Scotland v Australia: ‘Tongan Thor’ is on revenge mission after debut debacle

Prop Taniela Tupou doesn't hold a grudge, but he'd like to set the record straight ... while Scott Johnson's coat is on a shoogly peg

Taniela Tupou has a point to prove after heavy defeat at Murrayfield on his international debut. Image: Rugby Australia
Taniela Tupou has a point to prove after heavy defeat at Murrayfield on his international debut. Image: Rugby Australia

A MAKESHIFT Scotland team did a pretty efficient job of despatching Tonga with minimal fuss on Saturday, but they are not yet finished dealing with the awesome rugby talent produced by that tiny Pacific Ocean archipelago (population circa 104,000).

Next up is Australia, which means dealing with the fearsome physical challenge posed by Taniela Tupou, their 5ft 10ins and 21 stone tight-head prop also known as ‘Tongan Thor’, who has a point to prove after suffering the indignity of being on the wrong end of a 53-26 score-line on his international debut against the same opposition at the same venue back in November 2017.

“It’s funny because I arrived at the hotel on Monday and got the key for my room, and they put me in the same room as I was back in 2017,” said the now 25-year-old. “It is good to be back and I’m looking forward to having another go against them. I haven’t watched that [2017] game back, but we all know it wasn’t the best game for us, and hopefully we’ll change that around this weekend.”

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Tupou was 21 when he came off the bench that day to fill the gap left in the Australian front-row created by the red-carding of Sekope Kepu for a reckless shoulder-charge on Hamish Watson late in the first half. He has since taken his cap total to 36, but for the vast majority of that time he seems to have been pigeon-holed as an impact sub, starting only seven of his first 32 games in the famous gold jersey.

However, he has now been on the field at the beginning of four games on the bounce and his form has been exceptional. He earned his place in the front line after a strong showing off the bench in Australia’s 28-26 surprise win over South Africa in the Rugby Championship on the Gold Coast in early September. The following week, he was outstanding in both the tight and loose for 78 minutes against the Springboks (again) in Bisbane, with his performance including dynamic ball-carrying and some fantastic handling skills which included a sensational offload to put Marika Koroibete away for the try that put the Wallabies in the driving seat in a 30-17 win.

Tupou then carried on in that vein in back-to-back wins for Australia over Argentina in Townsville and on the Gold Coast, and against Japan in Oita on a stopover en route to this end-of-year jamboree in the UK, which will also take in matches against England and Wales.

Despite the upheaval caused by the late call-offs of Japan-based trio Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, the Wallabies arrived in the UK at the start of last week on a high, having won those last five games on the bounce,  and Tupou has played an absolutely central role in that rich run of form.

“I’m a lot older now, not just a kid who has joined the team, so I can be myself around the boys,” he said. “I can offer something too, rather than sitting there wondering if I am going to play again.”

Tupou was born and grew up until the age of 14 in Tonga as the youngest in a family of 11 children. After being awarded a scholarship by Sacred Heart College in Auckland, his first real appearance on the radar of the wider rugby public came during his final school year in 2014, following an all-action performance in a match which was televised nationally and went viral globally, featuring the prop showing off the full gambit of raw power, pace and handling ability when running in three tries, including two from over 50 yards.



Coaches and scouts from across the rugby landscape took notice. He was pursued by English and French clubs, and the New Zealand rugby union put him under pressure to sign a loyalty agreement to play for the All Blacks as a prerequisite to representing their national schoolboys team. It is a reminder that Scotland is not the only rugby nation which treats national identity as a disposable commodity.

Tupou chose a different path. He had always supported the Wallabies, despite having never lived in the country up until that point, so he hopped on a plane to join Queensland Reds, beginning his three-year residency requirement which culminated in that inauspicious debut off the bench four years ago.

Of course, Tupou is not the only member of the Australian camp who feels they have a point to prove this weekend. A handful of other players in the current squad – including captain Michael Hooper and winger Koroibete – played in that 2017 humiliation, while head coach Dave Rennie, defence coach Matt Taylor and scrum coach Petrus du Plessis would love to get one over their former employers.

