 8th or 9th match…we won’t be winning it…
    We need a coaching clear out…but if the status quo exists then the least we need to do is rebuild.
    Im dreading the 6N already…..I wonder how many in the squad fancy being selected for that now.

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    • Townsend seems to be a very poor selector with a number of favourites he persists with despite them never really showing the required standard for top level international rugby and others discarded or ignored without any real opportunities to show their abilities.
      Rory Hutchinson is often mentioned as a player who’s been hard done by; a very good adaptable and creative player who can play 12, 13 and even 10 yet hasn’t been give many chances. Some will say his defence lets him down but other current and just retired players with 50 and 100 caps were never noted for their defence. Hutchinson is just one example.

  17. Townsend & Dodson’s tenure has to be on a shoogly peg .
    What about getting the Portuguese coach .
    He can get a team .many part timers .many amateurs .one a dentist playing with passion and beating Fiji .
    Something has to change in the Scotland set up to get any better

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  18. Here’s my team for the Six Nations. I know, I know, it doesn’t include some of your favourites. Minor tweaks really, but it’s a better team all round.

    Fagerson, Turner, Shoeman:
    Gilchrist, Cummings:
    Dempsey, Skinner, Ritchie:
    Horne, Healey:
    Tuipolito, Jones:
    Steyn, Kinghorn, Van Der Merwe.

    Hopefully, this team will be led by a new coach.

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    • I like the idea of Skinner in the back row but rather have Darge before Ritchie. Clearly no Finn is a controversial one. Are you assuming Gary has retired?

      • What I’m attempting to achieve is to add heft to our back row, which is light. This is a short-term measure! Long term I would develop some solid ball-carrying second rows to fill the flanks. But we need to develop heft and grunt to our back row. It’s costing us too much at the breakdown, and the gainline, including the goal line!

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    • so basically you’re dropping Darcy, Darge and Finn for inferior options? Like the scrum-half change. Unfortunately I don’t think there are many options to improve on the 23 we had against Ireland. It’s the approach / collective mindset that is the issue rather than swapping in and out a few players.

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    • Would prefer a much younger side. Give the younger players a full 4 yrs before the next RWC. Hopefully others will appear over the next few yrs. Although not many from the current U20s. Schoeman, McBurney, Sebastian, Skinner, Henderson, Crosbie, Watson(c), Horne, Russell, Graham, Redpath, Steyn, VDM, Jones. Fagerson x2, Kinghorn, Tuipolotou and others need to be gingered up and realise they’re not automatic choices and if they want to extend their international careers they need to be better. Omission of Hamish was unwise at best, daft at worst when we knew we’d need dynamic ball carriers. As Captain he’s a player others will follow and give 100% commitment to. Can’t say the same about Ritchie who has never convinced as Captain. Nor as a player for the last year or so. Darge I have no doubt will prove to be a top player. But looked a bit lost on Saturday. Keep both of them in the squad with Ashman, Cummings, Bhatti, White, Healy. Reintegrate Hastings, Rowe and others and you might have the beginnings of a reasonable squad for the next RWC. But it has to begin between the ears. That’s where quality coaching must start whoever has the job

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  19. Here’s my team for the Six Nations. I know, I know, some of your favourites are not included. But this is a better team!

    Fagerson, Turner, Shoeman: Gilchrist, Cummings: Dempsey, Skinner, Ritchie: Horne, Healey, Tuipolito, Jones: Steyn, Kinghorn, Van Der Merwe.

    Hopefully this team will be led by a new coach. Gregor has reached his limit and needs to be replaced ASAP.

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    • Dropping Finn for Healy…..possibly best 10 on planet dumped for 3rd choice at Munster who was nowhere close to National side possibly 10th choice at a push. Wow!

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  20. Just watched the highlights on TV for the first time since returning from the game to try and understand how some of the Irish tries were scored so easily and what was happening with our defence. I wasn’t actually sure what sort of defensive system we operated (apart from porous) but watching tries 1,2 and 5 in particular we were just drifting across the park without putting pressure on the ball carrier particularly in the inside backs. Ireland seemed to have so much time on the ball as we simply are not closing down the space and then one of them straightens and finds a half gap and they are gone.

