Scotland v Ireland: George Horne keen to demonstrate his versatility

Scrum-half loves playing high-tempo rugby with ball in hand but believes there is more to his game than that

George Horne hopes to return to Scotland's match-day squad for Sunday's Six Nations clash against Ireland. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
George Horne hopes to return to Scotland's match-day squad for Sunday's Six Nations clash against Ireland. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

BY the player’s own admission, George Horne’s performance last Friday night was not one of his stand-outs in a campaign which has seen him return to the sort of form he showed when being named Glasgow Warriors player of the season in and 2017-18 and again in 2019-20.

However, he was glad to have had a competitive hit-out after being dropped from Scotland’s match-day squad which took on France the previous week, and there was a certain sense of satisfaction at having been part of a Warriors team that got the job done against Zebre in convincing style [they won 50-8] despite not quite clicking as an attacking force.

The scrum-half’s eye for gap and speed off the mark is wells known and widely celebrated, but he is naturally keen to demonstrate that he can play a more structured game if that is what is required as he battles against Ali Price for the back-up role to Ben White in the Scotland squad during the two remaining matches of this Six Nations campaign.


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“I do like a fast-paced, high-tempo game, but you’ve got to be able to play lots of different ways against different teams,” said Horne. “I wasn’t the most pleased with my performance against Zebre last weekend, there was a few little errors here and there, but I was pleased that the team did what was needed to get the win in a scrappy game.

“We were probably a little bit disjointed in attack and didn’t play our most fluid game, but our big boys were outstanding at scrum and maul time, so it was nice to be able to lean on that. Being able to win a few different ways is never a bad thing,” he added.

“Hopefully I can now have a good training week and fingers crossed do enough to get myself back into the frame to play against Ireland.”

Horne – who has filled in as a winger for Glasgow this year and came through the ranks as a stand-off – made an impact off the bench as Scotland finished strongly to seal wins over England and Wales during the first two rounds of this year’s Six Nations, but was then dropped for the France game, with national head coach Gregor Townsend opting instead for Price’s experience and game-management for the toughest game of the championship to date.

Scotland fell 19 points behind in the first quarter of that match, before hauling themselves back to just four points adrift with 13 minutes to go. All the momentum was with Scotland at that point, but they failed to kick on and ended up missing out on even a losing bonus-point as consolation for their efforts when Gael Fickou crossed for an injury-time try to seal a 32-21 home win.

Price shouldn’t carry the can for Scotland coming up short – in fact, his excellent clearance back to halfway from the restart after Finn Russell’s try was exactly the type of contribution Townsend was looking for from the 2021 Lion – but the coach will also be weighing up whether a livewire contribution from Horne during that final period might have helped Scotland escape the French bearhug they found themselves trapped in.

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For his part, Horne believes that if he receives a recall this week then he can adapt his game to suit whatever challenge the team faces – either chasing down an Irish lead or protecting a Scottish one.

“Everyone wants to play every week for Scotland, especially in these massive games, so I was disappointed to be dropped against France, but I also understand that we’ve got a lot of depth at scrum-half and good competition there,” he said.

“Gregor gave me a bit of feedback, so I’ve got a couple of things to work on there and hopefully I can show that I should be his man going forward.

“To play in those first two games and get two wins, and feel like I contributed well off the bench, was really pleasing. We’re a really fit squad at the moment so we want to take advantage of that later in the game by upping the tempo, which suits the way I play. So, hopefully I can get another crack at it this week.”

Horne has also demonstrated this season that he can add value to any team he plays in as a goal-kicker, and while Russell has been deadly off the tee so far in this Six Nations, it is important to have a back-up option.

“I missed a couple at the weekend, which is frustrating, but kicking the goals is something I’ve always done, since I started playing rugby, and I’ve enjoyed having a chance to do it again regularly this season with Glasgow,” said Horne.

“I think I’m up in the high 80 percentage success rate for kicking, so that is something every team needs. It’s another string to my bow – I’m not just a high-pace, high-tempo player – I’ve got different attributes.”


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About David Barnes 4004 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.

9 Comments

  1. That is the wonder of Rugby Football and the Offsideline as a platform for debate and a lifeline for exiles like myself living in a country with only half a dozen Rugby Clubs and zero opportunity to lean on ‘the bar’ and chat about the game, what do I mean?
    Well how I can agree with an individual whole-heartedly on one opinion but be vehemently, well perhaps mildly, opposed to others. However much as I think George Horne is worth the Jersey I still have the quandary, is it best when he starts or comes on at 60 minutes: but that then brings me into the conflict of my attitude toward replacements with a bench that is overfull and not primarily for genuine injury.
    It’s a hard life making decisions, it’s even harder sitting on the Fence!

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    • “… living in a country with only half a dozen Rugby Clubs and zero opportunity to lean on ‘the bar’ and chat about the game”

      Sounds like Scotland after a few more years of the Dodson plan.

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  2. The Finn Russell of scrum-halfs, criminally underused and should be around 40/50 caps now.

    Without doubt a superior 9 to Price at this moment, Toony would be a fool not to include him.

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    • White has been brilliant though, his speed to get the ball away and the actual speed of his pass are superb. Horne’s pass doesn’t have as much zip.

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      • Whilst White has been good the idea that Horne’s pass isn’t as good is so far wrong as to be utterly bizarre. He consistently keeps rucks speed below 2 secs and has the best service of any 9 we have (and has done for years now). Even if one did want to argue against him starting (incorrectly) to have Price ahead of him on bench is madness (ask Franco Smith he spotted the difference in quality immediately) given that Horne can also cover 10 wing and FB and is a better than decent place kicker. We saw what happened when we saw sense at centre how bout we try giving Finn even more time and space. Anyone in any doubt should look at the BBC analysis of our winning try against England

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