Tupou reveals that Taylor, in particular, is a man on a mission. “You can tell from the way he’s been at the beginning of this week that he really wants to win this game,” he explained.

“It means a lot to him, and he spoke to us about some of the players we need to go after, and what we need to do to win. So, we know what we need to do, and we just need to get out there and do it this weekend.”


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Rugby Australia’s Director of Rugby Scott Johnson will also be back on familiar territory this Sunday, having spent seven years on the Murrayfield payroll as assistant coach to the national team, interim head coach to the national team, and Director of Performance Rugby for Scottish Rugby, before heading back to his homeland in December 2018.

Reports from Australia indicate that this could be his farewell tour. With a shake-up of Rugby Australia’s performance department believed to be imminent, there is a strong suggestion that the 59-year-old could be one of the guys left stranded when the music stops, largely thanks to a salary believed to be in the region of $500,00 (£275,000) which the cash-strapped governing body can ill afford.

His contract is up at the end of the year, and it has been reported that the position could be discontinued. He can also no longer rely on the protection of Raelene Castle, the chief executive who appointed him, and who walked away from the organisation (before she was pushed) in April 2020 after losing the confidence and support of major stakeholders in the game, including her own Board.

Johnson said earlier this year he didn’t feel his job with Rugby Australia was finished yet but his prospects of holding on to the position can not have been helped by the Cooper, Kerevi and McMahon farrago, which ultimately cost Rennie three of his most important players for this trip.

The trio have opted to stay with their clubs in Japan for the time being rather than travel to Europe with the Australia squad. As Director of Rugby, the buck for failing to find the best solution for Australia in this situation ultimately stops with Johnson. He has been criticised for having the declared strategy of not engaging with agents as well as the players on this matter, which is interesting when you consider the preponderance of rugby staff tied into the giant talent agency Esportif employed by Scottish Rugby during his time in the Murrayfield hot-seat.

In fact, questions have also been raised in Australia about Esportif’s booming presence since Johnson’s appointment as DOR.

“Why are we getting all these coaches who are represented by Esportif?” asked Alan Jones in The Australian in January 2020, before describing what he viewed as  “a continuing brazenness about the behaviour of those who administer our game”.

“What is going on when the once proud Rugby NSW becomes a transit lounge for journeyman coaches and administrators from New Zealand?” asked Jones. “From the outside, and few are welcome inside, it still looks as if Johnson and the Esportif sports agency are using the Waratahs franchise as a halfway house for struggling Kiwi coaches and administrators.”

Jones added:

“What is more disturbing, again from the outside, it appears that the Esportif agency is using their bevy of coaches to launch their player agency in Australia.

“Esportif set up shop in Sydney last year. They have been busy getting their coaches jobs in Australian rugby while at the same time signing up many of the successful Australian under-18 players.

“How has the NSW/Waratahs franchise fallen into this pit?”

“Is Johnson a shareholder of Esportif? And if not, why is he filling our coaching positions with mostly Kiwi coaches represented mostly by Esportif? Make no mistake, Esportif now have many coaches and decision-makers well placed in Australian rugby.

“Johnson has given them a huge leg-up as they launch their sports agent business in Australia.

“Understandably, Esportif can now run around signing young Australian players on the premise that they also represent the coaches who select players and make contract offers.

“It does not help that Johnson himself is represented by Esportif.

“As this company grows its business in Australia, we need to be aware of the influence over coaches and players that they are seeking and, indeed, exerting.

“The rugby family must ask itself if it is comfortable with Johnson using Esportif as a preferred supplier of coaches and players.”

Similar points were raised and questions asked during Johnson’s time in Scotland, most notably by Mark Palmer of The Sunday Times. A satisfactory explanation of this seemingly over-cosy relationship was never forthcoming.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the playing of the game always ended up being a suitable distraction. And so it will continue in the era of private equity and global marketing agencies, with players like the ‘Tongan Thor’ providing the box office appeal that the money men both thrive on and hide behind.

Scotland v Australia: three props called up – Sutherland and Darge drop out

About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.


    • Unfortunately it’s behind a paywall. From the opening comments about Rufus McLean I assume the author goes on to acknowledge that place of birth in itself is probably not the primary factor in someone’s rugby development.

      There’s been some interesting comments below. It strikes me that debating residency periods and the grandparent rule is not racist, but treating people differently depending on ethnicity or whether their name “sounds” Scottish would be. I’m not suggesting anyone here is doing the latter but it certainly happens in the bleaker corners of the internet.

      Dom – I normally agree with what you say but I don’t personally like the phrase “race card”. I base this primarily on how it tends to be used by some folk, whose world views are (I feel confident in saying) very different to yours.

      • David – if you register you get access to one free article a week.

        On reflection it was probably an unwise choice of phrasing. The drop to accusations of xenophobia and racism was quite startling to me especially as the article and comments on here did no such thing.

        Reid’s piece illustrated that it was Twitter comments that sparked him being accused of racism and it looks like commentators here are using comments elsewhere to “support” their POV.

      • Dom, glad to see you have reflected on your use of that phrase.
        Shame when I challenged you on it your response was that “I used my words quite deliberately and with purpose”

  1. Fascinating column from John Barclay in todays Times describing what it was like to play for Johnston. Pretty appalling way to treat any player never mind someone of Johns calibre

    • that’s the short version from JB. I understand there was more, and it didn’t get any better.
      And there was other stuff which caused problems. Its what you get from a back stabbing snake oil salesman whose real pay grade was assistant backs coach and water boy for wales

  2. Wow. This has taken a dark turn.

    So wanting Scots to play for Scotland is now xenophobic and anti foreigner

    Either that or those sore losers are trying to pull the race card.

    • No, refusing to acknowledge those with Scots ancestry as Scots is the issue.

      These players put their short and long term health at risk every time they pull on the shirt. The thinly veiled “they’re no Scots enough” is off putting.

      There was a recent comment on another thread indicating anger at Kyle Steyn being termed a Scotsman. Kyle’s mother is Scottish, in fact a closer link than that of Hamish Watson who qualifies via his Grandad, but that’s OK as his name is more Scottish so I’ve never seen anyone object like they may to someone like Steyn.

      Anyone in a Scotland shirt is a Scotsman and deserves full backing. Full stop. Nationality identity doesn’t begin and end with where you were born.

      • I must have missed that one John.

        It is perfectly legitimate to question the route some players make to get a Scotland cap and it’s impact on the player pipeline.

        It is obviously not acceptable for that to become xenophobic or racist. I haven’t seen any of that and am bemused by some of the comments in here claiming such.

    • I dont speak for others. But its not about wanting scots to play for Scotland that xenophobic. It thats legitimate Scottish people such as Kyle Steyn are classed as foreigners, when they have every right to play for Scotland. People see an non-transitionally Scottish name, and assume its residency based.

      • yes Alastair, spot on. But that is because of ignorance, sloth or xenophobia. Or some combination those

      • David, I am asking those who think Kyle Steyn is not Scottish.
        I know what my definition is in terms of eligibility for the Scotland Rugby team, and legally; and they ain’t the same.
        Perhaps it might have been an idea to tell us what your definition is, and whether Scotland should pick within the world rugby rules or hamstring ourselves unlike any other country? Perhaps? Maybe? Or explain your comment in the article that kicked this off

        • Septic,

          Re: the comment which ‘kicked this off’. In the article, I discussed how the New Zealand Rugby Union apparently put pressure on a teenage Tongan schoolboy to commit to being an All Black. I think this is pretty appalling, but you are entitled to view that as perfectly legitimate. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

          Recognising that I have been very critical of how Scottish Rugby have conducted themselves in this area in the past, I took the view that it was only fair to acknowledge that we had here evidence that they are not the only union pushing this strategy.

          I’m not clear as to why several commenters then decided they needed to point out that other unions are doing this. I’ve re-read the paragraph in question, and I think what I am saying is pretty clear.

          You are, of course, entitled to disagree with the ‘national identity as disposable commodity’ phrasing. My position is that this has nothing to do with any individuals currently playing for Scotland. It was referring to the way Unions are conducting themselves, which, in my view, has serious implications in terms of the credibility of the international game, never mind what it is doing to the prospects of several tier two and three nations who invariably get the messy end of the stick.

          Scotland has a long and proud history of drawing on the exiles network to augment and enhance the national team. It would take all day to list the many players who have added real value and colour to our game. I don’t want to ban kids with Scottish parents or grandparents playing for Scotland, and I don’t want to ban individuals who have committed to living and contributing to Scottish society from playing. I probably would like them to have set foot in Scotland at least once before being selected, but you – of course – are entitled to a different view on that.

          My concern is that aggressively recruiting players from overseas has increasingly become the settled strategy because it is cheaper and easier than developing Scottish players. Why go through the hassle of blooding a youngster who will need time to get up to speed when an oven-ready option can be purchased at reasonable price.

          I take on board ‘Commodore Neil’ point that Scottish Rugby needs a blended approach. My view is that the balance is not right at the moment. You, of course, are entitled to a different view.

          International rugby, in my view, is the expression of the state of the game in that country. If we increasingly rely on imported players to populate our professional and international teams, then we will ultimately cease to be positive contributors to growing the game globally. We will be the magpies of world rugby.

          It is important to recognise that we are talking here about recruiting elite athletes to play international sport. We are not talking about immigration, border controls or any of that stuff. It is a game, and part of the game is to see if you are better at producing rugby players than the opposition.

          The whole tone of this thread is very disappointing because we’re keen to encourage rigorous and vigorous debate in our comments section, but a small group appear to be intolerant of any view that deviates from their own, and determined to intimidate anyone who disagrees by throwing round thinly veiled threats about being branded as a ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’ or having an anti-Scottish rugby agenda.

          Simplifying and exaggerating might help brow beat the opposition into submission, but it doesn’t tend to help find solutions to complex issues, which is what this is.


      • A thoughtful and intelligent reply, David, to what is a nuanced issue.

        I’m particularly struck by your comment “a small group appear to be intolerant of any view that deviates from their own, and [are] determined to intimidate anyone who disagrees by throwing round thinly veiled threats about being branded as a ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’….”. One could make that assertion about any number of online “debates” these days. Perhaps we should all endeavour to remember those words when the next issue arises, whether over taking a knee, Exeter Chiefs or similar?

        It’s certainly fair to ask the wider question about international representation, and it doesn’t make anyone a racist for doing so. The fact that Stander is an Ireland international and Strauss a Scottish one, simply because they signed for Munster and Glasgow respectively rather than the reverse, surely causes some concern, not least because neither committed to living in, or ‘giving back to’ their respective countries once their international days were over.

        That said, I’m surely not alone in being just as delighted for, say, Pierre Schoeman as I was for Messrs Maclean, Thompson et al. last Saturday. In Edinburgh there is a real admiration for what the likes of WP Nel and Schoeman have contributed to our club, notwithstanding their lack of Scottish blood. At this stage it just feels much easier to support players like those, perhaps, rather than a Duhan Van der Merwe, given his departure to England.

        In Scotland we’ve had far more Gordon Simpson’s, say, than Sean Lineen’s. Precious few New Zealanders have stuck around post playing days in Scottish rugby. In contrast, it’s possible we may find an increasing trend of reverse emigration in respect of white South Africans, as their situation in their home country deteriorates. How anyone can determine wider intentions of such players at the outset of their careers is anyone’s guess.

        So a complex issue, which likely hides an unspoken truth – as an national side, we’d not be competitive against our fellow Tier 1 nations without a heavy reliance on both our (blood) exiles and our residence qualified talent. Whilst our depth has grown from the days when we only had 20 odd players approaching international quality, we remain one or two injuries away from a crisis…unless anyone is aware of three or four monster sized props lurking undetected in Scottish rugby?

      • @ David Barnes

        I’m not sure why you are suggesting I thought the treatment of Tupou was ok. Far from it, and I’ve referenced more stuff I find distasteful. I do not think what Scotland does is in any way comparable.
        I accept that eligibility is a subject where many views exist. WR has changed residency from 3 to 5 yrs only recently, and are currently reviewing eligibility again.
        But I also believe that Scotland should select players who are eligible; as every other union does. I do not think playing with one hand behind our back is sensible. Our small playing base makes life tough enough for us without a further self imposed handicap. We can all have a view on eligibility, and can press the SRU to campaign for that view. But we cannot pretend we live in a bubble where we can be holier than thou while the rest of the world looks and laughs.

        And yes we would all like to see more players at all levels; more players coming through academies. And we have to improve these. That is not really up for debate.

        It is also clear that the best young players get on. Scotland has always promoted and capped young players when ready, not age dependent. anyone looking into this will see that, over many decades. Dobie, McLean and Thomson following the likes of Barclay, Kinghorn etc.
        And we do need to find better pathways for more youngsters to find a way to the top. Its odd how there is a correlation of posters on here who would bin the proposal (S6) which could help that, posters who would bin the pro teams (so less chance of making the top) and those who want to ban “foreign” (whatever that is) players.
        It is about balance.
        Scottish rugby from top to bottom is linked. The cash cow is the national team. It brings in far more than ever because it is reasonably competitive; that is on the back of the pro teams being the same. Based on the history of pro rugby, if the pro teams fail so will Scotland; then less money for rugby at every level.

        so that balance needs to manage short term needs as well as long term. It is not an easy journey, but we have made really significant progress over the last decade (albeit with some right cock ups along the way). Rugby globally is still evolving rapidly. We need to be competitive now to stay at the top table. Falling down the rankings into possible a 2nd tier competition for example is far from impossible, and there would be no way back, or a very very difficult one. All levels would suffer

      • Interesting that in an otherwise decent post you’ve had a pop at those calling out unpleasant comments directed at Kyle Steyn and others but not those making them.

        I’m out.

    • “trying to pull the race card”. Interesting phrase to choose. I’ve seen it used many times (not on here), usually by xenophobes and racists to deflect from criticism of their view of life. I’m going to say that is not your intention but perhaps it might be an idea to choose your words more carefully.

      Now about that definition of Scottish…………..

      • Septic, I’m astonished that you have such strong views on this when you need to ask what ‘Scottish’ means.

      • I used my words quite deliberately and with purpose

        Perhaps show where I’ve made any comment about eligibility of playing for scotland to back up your words.

        If you want to call out others for what they’ve says please do. That the commentary here has turned to calls of racism and xenophobia seems to be a deflection imo.

    • I have to say that I usually appreciate your articles but that comment about disposable nationality jumped off the page and slapped me in the face. It grated hugely and it is difficult to see why you made it.

  3. Disappointed to see xenophobia and anti-‘foreigner’ comments being tolerated on here.

    Some people might find Neil brash but he’s right to call it out.

  4. “Scotland is not the only rugby nation which treats national identity as a disposable commodity”

    and they are losing genuine supporters by doing so, as there are two ways to view international rugby:

    – love watching the best players Scotland can financially attract enhance our standing.
    – love watching the best of Scottish talent fighting hard to represent their Nation as best they can.

    One is like supporting Rangers;
    the other like supporting Hawick.

    One is about money and a consumer product;
    the other is about Scottish rugby players reaching their peak.

    One seriously pisses-off young Scottish talent when some mercenary parachutes in over their head;
    the other allows Scottish talent to reach it’s potential.

    The SRU have made their choice, hence the reason so many old school rugby players/supporters now avoid Murrayfield.

    • One mercenary player in a Scotland jersey, is one too many for me.
      (as that means one Scottish youngster has unfairly missed out on their opportunity)

      A Scotland team should represent Scotland, not be artificially boosted to be a TV commodity.

    • Its international sport. Its about winning. Why shoudl Scotland play to a different set of rules to our rivals??

      Also do you have an issue with players like Cam Repdpath, who was parachuted in, despite not being born in Scotland and never having played for a Scottish club??

      Yet Kyle Steyn take a power of abuse for not being Scottish enough for some people.

      • “do you have an issue with players like Cam Repdpath”

        Did he choose to play for Scotland for the money (a mercenary);
        or because his family are steeped in Scottish and Border rugby, who moved south for his father’s career?

        I am not 100% sure (as I know his father, not him) but I am pretty certain he is someone who the “parent” rule rightly allows to play for a country he is deeply associated with.

        Families who chose to leave a country/town for economic reasons, will normally hold strong links back to their “home” for at least one generation.

      • Mike, I was being slightly facetious and my comment was more a general one rather than specifically aimed at you.

        But the point was that because we’ll all know who Redpath’s dad is, he gets a free pass when it comes to this stuff. While players Kyle Steyn get negative comments thrown at him and he has exactly the same right to play for Scotland as Redpath. While neither were born here, not formed here in a rugby sense, they both have a Scottish parent, it’s just none of us know Steyns mum.

        Also we have no idea about how Scottish any of these guys feel. By all accounts Tuipulotu’s gran was a big influence on his upbringing, and I’m sure she is immensely proud he has chosen to play for her country.

        I don’t fully agree with the residency stuff, but one, that’s only a few guys (schoeman, Kebble and duhan) and two, the rules have now changed and we’ll see much less of this. Even with the residency guys, I’m not sure they are playing for Scotland for the money. My belief is they might play for Glasgow or Edinburgh for the money, but they play for Scotland because they want to play international rugby.

        Finally, as someone who was born overseas, and only has one Scottish parent, sometimes the comments on here (and social media) make me wonder if I’m even qualified to support Scotland.

  5. Oh dear. Some rather thin skinned folks on here today.

    The defence of “we arent as bad as everyone else” isnt the strong one you folks suggest.

  6. Will be interesting to see how the Scott Johnson situation plays out, especially with respect to agents.

    Should we worry?

    Here is the answer to a question I raised previously on the subject:

    “You also referred to market concentration in relation to agents. This affects professional rugby throughout the UK (and indeed elsewhere) and not simply in Scotland. The Board has been aware of this for some time and it is something that has already been specifically considered and discussed. We are very mindful of the situation, monitor it, and have robust procedures in place through the High Performance department, the senior executive team and the work undertaken by the Board Sub-Committees to manage any associated business risk. ”

    The answer came from the previous SRU Chairman.

    Another “Nothing to see here, move on” matter?
    No worries about SRU Governance?
    No connection with the huge raft of NSQ journeymen in and out of BTM in the last 10 years (up to the end of last season 37 at Glasgow alone who stayed on average 1.4 season and made on average only 9 appearances)?
    No concern on any conflict of interest when at the time of asking it was understood that SJ, The Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow coaches who recruit and most of the players were with the same agent?

    You may ask, I could not possibly comment.

    • over 10 years and 2 teams. Small beer. I assume you understand “rugby risk” and not “financial risk”? Hence we do not squander big cash on a few big name players at every team, unlike say English, Irish, French clubs.

      Johnson was bad news before the SRU appointed him. He was bad news when he was here and tried to shut down the 7s program, and bad news here on a couple of other issues to my certain knowledge. Single worst appointment made by Dodson, and it is one thing I will never defend him on

      • Septic

        Interesting you question my understanding of financial risk.
        Others who appoint me to the Audit and Risk committees of Boards of companies of a size similar to the SRU or in some cases many times bigger, do not seem to share your concerns.

        We are subsidising (ie bearing a loss on) Edinburgh and Glasgow to the tune of c£10m a year.

        A key role for a Board is the deployment of capital. Any Audit and Risk Member should ask:
        Are we getting value for money? (NB I see a need for E&G but a £10m/year subsidy or loss needs a lot of scrutiny).
        Is there a financial risk of having so many key decision makers represented by the same agents? At very least should there be processes in place to avoid conflicts of interest. (the subject of my question to the previous Chairman)
        What is the ROI on an NSQ player who stays for just over a season and disappears without trace? (A Scottish qualified will carry on providing an ROI if he drops out of pro rugby and stays in the Scottish game)
        Why are we spending so much on them? (NB I cannot agree this is “small beer”, and presumably the Agents make another quick buck)

        Do you agree?
        If not would love to hear how you would look at financial risk.

        Do you really think the Irish clubs are squandering money on big names?
        They seem to be part of their greater success.
        Would you really rather have a handful of these journeyman who crash and burn than a Todd Blackadder or a Nakawara (1st time round)?

        Finally do you agree with John Barclay on Cockerill, given you seem to violently agree with him on Johnson?

        Looking forward to debate.

      • @ Keith Wallace.

        I did not question your understanding if financial risk. I asked if you understood the difference between rugby risk and financial risk. And of course there is a link and we need to examine the rugby risk strategy regularly for VFM

        I would be genuinely interested in the break down of your £10m subsidy. The SRU do fund the pro teams; but every pro team everywhere gets money from its governing body. Devil is in the detail. And the risk to cutting pro team funding will have a flow on risk to international revenues.

        The role of SJ, indeed his appointment is something I was critical of from the off. And his relationship with agents simply unacceptable. As I’ve said I have not and will not defend his appointment

        On Cockerill- again I agree 100% with John Barclay. Cockerill is a dinosaur and while his initial impact (installing basic discipline etc may have been necessary, indeed overdue), he was obviously incapable of moving on from that. I have been saying for 2 years it was time to move him out – Edinburgh were a shadow of what they were and should be, no youth development, obvious fear of players to play outside the 3 drives and kick, so many good players ruined. It looked like his last couple of seasons at Leicester – and its taken years for them to recover from his legacy

  7. and not exactly be a surprise if Johnson is sacked. Snake oil salesmen are usually found out – we paid him for far too long

  8. don’t think the SRU offer scholarships to 12/12/14 year olds as is common in Aus and NZ.
    Nor require any kid to sign a loyalty agreement before playing age group for Scotland. Nor have they ste up a rugby academy in Fiji with the real purpose of identifying and recruiting kids (on a scholarship) as Aus have done.

    Agree or not with Scotlands’s recruiting in residency or grannies, we are not nearly so covert, underhand and pretending to be doing anything different – so unlike the usual jibes from certain countries

  9. ‘It is a reminder that Scotland is not the only rugby nation which treats national identity as a disposable commodity.’

    Thought this was a rather cheap aside tbh. Neither Australia nor New Zealand are shy of fielding a residency qualified player, let alone Japan, France, Italy, Ireland, Wales…in fact any test team in a position to do so.

    • Agreed. Pretty sure I’m right in saying Scotland has a reasonably/relatively large diaspora, which accounts for a few players who are part of the squad on heritage (rather than the residency rule). Steyn, Tuipolotu, Haining, Maitland…

    • correct. What Scotland does is what every country in a position to do so does. Uses the current World Rugby laws, but a lot more transparently than some. Bad enough when the media from down south and elsewhere try to paint us worse in some way while defending their own; while our media seem happier being chippy about Scotland and ignoring the rest

    • On the other hand, FF – in Scotland’s (or in view also of the 2 wholly-owned & controlled ProTeams, the SRU’s) case there is clearly a process or policy in this respect, being pursued on a significant, industrial scale. Some might describe that as a shameful, possibly cynical means of covering up deficiencies in the national recruitment & development system.

      David’s comment about Scotland not being the only rugby nation that treats national identity as a disposable commodity appears to reflect correctly the essence of what has been going on, all over. There are several notable, indeed laudable exceptions, however – just for starters, Argentina & South Africa…..

      Important to avoid confusion between “national identity” and exploitation of a loophole or concession in the regulations, enabling players with no other connection to a country or its national team to qualify via a relatively brief period of residence to represent that country in international competition…..

      Pretty farcical, really – n’est ce-pas?

      • how many Zimbabweans have SA capped? Quite few Ron. The Beast for starters.

        Facts eh.

        Had Argentina had professional set up with 2 or more pro teams, its highly probable they like everyone else would have players from other countries going there to play, then who knows maybe being capped.

      • and setting up academies in Fiji, or offering rugby scholarships to young kids to move to NZ/AUS, or forcing a young kid to sell his soul to NZ isn’t cynical or large scale? On what planet?

        Industrial scale my arse.
        You have this issue with “foreign players”. What is a “foreign” player? Ethnic purity is it?
        It is what it is – within the rules of world rugby. Yet we alone should fight with one hand behind or backs. Don’t like the rules (and many don’t, its a fair position to take), then make the case against the rules for everyone. \do not impose a handicap on Scotland that no-one else has

      • “Significant, industrial scale”??? Nothing like a bit of hyperbole to stir up the natives. Or is it the foreigners you’re having a dig at?


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