    Compare this with SA blitz defence where they fly up in the inside backs and take the space before you can barely get a 2nd pass away. This surely is where the defensive tactics and the coaching really can make a difference. Im no expert coach but such a passive defence does not work and so why aren’t we adopting the blitz defence? These sort of tactical issues are actually the things Id like to hear Gregor et al talking about and folks on this site discussing.

    I was initially blaming the forwards for most of our shortcomings which are harder to fix but the defensive tactics and positioning is something that can be changed with the players we have – so who’s the defensive coach and what’s the plan to improve our defence because we do concede a lot of tries.

    On try 1 – as mentioned elsewhere Beirne is blocking and actually runs into Turner and it highlights a huge inconsistency in the way this is refereed. I have seen other games where the TMO has stepped in for a very minor contact and it has been reviewed. In this game not even a review.

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  21. I feel that Gregor has taken us as far as he can and needs to be replaced ASAP. He’s run out of ideas!

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  22. Oh boy!!
    You could just copy paste GT comments from the last RWC and it would amount to the same.
    Why are we content going in circles with this stuff?
    Ireland don’t have the largest of player pools yet recognized 20 years ago that significant changes were needed to seriously compete…they developed a plan that suited there systems and culture and hey ho slowly but surely here they are…and setup up for long term.

    Instead here were are listening to a HC on repeat from the last RWC….resorting to …’its just a single new attack coach we
    need’ …and …our defense coaching developing really well. Crikey our defense was terrible in the matches that mattered….our set piece ranged from decent to a shambles… Our forwards looked and played like scared wee boys against men.

    Its like a goldfish in a bowl this……..

    Can someone in SRU please take the bull by the horns and make the changes. Even Sione eluded to being tired of the frustration of turning up after promises made and simply not delivering…..

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    • Townsends comments on tv are about how we need to get more players playing higher level rugby. I wouldn’t argue with that. The one small concern was he was being asked why the side he had coached following 3 years of preparation, a squad that he has described as a golden generation, had failed to perform. There is clearly wider issues regarding the Scottish game but his inability to take ownership of a failure to show up is insulting and concerning in equal measure. We cannot go on with the mismanagement from the SRU without writing off the future of the Scottish game. Elsewhere on the site it highlights Townsend would be (will be?) the only coach to lead a side to 3 consecutive world cups. Is there anything in Scotland’s performance at the last two to justify that? It seems only the abject management within the SRU that could keep him there. Gatland he is not.

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  23. Fairly shocked to see folk are still taken in by the Cotter con job….he’s been emptied from every job since we got rid. Whilst he might have been better than Scott Johnson (fair play after destroying our development system he’s killed Australian rugby) but he had no wins against Eng (including our worst ever defeat to them in and of itself a disgrace) OZ SA NZ n no away wins 6n outside of Rome. He had the easiest RWC draw we have ever had and didn’t manage a win over a tier 1 nation and frankly the first halves against a shattered Japan USA and a poor Samoa were dire. Does that let GT off….nope. we are better than u Der Cotter, much better but we are still not getting selection right and still not fulfilling the potential of our team. Horne is a case in point. Any coach that can’t see he’s our best 9 shouldn’t be in post. We need fresh perspective and a whole team of new coaches esp for the forwards in terms of set piece and ruck. That’s the short term measure. Long term we have to do what Ireland did a while back and be honest. This nonsense that we can’t breach top 4 because we don’t have big enough players can get fired into the sun. POM isn’t some South seas behemoth…he’s no bigger than we have but he’s come though a development system where you have to scrap and battle for a jersey then battle harder to keep it. Our players are anointed at 14/15 and then never have competition because our development system is about excluding players not including them. Get rid of Dodson, get rid of the systems and structures he has overseen and the troughers he’s appointed. End the cash going out to DC Glory, Stade Nicoise, S6 and especially to the foreign scouting network. Divert all of that cash to ensuring every kid that has a scintilla of potential is included in the development system right through to seniors. Give the club’s the cash and support to bring young players through and actually play every week (at least once).Enough with cutting youth players for financial reasons. We should find out whoever is in charge or Irish youth development and break the bank to get them in. Ireland does not have any mythical genetic advantages over us. They just take a winners mentality to growing the sport and being ambitious. The guff about schools not producing balanced kids is just that. Schools can clearly do both as they are showing in abundance over there. Ireland were in a dire state at start of 2000s but they made a conscious one to change. Nothing stops us from replicating what they have done apart from a servile losers mentality and some corrupt individuals lining their pockets. The draw was tough….but they had same draw and I didn’t once hear their players fans or pundits moaning about having RWC champions and no 5 ranked team in their group. They simply focused on a game plan that would succeed rather than just sort of hoping it would somehow all come together. We are going to have a decade or so of real pain given the terrible damage done to youth development but we don’t have a time machine. It will take 10-15 years to get where we need to be, but delaying the start point will only lengthen the time taken to see the benefits. Meanwhile tier 2 sides already have their houses in order as shown by Portugal Uruguay etc. Bear in mind all the success Ireland are having has happened with a CEO or roughly 1/3 of Dodson salary. And before anyone mentions govt funding the SRU took £20 million of govt money that was meant for grassroots and promptly filled the two pro sides and S6 sides with foreign players. A shocking waste when clubs are struggling badly.

