Junior World Trophy: Scotland scunnered by Uruguay

Defeat means no return to top tier Junior World Championship next year

Uruguay defeated Scotland at the Junior World Trophy in Kenya. Image: World Rugby
Uruguay defeated Scotland at the Junior World Trophy in Kenya. Image: World Rugby

Scotland 26

Uruguay 37

IF this result doesn’t send shockwaves reverberating through every level of Scottish rugby then we might as well hoist the white flag now and give up on any pretence of being a serious tier one nation. Relegation for Scotland Under-20s out of the Junior World Championship following an ignominious defeat to Fiji in the last place play-off at the 2019 tournament was a major set-back, but to now fail to make it back to the top table at the first time of asking (after three years of Covid cancellations) is a catastrophe.

The Murrayfield performance department has been restructured and there are plenty of fancy sounding job titles floating around, but results of its top age-grade side have fallen away sharply, which is a major worry because the under-20s has historically been a valuable stepping stone for the nation’s best young players into the pro game.

The young Scots came into this tournament with a record of just one win in their last 19 matches against Six Nations opposition and Georgia, and they suffered a heart-wrenching 82-7 home defeat to Ireland in the most recent championship. International age-grade rugby has always been a challenge for Scotland due to small playing numbers, but this is as bad as it has ever been.


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Kenny Murray, as head coach of the under-20s side (as well as head of player transition), will be front and centre of the inevitable backlash following this result, but the roots of this problem reach much deeper than that. Mark Dodson has been chief executive of Scottish Rugby since September 2011, Jim Mallinder has been performance director since August 2019 and John Fletcher has been head of pathways and elite coach development since November 2021. Of course it takes time for a new way of doing things to bed in and start bearing fruit, but patience is wearing thin, and it is the players – with only one crack at their rugby career – who are being let down.

“We’re really disappointed,” said Murray afterwards. “It’s a game we prepared well for and believe we should have won, but we didn’t play well enough, it’s as simple as that.

“Playing against the wind, we didn’t manage our exits well enough in the first half hour in particular, which allowed them to get purchase in the game. We made a couple of costly errors – one defensive one in particular let them in for a try – and in the second half our game management wasn’t where it needed to be.

“We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities which came to us when they went to 14 men, a couple of times we overplayed and that’s what really hurt us – poor game management.”

This result means that Uruguay march boldly onwards to Sunday’s tournament final against Spain, with promotion into the top tier Junior World Championship the reward for the winner of that match, while Murray’s side must now regroup for an essentially meaningless 3rd/4th place play-off tie against Samoa. Scotland will then have to go through qualification process to get another chance in next year’s Trophy competition.

“We want to be playing at the top level available, which is the Junior World Championship, so it is really disappointing that we’ve not found a way to get promotion back into it after relegation in 2019, but we can’t just sit and just chuck it,” said Murray. “You’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to keep driving forward to improve all aspects of the performance pathway and pipeline.

‘We’ve got a number of under-19s playing at this tournament – against Zimbabwe more than half our team were under-19 and last week seven of our starting fifteen were under 19 against the USA – so we’ve got some good young players coming through, but at the moment we’re not where we want to be.

“We need guys playing at the highest level they can, as often as they can, so that’s what we’ve got to keep striving towards if we want to compete at this international level.

“It is definitely a work in progress,” he added. “It is no secret that when you watch international rugby at under-20s level now, most of those guys are in full-time rugby environments. If you saw the France versus Ireland final at the Junior World Championship, the level of that game is up there with pro rugby, so we’ve got to try to match that somehow so that we are developing them physically, technically and tactically to compete at this level.

“That’s something we’ve been driving. Over the last couple of years, its been frustrating that we’ve not had enough players getting game time at that Super Series level, so with the ‘Futures’ team now, it gives us an opportunity to get guys playing at the highest possible level to prepare them better for challenges like this.”

The ‘Futures’ team, made up of the country’s best under-20s players, will play its first game in the Super Series Championship against Southern Knights on Friday Friday night. It is not clear where they will draw their team from for this match given that the national Under-20s squad will still be in Kenya preparing for that Samoa game.

 

Scotland dodged a first minute bullet when Uruguayan full-back Juan Carlos Canessa missed a long-range penalty following a line-out infringement, but it was only a matter of time before the hungrier and more ruthless South Americans snatched the lead which they were never really in danger of surrendering.

With just four minutes on the clock, they changed tack seamlessly after their maul was pushed back on halfway, crisply handling the ball across the park to send Juan Gonzalez clear on the right, who made good ground before feeding back inside for Canessa to provide the link which sent Pedro Brum over for the opening score.

Scotland were a distant second best at the breakdown and living off scraps, and although Ben Salmon managed to sniff out a gap in midfield, with Craig Davidson also hitting a good line, that move came to naught when the loose-head prop found himself isolated just a few inches short of the scoring zone.

Meanwhile, Uruguay’s ability to pressurise Scotland on the deck earned them two more penalty opportunities, with Canessa missing the first one from halfway but nailing the second to make it 10-0 with quarter of the game played.

Even after Eddie Erskine muscled over on 23 minutes, the Scots still couldn’t settle into any sort of rhythm, continuing to give away cheap penalties and losing their try-scorer to the sin-bin just a minuet after the restart as punishment for dangerously taking out Uruguayan No 8 Manuel Rosmarino in the air at a line-out.

The South Americans took immediate advantage of their extra forward by kicking to the corner and then driving their maul over the line, with hooker Maximo Lamelas finishing off the try, and Canessa adding the conversion.

A well timed hit by flanker Jonny Smith on Juan Ignacio Cambon dislodged the ball and earned Scotland a route straight back into the game from the restart, but Corey Tait was held up over the line, handing Uruguay a goal-line drop-out.

Icaro Amarillo fired home a breathtaking  50-yard drop-goal which stretched the Uruguayan lead to 13-points, but Scotland had the last word of the first half when Cambon hit Dan King late and the penalty was kicked to the corner, setting up a line-out maul from which Tait scored his third try in as many matches at this tournament. Afshar sent the conversion over via a deflection off the right post.

 

Despite losing hooker Lamelas to the sin-bin for an off-the-ball shoulder charge on Tait just before the break, Uruguay surged out of the changing rooms at the start of the second period to claim their third try when Guillermo Juan Storace latched onto Sam Derrick’s fumbled ball and powered up field, then popped off the deck for Canessa to feed Juan Gonzalez, who rode three tackles on his way to the line.

Scotland bit back with another line-out maul try for Tait, but Afshar missed the conversion, and when replacement loose-head Max Surry hit the deck at the next scrum, it allowed Canessa to kick three more points to keep Uruguay firmly in the driving seat.

The one area which was making headway for the Scots was their line-out maul, and that earned them a man-advantage for 10 minutes when replacement prop Franciso Garcia was sent to the bin for illegally collapsing, and Erskine bashed over for his second close-range try of the afternoon.

But Uurguay kept their cool and scored again when Pedro Hoblog fed Storace with a cute back-handed pass and the centre shrugged off Tait’s tackle on his way to the line.

Canessa missed another penalty attempt but it didn’t matter because by now Scotland had fallen apart completely, as exhibited when overthrown line-out ball was palmed around as if we were watching a boozy beach barbecue, before it ricocheted off a Scots head and was hacked 60 yards downfield, leaving the Scots hemmed back deep inside their own half for almost all of the final 10 minutes.

Even when Finlay Thomson did manage to break into open prairie in the final minute, the big centre found himself all alone when he was eventually toppled and Juan Gamzolez got in to force the holding-on penalty. That kind of summed up Scotland’s afternoon.

 

Teams –

Scotland: D King (M Reid 65); L Jarvie (F Burgess 70), B Salmon (K Johnston 72), F Thomson, F Douglas; A McLean, B Afshar; C Davidson (M Surry 43), C Tait (F Duraj 70), O Minnis (C Norrie 53), E Erskine, R Hart, L McConnell, J Smith (J Parkinson 46), J Morris (S Derrick, 12).

Uruguay: J Canessa; J Gonzalez , P Brum, G Storace (F Pick 62, F Garcia 55), N Conti; I Amarillo, J Suarez (P Hoblog 62); J Borrazas (F Garcia 55), M Lamelas, J Lorenzo (T Coubrough 62), F Bertini, M Bartolotti, J Cambon (J Noseda 62), F Deffemiinis, M Rosmarino.

 

Scorers –

Scotland: Tries: Erskine 2, Tait 2; Con: Afshar 3.

Uruguay: Tries: Brum, Lamelas, Gonzalez, Storace; Con: Canessa 4; Pen: Canessa 2; DG: Amarillo.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 5-10; 7-10; 7-15; 7-17; 7-20; 12-20; 14-20 (h-t) 14-25; 14-27; 19-27; 19-30; 24-30; 26-30; 26-35; 26-37.

 

Yellow cards  –

Scotland: Erskine (25mins)

Uruguay: Lamelas (39mins), Garcia (59mins)


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About David Barnes 3816 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.

45 Comments

  1. You might find this interesting

    Brendan Fanning: The IRFU need to make sure we do the opposite to whatever the Scots are doing at underage level.

    Story by Brendan Fanning • 10m ago: Irish Independent

    Scunnered. Now there’s a word. The excellent Scottish rugby website The Offside Line used it to sum up their state of mind after Uruguay had heaped more grief yesterday on the Scots under 20s in the World Rugby Trophy in Kenya. It leaves Scotland playing off against Samoa for a bronze medal. Not quite the podium finish they had in mind.

    The top billing in the competition will go to Uruguay versus Spain with the winner promoted to next season’s World Rugby Championship – the competition where Ireland were beaten finalists a few weeks ago. The Scots however will plough on in economy class, a Tier 1 nation lost down the back of the plane, in a seat beside the jacks, and with no apparent chance of getting up the front.

    It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on our Celtic cousins, either to consider copying what they’re doing right or to take note of how we could sink below the waterline by making their mistakes.

    In the way that successful clubs can skew their compass in just a few years, when competent people in important positions are replaced by clowns, then so too can smooth running national systems falter and crash through mismanagement.

    True, it would take a series of cock-ups, compounded by bad luck, for the IRFU to put our under 20s in the ditch, but it’s doable. By the ditch we mean the second tier. The test of a highly functioning system is that it can withstand fallow years without looking like scrubland. Currently Scotland’s under 20s is that eyesore on the edge of town, and getting the owner to do anything about it is a problem.

    In their case the owner is the SRU, led by a man, Mark Dodson, whose trousers are so wedged with cash it attracts no end of grief from the Scottish media. There seems to be an exercise in cross purposes here though: the rugby writers bang on about how Scottish teams are nowhere to be seen at medal ceremonies; Dodson points to a spread-sheet showing how revenue has increased steadily in the dozen years since he took the reins.

    Most recently that has seen one mouthful – BT Murrayfield – replaced with the even more unwieldy Scottish Gas Murrayfield. That was reported as an eight figure contract over five years, so if the number of syllables in the name over the door almost matches the digits in the deal who cares?

    That bit too seems cloudy. The fans still pack the place out for Six Nations games and Dodson manages to tick the financial box with his deals, so exactly who cares about their wretched records on the field?

    Surely those who pay their way in through the turnstiles would fancy a more rewarding experience. They were told of a revamp on the game development front 18 months ago but that it will take time to bear fruit. Their under 20s have won just three of 22 games since 2020. Could they not explore the genetically modified option and magic up a few apples?

    The SRU’s Performance Director Jim Mallinder has an alarming take on things:

    “The squad are improving but if you look at the game time of these youngsters they’ve not played enough,” he told The Offside Line yesterday.

    Bad news Jim: the French have 13 of their recent Championship winning squad available again next season. Good news: they’ll all be too busy beating each other up in the Top 14 and ProD2 to get into the France senior squad to bother with 20s.

    If you have a Super Six club competition, as Scotland do, and two fully pro teams above that, surely there is scope to give youth its fling? Eh, maybe not. The Scots are the worst offenders in Europe in fielding non-Scotland eligible players for Glasgow and Edinburgh in the URC. And yes, Ireland are the best.

    That didn’t happen by accident. It was a coherent policy that reminded the provinces of their responsibilities to head office. If Scotland have the pathway for players to progress but they can’t put one foot after another then their problems truly are woeful.

    This is the point at which the IRFU need to do a fact-finding mission and make sure that whatever the Scots are doing we must do the opposite. Well, perhaps Mark Dodson could share some tricks of the trade to get the revenue streams gushing but if he suggests talking about rugby then make your excuses and leave the room.

    Interestingly there was a time when the IRFU were, like the SRU, driven by the god of financial husbandry. They would clap themselves on the back at the AGM and say nice things about the treasurer for keeping a lid on nasty things, like expenditure. That was the amateur era.

    Gradually they accepted that money made from rugby needed to be spent on rugby, but in a way that could make for a pretty picture on the field as well as in the annual report. They are far from the finished article in that game but at least they still have their eye on the ball. The Scots can’t even find the pump to blow it up. Which leaves them in a state of abject scunnerment.

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  2. The commentator on Glasgow Hawks clearly doesn’t understand the system
    Hawks do not have a junior section they exist to nurture and develop young players to prepare those good enough to progress to a higher level
    Players are attracted to Hawks by the quality of the coaching by Andy Hill,Tom Gordon Garry Strain who have years of experience coaching the post school age group. Add in the monitoring of fitness and performance by Viki Penpraze and the outstanding medical team and then you can see how the system works
    Perhaps Jim Malinder should come and see it for himself

  3. I coach junior rugby which is where these players were just a couple of years ago.
    A lot can be done to improve junior players by increasing the intensity of rugby they are exposed to.
    This can be done in training by coaches but the best place is by providing competitive games which the players can’t just turn up and win or conversely have no hope of winning.

    I still don’t think we have the format which means junior players have regular competitive games right in this country.

  4. Its frustrating for us all to see the U20’s struggling at this level and we all want the best for Scottish rugby. Its easy to make the call to sack everyone and i suppose ultimately the responsibility lies at the top of the SRU who put the systems and processes in place to manage youth rugby.

    I think without saying too much about the current coaches who i know little about, the focus needs to be on the grass roots introduction of young kids getting involved in the game. Unless we tackle the issue of children getting involved in rugby and increasing the numbers at grass roots we will struggle to improve at U20 level as we simply won’t unearth more potential star rugby players.

    Much has been said on this site about rugby in schools and I see one comment today about putting coaches in state schools. I think this is one good example of tackling the problem. We must get more children from state schools playing rugby. I went to a state school which over 30 years ago now used to produce a lot of good rugby players but teachers don’t support sport anymore and so this is one of the main roots of the problem. I don’t have the answers but this is a long game and not a quick fix but we must somehow get more kids playing rugby from a diverse range of schools and thats where the focus should be. So the SRU should be focussing on this because irrespective of what development programmes we have in place we will never produce more good players if we don’t increase the numbers joining the game.

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  5. Quite rightly, comment is made of the Frank Hadden-esque coaching where our forwards do lots of grunting for little ground gained and the backs look utterly bereft of ideas and flair but, watching the game yesterday, a lot of or issues were caused by bad defence. International players of any age should not need to be shown how to tackle/not fall-off tackles. That is a fundamental that you are taught when in mini/midis so it is disappointing to see Uruguay score twice from basic 1 on 1 tackles.

    It is overly simplistic to blame just the coaches or just the players or just the SRU hierarchy; our problems are a hellish mix of all 3

    • ‘Our forwards do lots of grunting for little ground gained and the backs look utterly bereft of ideas and flair’.

      When it comes to ‘flair’ players that are currently u20, none of the top three I’ve personally seen over the last couple of years are in Kenya right now. These are lads from Glasgow/West, I’m sure there will be others out there that offer something a bit different.

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    • High Flier: the regional training/ selection is mainly based on touch or scrag games. Hence selections are made, I guess, on the assumption that players can tackle?? An example of the problem was glaringly obvious in one of Sunday’s regional 18 games when a boy who has a phenomenal defence game was moved out of position to allow a player with a contract to play in that position. The player with the contract missed more tackles in that game than the other boy missed all of last season. Defence doesn’t seem to be a priority and boys who are strong in defence are being overlooked. All comes home to roost at u20s and by then your strong defensive players have either given up the game or are off the radar.

  6. I’m still attending trials etc and hearing ‘what club does he play for?’ ‘what school does he go to?’ Trials should be completely blind – no names, no affiliations should be known to the selectors. A 50/50 private/state split might be heading in the right direction but only 4.5% of Scottish pupils attend private schools – we are missing out on huge numbers of potential players. 340 state secondaries could have a full-time rugby coach at 20k p.a and it would only just equal the same as Dodson’s salary (incl bonuses). Scottish Rugby is a closed shop with a huge nepotism problem – the grassroots are f*cked, every club is looking to merge across age groups. A few years back we tried to implement an u17 league with a few local clubs to provide games for players not ready to play u18’s – the sru refused to sanction it, they are reaping what they sow.

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    • Arithmetic was never my strong point. 6.8m it would cost, pretty much the same as what Dodson has skimmed over his tenure. or 2 full houses at Murrayfield at £55 per ticket. Money well spent in my opinion.

    • How do you get rugby into state schools though, unless you happen to have a teacher who has a passion for the game and willing to give up his/her spare time to coach the kids without being paid for it. Most private schools have games masters/mistresses who’s only job is to teach kids sport and that includes a game at the weekend. In fact some of these private schools have coaches whose only job is to coach rugby. The only way I can see it happening is for SRU coaches to walk into state schools and offer to teach after school rugby. But tdo the SRU have the resources to do this?

      • You don’t need to get rugby into state schools. You just need to have a good mini and junior club rugby scene.
        In Scotland it’s good in places but not others.

      • In the Scottish Borders schools, there are SRU coaches who work in the schools teaching and promoting rugby as well as working with mini, junior and semi-junior levels. As well as rugby being on the PE curriculum the SRU coach works with the PE staff to encourage all pupils to participate and find their strengths. This could easily be done in other areas.
        Despite the young rugby players from our state schools putting so much more into their development (Not having the advantages that those who are privately educated. ie.No issues with travel costs, having to travel long distances to attend games or regional training sessions, not having a rugby pitch right outside their classrooms, buying sports kit, boots, membership fees, many kids having to work instead of going to training). These players are, I think, more dedicated to the game than those with the good fortune to come from a wealthier background. They have already shown their grit and determination by turning up week after week to play for a club that doesn’t have all the latest training aids, transport that is paid for or fancy club/changing rooms, as well as all the aforementioned obstacles. These players and smaller clubs are still often overlooked by the selectors who have come from public school backgrounds themselves, and I would say tend to favour the public school pupils in their selection process.
        The SRU should widen its outlook and not concentrate its efforts on looking at the big-name clubs. Not every youngster wants to or is able to travel to play for a team other than their home town.
        It’s fair enough when they get a bit older and rugby may become their career but when they can’t even get a foot up the ladder because the selectors are so short-sighted it becomes a big issue for Scotland’s rugby future as well as that of our youths.

      • They were given £20 million from Scot Gov for grassroots rugby….then loads of SA players were signed. As it is there is a state School of Rugby programme but it isn’t prioritised by SRU.

  7. Murray was successful at Ayr as he had the biggest budget let’s not kid ourselves on that they and Murray had huge finances to buy in the best players. Murray is just another of the Teflon coaches sliding from one job to the next without proving anything to be promoted to the jobs. The Academy system is not fit for purpose and if the SRU continue with the current management who run the Academy’s namely Fletcher we will go backwards even further. The SRU are only interested in jobs for the boys and girls who swear loyal obedience and will not Rick the boat or challenge each other. And the people to suffer are the players. As for Mallinder it is very nice of him to make a statement but I go back to the point Teflon coaches all looking out for each other and accepting mediocrity.

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  8. The problem starts at the top. Things will not improve whilst Dodson is in charge. Get rid of him and then get rid of his ludicrous Super Six vanity project. Then invest in proper meaningful club rugby and develop paths between this and the fully professional teams.

    Or just keep falling for Dodson’s PR garbage and bung him some more money.

    That’s the choice.

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  9. Not sure what to make of this. It’s a disastrous result for sure. Murray was a fine coach who had no end of success working with amateur players when at Cartha and Ayr and could only have increased his experience working under Townsend and Rennie at a professional level with Glasgow. Even the best coaches will struggle if the players haven’t had the exposure to any meaningful competition.
    As for Dodson, (and I’m not a fan) his principal job surely is to get the national team playing at the pinnacle. We are currently 5th in the world, the highest we’ve ever been ranked. Of course we have no major trophies in the cabinet and I don’t know if that’s likely to change any time soon.
    I don’t think calling for the super6 to end or the board and management structure to be binned will improve the outcome anytime soon.

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    • There needs to be a radical rethink of what we are doing at age grade level. The Academies, the selection process, the competition structure at youth level, the pathways programme, the role that S6 is supposed to be playing, the number of boys playing the game in general. Hard to deliver root and branch change when the current model has been so deeply embedded and defended by those in charge and who should rightly be held accountable for the results that their policies are delivering. After all, it is costing the Scottish Rugby Union millions every year.

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    • Every ranking system has statistical anomalies and us being ranked 5th falls firmly into that category. We are going to fail to get to knockout stages for the 2nd senior RWC in a row and once the mercenaries start retiring the seniors will be in the same boat as the u20s are now. We have never finished above 3rd in 6N so claiming that we are 5th best in world right now is crazy. Keeping the same structures and management in place which have caused this mess will see us struggling with Germany and Sweden. Einstein had a lot to say about conducting the same experiment over and over without changing its conditions. It will take years to fix Dodson’s mess and the longer we take starting the worse the fallout will be

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      • Whilst some of your points are valid your comments about being 5th ranked are simply incorrect and clearly don’t fit with your narrative. The world rankings is a fair system and we are currently 5th – FACT. it doesn’t take much to change our position and we are close to others but that doesnt mean our ranking is wrong. We are currently above England, Argentina and Australia which is a fair reflection. One loss could move us down a place or 2 but that dopant mean the system is wrong simply that we are close to others currently.

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  10. The identification of players for the academies is too flawed.
    Just some examples that are glaringly obvious-

    Academy contracts at u18 are given out evenly across the 4 regions without thoroughly testing these boys against each other in games at u17. For example Region A (I won’t name names) is very strong Region B not so. They both have a similar number of contracts awarded at the end of u17 to ensure regions are fairly represented. Region A has players miss out on contracts who are better than those given contracts in Region B. Contracted players are then selected for Scotland leaving some of the best players sitting at home.

    Yes there would be an uproar if one region was given far more contracts than another BUT we are supposed to be finding the BEST players in Scotland and so those are the boys who should be contracted. More inter regional games at u17 are required to assess who is the best out there across the four regions.

    Academy training (in my experience) is 99% touch rugby or scrag at most. Players are assessed and chosen based on training performance, players given contracts then play in regional games and it turns out they are weak defensively in full contact yet others whose defence game is their strongest suit are often overlooked for contracts because they can’t demonstrate this properly in training.

    Identifying players too young. We all know those absolute superstars who crash through teams from u13 to u15. They are the ones who mature early, stand head and shoulders above the others and look like future professionals. These players just need to turn up to regionals and are selected for Scotland based on the reputation they have gathered over the years however by the time they are in u 18 many of their counterparts have grown taller than them and are catching up in strength. By u20 the others have caught up and in many cases overtaken them in muscle development and strength and the Contracted boys have lost the edge they once had as early developers. The stronger and often more skilful players who developed later are sat at home. At u17 and 18 stop being dazzled by the early developers and the reputation of these players from their earlier youth days and look beyond them to those who have the skills and potential once they are fully matured, at least keep the door open.

    These are just some of the issues that are not too difficult to sort to ensure that we have the correct selection of players coming through from the younger academy age groups.

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    • AC is spot on. I saw this happen myself over several seasons. On one occasion one of the districts played a club side which was missing ten if it’s normal xv. This should have been a walkover but the club side full of lads who had either been told not to bother going to trials or been rejected at trials (some having played less than 5 min out of position) were all over the district side who had no idea about defence. It was only when some highly questionable referee interventions occured that the district side was able to save face. I’ve seen several 9f that district side in national colours. None of the club side were ever looked at again. We must change the SRU management.

  11. The identification of players for the academies is too flawed.
    Just some examples that are glaringly obvious-

    Academy contracts at u18 are given out evenly across the 4 regions without thoroughly testing these boys against each other in games at u17. For example Region A (I won’t name names) is very strong Region B not so. They both have a similar number of contracts awarded at the end of u17 to ensure regions are fairly represented. Region A has players miss out on contracts who are better than those given contracts in Region B. Contracted players are then selected for Scotland leaving some of the best players sitting at home.

    Yes there would be an uproar if one region was given far more contracts than another BUT we are supposed to be finding the BEST players in Scotland and so those are the boys who should be contracted. More inter regional games at u17 are required to assess who is the best out there across the four regions.

    Academy training (in my experience) is 99% touch rugby or scrag at most. Players are assessed and chosen based on training performance, players given contracts then play in regional games and it turns out they are weak defensively in full contact yet others whose defence game is their strongest suit are often overlooked for contracts because they can’t demonstrate this properly in training.

    Identifying players too young. We all know those absolute superstars who crash through teams from u13 to u15. They are the ones who mature early, stand head and shoulders above the others and look like future professionals. These players just need to turn up to regionals and are selected for Scotland based on the reputation they have gathered over the years however by the time they are in u 18 many of their counterparts have grown taller than them and are catching up in strength. By u20 the others have caught up and in many cases overtaken them in muscle development and strength and the Contracted boys have lost the edge they once had as early developers. The stronger and often more skilful players who developed later are sat at home. At u17 and 18 stop being dazzled by the early developers and the reputation of these players from their earlier youth days and look beyond them to those who have the skills and potential once they are fully matured, at least keep the door open.

    These are just some of the issues that are not too difficult to sort to ensure that we have the correct selection of players coming through from the younger academy age groups.

  12. What surprises me most is not the result, but the discovery that the SRU actually has a development department, for the two do not marry up. At no stage at all in the game were Scotland in the lead and I have serious fears of us becoming the Sick Man of Europe once more. Rugby may have a bumper new deal with Scottish Gas, but there appears to be little nurtured talent in the pipeline to replace the Hogg and Russell generation, although no shortage of hot air. Shameful ands depressing.

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  13. No criticism of the players as I’m sure they gave everything and are as talented as who they compete against. Surely the problem and blame lies with those that govern youth rugby in Scotland. Is it correct that the CEO is taking £500k+ pa while youth rugby (the future of the game in Scotland) is under performing?

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  14. Hothouse plants wilt at the first blast of fresh air out in the real world!

    All aspiring young players need to be conditioned, hardened and sharpened by playing tough competitive rugby week in, week out. For avoidance of doubt, that would ideally be in a proper club league, not in the stop-start contrived mess that S6 represents.

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  15. Quite depressing really, must be worse for the poor lads themselves….

    We’d all likely be out of a job with those stats…so why is it different… really don’t see what Mallinder has brought to the party.

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  16. SRU sticking World Trophy stickers onto 6N shirts tells you everything you need to know how the SRU and Murray have taken the u20s from 5th in the 6N to 15/16th in the World.
    If SRU had anything about them they would ask all the whole squad to critique the coaching team and preparation without fear of repercussions. Would be illuminating. The players are selected and dropped and have to deal with rejection, coaches should be subjected to the same pressure. Off you go Murray before more young lads are disillusioned. Scotland don’t have enough players to lose to this prehistoric coaching.

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    • Some of the coaches that have been around for years simply aren’t well liked by the players. Have heard various stories of players not enjoying their academy training, but they stick with it as they want to progress. When the results are so poor is really does make you question the coaching personnel. Nobody could have a legitimate argument against a significant clear-out.

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  17. Unfortunately the lack of transparency, planning for the future, target setting and ambition at an increasingly bloated SRU is coming home to roost. 5 months to appoint a new head coach at Edinburgh; Crowley, Les Kiss amongst several big names apparently not even considered. And to let Mike Blair go from the SRU coaching structure is unacceptable. He sat around for 4 months while Rome, sorry, Murrayfield burned and eventually cut his losses snd headed for Japan. A disgrace to be honest. Now we have a shorter club season cutting game time and club revenue; the game is losing players fast with no obvious future for good club players. What are Ireland doing right that we are not??????

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  18. Fork out and bring Richie Gray from Toulon back and give him whatever he needs to make this broken system work

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  19. So they’ll be picking the second best u20 s team to play Southern Knights .
    Where will they get some of the players from ? . The Southern Knights ?.
    Tell me what’s the point of this .
    What a cockup .
    Couldn’t make it up . But this S6 malarkey just keeps on delivering ‘Horlick’s ‘by the dozen

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    • As I understand it there are likely to be some 18 year old boys playing their first ever game of senior rugby on Friday night, and it’s going to be at Super Series level, with next to no preparation!? Thrown to the lions or what!? Simply unfair on the lads involved.

  20. Its a tough one to take. I am a big fan of Fletch and Peter Walton (SQ) as they have done it all before in England, and I think given time they will produce. But not so sure about some others in the pathways coaching just now.

    SRU created super 6 to help develop next-gen players but now we are told they weren’t being played enough at that level, so we need to create a new team to ensure they get to play. Apparently this is based on Georgia and Italy both having their Under 20s playing as a team in semi-pro leagues each season.

    On Saturday a couple of the lads involved told me the Future XV has so far had one training session together and their first game is this Friday. Initially they are going to get beaten heavily by all other sides I imagine, but will it produce performance improvement long term?

    Since Super 6 started Glasgow Hawks have produced as many players for the Under 20s as any Super 6 side has, because they play young lads consistently all season, alongside experienced players like Leckey, Strain and McGroarty

    And yet…in the era where we achieved our highest ever WC U20s finish (1995,1996,1997) we produced Kinghorn, Graham, Hastings, Fagerson, Cummings, Ritchie, and Crosbie; in the years since then we have produced Smith, McDowall, Thompson, Dobie, Henderson, Samuel, Fagerson and Darge….a drop off yes, but not a huge drop off…so maybe it is TEAMS we are not producing rather than individual players.

    As for private schools v state schools – we have tended to hot-house aspiring pro’s in private schools in recent years, but looking at the home-grown players in that team today and it is more or less 50/50 private schools/state schools so I am not sure that debate is really relevant here

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    • Sorry, but Glasgow Hawks have produced few players, of the ones named only Cummings came from Kelvinside Academy. the rest were all placed at Hawks by the SRU and the Glasgow Academy. A major problem with the Academy structure is that players attached to the Glasgow Academy have been told to play at Hawks. We had the ridiculous situation last year where Hawks had 12 Academy players playing each Saturday for Hawks Second XV!!! Hawks was a wonderful concept, a pre-cursor to Super 6, they have many wonderful people involved, but they do not produce their own players. With GHK and now Glasgow Accies both in National One this season, their original constituent clubs will retain players. The gap between the majority of Clubs in the Premiership and the majority of National One Clubs is not great. When young players are in the two Academies, they should be placed at Clubs with good coaching structures in place. Certainly Accies, with R Jackson, R Grant, R Wilson and their support, or GHA with C Forrester or Ayr would be a far better learning environment than Hawks second XV. Time for a major change at the Glasgow Rugby Academy!

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      • John B, what you say about Hawks is wide of the mark, as Maharg explains elswhere in this string of comments…..

  21. Not unexpected really Murray has created a shitshow since the day he started.
    “You’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to keep driving forward to improve all aspects of the performance pathway and pipeline.
    Since he has taken over the performance and the results have got progressively worse. His steadfast refusal to accept the original squad he picked 18 months ago was simply not good enough. Instead of surrendering his pride and bring in better players he ploughed on and on,the end result this humiliation.
    However. Time to look forwards now.
    Heres one idea.
    1. Get rid of Murray and Mallinder
    2. Scrap the FOSROC Academy
    3. Encourage clubs to include and develop 18/19 yr olds in their 1st team squads
    5. Introduce a national U19s club cup competition.that should negate the ‘school influence.
    6. Lets have a SQ team in there as well
    8. Coaches pick outstanding players from the opposing team. Pick a squad based on that list
    9. Use Pro players who are willing to coach and develop an U20’s team.
    The old system clearly never worked in terms of development. The new proposed system is a joke.
    Lets get our best lads playing regular senior rugby and go from there. If the top rugby nations do it then so can we.

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    • ‘His steadfast refusal to accept the original squad he picked 18 months ago was simply not good enough. Instead of surrendering his pride and bring in better players he ploughed on and on,the end result this humiliation’.

      I certainly wouldn’t claim to know every eligible player, but I can think of several off the top of my head that would strengthen the u20 squad that is out in Kenya, and none have had a sniff of a Scotland squad at u18/u20 level.

  22. We’re undoubtedly facing a crisis at pro level in 4-5 years time and likely to fall away from our relatively comfortable position. SRU need to get a grip.

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  23. Japan coming down to this tier means there’s no real likelihood of promotion next time around either. Until Dodson and the rest of the trough snufflers are kicked out this will be our future for seniors as well. It’s not sustainable to keep importing players and the current cartel have no interest in youth or grassroots development. 30 years of short termism coming home to roost. We are a laughing stock amongst other rugby nations and rightly so. Even now there will be the usual brigade desperate to pretend all is well. Since S6 we have gone from 5th in world at u20 to making up numbers in the 2nd tier which is itself a million miles off the actual RWC tier. Until we admit how much trouble we are in we will not be able to start fixing it. In another RWC cycle or so we will be holding our breath hoping for the seniors to get past Portugal and Germany in qualifiers.

  24. Hard to find any positives from this apart from if you are The opposition, the way the Uruguayans got to the ball at breakdowns was so clever, they’ve clearly been watching France and letting teams overstretch then pile in. I’m not sure what rugby Scotland have been watching apart from stick it up your jumper maul only tactics… kicked the ball away all day, nothing from the back lines and worst of all just no patience running off in ones or twos and directly into the South Americans excellent counterattacking plans. I’m not one of the usual sack everyone brigade, but that is surely an untenable position for Murray now… it was as simple as better coached to a better plan… and for me sadly it looked like they thought turning up was enough… congratulations to Uruguay, fantastic win fully deserved

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  25. Sru not fit for purpose. 38,500 registered players in Scotland. 65,000 seater national stadium. Multi million pound sponsers deals plus.. where does the cash go. Sru not fit for purpose.

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    • Where will the futures get there team
      Stirling players who have no game from all accounts
      Not exactly in the spirit of fair play

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