Six Nations: raised expectations leave Gregor Townsend feeling the heat

Scotland head coach highlight previous successes following demoralising loss to Italy in Rome

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend shakes second-row Grant Gilchrist's hand after Saturday's defeat to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend shakes second-row Grant Gilchrist's hand after Saturday's defeat to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

EMBATTLED Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has indicated that calls for his head following Saturday’s loss to Italy are a consequence of raised expectations due to previous successes for the national team under his stewardship.

While refusing to engage directly in the discussion about his own future – his current contract runs out in April 2026 – Townsend was keen to highlight a series of results which ended long losing streaks at the Stade de France, Twickenham and the Principality Stadium since he took up the reins in the summer of 2017. Scotland have also claimed some impressive scalps at Murrayfield over the last seven years.

“The expectation has gone up and our own expectations have gone up, too,” he said. “To beat England was something that never happened, and now the expectation is to beat them regularly and for us to finish high up in the championship.


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“Saturday means we won’t finish as high as we set out to do and that’s really disappointing, but the most important thing is putting those experiences to best use.

“I felt our experiences in the World Cup set us on a much better standard of playing in this Six Nations. You saw it in the first 45 minutes in Cardiff, and the growth mentally in this group has been really positive.

“Saturday was definitely a setback, that third quarter, but that’s sport – you have to learn from the times when you’ve not done that well and build on the things you’ve been doing well. That’s what we’ll be working on this week.”

The Aviva Stadium is the one Six Nations venue where Scotland haven’t tasted victory under Townsend. You have to go back to 2010 for the last tartan success in Dublin, at Croke Park because Ireland’s traditional home ground was being redeveloped, while the last win at Lansdowne Road (as the Aviva was previously known) was back in 1998.

A victory there next Saturday would certainly take some heat off Townsend and his team, but it would also reinforce the sense of frustration with an ongoing consistency issue.

Townsend is right to defend himself by pointing out some of the excellent wins on his watch, but we should also recognise that this has been regarded as a ‘golden generation’ of players for Scotland, who are now approaching the end of the road having failed to finish above third in the Six Nations (more often than not finishing in the bottom half of the table) and having tumbled out of the last two World Cups at the pool stage.

There is a very real danger that their legacy will be a sense of wasted opportunity which will not stand comparison with their equivalents from the 1980s and 1990s in particular.  This lot have shown in flashes what they are capable of but not with enough bloody-minded consistency to have ever genuinely challenged for real silverware.

Now, as Townsend approaches his eighth year in the job, it feels like the team are treading water. A two win Six Nations – as looks likely – certainly doesn’t look like tangible progress.

 

 

“Saturday night wasn’t the time to lift them [the players] up, because they were very disappointed and we [as coaches] were very disappointed, too,” said Townsend.

“Monday will be an important day, as will Tuesday and Wednesday when we train. We have to look ahead to how we can be better against Ireland.

“There will be parts where we say, ‘this is exactly how we want to play, this what we have been working on’, but there will be others where we will say, ‘this can’t be good enough’.

“If we give away penalties back-to-back, the opposition are going to get positive outcomes from it, they’re going to get points. A team like Ireland, if you give them invitations into your 22, they usually come away with points.

“If we end up with two wins, of course we will be disappointed. We were disappointed not to have won against France and we were disappointed on Saturday.

“They were obviously tight defeats, but that doesn’t change things. We set out to win those games and we were in a position to win against France. In the Italy game, we probably weren’t in a position to win in the second half, but we certainly were after our opening period.

“It’s gutting that we didn’t come away with those two wins. If we get ourselves into a position to win against Ireland, the team will have played really well. That’s what we have to focus on this week.”

Townsend added that he and the squad will not focus too much on their last meeting with Ireland, at last Autumn’s World Cup when a 36-14 trouncing spelled the end of Scotland’s involvement in the tournament.

“We have to focus a lot on ourselves and how we got ourselves into a strong position against Italy but also how we let it slip. We have to address that,” he said.

“A lot of the players played in the game [against Ireland] at the World Cup so they know the reasons why we didn’t perform that day, and why Ireland played really well.

“It’s a given that Ireland are going to play well against us, [because] they’re a quality side. We have to be at our very best to win.”