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    • The mastermind behind the Irish youth set up was Stephen Aboud, he then repeated the feat with Italy but was forced out by Italian politics and I believe he has gone to Canada.

      • He should be our number one target after new CEO and new coaching set up for mmm end seniors. He shows call shots for every aspect of development below that. If Ireland can do it from start point they had so can we.

  24. The question might be can Townsend take us any further than our RWC23 performance. Is this a worse performance than 2019. Are our basic skills better than RWC2019. Are our basic skills good enough. Are our guys street wise enough.
    We were never going to win this competition lets be honest , and almost all of us thought we would be lucky to get out of the pool stages. Even Hoggy in his TV slot did not think we would get out of the pool. The Pools A & B are head and shoulders above pools C & D and we were in with 1 & 2 on the world rankings. There are due to be two titanic games next weekend both from pools A & B. So pick ourselves up dust ourselves off and get ready for 2027. Where if we can stay in the top 8 we might get a better draw.

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    • Yep. And if we were on the other side of the group and crashed out in the semis on a similar score, would the reaction be the same?

      Fact is Ireland are not only better than Scotland, they’re streets ahead of England and Wales too. We do well for our resources and maybe there’s some room for adapting.

      How much of it is psychology. To me the Irish just focus on what they can do on the field and everything else comes afterwards. They are true professionals. It’s maybe hard to slate Scotland’s mentality going into the game and choosing to go for tries rather than penalties at the start given the score requirement they needed to go through. Choosing to ignore penalties and being denied points seemingly was a huge psychological blow. Everyone in the stadium and beyond knew it was a tough ask to win, never mind orchestrate a specific points advantage.

      And neutrals enjoy our brand of rugby. I don’t particularly like Ireland’s, but it’s efficient. The joys of professionalism turning an art into a science, though they seem to have a great mentality, one of the best. Are they technically better players? Unsure.

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  25. A plea for perspective.

    Quite the over reaction in the comments. Who out there really believed that we were a better team than Ireland? Ireland are at peak performance and have the best ever run of form in pro era rugby. We had a chance if everything clicked and if luck fell on our side. The margin of victory was unexpected but, then again, nothing went our way.

    Is Gregor to blame for the relative lack of depth as a nation? Clearly not. Neither is Dodson entirely blame. The development system in Ireland is off the chart. They have more quality players than they know what to do with. I doubt that is a sensible focus for any country. Quite frankly, I would rather our schools were producing balanced young men and women who are equipped with the skills to address the many challenges of the modern world than pro quality rugby players.

    I very much doubt that a change of leadership would improve matters. The importance of continuity is rarely appreciated in sport. Fickle fans are always calling for a Messiah to come in and work a miracle. I very much expect that the success we have had over last few years is down to the stability we have had in coaching. Gregor has clearly evolved as a coach and established better relationships with players. Last thing we need is new coach coming in, ruffling feathers of those who are difficult to manage and prompting swathe of retirals. Clearly takes a lot of care and effort to accommodate tricky personalities like Russell.

    We are not as good as some thought. But that does not make us a bad team. And at the end of the day, it’s only a game.

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    • “Quite frankly, I would rather our schools were producing balanced young men and women who are equipped with the skills to address the many challenges of the modern world than pro quality rugby players.”.

      I agree with you but you clearly haven’t had your children in the State system recently it’s not going to produce what you want and even less likely that it’s going to produce pro rugby players as there’s zero input on programs in the State sector other than putting up a poster directing your child to go to the nearest rugby club, which for anyone outside of Edinburgh or Glasgow is an unlikely prospect.

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  26. A comprehensive review of Scottish rugby would take all of ten minutes so why waste time?

    We have a CEO on whose watch the club game and youth development has collapsed. The buck starts and ends with him.

    Review conclusion: Remove Dodson and his acolytes and replace them with people who understand that Scottish rugby will only improve with a decent club competition and proper development of youth players. Leave Dodson and his cronies in place and the decline will continue.

    I was wrong. It took less than ten minutes.

    Sadly it only takes a second to look the other way and do nothing which I’m sure is what will happen and Scotland can look forward to playing second fiddle to the likes of Portugal and Romania in the very near future.

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  27. It is probably time for Townsend to move on . For no other reason than we need a fresh pair of eyes and approach.
    GT has been responsible for getting us to our highest world ranking with some incredible big wins against Engkand and France and should be applauded for it
    However, we do not have a host of players coming through the system and no matter what 23 we put on the park against Ireland we aren’t going to win. Their playing numbers and provincial set up is just light years ahead if ours.
    We just need to accept 5th is about as good as we will ever get. Next year with an improving England , Wales Oz and Fiji we may have to accept 8th.

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  28. On one hand we’ve lost to the world champions and the world No.1 team, which compounded the shambles of a RWC draw putting us in with our worst nightmare opponents. AND we’ve beaten Wales England France recently.
    However I remember saying exactly the very same things after the Japan debacle, GT has shown no tactical nous nor has he shown any contrition for successive failures. If being cynical any coach (with Hogg VDM Tuipulotu Graham Russell in the backs) would’ve had at least the same level of “success”

    New coach please

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  29. We as Scottish rugby fans are all bitterly disappointed of course we are, but id temper that by saying we also are not in anyway surprised. This was a nightmare of a group with 2 incredibly powerful sides who came into this RWC looking in ominous form, also 2 sides who have shown for the better part of the last decade that they just know how to deal with Scotland have a very powerful structured gameplan that invariably snuffs us out. We are going home and out before the QF, let’s be honest and say this was always a 90% probability. I think we need to look for answers but also not be too reactionary. Had we been on the other side of the draw I firmly believe we would be primed for a juicy QF next weekend and would likely have high hopes of a Semi Final, alas that wasnt our lot. Wales and England got a very nice draw, they both came into this RWC broken but their group allowed them to repair themselves and build momentum- both have done just that. Scotland had no such luxury.

    I said before the RWC there was a very clear Top 4 in the world then some daylight between them and rest, that is absolutely the case. I predict both England and Wales if they make semi finals will be beaten out the gate by whoever they come up against in the Semi Finals, because they (much like Scotland) are just not quite at that level. I think us Scots find it tough re Ireland because we used to be alot better than them and were so far ahead in trophies won, head to head record etc so it still rankles that we lose 9 on the bounce to our cousins across the water because it was never like this, ever. But let’s be realistic, they are a different animal in the professional era and sadly we made a complete mess of the professional era and have been playing catch up ever since 1999.

    Gregor Townsend has done pretty good job with this squad, yes a few poor periods across his tenure but invariably we have won 3 matches out of 5 under Townsend (2018, 2020, 2021, 2023) in the six nations which given our player pool and comparative lack of resources is not bad really. We play good rugby when we click and we can beat most teams in the world outside of the Top 4, in fact we can beat France regularly these days who are Top 4 but we cant seem to beat the other 3 teams in that top echelon. We need to be realistic and say this is probably about as good as it gets for us. We dont have the physical power of those teams, nor the depth. I think we just need to stick with Toony and the players and hope we can adapt and maybe learn to play better off the cuff in big games when we need to clearly deploy a different Plan B.

