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

Head coach won't discuss whether his position is under threat after defeat at the Stadio Olimpico

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend after defeat to Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend after defeat to Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend said he wasn’t prepared to discuss whether his position is now under threat following this [Saturday] afternoon’s demoralising loss to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. His current contract, which he signed last May, runs until April 2026.

“I’m not going to answer that question,” he said. “We’re disappointed with the result today, but we know this team have come on since the World Cup. We can look at this result and be really disappointed, but I’ve been really proud of how this team’s played during the championship so far.

Townsend was keen to pay tribute to the victors, but accepted that Scotland were the architects of their own downfall. “There are two teams that play the game, not just one,” he reasoned. “I thought that Italy were very good even in the first half where we dominated most of the possession. But our actions after the try that was disallowed weren’t good enough.


Six Nations: Italy v Scotland report: visitors fall apart

Six Nations round four: Italy v Scotland live blog …

Six Nations: 2025 fixture schedule announced


“We gave Italy a way into the game through penalties and field position. If you give that to any team in the Six Nations, they’re going to take the points, which they did.

“It’s very frustrating that we didn’t get that try, which is down to our execution, and after that it was even more frustrating.”

“Why did it happen? You saw the actions. Players make decisions where they believe they are doing the right thing. We took a decision to go for a line-out and then there was contact in the air which was one of the penalties.

Pierre Schoman’s penalty [in the lead-up to George Horne’s disallowed try at the start of the second half] for blocking was a lapse in concentration. The focus has to be better. We did a lot of good work in the first half, a lot of effort went into the game, but that 20-minute period wasn’t good enough.

“It hurts a lot. Any time you lose, it’s really disappointing, as a coaching group and also as a playing group. But it’s all part of sport. We’ll get over it. The team will get over it and we know we need to play much better next week because we’re playing the best team in the world right now away from home.

“The disappointment we feel now has to be fuelled into how we get better.”

 

 

Townsend defiantly insisted that he still has faith in this squad of players, despite their infuriating twin habits of blowing winning positions and backing up positive performances with sub-standard ones. But few outside the camp will regard Scotland of having even an outside chance of toppling title-chasing Ireland in their final match of this Six Nations campaign in Dublin next Saturday, meaning another year with just two wins to show from five games.

Their opponents next week will be highly motivated to make amends after their Grand Slam hopes were dashed by a last minute drop-goal from England playmaker Marcus Smith at Twickenham this evening.

‘Yes, of course I do [believe in the team], I believe in this group,” the coach asserted. “You can look at results and say: ‘We’ve lost to Italy, this team aren’t going to take that next step’. Or you can look at where we’ve grown since the World Cup.”

“I still believe the performances the players are putting in can show we can beat anybody. But if we take our eye off the ball for a period of time, we can be beaten. That’s what happened today.

“We won in Wales for the first time [since 2002] this year,” he added. “We retained the Calcutta Cup. We had a decision go against us in the game with France. This result is very disappointing. We’ve lost against a good Italy side, one of the best Italian teams I’ve seen. But today is not what defines this team. Next week will define it, but the weeks before defined it as well.”

Pressed on the similarities between this loss and the performance in Wales, when a commanding leads was frittered away to the point where Scotland escaped Cardiff with a single point win and no bonus point, Townsend claimed the games had two entirely different narratives.

“I look at the Wales game differently than today’s game,” he said. “I think the penalties in today’s game were justified. They were completely our doing, which was frustrating and disappointing.

“Even more disappointing was the seven points we didn’t take [George Horne’s disallowed try]. We went through a number of phrases, scored a very good try, and it was brought back for blocking. That was seven points that would have extended our lead, but it ended up giving Italy field position. You need to learn that you can’t give away repeated penalties at any point in the game. If you do that, it’ll put you in trouble.

“We made some great decisions in the first half [today]. The players showed great skill and effort in the first half. They showed great effort at the end of the game to potentially come back and win. But there are errors in games and decisions that you’d like to have back.

“We know that these errors will be highlighted – and rightly highlighted – when we lose. It hurts more when you lose. We need to be better next week, we know that for sure.

“We’re disappointed for the supporters. The support they gave the team was fantastic. But it’s sport. Two weeks ago, the atmosphere at Murrayfield and reaction to us beating England was fantastic. Today, they are right to be disappointed in the team, as we are. We believed that if we’d carried on playing as we were in the first half, it would have been a win. But it’s not. Italy deserved their victory. They played very well.

“It’s a massive blow. It would be worse if it was our last game of the tournament and you have months to stew on it. We’ve got a week now to improve and to make sure we don’t make the same errors as we did today.

“We’re playing an Ireland team who are the best out there right now. We’re still playing for something tangible, which is the Triple Crown.

“We’re disappointed we’re not going to be playing for any more than that, but it gives us huge motivation to improve from today.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t kick on in the second half. The minutes after the try was disallowed were clearly not good enough.”

 

  • Kerr’s Borders Gin sponsors  The Offside Line’s Six Nations coverage and to celebrate the partnership, the team at Borders Distillery are offering you a 15% discount on an online purchase of their Kerr’s Gin AND Kerr’s Navy Strength Gin throughout the Men’s Six Nations.
  • Simply visit the distillery’s home page by clicking HERE and use discount code “Strongroots” for the discount to be automatically applied.
  • Please enjoy Kerr’s Gin Responsibly. Over 18s only. Go to drinkaware.co.uk for more information.

Six Nations: Italy v Scotland report: visitors fall apart

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.

98 Comments

  1. Ridiculous headline. It wasn’t a disaster. One team beat another in a rugby match. Nobody died.

    2
    2
  2. Congratulations to Italy and great to see 70,000 in the Olympic stadium. Rugby definitely the winner this weekend with Italy winning, a fantastic Ireland-England game and France finally showing up to put a gallant Wales away. As for Scotland, “dissociative identity disorder (DID)” is fitting. The game had 3 phases – Scotland hitting space at the side of rucks, going forward and creating scoring opportunities and leading 22-10 with Italy on the rack. Then a turgid middle part of the game where we lacked any sense of a game plan to nullify the expected Italian counter offensive and got mugged twice for tries with the identical play. And a final 10m that was an embarrassing exhibition of 7s netball style touch and pass as the team completely lost any sense of shape and structure when all that was required in the last few minutes was strong leadership, a plan and cool heads to gain field position to try to eek a scoreable penalty or drop goal. “Toonyball” has run it’s race and when the SRU finally looks for a replacement they would do well to hire in an esteemed psychologist to coach Scottish rugby players on how to react to changing circumstances within an 80 minute period, understand and manage what’s happening in front of them at any given time in a game and not keep repeating over and over again the same plan A when a part of a game requires a plan B or a plan C or a plan D.

    20
    0
  3. Congratulations to Italy and great to see 70,000 in the Olympic stadium. Rugby definitely the winner this weekend with Italy winning, a fantastic Ireland-England game and France finally showing up to put a gallant Wales away. As for Scotland, “dissociative identity disorder (DID)” is fitting. The game had 3 phases – Scotland hitting space at the side of rucks, going forward and creating scoring opportunities and leading 22-10 with Italy on the rack. Then a turgid middle part of the game where we lacked any sense of a game plan to nullify the expected Italian counter offensive and got mugged twice for tries with the identical play. And a final 10m that was an embarrassing exhibition of 7s netball style touch and pass as the team completely lost any sense of shape and structure when all that was required in the last few minutes was strong leadership, a plan and cool heads to gain field position to try to eek a scoreable penalty or drop goal. “Toonyball” has run it’s race and when the SRU finally looks for a replacement they would do well to hire in an esteemed psychologist to coach Scottish rugby players on how to react to changing circumstances within an 80 minute period, understand and manage what’s happening in front of them at any given time in a game and not keep repeating over and over again the same plan A when a part of a game requires a plan B or a plan C or a plan D.

  4. Congratulations to Italy and great to see 70,000 in the Olympic stadium. Rugby definitely the winner this weekend with Italy winning, a fantastic Ireland-England game and France finally showing up to put a gallant Wales away. As for Scotland, “dissociative identity disorder (DID)” is fitting. The game had 3 phases – Scotland hitting space at the side of rucks, going forward and creating scoring opportunities and leading 22-10 with Italy on the rack. Then a turgid middle part of the game where we lacked any sense of a game plan to nullify the expected Italian counter offensive and got mugged twice for tries with the identical play. And a final 10m that was an embarrassing exhibition of 7s netball style touch and pass as the team completely lost any sense of shape and structure when all that was required in the last few minutes was strong leadership, a plan and cool heads to gain field position to try to eek a scoreable penalty or drop goal. “Toonyball” has run it’s race and when the SRU finally looks for a replacement they would do well to hire in an esteemed psychologist to coach Scottish rugby players on how to react to changing circumstances within an 80 minute period, understand and manage what’s happening in front of them at any given time in a game and not keep repeating over and over again the same plan A when a part of a game requires a plan B or a plan C or a plan D.

  5. Serious congratulations to Italy who played for 80 minutes. Scotland have become a bit of a one trick pony, great when heads are up are ahead and in the game , but fall to bits when asked questions defensively. Who is now needed is a coach with gravitas, whose word is respected, almost revered. We need a Super Rugby coach, a Rob Baxter, a Ronan O’Gara…..someone with a serious record offensively AND defensively. And a motivator…..

    18
  6. Trying to work out the math if we get 5 points next week and France beat England and Wales win today…..

    Seriosly….!!!!!!!

  7. Townsend has done more for Scotland than any coach since 1999, achieving things we haven’t seen in decades. Unfortunately he is now a victim of that increased expectation and it seems like we need a new voice to take us forward or possible even just keeping us at the level we are.
    None of this should take away from what Townsend achieved.

    23
    30
    • No way Gregor has taken Scotland and beat England , France was close , wales beat Some great teams and he get’s criticised Jesus ?

      4
      16
      • Win against Wales – yes – but near total collapse and ill-discipline (conceded 16 penalties – 13 in a row) lead to a 1-pointer.
        France – should have been clear winners, and the try that wasn’t would never have been an issue.
        England – some great play to score three DvdM tries, but even in this game we didn’t play the 80 mins
        Italy – 14-3 up after 15 minutes, only to capitulate, ill discipline continues with 12 penalties

        Overall – Scotland rank 5th in penalties conceded inside their own 22, and have struggled to get the ball back when in defence as they rank 5th in turnovers won. Two areas that both players and coach have to stand up and admit they’ve not improved on and if anything seem to be going backwards.

      • That is judgement based on the opposition. The English and Welsh sides we are beating are not anywhere near the quality of sides of previous eras which we would still struggle against if required to play. Our ranking is slightly flattering because of this. I can only speak for myself but my disappointment is less with results than performance, we have shown within games that we are able to compete and better all but the top sides. Ireland and SA are both better sides than us but we scarcely laid a glove on either, only starting to play v Ireland once the game was long gone. The performance pulled together by an unexceptional England side who ran SA so close gives an indication of what can be achieved against even the best sides with clear game plan(s), focus and commitment. Sadly like others on here I see the co-captaincy as just another example of a lack of clarity of vision that appears to impact the team and becomes apparent when we are put under any pressure.

  8. It was Italys day and they wanted the win more…could gave been England France and may be Wales too

    They deserved this win…always going to happen as Italy step up a stage…

    We will learn from this

    4
    9
    • So a Scotland side requiring a win to go to the last match challenging for a triple crown and 6N championship didn’t want the win as much as a side aspiring to beat Scotland for 1st time in a approx a decade for the chance to finish better than last in the 6N.
      Crikey …what have things come to..??!.I really don’t know what to say.
      Yup retaining the current coaching staff sounds awesome! ..Oh Boy!!

  9. Townsend’s refusal to acknowledge the old mantra of horses for courses is his chief failing and it was painfully evident in the last quarter.

    Jamie Ritchie either starts (alongside better carriers) or sits out the matchday squad. Watching him taking the ball as first reciever when we were desperately trying to get upfield had all the impact of a fart in the wind. Meanwhile we have the likes of Bradbury in exile when hard carrying was needed most.

    His squad composition was yet again based on favourite picks and shoehorning them in somehow rather than how they would impact the opposition. We make almost zero turnovers and don’t seem to contest many rucks so jackal specialists are a bit redundant. Yet we leave better carriers at home. Similarly, Rory Darge looked like an outside centre trying to truck ball up. A good player certainly but not playing in a system that allows him to do his best work.

    Horne funnelled far too much static ball out that killed the momentum we had built in the first quarter. We showed no maturity. Once we scored those 22 points we should’ve slowed down and smothered the Italians with 10 minutes of solid offensive defence. We never seem to learn that opponents will muster a reaction and that we should switch focus to grinding that reaction down. The coach should’ve been sending out that message to him loud and clear so I don’t blame the player entirely.

    I also got the impression Price was picked so he could pick up an appearance bonus. Gregor does like to reward his old favourites.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, Italy are decent at best. If we cancelled their forward momentum then they have no foothold in the game and that would’ve been a 40+ point job.

    32
    4
    • Come on, let the rest of us know what Horne should have done? He passed to forward pods as well as to Finn and on one occasion passed to VDM running a line close to the ruck. He even did a couple of Box kicks (probably because he was told to).

  10. This result really isn’t a surprise, look how well Italy have been playing recently. But for a freak incident with a ball falling off the tee, they’d have been France away from home last week. They nearly beat us in our own back yard last year. To say it’s a disgrace to lose to them playing away from home is disrespectful to them. They’re a good side now. They’ve proven they deserve their place in the 6N. It’s great for them and great for the tournament.

    I also dislike the knee jerk reaction after a defeat that the we should rip everything up and start again. This is one of the most exciting Scotland teams I’ve seen in 20 years. When you look at our resources and playing numbers compared to other 6N sides we should always finish 5th. Anything better than that and we’ve over achieved. You might not like it, but that’s our reality… always has been. Enjoy the good times whilst they last. Dream of the occasional 6N or Grand Slam but that’s all it’ll be, occasional. We’ll never dominate the way Ireland have recently or England, France or Wales have.

    That said, I think GT needs to sit down after this tournament and ask himself whether he believes he can get more out of this group of players. It’s frustrating that we don’t seem to have a plan B to be able to see games out when we’re ahead. We also seem to lack and the hard edge of an Ireland team… maybe time for a new approach with one of the best squads we’ve had in my lifetime?

    14
    7
    • You mean sit down like he didn’t sit down for a formal post RWC debrief..by his own admission.
      We can accept that these mid table results are what we should be grateful for…OR…we can reach for better.
      I believe we can do better and should be better with the player pool available to GT. It is our best squad for a long while…
      New and better coaching setup required…we simply wont get there with GT and his team.

      13
      1
    • You are right that Italy are to be congratulated and their success is a bonus for 6N, think their game v Wales could be a cracker. However when you say – “when you look at our resources and playing numbers compared to other 6N sides we should always finish 5th”, by the same stats – where would that place Ireland? The frustration on here I believe is at least in part that we have produced a strong squad at a time when traditional opponents have been weakened – and not taken advantage of what is likely perhaps to be a passing opportunity.

  11. For the first time, I feel angry with Scotland appearing on the pitch. What an embarrasing performance. We have a very capable bunch of players who must be being misdirected.
    There are too many captains, co- captains there was no leadership on the field. Sorry but GT has to move on.

    16
    6
    • Maybe, just maybe Italy actually played very well and the fact Scotland underperformed and lost might just have something to do with the way Italy played?

      17
      12
    • George sorry but you are either new to this or have selective memory, there have been many many worse Scotland performances since 1999 to be angry or embarrassed about.
      This was good Italy team who lost to England by 3 and drew with France, with a large passionate home crown behind them. The expectation we win games like these is only because of the success achieved by Townsend in recent years.

      9
      4
      • The issue is not losing to Italy. It is once again being well ahead, in prime position to win the game, and unravelling, lacking leadership and playing mindless rugby to throw away the game. Again. Or failing to turn up for the “big” games. Good coaches don’t let these things happen more than once. Under Townsend they are defining characteristics of the Scottish team.

        9
        1
  12. There is that traditional rugby saying which goes The forwards win you matches and the backs decide by how much.
    Well Townsend was a back and can clearly train a backline how to attack. The team scored 4 tries yesterday away from home so job done there.
    We fell down in being unable to control the ball and shut down the game when necessary. There are always times when the opposition have tha ball and you have to nullify this , Ireland do this through a narly set of forwards who cheat and get away with slowing ball down. Time and again it’s our forwards failing to slow ball down, falling on the wrong side, failing to roll away. It’s cost us almost every game through penalties.
    Either we lack a pack or its Dalziels remit.
    The entire team were at fault behaving like headless chickens yesterday though, throwing the ball about with abandon.
    How we missed Whyte and his kicking.

    24
    2
    • White and his kicking? Come on, he’s no Faf De Klerk, and box kicking has to be done by someone with his skill with SA chasers or it’s a free gift. I actually will Scotland’s opposition to box kick to see what we can do with the ball. Anyone can kick in defence. It’s not difficult.

      2
      3
      • Anyone can kick in defence? , try telling that to Price and Horne. Price repeatedly kicked possession away to the opposition making all of 10 metres. Horne gets charged down due to technique and the fact that almost any opposing player is taller and can charge him down. We may prefer never to see box kicking but sometimes when done well ground can be gained , pressure can be relieved or with some height on it can offer the chance of chasers competing. Whyte is the best we have at it and was missed yesterday.

        4
        1
      • By defence kicking I mean kicking to touch to move us away from our own 22. Box kicking is a skill none of the number 9s have mastered and should be binned. Grubbers and chips are a different story and much more effective. The main role of a 9 is to distribute as fast as possible to stand-off or forward pods and vary it with breaks around the ruck and base of the scrum. I despair at people who equate ‘game management’ with box kicking.

        4
        2
  13. The forwards need a strong intelligent leader and the team needs a full back who knows where to position himself properly. It’s all right having an attacking full back but he needs to be a good defender as well. How many tries have we leaked from kicks through?

    22
      • We also have Kyle Rowe who has shown he has talent. I’m not BK fan and don’t know why GT insists on including him when he is not up to the task. Consistently not good under high balls, multiple knock ons, poor passes and poor kicking don’t make him a candidate in my book.

        10
        1
    • Duncan I’m sorry but ‘The main role of a 9 is to distribute as fast as possible to stand-off’ is absolutely nonsense. That’s what Horne did for 60mins on Saturday and it was unstructured chaos. The role of the is to control the pace and tempo of the game and to box kick to compete (which White does well). Playing quickly has its place but if its all you the attack had no time to align and its predictable for the defence. Horne was a mile off test standard on Saturday.

      • Errr, that’s not what I said. Read my whole comment. Nothing about what you say shows any understanding of the game of rugby.

      • What lost us the game ultimately was the failure of the forwards in the second half to sustain their carrying ability over the gain line and their subsequent acts of desperation leading to a huge penalty count. That and BK’s lack of positioning awareness in both Italian kick-through tries.

  14. Townsend has achieved worse results with arguably the best group of players Scotland have had than Frank Haddon did with arguably the worst. He has to go and quite frankly would any other nation have retained a coach with his record for 7 frustrating years?!

    20
    14
    • Are you serious? The Scotland team under Frank Hadden was dire.
      The team of that era had players like Simon Taylor, Euan Murray, Ross Rennie, Mike Blair, Chris Cusiter, the Lamonts, Chris Paterson, Ross Rennie, Alan Jacobsen, John Barclay, Jason White, John Beattie and briefly Rob Dewey and Thom Philip and they were rubbish. Terrible. One season in 2006 where we won 3 games and the rest of the time sharing the spoon with Italy.

  15. We lost to a marginally better team yesterday, that’s life. Screaming for the coach to be fired is a bit too football for me.

    Gregory does need to move on, we are stuck in a loop of his making.Being the fastest attacking team.and keeping the ball alive is a bit one-dimensional.

    A few things from yesterday. Our tight 5 have to stop giving away endless. Obvious penalties, particularly on the deck. The Irish are skilled at cheating and get away with it, we are not.

    If it’s not Zander, it’s Turner or Schoey, and now Skinner and maybe Cummings getting pinged yesterday.That alone cost us the game.

    There us no point not releasing if tackled, obstructing on the deck, etc, can’t understand the coaches’ failure to hammer this into the boys.

    We are rather lightweight in mid-field and it showed yesterday. Finn, Redruth and Huw are all great players but they are not big lads and had a hard job yesterday defending and making ground against some big quick Italoan players. Sione has rather masked our weakness there it is more evident without him. Do we need a Hutchison or McDowell to beef us up at 12?

    Italy mustered us pretty well on the wings yesterday, closed down Duhan and Steyn repeatedly. Other coaches seem able to read us quite easily, Greogor and Co seem to have one game plan that does not factor in the strengths and weaknesses of the oppos.

    15
    5
    • ‘Screaming’ for the coach replacement is after reflection of performances and results over an 8yr period and 2 RWC cycles….Not 1 match.
      Widely regarded as best squad of players in the pro era…same issues exist that we are told are simple fixes ..Nothing to do with ‘football thinking’ ….just a wise move before the player talent cycle dries up. I doubt any of the RFUs would tolerate the same repeat failures.

      9
      1
  16. It probably is time for a coaching change but be careful what you wish for it could get worse (Matt Williams) and does anyone have confidence in the SRU choosing the right person, would a decent coach really choose Scotland given the state of domestic rugby? That said, the amateurish co-captain nonsense just about sums up Scotland right now, schoolboy stuff and players who flatter to deceive week-on-week. It seems that once selected some think they are world-beaters especially when we get England early in a championship and beat them. Hard ultra professional coaches like Andy Farrell and Gatland must laugh at us, we are just not professional in our attitude and not willing to go the extra yard even if that only means a bit of mental discipline in closing out a game. The matches v France and Italy are a perfect example. Patience, professionalism eke out a penalty or another phase on the line but no we are headless as usual. A good example is Blair Kinghorn, how on earth does he have 50 caps and turn out a brainless display like yesterday (he was not alone but remains the worst culprit) he may be ok at Toulouse where they have superstars who can clear up any mess but other than making breaks in open play what does he actually offer as a supposedly senior player? You can guarantee he will take the wrong option as he did continually yesterday including forcing the last pass of the match to knackered team mates. I shudder to think where we’ll be when Russell hangs up his boots as our game totally revolves around his bursts of magic. A total change in player attitude is needed, Joe Schmidt started this in Ireland but with the advantage of a well-structured union behind him. Sad times as could have been so much better this 6N with a little more nous.

    46
    2
    • ‘Sad times as could have been so much better this 6N with a little more nous.’…the thing is we say that almost every year in every competition. There was an opportunity in this 6N for us…and we blew it…yet again. An England win even gave us a real second chance…and we blew that too.
      There needs to be a coaching change. We are a 3rd or 4th 6N team …and we are not taking the next steps…the same error types exist as they did at the early part of GTs reign. If its just little things that need to be fixed..as we are told every disappointing match result and of which there are far too many…why haven’t they been fixed in an 8 yr coaching term?
      Other nations players seem to step up a level in a test level setup our players…ours often look like they have just turned up and learned nothing new with no real learned international awareness and strategy options.
      Of course there are coaches out there ..and we have a significant enough talent pool ..SRU just need to do a better job of finding one. At least Dodson would have no impact on that process…hopefully anyway.

      2
      1
  17. The issue that’s been puzzling me since last night, is yet again how did we race to a big lead and lose it then make a frantic last 5 to try and recover . OK we scraped home against Wales but from 27-0 up, we were leading France 13-10 at half time, we were leading Italy and lost. I have noticed Glasgow do the same thing sometimes. So the question is why?. What is going wrong, who’s fault is it and how do we fix it.

  18. I can’t find the penalty count for the game but we were clearly penalised many more times than Italy. This has been a constant factor this 6N and has cost us in every game. Why are players who don’t give away penalties in club shirts giving away so many in Scotland jerseys, that has to be at least in part the way they are being coached to play. The problem is part coaching part on field players. My guess is we conceded 6-8 more penalties than Italy the overall 6N count is ridiculously against us. We can’t win games if this continues.

    13
    • Penalty count was 4-5 conceded and ended up 5-12 and we conceded 7 consecutive penalties in the 2nd half. There in lies the problem – you are never going to dominate a half wh3n you lose the penalty count 7-1.

  19. It isn’t the players who are the problem and Townsend can be as defiant as he likes. But the fact is that for whatever reason he doesn’t produce teams that win when it matters most and it has been one false dawn after another for the past seven years. The SRU made the mistake of getting rid of a first class coach of international renown who transformed us from the status of basket case – and ever since has been too embarrassed to admit it.

    What is as clear as day is that this Scotland team is more than good enough on paper to compete with anyone. But there is some kind of psychological blockage – a mental fragility – that renders us incapable of closing out matches, other than the Calcutta Cup. The pattern was the same against Wales, France and now Italy, where we raced away in commanding fashion against all three and played some extremely impressive rugby. Then with the opposition at our mercy the foot slipped off the gas and they came roaring straight back at us. In the dying moments we seemed to wake up again and reassert our authority, but on two of those occasions – and nearly in Cardiff – it was too little, too late. So why the drift off to sleep, why the barrage of infringements, why the loss of focus and discipline that wrecks our chances? And from players who are model professionals at the top of their various club leagues?

    It seems we will never learn and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes unless something truly radical happens. Rugby is an eighty-minute game and playing well for 40 is no use to man nor beast. It just isn’t acceptable any more and I’m absolutely sick of it. As indeed I am of the mealy-mouther post-match excuses, which seem forever to evolve round the word ‘disappointed’. It’s Ireland next and I reckon another shameful performance against them like the one in France could be the coach’s last. It damn well ought to be.

    37
    2
    • The worst thing about yesterday’s game is that it was entirely predictable. We have invented new ways to lose games this year, the shameful decision by the referee and TMO at Murrayfield aside.
      The accusation of unprofessionalism continually advocated in relation to this squad, now has to be accepted. In the modern era of sport at the highest level, regardless of the discipline, this has to be the most damning indictment.
      Scotland have shown glimpses of of wonderful rugby in this championship, individually and collectively, in attack and defence
      However, the frustrating truth is that, individually and collectively, we lack the mentality required, demanded, at the highest level, to be considered as genuine championship contenders. Perhaps our greatest opportunity to claim some serious silverware has been allowed to slip away, and a blockbuster championship decider has been denied us all, again

  20. ‘The amateur youth and club game would be killed by it?

    Don’t see that myself, taking say 20 17 or 18 year olds off to be hot-housed for the international scene, from the top schools, youth teams, Premier and N1 would average half a player per team, hardly a big hit to amateur rugby!

    If you look at France for example, their 14 Pro teams all field 2 or 3 Espoirs teams who play in their own age-grade leagues

    Taking say 20 young players off to hot-house them for the international scene would hardly dent amateur rugby.

    Across say the top 20 school and youth teams, that’s one player per team. Not really a big challenge to amateur rugby, surely?

    You would not like to be in French rugby. Each of their 14 Pro teams field 2 or 3 Espoirs teams who play in their own age-grade leagues. These are academy players and promising young club players, which gives them a massive conveyor belt of young players learning their trade in very competitive games.

    We have but two academy teams and what a fuss some clubs make about losing a player ot two to them!

    We really are victims of our own parochial set-up.

  21. What does Townsend say at half time?

    “Right, lads. It’s all very well being ahead, but I want you to go out there and play schite!”.

    1
    3
  22. GT should have gone after the WC, let’s not forget we should have beaten SA and the Ireland game was appalling. He’s had choices to make as captain, none have worked and yet again we ended up as a team running around like headless chickens. Composure or the lack of it keeps costing us. That comes from the coaching team as does the main tactics. Why did we change what we did in the first 20 and where the hell was Kinghorn standing on the first Italian try…so many bad choices made and with composure it would have been a different result..

    16
    2
    • Kinghorn may have gone missing for the first try but so did Steyn, last seen at the front of the Scottish line out. WTF? Whose bright idea was that?

  23. It’s not a great day to wake up being a Scottish rugby fan.

    The losses for international team, U20s and U18s seem to be good evidence of the fear that many of us have about the state of the game. The CEO is departing and his Super 6 programme that was a bridge between clubs and professional is being disbanded. We (or at least I don’t) don’t know who is running the SRU day to day, but they have announced the end of this programme with no clarity of what is next (even worse it is thrown to the clubs who self interest is often at odds with what other stakeholders in Scottish rugby are looking for).

    Our great hope was the full international team, which is undoubtedly blessed with talent and is achieving better results than our other teams have achieved since the advent of professionalism. There is a sense that it has not reached the potential. This is a reasonable view to hold.

    To one of my previous points, it is not clear who is running the SRU. I can’t imagine that Dobson has day to day influence. There is a chairman, but he’s not a rugby person. He would appear to have taken one major decision without a plan (Super 6). But many here would have supported the need for a new CEO, which appears to be his first decision.

    Let’s get a new CEO on and let’s embark on a programme of improvement. This will likely need change in the coaching team for the international team and the other levels. Albeit priorities will need to be agreed.

    What a mess!

    24
  24. Is toony the problem or the solution. If mid table is the height of our ambition then it’s the former.

  25. I’m a broken record here, just like the book title “The Fish Rots From The Head”, the Scotland coaching set up from the top has consistently proven to be at best flaky. In any organisation that is patently underachieving someone has to take responsibility- or do they in this case?? It’s clear GT must be replaced. I’m bored stating the obvious again. Problem is what happens with the rest of the rotting fish head….

    10
    4
  26. With respect I’ve been saying GT should be replaced since the Japan RWC, that’s successive World cups we’ve left with our tails between our legs without throwing a punch.
    I reckon we’ve gone backwards since last summer.
    To be fair there have been tremendous victories but 6N 2024 – 2 wins is not nearly good enough

    Yesterday- it was clear that a team that can only play running rugby would struggle, that there would be flashes of inspiration but on the whole struggle, and so it proved.
    Healy (15l and McDowall (12) should’ve started, for their kicking, their muscle to give options.
    Kinghorn is a good can be sensational but I’ve always thought he’s not to be trusted. One kick went almost straight up and down and caused a try.
    We Box kicked way to much and didn’t earn the right to play.

    A pragmatic and well coached Glasgow showed how to do it last week, Thompson Dobie kicking superbly, Jordan and McDowall supplying the hard yards and more.
    So in conclusion, GT out.

    40
    3
  27. I do think it’s time for a change at the top. We’ve plateaued and are a solid mid-table team in the 6N but will need to start rebuilding with scarce resources soon. I think we need to freshen up the coaching team, every coach has a shelf life and nothing suggests Townsend can take us forward from here.

    Scottish rugby has enjoyed much greater competitiveness than in the first 15 years of the championship but the truth is whenever there is a serious test of credibility to go further, we have failed. Let’s see what someone else can do.

    40
    1
    • You’re right about the team having plateaued – in all honesty i think this has been the case for some time. Since the WC Scotland supporters have wrapped themselves up in the ‘Finn Russell feel good factor ‘ which has masked the frailties of the head coach and his team. Townsend’s selections are more akin to a bingo machine at times – Christie has been in form all season yet he was only on the bench earlier in the tournament – Reinstating Ali Price who is clearly off form is another. One thing is certain – the ‘half time talks’ need to change

      10
      1
      • Plateaued? Just wait and see.

        We are in real danger of finishing 5th now. I wonder if that would be enough to convince some folk that Toony’s time is up?

        Our tournament in summary:

        We only just beat a scratch Welsh team who gave us a half-hour head start, we lost (albeit controversially) to a French team that was woeful, we beat England but only because we weren’t quite as awful as they were (I was there then watched the game back – and we were abject for most of that game).

        Italy are probably the only team that has played anything like their best against us and look where we are.

        As others have said, the culture and mentality around this team is all wrong and that can only be changed one way. And it is long, long overdue…

  28. Mr Milne,
    With the greatest respect to say that Scotland have done fantastic over the last few years is utter nonsense. A low bar must indeed have been set I can only speak for myself perhaps a few more but I would have been moved on does he get not objectives KPIs appraisals etc if so who by , needs to man up and go.

    23
    1
  29. We are not clearly in Italy’s wake as a rugby nation. A few months ago they shipped 96 points v the all blacks. They’ve improved and they have a junior system purely focused on hothousing potential elite talent a bit like Ireland’s (on which it’s loosely based) which has been feeding through to their U20s in the last few seasons.

    We could do that too if we wanted to. We could identify our best players at age 17 and ship them all off to Merchiston or George Watson on SRU funded scholarships to be coached by SRU sponsored coaches but it would have a huge effect on the non elite club game.

    If that’s what you want, make the choice, but understand that it’s not cost free. The junior and adult amateur club games get killed by it.

    6
    7
    • Irish n Italian rugby fans will be surprised to hear that their club system has died….not least the clubs that supplied players to Ulster n Leinster post RWC!! Utter nonsense but hey keep defending big Dodson sure he will throw u some crumbs….

      2
      1
      • If you have a system like the Italian or Irish one grassroots clubs lose their best junior players.

        They wouldn’t like it. 100% guaranteed they would not like it.

        It also means rugby turns into something more like American sport where you have a big base at minis whittled down to a small then tiny tip by high school then college. In America the biggest sport – American Football – has 2 semi pro minor Leagues below the NFL and that’s it in a country of 330m people where it’s the number 1 sport.

        2
        4
  30. The national team has unfortunately little to do with the Scottish development process. The majority of the national team were not part of SRU development processes , most were imported from other nations. So yes , Scottish rugby is definitely in a mess and to suggest otherwise is nonsense. Scotland is over reliant on imports because the development processes are so poor. If Scotland has a good development system we don’t need to look for foreign imports but we are a million miles away from that and getting worse.
    Gregor has had the advantage of inheriting a large number of Scottish qualified players either on residency of tenuous familial links. He has undoubtedly had the most talented group for some time available to him but has still not managed to come close to winning the 6 nations.
    I think Mr Milne must be considering a position on the SRU trough. Time to freshen things up

    19
    1
  31. I sense that this is Townsends last 6 nations, even if we do win the triple crown but not the championship which is do able, but unlikely. This whole tournament has had a vibe of things needing to change and a new broom coming in.

    I’d be surprised if Townsend is still in charge for this summers tour

    25
    1
    • Townsend’s contract lasts until 2026 meaning that if he is fired, which he should be, the SRU is on the hook for the remainder of his contract.

      7
      1
    • I think Townsend knows the game is up.
      However his lucrative contract ( 400K per annum?) means he won’t walk away, unless the team decide they have had enough of him.
      If they start putting in 15 minutes performances instead of 40 minute ones then I think he will decide to go.

      2
      1
  32. Sorry. Time for Townsend to go. We have never played 2 decent games in a row under his regime and show no signs of learning lessons, addressing discipline issues or playing for more than 30 mins at a time. Selection and man management are a mess. A decent coach drives the standards and performance of the team. GT has had more than ample opportunity to deliver and has resolutely failed. Time he does the decent thing.

    24
    4
    • We’ve never played a decent 80 minutes under toony. We’ve only ever got 40 minutes in us then the wheels come off. Brilliant atmosphere at the match and the tannoy announcer was something special.

      3
      2
  33. Sorry. Time for Townsend to go. We have never played 2 decent games in a row under his regime and show no signs of learning lessons, addressing discipline issues or playing for more than 30 mins at a time. Selection and many management are A mess. A decent coach drives the standards and performance of the team. GT has had more than ample opportunity to deliver and has resolutely failed. Time he does the decent thing.

    12
    4
  34. Don’t rush into making rash decisions.

    Give a coach seven years with the best group of players in a generation and see where we’re at then.

    Two wins in the 6 nations.

    It’s been fun, but as the Irish are fond of telling us, we’ve not won squat.

    28
    1
  35. I feel done with Scottish rugby now. Gregor and all but Tandy from his coaching team should go. The old issues remain no leader (darge is no leader and doesn’t talk commandingly to the team in game), no ability to wrestle back a game and a game plan that good coaches can shut down. Not enough carry up front and some too slow around the park. Would like to see some changes but little option. U20s a continued embarrassment and u18s crap too. There will be lots of SRU navel gazing and reviews but they’ll keep Gregor on for another year (even though 2 wins can’t be the agreed or accepted target) and the club set up will just be lots of arguing by self proclaimed good ‘clubmen’ shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic interested only in their own little kingdoms. Feels like a return to being the whipping boys and bigger defeats than we’ve seen before. All involved should be ashamed! Too old to let this get to me so much anymore, particularly with no evidence of how it will or can improve ☹️

    30
    2
  36. The 15 minutes from 0–3 ti 14-3 is probably the best rugby anyone has played in the last 12 months. Unfortunately Scotland struggle to maintain that level for the whole game.

    10
  37. This feels like a bit of a watershed moment for Scottish Rugby. Yes we’ve improved a bit since the world cup although our discipline, general handling, playing duration and mental stability hasn’t improved. Italy, however, has improved so much more since the world cup and I cant help but feel that their coaching is having a bigger impact than ours. I would also argue that this weeks under 20s result should be a major warning to the powers that be about the long term relative health of the game in Scotland.

    41
  38. When has such a high pressure deliberate knock on like that NOT been a yellow card.
    Also the Scottish player who would have got the ball wasn’t successfully tackled and could have reached the line.
    Penalty try easy.

    As ever Scotland shows we can beat the best and lose the worst. Anyone remember that we’re the only ‘Tier 1’ nation that has lost to he USA?

    16
    3
  39. What confuses me is why did we adopt a very loose game plan. Our recent play has been about territory and earning then right to go wide. Phase play was working. When the loose stuff wasn’t working we seemed unable to chnage styles to put pressure on Italy second half. Did we think Italy would be easy?

    22
    • Can anyone honestly say they can see the identity of our play? I just don’t see the identity /purpose/strategy under GT. We just look all over the place.
      Players on the pitch getting a smile and pat on the back for making basic rugby error after error. Just gets my goat. There is no proper leadership on the pitch or off it.
      Ive also observed the dressing room public videos …and to me the players look like they don’t really relate or respect GT much.

      7
      2
  40. No-one needs to leave the group. They just need to be more honest with themselves about the part they are playing. Can they give more ? Can they do better? One percent improvement from everyone would make a massive difference.
    Come on you floo’ers. The Triple Crown can only be yours.

    9
    5
  41. Like governments, managements become stale which is obvious in this world. The same rules apply in sport. It’s not before time the SRU did the decent thing and put the advisor to our Captains out of his misery. Having two Captains says it all no clarity whatsoever.

    25
    2
  42. Thoroughly depressing weekend for Scottish rugby. Golden generations don’t lose away in Italy. We are now clearly in Italy’s wake as a rugby nation

    17
    6
    • Ridiculous headline – not a disaster in any sense of the word, even in a dport context. Get a grip please.

      11
      31
  43. Ireland are not the best team in the world. SA are. In fact Ireland couldn’t even get past the RWC QF….again. They are better than this Scotland team under GT as HC though.

    We have not improved. Performances are continually up and down under the current coaching staff …we can’t even be consistent for a single match 80 mins. His record appears good overall in terms of % wins….but with the talent of players at his disposal it just isn’t apples to apples….we are continually underachieving under GT. What a waste.
    He needs to do the right thing and walk.

    34
    9
  44. Sorry- Toony wasn’t playing. Players hawve to take responsibility. We were shamb

    9
    13
    • No Townsend wasn’t playing, but he was selecting the team and he was establishing the game plans, and he was motivating the team.

      10
      2
  45. “ Why did it happen? You saw the actions. Players make decisions where they believe they are doing the right thing.”

    Is this not what Fin said right after the wales game. But Gregor you shut him down. Now you’ve caught up but only after three more games of which we have pathetically lost two. Gregor you always seem to be learning lessons but never graduating.

    I like you to move on….not sure Scotland will do better with another coach but I’d really like to find out.

    37
    3
  46. Where is the evidence of improvement since the World Cup. Our discipline hasn’t improved. Our set piece hasn’t improved. Our decision making hasn’t improved. What is being done in camp and at training. Please don’t use throwaway lines to camouflage the failings of the group.

    33
    • I think Scotland have still done fantastic over the last few years , yes this one will hurt that is the beauty of sport the under dog can win ! We should have put this game out of sight but three moments of madness turned this game , is GT really responsible for the players on the pitch ? Once they are on the pitch then they take the responsibility, