Double defeats for Scotland Under-18s in Wales

Both matches played in Ystrad Mynach in build-up to Six Nations Festival which kicks off at end of month

Wales Under-18s came out on top in two matches against Scotland at Ystrad Mynach this afternoon. Image courtesy: WRU
Wales Under-18s came out on top in two matches against Scotland at Ystrad Mynach this afternoon. Image courtesy: WRU

SCOTLAND Under-18s and Scotland Under-18s ‘A’ suffered back-to-back defeats to their Welsh counterparts at Ystrad Mynach this [Sunday] afternoon, in a preparatory double-header ahead of the U18S Six Nations Festival in Italy which kicks off at the end of this month.

In the frontline Under-18s match, Scotland lost 43-10, with their Welsh hosts scoring three tries in each half, while the navy blue points came from a try by hooker Joe Roberts, plus a conversion and a penalty from Ross Wolfenden, all scored in the first half.

Earlier in the day, Scotland Under-18s ‘A’ came up just short – 29-22  to a Wales Development XV.


Scotland Under-18s and Under-18s ‘A’ sides named for Wales match-ups

34 Comments

  1. Scotia has obviously been a dad where I was few years ago with my lad in the regional selection process. I do not in anyway in hind sight believe my boy now as an adult playing rugby at a good level he is comfortable with with a great club (English because of work) would have made adult Scottish selection. BUT to see him treated the way the regional coaches and SRU staff did was unforgivable and not just him. To the point he just refused invitation at U18. One game he was on the bench and didn’t get any game time. When he asked why, the coaches reply was Oh sorry I forgot you were on the bench.
    How to keep players/kids motivated. He never missed a training session gave everything 100% of the time. The chosen players are their for a reason and I have no problem with the exceptionally talented and motivated players at age grade, no matter their parents background. But these, each year a team do not make. The rest in my opinion are just there to make up the numbers. These ones are the players that need perhaps a wee bit more effort to help within another system perhaps to bring their game on at a good higher level, Then these players in adult life might be able to present themselves as high level well trained players if they are still keen to. But as many say here just a keyboard warrior, so our experienced opinions are not worth their time.

  2. Scotia has obviously been a dad where I was few years ago with my lad in the regional selection process. I do not in anyway in hind sight believe my boy now as an adult playing rugby at a good level he is comfortable with with a great club (English because of work) would have made adult Scottish selection. BUT to see him treated the way the regional coaches and SRU staff did was unforgivable and not just him. To the point he just refused invitation at U18. One game he was on the bench and didn’t get any game time. When he asked why, the coaches reply was Oh sorry I forgot you were on the bench.
    How to keep players/kids motivated. He never missed a training session gave everything 100% of the time. The chosen players are their for a reason and I have no problem with the exceptionally talented and motivated players at age grade, no matter their parents background. But these, each year a team do not make. The rest in my opinion are just there to make up the numbers. These ones are the players that need perhaps a wee bit more effort to help within another system perhaps to bring their game on at a good higher level, Then these players in adult life might be able to present themselves as high level well trained players if they are still keen to. But as many say here just a keyboard warrior, so our experienced opinions are not worth their time. Heyho.

  3. Italy are the team to beat at U18 and U20. I took our U18 team (State School) boys on a tour to Italy a few years ago and it was clear why Italy have become a force. The teams we played were very community focused and the boys had S&C training 4 times a week together en mass and made training fun. The entire group became fit and strong and motivated together. In Scotland only the pathway boys experience this long term level of S&C investment and the skilled late developers (physical and mental) in the Scottish system are left behind and not invested in. It’s no surprise countries like Italy are strong, they work hard on encouraging every young person to reach a higher physical standard.

  4. We’d all make changes to just about any squad at any age group but If anyone seriously thinks the U18 coaches and selectors aren’t picking who they consider the best, needs to give their head a shake. There are loads of war stories above, X was dropped but is much better than Y, Z shouldn’t be anywhere near an Academy, all the players know it…., sorry I’m not buying it. If playing U18 rugby gave the best view, then we’d be appointing 17yr old selectors.

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    • Some coaches are 100% influenced by factors other than ability alone. I could give a specific/glaring example, but in doing so it would pretty much give away the identity of the coach.

      Suffice to say that some coaches/selectors look after their own, those they are familiar with from club or school rugby.

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      • Of course coaches look differently at players they know better. Two edged sword though, they will see failings in some too. My only current experience of the pathway is via SQ U16 and to me it’s pretty good.

      • @Johnny. When my son went through Pathways there was a batch of kids from the same private school that progressed way beyond where they deserved to be, at the expense of boys that were clearly better.

        Said without any grudge, as my son progressed beyond all of them – just felt it was so unfair on others. At least a couple of the lads that were harshly overlooked were so disenchanted that they quit rugby soon after.

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      • @ Scotia. put bluntly, If they quit rugby soon after then probably not cut out to be pros. No journey is a straight line. The kids who have the resilience to take the setbacks and keep going are the ones who have a chance of making it. Pro rugby a really tough environment and talent isn’t enough. A huge amount of desire is required too, not just “oh yeah I’d love to play for Scotand.”
        I currently coach U15 for an English prem academy, and I know for sure of players who are talented enough to embarrass others when they play but who have other flaws and therefore have to leave. Its not just a Scottish thing.

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  5. Firstly – congratulations to the players selected. It is a great honour to represent your country.

    It is a shame that there is a background of negativity. But I think there are good reasons. I suspect that many commenting here have some knowledge of the approach to pathway in Scotland. And there is a sense that we are not making the most of the opportunity.

    There is a comment that a coach is a coach. I don’t think that is true. There are some coaches who really get to know each individual. Who can really assess their strengths (physical and mental) and what makes each boy tick. I can’t comment on the coaches in this Scotland set up, but that has not been the approach taken of late in SRU Edinburgh region.

    I think many can see wasted opportunities. There is a massive opportunity to improve relationships between the SRU and key coaches at schools and clubs. We have seen a significantly reduced fixture list to prepare a small number of boys for these fixtures. At some of the regional teams, focus seems less on skills/ strategies and more on repetitive full contact sessions. Given most boys (ie those not involved) have had reduced playing time post Xmas in the build up to these fixtures, it is understandable why there is general frustration.

    Finally my suspicion is that Wales are one of the weaker nations. Italy and some other European countries are likely to be ahead. So this does not read as a good temperature check.

    It feels like we are behind. Not because of these individual boys. I think there are a lot of ‘stakeholders’ in Scottish rugby who would like to see more progress being made and understand better the current thought process of what the SRU are trying to do.

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    • I think this is a great post.

      I go back to my concern about game time. It’s not enough for anyone under the age of 21-22.

      Conferences, both school and club, should be home and away and the cup should be in the new year even if it means some of the boys playing representative rugby miss it.

      Currently boys play around 6-8 meaningful games at school or club and there is space to double that which automatically makes it more competitive.

      Still at a loss as to how to best get game time post school, but perhaps an under 23 club league for 10 teams spread across the country. Aberdeen, highland, Dundee, Stirling, borders,2 in Edinburgh, 2 in Glasgow, and 1 in Ayr.

      Just a thought – gives proper game time

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  6. Why is it a surprise that wales beat Scotland. Just under 50000 registered players in wales from age 7, just under 40000 in Scotland. I don’t doubt that these kids are the best we have. 12 come from south of border, 10 from maintained sector, 20 from private sector. So a spread of backgrounds, given the disproportionate number of players under 28 who come from private sector. And as far as I can see, every coach who has gone through the coaching levels does more or less the same thing when coaching. There’s no coaching silver bullet. You could argue that kids not in the private sector do not play enough rugby. Club fixtures seem pretty limited in number. But scotlands best players of recent years have come from maintained rather than private sector. Hogg, Graham, Russell, darge. I think it’s simply a numbers game. And with the SRU budget, that’s not changing anytime soon. Furthermore, every one of these boys selected are unusually talented.

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    • Are they the best we have though. Ive no doubt a good proportion are but not all. I agree on the numbers game. We need to keep more lads in the system for longer. Its a late development sport and lads are overlooked too early while others who were early standouts struggle when others catch up with them. Other nations seem to manage this far better than we do

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      • Correct JDP. Most of the current u20’s squad have been there since they were the biggest/strongest/fastest lads selected aged 15/16. Not a chance a few years later that they’re all still the best there is, but the investment has been made in them for years, so it’s almost impossible to dislodge them, even if there are better players out there.

        I’ve seen current starters for the u20’s being outperformed in games by boys that aren’t near the set-up. The system is majorly flawed.

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      • Scotia – couldnt agree more. Change is definitely needed as its letting those talented lads down big time

      • Scotia, you’re absolutely correct. If we were open, honest and transparent about the whole process, we’d recognise what we are doing IS BIASED, there is simply no denying it. If we had true leadership within the organisation and system, the obvious “status quo bias” and “sunk cost fallacy” would be challenged with regards to pathway and perhaps, we would have more measured and better outcomes.

        The problem is, there is no responsibility and accountability and we continue to bumble along. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

        I appreciate potential playing pool, volume of players etc. etc. The RFU are the richest nation in World Rugby and look at the mess they are in. The IRFU are slightly larger in financial terms than the SRU, take a benchmark comparison even financially and there are so many questions to be answered.

        We need to be doing the right things and doing things right; unfortunately we don’t even agree on what the right things are. We don’t even have a clear understanding of the conference and league structures for next season and where these boys could be playing. Extending the black box, closed shop vanity project we call “Pathway” to U23 is extremely concerning given the lack of current transparency, bias and outcomes from it.

        It should not take a new CEO to ask some basic simple questions. If our pathway is the SRU’s centralised “factory” for producing elite/performance rugby players then how is that factory performing? E.g. for each annual cohort, WHAT is the intake, WHY is the selection/de-selection and HOW does it compare to prior cohorts and also…

        – At U21, HOW many still play, at what level?
        – At U23, HOW many still play, at what level?
        – At 25, HOW many still play, at what level?

        Knowing several players that have come through this system, it is perceived that >50% do not even continue to play rugby. A very sad indictment of what our system does.

        If we are investing all this money and belief into the pathway, surely it has to be accountable and measured. Whilst it acts like the royals with their “don’t complain, don’t explain”, they are not royal and their currently levels of ambiguity and obfuscation should simply not be allowed. The SRU owe it to the member clubs and rugby community to be professional and accountable, after all we have over 500 employees in the organisation.

        So simple really, WHY is the pathway the right thing, HOW is it performing and WHAT are the results from it. WHY, HOW, WHAT ?

  7. If the problem isn’t the players selected, then the issues must rest with (i) selectors; (2) coaches. What are their accountability mechanisms?

    Having got rid of a failing Chief Executive and Financial Officer, how about some of those behind the scene who are not worth their wage?

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  8. Check out all the keyboard warriors, what is wrong with getting behind the boys that played instead of casting 16/17 year old boys off as not being good enough, the boys that played yesterday put their bodies on the line and played for their country, yes wales where the better team but the score line was not a fair reflection on the game

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    • No one is criticising the players themselves, no doubt they tried their best.
      It is the pathway system itself which is majorly flawed. The U15-U18 pathway process requires a root and branch review with major changes to how it seeks out the best players we have. Without that nothing will change, and right now, Scottish rugby and the players it lets down, needs it to.

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    • You’re correct and you also learn far more in defeat than victory. It seems nowadays if you lose you, the system or someone is at fault. Have any of these key board warriors ever played sport!

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      • Yes !

        Modern sport is a very measured affair and performance is achieved through the pursuit of improving those measurements. It does not happen overnight and those so called “keyboard warriors” are making very valid observations at the system, not the players, the system!

        This “system” is a total “black box” with zero accountability and responsibility and to the vast majority of the rugby community, hold it in very low regard but the current stance from the SRU is “we’re going to extend it. On what factual basis is this decision being taken? What Return on Investment is this incremental investment calculated upon? Who is responsible and accountable for it’s success and what does success look like from it?

        A full study has been done by an independent body, the only “results” we’ve seen so far is a discontinuation of the Super Series. Wouldn’t it be nice if the entire report was shared amongst the stakeholder community and a full root and branch review, clearly aligned to a Vision, Strategy and Plan were shared with us?

        One could assume that the SRU are deliberately hiding it? They will want to control the narrative arising from the study’s findings and control the “spin” rather than be transparent and collaborative in finding the right thing to do in terms of growing and developing our sport.

        So from one “keyboard warrior” to another, our results are facts, those facts over years are not good, we’re going backwards and we don’t have a vision, strategy or a plan to fix it,, is that acceptable?

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  9. Agree, It has been this way since my lad was involved many years ago. Size over skill and the rest are just forgotten about. Maybe need to get SRU to adopt some South African children.

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  10. SRU need to look at the coaching and the selection process. What they are doing is clearly not working. Many good players left at home and some underpar players consistently being turned out who are not up to standard. Not the players fault for being put in a position that they are not prepared for. Tall, Big and Fast is NO match for skills, grit and physicality. No idea what these coaches are looking for but in the current set up I despair for the future of Scottish Rugby.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. Having watched players ‘managed out’ of the system at this age grade it’s become a joke. The selectors must think people are buttoned up the back the antics they get up to in order to dull the shine of the rough diamonds and hide the failings of their ‘golden ticket’ boys. Many selected as vanity projects for the selectors CVs

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    • Sorry Duhan, the people of Scotland don’t want big tall and fast…….we only want Jim and JDP’s boys, who by the sounds of it haven’t made the grade!

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      • Dont have any boys alas, just my darling daughters. Im just a keen Rugby supporter who despairs at the standard of boys getting through the age grade system. Sorry state of affairs. If they are Tall, Big and Fast and also Skilled and Physical then happy days, sadly thats not the case is it

      • Aye keep the status quo, that’s working for us, imports from SA will keep us ticking over nicely

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      • I have a lad in the super series, (I won’t go into that 🫣) and I’ve coached this age group for years. having played teams this age year after year I see players who are just as good, if not better, than the selections made. The only difference is they aren’t ‘in’ with the selectors, either thro their school, club, coaching allegiances etc. Performance in real games is the key, not the never ending 2min on, 2min off, touch games the regional set ups persist with for years and select from.

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      • You will never, ever, ever, get everyone to agree on who’s the best of the best. But what I can say for certain (because I was there) is that there are some incredibly talented boys between the two Scotland teams that played in Wales yesterday.

        My boy doesn’t go to private, school, we have no clout whatsoever, we don’t come from money, we didn’t know a single coach and still barely do (even after over two years of our son being involved in the Academy). We’re a good old fashioned working class family. But what we have done is get 100% behind our boy and have supported the development of his natural talent.

        To sit here and read your comments, which basically imply that he is a talentless, kisser of backsides is frankly offensive and infuriating. You don’t know us or what it has taken to get our boy a cap at for Scotland U18’s and I won’t sit here and say nothing whilst you rubbish the work that we as a family have put into getting him there and the pride that we felt watching yesterday.

        I’m not saying that everything is perfect in the development of Scottish youth rugby, and that there isn’t nepotism in the sport, but please don’t rubbish the work and time and effort that the majority of these boys have put into getting to where they have.

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    • to RugbyMum, Ive no doubt your lad is one of the talented boys but you said yourself, “some incredably talented boys” and thats the issue, SOME. As Scotia said some of these lads have been in the system for years and are not necessarily the best we have. Thats the problem here. Im sure all the lads played their best but if some of the squad are not up to par, it lets the whole team down. Has your son ever commented that X player in his club/school team is a better player than X in the scotland squad. Im sure he has. There are lots of lads being overlooked and thats my issue

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      • Your son sounds very talented and I wish him all the best, I hope he is selected for the 6N as we want to see more of lads like him.
        As JDP has said tho there are lads kept in the pathway taking a place that better players have been bumped out of. We play against the best youth teams in Scotland and some of the lads who have been dropped are jaw dropping.
        Just one of many examples . A lad we play had feedback for deselection, said he needed to work on his defence. If the selectors used coach logic correctly and tagged completed tackles, completed tackles but wrong type and missed tackles they would have seen that this lad didn’t miss a single tackle in the three regional games he played and made the correct type of tackle each time. They would also have seen that a lad they kept in missed all of his tackles, every one, with the now deselected player having to cover for him… there are many other examples like this which is why the selectors and the process needs to have more scrutiny upon them to make unbiased, evidence based choices. Lads are deselected earlier in the process for all the wrong reasons and who could have been future stars. The analytical tools are there but for some reason the selectors don’t want to use them properly.
        Good luck to your boy, hope he makes it through

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      • Jim, That makes me even more angry that the evidence is there for the selectors and not being used correctly. I know stats dont always equate to playing but for that lad to be told work on your defence when his tackle rate is excellent is ridiculous. I dont have sons but if I did I would be furious at what is happening. I do have friends who have sons in the early stages of pathway and it doesnt fill me with confidence. You are obviously very close to what is going on, as I suspect Richard is from his comment above, and neither of you seem to be very confident of the pathway process which just shows that it needs to change. Who is listening, anyone in the SRU. They cant possibly look at the results and not agree that they need to rethink their process and selection mechanism

      • Last comment touches on a regular occurrence. I’ve heard lads in the Scotland u20 squad saying it’s a joke that X player(s) are in the Academy set-up ahead of Y player. The lads know themselves who has something to offer, and who is bang average.

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