    I dont want to change our style of play as its great on the eye but we need to learn more pragmatism. Case in point was the opening 20 mins at the weekend, we could have secured 6 or 9 points off the tee with pressure in the Irish 22 and penalty decisions our way, but we just continued to go into the corner and came away with ZERO. The best of the best will tell you, keep the scoreboard ticking over and put points pressure on your opponent when easy points are there. We need to be much more canny in these types of moments. This six nations we have France and England at home, given our recent record against both we have cause for optimism there. Italy away also. Wales and Ireland away to tend to be graveyards for Scottish teams but Wales are not the side they were. Lets regroup, hopefully learn and grow mentally and we go again.

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    • Hasn’t Toonie has enough chances to learn from defeats. It’s irritating that he’s always defended with his win ratio. Tell me which coach before Toonie had the talent available in the backs? He constantly plays Toonie tombola with the selection based upon nothing that the armchair pundits can understand. E.g Franco doesn’t pick Price to start at Glasgow because Horne is light years quicker and yet time and again Horne is told he’s an “impact player” and left on the bench to be brought on on losing games with no time to effect change. Gregor has had a good run, let’s let someone else have a go. Frankly I don’t know what was wrong with Big Vern, he’d have done amazing things with this crop of players.

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      • I am not saying Townsend must stay, id be open to a new coach if there is someone very good waiting in the wings. But if not then im not shouting Toony has to go, the team has evolved but we just arent quite where we want to be. As I said in my post above, there is clear and distinguishable daylight between the Top 4 and the rest and that was laid bare in our group. Yes we could have done a bit better, that is the frustrating aspect of this.

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  30. Dobson has filled his and his cronies pockets at the expense of the member clubs who are the union. Commercially he may have done some good things but in all honesty he was in the right place at the right time as it does not take a genius to sell naming rights and stakes in the 6N and Celtic league when there is a market and a demand. So far his basic salary cost has been £5.5 million plus all the other benefits including one bonus of £500K. During his to date tenure grass roots rugby in Scotland has been decimated and in reality we are a Tier 2 nation in all but name. Our under 20s were hammered by that rugby bastion Uruguay to remain in tier 2 and what will Dobson do now target 14 year saffers, Kiwis to come to Scotland. When I was at school we had a full season of fixtures playing every Saturday against other schools with at least two XV matches at each age grade. That simply no longer exists which is extremely sad.
    of state schools that I played against

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  31. Great point Hugues that was a game of rugby from the days when rugby was such a spectacular game to watch where pocession of the ball was everything and not territory.

    The ball was getting run from depth and not just being kicked back and forth until a mistake is made.

    That was the game of the tournament for me and I hate what has happened to the game i played and loved.

    Someone who had never seen a rugby union and league match would find it difficult to spot the difference the way the teams are line up in attack and defence.

    • Sadly that style of rugby only works against a poor defence, wouldn’t get 10 yards vs Ireland, and nor did we when it mattered.

      Without an increased player base, we’re doing about as well as can be realistically expected.

  32. Get Dodson out for a start .just a sponger .
    taking vasts amount of money which could be put to better use
    From Grass roots upwards …..a place where Dodson couldn’t give a dam
    there has to be a complete rethink on everything

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  33. This is a critical moment for Scottish rugby and for whichever appropriate SRU board or committee not to review performance would be dereliction of duty. There is every likelihood the England, Wales and even Australia could sort their considerably greater playing resouces out in the next 4 years with our much vaunted 5th ranking quickly revising to 8th. It would beggar belief that any review would not identify the coach as a constant in failure to perform, never mind results, perform at two world cups. Our talented group of players are nowhere near well enough prepared at the level, it was really hard to identify the game plan v Ireland developed to give us a chance against the number one side in the world. Driving mauls against a superior pack from a lineout that regularly misfires? Really? For the coach to metaphorically dust his hands and say, Right, onto the 6Ns lads, only adds insult to the injury. We are constantly told rugby is a professional business, it’s time to act in a business like manner.

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  34. Scotland have done well to get to #5 in the world. The gap to #4 is significant.

    It is not realistic for us to be #4 or above.

    Success for us is consolidation of #5 spot and the odd Hollywood win over one of the top 4 (most likely France!)

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    • Totally agree based on our current crop of players. There’s some great sides above us and we don’t have the forward power to compete certainly with SA and Ireland. I think its the long game to get close to these 2 in terms of forward strength and thats a big challenge.

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  35. Having read other’s salient observations, I have to deduce that the SRU is rotten. There may be some good folks in there but this two year extension for Gregor, ahead of a tough world cup draw, when he was due to be out of contract shortly after, smacks of cronyism and corporate gamesmanship. Dodson is looking after his pal to the point where any replacement will have only 18 months (thereabouts) to build up a team for the next world cup. Have a guess what will happen next? a) Townsend is asked to stay on citing his “best coach win ratio” and the lack of time to find a replacement before the WC or b) a rushed recruitment of someone unsuitably experienced but Scottish, maybe Mike Blair? Who then has to go on under extreme pressure to deliver a team who might make it out of a group stage.

    It all smells fishy, along with Dodson’s clear policy of avoiding tackling the Scottish player pathway from age grade rugby onward in favour of bringing in talent from elsewhere to live in Scotland for 3 years. I have absolutely no issue with bringing in people, it’s professional rugby and everyone is doing it but not at the expense of putting off our home grown talent. Look at what Ireland has done with theirs. Invested in them and put the icing on the cake with some good overseas additions.

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    • Spot on Iain, Ireland were willing to take the pain on and learned from their mistakes and put aside all the internal regional politics. Connacht used to be the whipping boys but they were continually backed and initially used as a breeding ground for emerging talent they became champions in their own right. We tried a watered down version of the Irish strategy whereas they would invest in a top overseas talent for each region such as Pinaer at Ulster we used a scatter gun approach with a few successes such as Strauss but at what cost in terms of money and grass roots rugby.

  36. Scotland haven’t been competitive since rugby went professional nearly 30 years ago. The issue doesn’t lie with the current coach or players it is the structure of Scottish rugby. You can’t compete seriously in the professional era with only two professional teams, and this has been borne out consistently over the last 30 years, as you don’t have the strength in depth or competition for places at a professional level.

    The structure Ireland have with 4 professional teams, A teams and academies has led to Grand Slams, European Championships and World no.1 status whilst we have achieved virtually nothing in the same period. In the amateur era Ireland were the country we were closest to in terms of structure with the provinces and the districts so we should be trying to replicate their model now which clearly works. The super six would have been a nice initiative 30 years in the amateur era but it is a very poor offering now for a sport that is now fully professional.

    Until we get a proper CEO and Board with the drive and ambition to structure Scottish rugby properly for the professional era then any coach coming in is doing the job with their hands tied behind their back and we can look forward to another 30 years of mediocrity.

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  37. Get R Gray over from Toulon and put Townsend in charge of PR or whatever as he seems to talk a lot but deliver little

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  38. The whole world is saying it: ‘Scotland didn’t fire a shot in the World Cup’ (Planet Rugby), ‘Scotland fire blanks’ (Independent), ‘Scotland not even in Ireland’s rear-view mirror’ (BBC). Gregor’s had six years to develop ‘Scotland’s greatest ever team’ and it really is time now to step down gracefully and make way for another guy to try and solve this seemingly eternal underperforming issue. For goodness sake let’s not limp along for another two years.

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  39. Lot of negativity but I think we do pretty well considering the numbers game.

    Forward power is the perpetual problem. Think McGeechan saying pick Chris Harris and Kyle Steyn and just kick the leather off the ball an interesting idea but doesn’t make for entertaining rugby!

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    • it’s your attitude, expressed in the first sentence of your post, that eschews ambition, excellence and a winning culture!

  40. That’s the spirit Gregor! Future focus. Don’t be troubled by what’s now past. I’m mean what does Churchill know about anything? “those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

    As we are looking ahead here are some things to ponder

    * how well does our player base support our international ambitions?
    * Those heady days when our “strategy” was to win the World Cup. What are our goals did the next 4 year cycle?
    * what events of our current pro-semi pro and club structures support this? What hinders?
    * to echo a previous comment, this can’t be doing what we are doing better. What are we going to do differently that will improve our results?

    Failure at 6N and WC seems to result in pulling up the drawbridge and speaking to yourselves. That’s really no way to learn.

    Good luck with your review

  41. If it’s possible to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, in the last 7 years during Townsends tenure we have 1/ failed to get out of the group stages of the World Cup twice and 2/ never got beyond 3rd in the 6N. Now I have no idea what his KPI’s were but I would be shocked in the extreme if taking the above into consideration he has met them or exceeded them. In any other business that would not be a catalyst for an extension of contract. Given this history what rational grounds can there possibly be to believe that this trajectory will suddenly change. Fair play to Townsend he is the master of obfuscation. To actually sit there at that press conference and draw a blanket across the past takes some front or maybe the guy is completely delusional. However the question is what is best for the Scotland international team. I simply cannot see how a continuation of the current regime is in Scotlands best interests moving forward.

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    • No point in dealing with facts as that does not play well at SRU. You might add that Townsend was attack coach at the 2011 RWC when we didnt get out of the group.
      He was the master at bullying his way into the top job to replace Vern Cotter who had got fans and players onside, and now by cozying up to Dodson has got a contract for another 3 years. There will be a review, GT will remain and we will slowly move down the rankings, probably to 9th by the time of the next draw.

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  42. The complacency and arrogance on show here which is disappointing. The report states that the Coach and CEO relationship is critical and if true that is equally concerning, suggesting a complete absence of accountability and oversight. I don’t like that the coach selects both his assistants and all the players. Such power is justified only if his choices combine successfully. If they don’t, as here, then he must be held accountable. Other “tier 2” (1 and a half as Scotland are really) teams are growing their game, whilst the game in Scotland seems to be stagnating. Left to Townsend and Dodson, the future is not very promising to say the least

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  43. As Einstein said “the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Gregor Townsend cannot change the direction of travel, he never could. He’s a “company” appointee in a company that has little vision, values or real momentum to change. 4 more years – I don’t know what to say here really???

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  44. Was it a mistake to renew his contract before the World Cup ? – if anything should it have been a rolling arrangement. Im also wondering if the team has plateaued under his leadership and the squad has already become stale.No amount of tinkering with selections which he is very good will fix the problem. The next Six Nations campaign is crucial and whilst Ireland is out of our reach a resurgent Wales will prove very challenging, Failure is unlikely to be tolerated and make Gregor’s position untenable

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  45. I can’t believe this nonsense Presser. I’ve been struggling with the myriad of issues that seem really concerning given the debacle of how we played against Ireland. We could look at what we did IN the game, mistakes we made, not varying the attack, lack of intensity/belief (not the same as effort – I think the players gave their all) but the most consistently over-riding aspect surely has to be that, 4 years on from having a very similar set up in a World Cup group stage, we somehow managed to outdo the incredibly bad performance that we had against the same team 4 years on.

    When you look at the context of this game – opponents we play every year, play the same way every year, get beaten IN the same way every year; For a game we had 3 years to prepare for; Having a score to settle from the last WC – which was a performance so bad it caused the seeding issue that put us back into an even more difficult pool; and all the chat, bullishness, ‘best scotland team ever” (BS) and yes, finally veering into unjustified disrespect (Blair Kinghorn, you didn’t have to say it in that way in order to “set a tone” or give the impression of confidence – just look at every single other quote from other players across every team in this world cup to see how it’s done for next time; that was truly not cool) of a team that clearly we are not as good as; given ALL that, to then turn up and play almost exactly the same way that’s gotten us beaten time and again, with no apparent plan B when we know exactly what we’re up against, and clearly without much belief after 12 minutes – well I don’t really understand how the coach can be given a free ride on all of that, given he’s been in charge for both cycles.

    This press conference is ridiculous – “we’ll take learnings” – swear to god, how many learnings can one team (coaching team) take before it’s the very definition of madness. This is taking no responsibility and taking us all for idiots.

    I was expecting to see something different, some plan, some indication that we could at least put Ireland under pressure – in the same way I’m sure Wales will when they reach their respective semi-final. Lets see if Wales or anyone else can show what good coaching and the right mentality can do, even with an inferior team (ATM – questionable…).

    I was not expecting anything in terms of getting out of the group. But the way we played was just so dispiriting.

    There is zero reason for Toony to stay on. He should quit now as we’ve clearly hit a glass ceiling with him (raised slightly from winning 1-2 games to winning 2-3 games in the Six Nations). I was prepared to give him benefit of the doubt over the last year or so but we haven’t won anything in that whole time – beating england regularly aside. That won’t last indefinitely. But this hiding was an embarrassment and for a repeated inability to “learn”, to get the team in the right frame of mind/approach, for tactics that don’t work repeatedly despite all the evidence, I think it’s time for some new ideas.

    Rant (and I could’ve gone on haha!) over.

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  46. Beautifully written paragraph with more honesty in a few words than Townsend managed when using many more
    “Whatever happens, there needs to be a proper review of the whole campaign, although it rather looks like the plan at the moment is to follow a similar routine to most other Scottish Rugby self-assessment exercises in recent years – including the last World Cup debrief – meaning limited external involvement and next to no visibility of findings.”

  47. Beautifully written paragraph with more honesty in a few words than Townsend managed when using many more
    “Whatever happens, there needs to be a proper review of the whole campaign, although it rather looks like the plan at the moment is to follow a similar routine to most other Scottish Rugby self-assessment exercises in recent years – including the last World Cup debrief – meaning limited external involvement and next to no visibility of findings.”

  48. I’m not sure where to start with what Gregor has said here! He was either drunk or more deluded than normal when he was doing the interview! I find his comments and attitude concerning. Some honest self reflection required here or we are not going to improve. Does he not realise that when he talks about learning from last nights defeat, that he and the players haven’t learned anything from the defeats 4 years ago to Ireland and Japan that also put us out of that tournament in the pool stages. I don’t expect him to be overly negative but he has to be honest that we haven’t progressed. I’m sure Pete Horne and Dalziel will become good coaches in good time, but no way do they have the experience and track records to have responsibility in taking our backs and forwards to the next level to be able to compete with the best teams in the world.

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  49. How can Townsend just move on and forget about yesterdays debacle .
    Something has to change in this regime at Murrayfield .
    Or it’s just same old same old same old spiel .
    we’ll learn from our mistakes .we’ll take in the positives .
    Cmon a radical change of thinking is needed .and it has to start with the them at the top .
    Many of whom are out of their depth taking big wages out of false pretenses

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  50. And another thing, he’s got a bloody nerve talking about another world cup the day after a complete embarrassment of a first half performance with the world watching. That’s enough now, new blood needed. In fact, why on earth did we ever get rid of Vern? He didn’t have half the talent on the pitch to work with when he was in charge but he still improved the side. On yer bike Gregor, you and most of the coaching team.

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  51. GT seems to be saying that he doesn’t foresee a massive change in personnel come the next 6N. This current team isn’t good enough. More than that it’s been seen to be not good enough in the RWC. Surely he must start bringing in new players now before we completely stagnate in mediocrity. Henderson, Sykes, Muncaster, Vellacott, Dobie, Redpath, Rowe, McDowell and probably others should all be in the next squad and given chances to show what they can do. And equally importantly there needs to be a radical shake up at Under 20’s level.

  52. Disaster! He hasn’t”learned” anything from all these “learning monuments” against top sides. He should be out now not talking up his chances and the lack of change in the coaching staff. He and Dodson need to go, now!

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  53. Sorry to be out of the subject…
    Fiji v Portugal
    It was such a joy to watch this kind of Rugby, brilliant!

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      • We’d put 50 on them.
        That’s our problem. With our style of play we can tonk the minnows and beat everyone ranked below 4, but when we play the real big boys our weakness – lack of threat at the breakdown and on the gainline – is exposed.

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