 

 

Troublingly, Townsend refused to accept that there was a sense of a déjà vu about Saturday’s loss in Rome following Scotland’s narrow win over Wales in Cardiff at the start of the tournament. Acknowledging there is a problem is the first step towards solving it.

“We did get it back [in Cardiff]. We got the win. We got the momentum back and dominated the last ten minutes and that’s credit to the team coming together,” he retorted.

“Saturday was obviously a tougher experience because we lost. In Cardiff, the guys brought that game back to us winning it and being on their try-line at the end of the game.

“It would have been great to get a bonus point, but the most important thing was to win down there.

“We had the ball over the line against France and after we went behind against England, we were up for most of the game, certainly the second half.

“I don’t think there are parallels between Saturday and the other games. On Saturday we let slip a big advantage. We did have enough time to bring it back but the problem was giving them such a big advantage. That’s something we need to address.”

 

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Six Nations: Italy v Scotland reaction: Townsend defiant after Roman disaster

About David Barnes 3891 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.

62 Comments

  1. Talking about debacle, just seen the Scotland team for Ireland and GT’s mate Kinghorn is still in. I hope he leaves the cloaking device at home this week, and we’ll actually see him doing something instead of disappearing for most of the game. Hope Ollie Smith is getting better for later on in the year when Toonie realises how bad Kinghorn is.

  2. It’s hard not to think the the best option is for GT to be moved on. The team however will still be the same. As people have pointed out above, every good team needs a dog or two or three. At least one person they’ll follow over the top and into the trenches without so much as a second thought. The only one that comes to mind and who could be an immediate fix is Magnus Bradbury. I don’t want to see pats on the back “ohhh never mind, better luck next time”. I want to see Bradbury’s face inches from whoever made the mistake, or more likely given away another penalty and telling him to get a friggin grip, you can replace “friggin”. Others then like Dempsey, Fagerson and the rest may get the hint. Against Ireland this Saturday there are only two outcomes. The Irish give us a worse drubbing than they gave Italy, or the inconsistent Scots will show up and turn them over. We already have cocky Irish pundits saying that Ireland will only need a 7/8 point performance to win. I know what I’d be doing on Saturday if I were playing for Scotland. As an aside can we please move Kinghorn to a safer position, possibly in the stand. Young Paterson at least showed up in his first outing Kinghorn hasn’t shown up so far the 6N.

  3. Scotland lack the physical and mental toughness of the Irish.
    I don’t know why. Perhaps the team psychologist can enlighten?
    Also look ar ABs and Boks.Massive desire to win- and not to lose

  4. If we want to go big, who has built and then rebuilt an awesome team, who has great academy building experience? Rob Baxter of Exeter

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    • Come on RodB, Rob Baxter isn’t coming to Scotland and while we are at neither are Ronan O’Gara or Mark McCall as others have said.
      Can we please be serious with the replacements getting suggested.

      • the suggestions are serious: however I do agree with you, as I said elsewhere regarding a replacement ‘but who?’ what’s more who in EH12 has the necessary ability to organise a search, let alone organise the proverbial in the Brewery.

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      • I disagree its a great opportunity to make a real difference at an International level – it needs the right money, right package, right ability to bring in his support and right authority to get things done. The biggest issue for any coach coming up here, is the pathways (non-existent) and the infighting (which is constant) that stops anything getting done.

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    • It takes them having the slightest interest the actual want the job. Those guys are not of the coaching tree and out out our reach.
      More realistic, Cheika, Van Graan, Rowntree, Foster, outside bets McFarland, Catt, McDonald.

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      • Michael Cheika is a great shout, Johan van Graan probably falls under the same category as Franco Smith in that they need a lot more time on their current jobs; Graham Rowntree and Ian Foster: Both a no from me. Dan McFarland I really would love to coach us but again I think unrealistic due to an apparent bad ending with the SRU, Leon McDonald already turned us down to assist Scott Robertson so what makes you think he’ll have a swift change of heart now 🤔 and Mike Catt, yes please as he has done an excellent job with Ireland as assistant.

      • This is a Union with a £10 million deficit. Getting rid of a useless Chief Executive and CFO will cost. The former has left a poison pill in an extended contract for Toonie. Can’t see him walking away: he clearly believes he is doing a good job. Might change if the fans turn against him.

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      • Reagle can you imagine the abuse any coach getting paid that much would receive on this page when they lose any games.
        Townsends salary isn’t high for his role.

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  5. On-field leadership conspicuous by its absence following the disallowed Horne try (courtesy of Schoeman’s stupid offence), the game’s turning point.

  6. Every team needs a banger and a runner in the centre pairing think Aki and Ringrose think calling and guscott think Roberts and Davies think tui and huw
    Huw Davies should have had McDonald no slight on Redpath

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    • I agree with your “banger & runner” comment but can’t think of another Scotland centre who has anywhere near the necessary speed & bulk to punch holes through the opposition team like Tuipulotu can. Could van der Merwe temporarily change to being a centre? Or could Townsend play Bradbury & have him drop back into the backline during offensive moves to he can provide the crash-ball threat? Or are these thoughts/ suggestions too radical to be considered!!!!!!!!? Russell needs the attacking option that Tuipulotu provided, otherwise Scotland’s attack becomes too predictable & easy to defend against.

  7. Townsend is an utter fantasist. He lives in a cocoon of repetitive cliches. He has all the authority but takes no responsibility for anything. When you look at the international coach merry go round and consider how he has been given continuous contracts as Scotland head coach for 8 years despite his record of utter failure at WC and 6N level you can understand how he has come to think he is untouchable. The SRU is the equivalent of one flew over the cuckoos nest when you take an objective view of the whole depressing saga. At least if somebody had the integrity to come out and admit they are not happy with whats happening but given our finances we are stuck with him for the next 2 years then at least we would have some honesty. As it is EH12 are playing the dignified silence card and meanwhile sucking the blood out of their customer base for a sub par product which could easily be so much better.

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  8. Everyone keeps writing about the Scottish TEAM. I don’t see a team. I see a group of talented young men giving their best for as long as they can on match day. With a lot of hard work being done and the occasional flash of brilliance. That’s fine as far as it goes, but where is the leadership? Where is the direction? As it is I can’t see anyone “getting their dander up”. I would think if White or Wainwright or Calder or Laidlaw was barking at you you might just cut down on the needless penalties or loose passes.Their teams didn’t win much more than today’s guys but I feel they recognised their leaders and respected their coaches more.

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    • Couldn’t agree more GMac. Been saying it for years – where’s the onfield Generals? Let’s getting shot if the niceties – handshakes, pats on backsides when mistakes are made (including giving aways pens) and get back to the barking. Do we all have to be pals to win for Scotland? GT always protects his philosophy but he must be raging, as we ate, at the errors and poor decisions made on field. I don’t recall Sexton patting anyone on the backside after their umpteenth error.

      • How many scrum penalties will the Irish give away before O’Mahoney and Porter are spitting fire ? How many lost line outs before Sheehan and Beirne are at loggerheads ?Can Scotland match the passion and aggression those guys bring to the table ? I really hope so.

  9. Ok John Martin who would you have selected then?
    Personally I,d have had MacDowall and Bradbury there-and a 5:3 bench split. And same on Saturday in Dublin.

  10. In this 6N from hell we could still win the triple crown.

    I bet we do. Would be just like us!

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  11. I assume detailed analysis of our team and their next opponents takes place, then, after consultation, Townsend decides what the game plan is to be. It did seem we had one on Saturday, as our forwards crashed into the Italian defence, steadily making ground. OK, that couldn’t go on forever, but it did look like a plan, at first. What didn’t look like plan was the back play. Yes, there is the mercurial Russell, the tongue firmly in cheek Messi of rugby, but he didn’t have his usual partners on either side of him and that didn’t help. White’s absence mattered, as did Tuipulotu’s. No-one can be blamed for that and many here have been arguing for Horne to get a chance, but it wasn’t ideal when Tuipulotu was already ruled out. I had thought Redpath would be fine, particularly as he plays alongside Russell at Bath, but I was very disappointed by what I saw. Maybe I missed some good stuff, it has been known, but Redpath seemed to offer a strong argument for McDowall to run out against Ireland, just as McDowall’s form for Glasgow has. I’ll make no comment on Kinghorn other than to say we are missing Ollie Smith, but Townsend wouldn’t start him if he was available.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on these pages, the rot set in before halftime, which presented an opportunity to address it at the break. I’m not convinced it was. Yes, the disallowed try was a pain, but it should have fuelled renewed resolve, not panicked chucking the ball about, aimless kicks, brainless penalties and capitulation.

    The use of, or lack of, the subs must raise the question what is the thinking here? If you don’t field them when they can have the greatest impact, is it because you don’t have any faith in them, or you have no specific strategy in mind. It seems to me it’s the latter. Just throwing them on at a whim signals a lack of strategic nouse, which has been as clear as the top of Townsend’s head for a long time.

    When we hear “we’ll learn from this” repeatedly, yet evidence proves nothing has been learned, something has to give. Yes, there is the perennial problem of “if not him, then who” but you won’t find an answer to that question if you don’t even ask it. Ideally, we’d get someone new in place for the summer tour, but, whenever it is, we definitely need someone new to take a talented squad beyond where they currently are.

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  12. I agree with those who think that Russell should be relieved of the captaincy.
    What about Dempsey as captain?
    What’s needed is someone like AWJ. When he captained Wales, he rallied the team at every break in play to encourage and re-inforce the will to win with determination and pride, stay calm and the opportunities will come. We don’t seem to see that in the Scottish team.

    • He’s retired mate. And he’s Welsh. Not gonna work.

      In all seriousness, you’re dead on. But tbf, AWJ was a once in a generation player, we don’t often see his ilk. Dempsey, no thanks. I would argue that Darge has the makings of a really good captain, he’s understated in the Warburton mould, lets his game do the talking. His championship has been a little disappointing but he’s young and will learn a lot from this. My issue is with how these players are being led from management. Unfortunately for GT, the evidence for replacing him is stacking up. Two wins (the likely scenario), however we cut it, will not represent progress for this team. I know his contract is to ’26 but how long does he get? Where’s the bar?

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    • Leadership doesn’t have to come from a nominated captain…someone in that team should have been grabbing them by the neck! Unfortunately I don’t know who that person would be as it’s not evident from what I’ve seen.

    • He does not even sing our anthem during the pre match activities and is not particular;ly vocal during a game. Our team is full of mercenaries and it shows as there is no dog in this team.

  13. So in the cold light of day once we’ve all had time to reflect after most of us have fired GT and everyone associated with him Lets have a reality check – we beat Wales OK just, we beat England who I said at the time are a good side. We should have beaten France but for a poor ref decision and we lose by 2 points to Italy who themselves drew with France. So it’s the end of the world for Scottish rugby? Steady on.

    Regards the Italy game, we gave away 7 consecutive penalties some as dumb as you can find. If perhaps we hadn’t given away 2 or 3 we might have won. If VdM had passed to Price we might have won. If we’d tightened the game up a bit we might have won. So some poor individual decisions on the day lost us the game. If we had been given the try against France and squeezed past Italy we would have been on for the Slam. Would people have been calling for Townsends head – No. it’s fine margins amongst some evenly matched teams.

    Before this weekend Borthwick was getting slated, Galthie was up for the sack, Gatland was and still probably is under the cosh. Everyone expects the best of their teams and we are no different. But realism is needed.

    I often hear people saying this is the Golden generation, best squad ever which sets expectations. But other sides have great squads and great players so are we individually so good. If you were picking a best team from the 6 Nations how many Scots would be in the team – 1 or 2? We don’t have many world class players otherwise we wouldn’t make some of the dumb mistakes.

    So yes we could be 4 from 4 but we aren’t and that’s rugby for you and that’s why we love it. Who thought England would beat Ireland? Next week is the last round of the 6 nations and I suspect there might be more surprises. But let’s keep our feet on the ground regards expectations.

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    • Sir, excellent post, bit too much whatabootery for me.

      The 7 penalties should never have happened as Healy should’ve been leathering the ball deep into their 22 / 50-22s

    • Can’t argue with your take on things Ross however,
      I think most people just want to see an improvement on our finishing position in the tournament.
      G.T has done a fine job and brought some great wins and ended hoodoos in Paris ,Twickenham and Cardiff but we seem to be stuck on 2-3 wins per tournament. Is Gregor the man to make the team take that next big step?
      I don’t think so, but then I can’t honestly suggest who else out there could that is available.
      I

  14. Is there a new coach out there who can make experienced players cut out ridiculous, braindead errors ? Or stop them giving away penalties ? Or make our supposed world class back row win turnovers instead of constantly losing them (9 to 3 on Saturday) ??

    If there is, get him in now.

  15. Jeez.

    6N from hell? Really?

    I remember the days when Scotland would lose every game infront a stadium that was 2/3 full. It wasn’t that long ago folks.

    I remember us getting smashed up by Italy at home playing a frankly ridiculous brand of rugby that handed them about 3 interception tries. In the same season we lost by a point to Ireland in a final game where we led for most of it simply because we didn’t think we had a right to win.

    Some of you have short memories.

    I wouldn’t sack Townsend. If we can recruit an assistant coach he can work with – some kind of grizzled Kiwi ex-forward maybe – that would be a better solution.

    Townsend still has huge qualities as a coach, he’s just struggling to get the team over the hump from being competitive to being true contenders.

    It’s not unusual. It’s a classic situation that happens in most sports – think the football Premier league.

    Winning such a competitive competition takes huge amounts of confidence and institutional memory. We don’t have that.

    I wouldn’t sack Townsend. If we could recruit a 2nd pair of eyes he respects and that is his co-coach that would work better. Think Telfer McGeechan.

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    • Yeah, if anything lost us the match it was the penalty count. To some extent can be coached out of players but at the end of the day down to the individual. Although we could put it down to individual desperation in not having tempo in the breakdown.

    • ‘some kind of grizzled Kiwi ex-forward maybe – that would be a better solution.’…you mean like the one who was on the verge of turning us into a very good side as HC and then SRU fired him?
      GT may very well be better as a club coach…I just don’t think GT is an international test head coach …who needs to be capable of taking in players from different club cultures in short timeframes and be able to instill the required discipline, organization, strategies and motivation to be able to truly compete for silverware. Approx 8 yrs is a generous stretch to give a current day HC , in any team sport, who has overseen 2 abject failures at the RWC and only progressed from 6N wooden spoon contenders to mid table 6N.
      Continuing to do the same thing over and over that doesnt get you what you strive for just because you think you are right…that is probably his greatest flaw..Id think.
      We are all flawed…but he is the SR HC…he needs to do better and the hope has ran out for most that he can be.

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      • Ah yeh the Vern Cotter myth, led us to. Wooden Spoon and to a pumping at Twickenham 2017 which cost many players a Lions shot. Scraped past Samoa to qualify from the world cup group and lost to a Aussie team because we messed up a line-out.
        Not to add he has failed at everywhere he’s gone since he left and the only success he has as a coach was with Joe Schmidt as his assistant.

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      • Vern Cotter was a good coach but he wasn’t as innovative as Gregor Townsend. His record wasn’t as good.

      • I think Vern Cotters’ legacy was to instil an identity and culture to the team. And I think it’s prevailing. Remember the chaos under Andy Robinson and then Scott Johnson.

      • Vern Cotter and Gregor Townsend both benefitted from the timing of their appointments when compared to what came before them. The players they had to work with blossomed because they were more talented than their predecessors (at least in the back division anyway).

        There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that Cotter would have done any better than Townsend in the years that came. It’s just massively disappointing that we’re approaching the end of this era of actually having a competitive squad, and we’ve achieved nothing from it apart from a good win here or there.

        I don’t even really blame the coaches. We’re Scotland. Our infrastructure for this sport is embarrassing (most sports actually), and we have a tiny pool of players to choose from. We’ve been getting used to playing at the big boy’s table and it might not last for much longer.

        That’s why it’s so frustrating for me that the inability to control games that should be within our control, or to learn from our mistakes when we’ve supposedly taken every defeat over the last decade as a “learning experience”, has stopped us from finally winning this championship. This should have been our year, but it isn’t. I’m not sure we’ll have a better chance in my lifetime.

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    • When your coach cannot get your team motivated to play and give 100% for 80mins…its time to go.This is not the first game we have went AWOL and stopped playing to the plan.We have the highest penalty rate of any team in 6N,and happen because we have stopped playing phases and started playing 15 man sevens.Duhan is fantastic in attack but like Kinghorn appalling in defence duties..both regularly out of position.So who picks these guys…GT.

    • Townsend has been given loads of assistants that he has picked himself and Dobson has thrown huge amounts of money in support of Townsend.

  16. Not only are Words cheap, they are an indication of the mindset of the individual: “Saturday night wasn’t the time to lift them [the players] up, because they were very disappointed and we [as coaches] were very disappointed, too,” said Townsend. !!!!
    For goodness sake, this isn’t Bagford Viper’s Colt’s under 15’s that need to be mollycoddled, and nurtured, they are a team that has just failed to perform, a team that yet again folded when up against, I suggest again a more tenacious team, perhaps with ‘Team esprit de Corp’ .
    Leaving it till Monday weakens the ‘Rollicking’ in my old fashioned attitude, by then the mind-set of the player no doubt has allowed his mistakes to blur and the Buck passed and removed the pain not to say humiliation of coming off the field and being berated for the abject failure as a Team.
    I have always been somewhat ambivalent about whether Townsend was totally at fault, he isn’t on the Park, but collectively there are aspects of his demeanour not least the ‘I’ll leave it till Monday’ an attitude all to indicative of today’s ‘touchy feely society’ that brings me to the ‘it’s time for a change’ call: but who?
    Mind you give credit to Italy and the development of their youth and senior sides over the past years: any comments on how they can do that with only 2 professional sides and without the legacy of Rugby that Scotland enjoyed, again, any comment SRU?

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  17. I’m sorry, but how is beating Italy – a team we’ve defeated on the previous 13 occasions – a raised expectation? Especially for Scotland’s ‘greatest ever’ squad, which sadly on paper it probably is but comes a long way short in terms of achievement. It hurts me to say it, very deeply, but under Townsend our team can be relied upon to choke as soon as hopes are raised. There is something missing in the psyche and it is becoming a big, big problem. The motivation and conditioning – the belief and sheer determination to win – just aren’t there, while a sustainable 80-minute game plan is noticeable by its absence. Ironically if there were a Six Nations for first-half performances, we’d actually still be on for the Grand Slam. But if instead it were decided by the second forty then we’d be headed for the wooden spoon. Absolutely true, check it out. The Irish will stay patient on Saturday – making the huge assumption that we can stay in touch – for they know full well that we are likely to blow ourselves out.

    Judging by the post-match strings, Townsend’s position is already untenable as far as most punters are concerned. He has failed to achieve anything approaching consistency and never delivers on the really important occasions, despite the luxury of having a group of players who are at the top of their game with their respective clubs. He needs to go, obviously, but as some guys have quite rightly said ‘be careful what you wish for’ when it comes to replacing him. An absolutely sound word of caution, but it doesn’t justify ducking the decision and the selection process should be conducted by wise men making sound judgements. Which admittedly would exclude Matt Williams.

    There is an entire world out there to pick from and other nations seem to manage it. Big Vern was initially an example of excellent decision-making. marred only by the buffoonery of his departure that means he would probably never come back. Too early for Franco, who needs to produce silverware with the outstanding team he has built at Glasgow. Jake White at Bulls would be an excellent candidate, but would he be the right fit? Ronan O’Gara similarly has all the credentials, while trawling Europe and the southern hemisphere would doubtless dredge up even more credible candidates. The lure of international rugby with a top-six nation possessing bags of potential – plus the SRU’s ability surely to outbid most clubs – would likely be enough to tempt them.

    Never follow a legend into a job – as Alex Ferguson’s successors have discovered – but Townsend is hardly that. He has been looking somewhat worried of late and so he should be. The SRU really does need to shell out the compo money that would buy out his latest ill-judged contract. But could they endure the embarrassment of doing that so soon after awarding it?

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    • Mark McCall? He’s led an overwhelmingly successful period at Saracens* and embedded a culture widely-regarded as being tremendous. Perhaps he’d be up for a change of scene and a chance to test himself internationally.

      *Let’s assume he hasn’t overseen the minutiae of player bonuses etc in previous years!

      • McCall led a team which won trophies through years of systematic cheating. I wouldn’t let him into the stadium let alone coach the team.

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    • One question I would ask [admittedly with no knowledge of the format] at the moment is, who in EH12 is competent enough to search for a replacement?
      Also understand your comment about it being Italy but be fair they have improved considerably which makes me ask the question again about competence at the SRU to make a reasoned choice.

  18. Treading water is spot on. We have to think we are better than 2 wins. In the stadium Saturday and it was inpossible to grudge Italy their win, we had them by the throat and let go. First 20 min ( ok mins 3-20) were as good as anything in the championship then what? Time to move on from GT with thanks for his achievements but an acknowledgement that we can do better.

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    • I agree. In defending our conistent level of mid table mediocrity (because it is better than being the wooden spoon contenders that we were a decade ago) Townsend reveals his own limited aspirations for his team. This limited aspiration is best this team can ever do with a coach who is so easily satisfied with it. This interview betrays a complacent mindset which means we can go no higher with this person in charge.

      So, I would at least like us to try and aim for more with a new coach who would begin their tenure believing that we have another level in us. However this goes, just settling for **this** is not acceptable.

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  19. It’s all very well bringing the emotion levels up enough to beat England once a year, but folks from other countries rightly mock us by saying that’s our World Cup final, and they are right – because it is never backed up.

    The performances this 6 Nations have all been ropey, and for Townsend to say we’ve progressed since the World Cup is laughable. The team is constantly letting leads slip, failing to turn the screw on opposition, lapsing into terrible discipline and displaying no Plan B whatsoever when the going gets tough. The issues are clearly psychological/mental and Townsend has had many years to fix this perennial problem, without success. He can’t even really have the ‘attractive rugby’ tick against his name just now as we have resorted to a boring kicking game!

    He’s continuing to dine out on the England anomaly, plus a one-off Covid win against France in an empty stadium. A change should be made after this tournament with a Vern-like character coming in with the express target of doing something about the team’s wafer-thin resilience and lack of mental strength.

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  20. What a lot of utter bull**** Townsend.

    As we always have, we have had an occasional good result. The win in Paris comes to mind but even that was in an empty stadium.

    I, personally, attach little importance to results against a dysfunctional England team – I have never subscribed to the belief that beating England in a one-off game equates to a good season and especially not England of late.

    And, although it was a win, I think the less we crow about the win against a scratch Wales in Cardiff the better.

    Outside of that, you have to go back to a tour match early in Townsend’s tenure against Australia for a notable victory.

    Expectations have not been raised by improving results, because a cold, hard analysis shows that our results are about one win per season better than before GT took charge. They have been raised by having a number of generational talents at our disposal at the same time.

    These players should be winning far more often than they are and our expectations should be sky high. But I don’t think any right-thinking Scotland fan EXPECTED to win on Saturday primarily because our Head Coach does not seem to know how to get the best out of these players.

    When assessing a coach’s ability we must be careful not to confuse cause and correlation. Townsend happens to be coach at a time when our elite playing resources are relatively plentiful, the question is not how his results compare with other regimes but whether other regimes would have got better results.

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  21. This has been the 6 Nations from hell. Most of it our own doing or compounded by our own doing.
    Yet again, except for against england, we do not show the right mentality / bloody-mindedness / consistency within a game. It’s almost laughable how we go from so good to so bad within each and every game. Finally some people are starting to cotton onto the common denominator here – mentality, leadership, or the lack of it, stemming from the Coach IMO – he is the one consistent through all of this. It’s always the same stuff and here we are, 7 years later, still saying the same things about learnings and yet never actually learning. Yes we’ve had good one-off results against england and others but we’ve never had the right mindset to carry it along in a single tournament. We bottle it when we’re ahead, too often; never play to our full potential when the stakes are at their highest (see every important WC game last 2 WC’s; trying to go back to back ever; playing Italy to go into the final weekend with a chance of winning the tournament) – this has been worse this year than before. So now we’re going backwards. I’ll just repost below what I posted after the France game:

    BryzzoWan78 says:
    11 FEBRUARY 2024 AT 9:32 PM
    I have never felt so sick after a game as yesterday. On top of feeling almost as sick as I did the week before – for completely opposite reasons. Only Scotland could do that to you.

    Despite the outrageous antics of the TMO and Ref yesterday (of course it was a try and should have been given and we should have won as a result) I think we need to take a deeper look at our leadership issues.

    For a few years now, we’ve lacked the ability to think clearly when under pressure, to remain disciplined when under pressure, to be ruthless when on top of an opponent – various scenarios where our biggest rivals are all stronger.

    Our team is a mature team now – super talented, with plenty of confidence-boosting wins under their belt.

    Coming into this 6 nations, we had low expectation/pressure, but you look around and France / England / Wales are all sub-par or in transition. This should be the year we finally mount a serious challenge – we are more experienced, settled team, settled coaching outfit and more talent than the other teams (with the exception of france).

    But as with the previous few years, we find ourselves in a number of situations of “what if” OR we shoot oureselves in the foot and destroy momentum.

    Last week, we should have put down a marker and destroyed the welsh. Instead, we let a bunch of kids almost get the comeback result of their dreams. We gave them that by just stepping back.

    Again this week, we’re fully on top, we have France right where we want them – and again, go passive, seemingly happy to play kick-tennis when only 6 pts ahead.

    IN both these scenarios, there is a serious lack of leadership and appreciation for what it takes to win test matches.

    I can’t help but think we have a coach who has never been in the thick of a pack and was seen as talented but flaky. I love Russell, but he could also be put in a similar bracket (but one of the best players we’ve had and so important to this team). I didn’t agree with making him captain as he has far too much else on his plate.
    AND makign him captain doesn’t solve the final piece of this team’s jigsaw we’ve needed for several years now – the mongrel, dog, bloody-minded ruthlessness that would enable us to take the next step and win games like the one yesterday (without having to rely on an official doing their job).

    I tink the captaincy question has been fudged, just like it was when they gave Hogg the captaincy. Hogg/ russell haven’t done anything wrong, but they are not what this team needs to get over this final, tough step.

    And Toony has had years to see this and do somethign about it and he simply hasn’t – I think that’s cos he himself is not a great leader – an outstanding coach, but not the person who you’d follow over a hill or who can inspire, and he fails to appreciate what kind of leader the team needs on the pitch as a result.

    Love Russell, but alleviate him of the captaincy. Find someone else – it may be Darge, I thought it would be Ritchie. I get there are other dynamics, but that’s the issue I see – consistently and over a number of years.

    I think yes we blame the TMO etc for yesterday – but we also need to take good, long, hard look at why on earth we hadn’t also put that game to bed – control the controllables etc. Should be basic stuff.

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  22. Why do Scotland continue to kick the ball away? Price when he came on continually box kicked, with no positive outcome. Other teams play the ball in hand – Ireland, and now England this weekend are brilliant at it. Plus Kinghorn (who I rate as a footballer) by being in the line when we were defending resulted in 2 Italian tries – what happened to the days of old where the full back was the last line of defence?

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    • Firstly it’s only expectation because we had Hogg we have Russell Tuipulotu VDM all world class.
      However for every thrilling victory there has been a crushing defeat, I wasn’t in the slightest surprised on Saturday. The selection on Saturday was typical GT – naive, bull headed, senseless.
      The world cups he’s been in charge have been exasperating non-events from a Scottish perspective, everyone knew (well maybe apart from GT) what was going to happen.
      The final straw for me happened years ago but a loss to a hapless French, the win but the catastrophic capitulation to a callow and poor Wales and then Saturday surely means the end for GT.

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      • Ok John who would you have selected then?
        Personally I,d have had MacDowall and Bradbury there-and a 5:3 bench split. And same on Saturday in Dublin.

    • “Why do Scotland continue to kick the ball away?”

      Because the best, most attacking teams in the world have high kicking stats. The issue is the kick options taken not the number of kicks.

  23. I find it hard to listen to this guy anymore. He is a glorified spin doctor and has the worst RWC record of any Scottish coach in history. All we hear are self-serving platitudes and excuses about how much the team has learned. It is beyond embarrassing

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  24. >“Saturday means we won’t finish as high as we set out to do and that’s really disappointing, but the most important thing is putting those experiences to best use.

    If ‘high’ means table standings that seems a bit off since it’s entirely within our hands to be above Ireland and 1st, although out of our hands as per whatever England do.

    >“To beat England was something that never happened, and now the expectation is to beat them regularly

    We deservedly won and I am grateful!

    >how we got ourselves into a strong position against Italy but also how we let it slip.

    I think the issue is on the pitch TBH. I think FR, great as he is, different thinking as he is, get’s a bit too relaxed and flippant when you’re 1 try off a bonus point early doors. How many kicks from hand has he done in midfield where it’s bounced off someone whose within a metre or two of him? Seems lacklustre. The idea of resetting and consolidating a position seems to be second to double or quits.

    It seems like we just don’t know what to do with ourselves in a comfortable position against a quality team, yet other teams know how.

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    • Naw….you can’t pin Saturday’s debacle on one player….when so many were clearly culpable. And no the coach doesn’t get to sit in his glass box coated on teflon when the same collective failures emerge game after game and year after year.

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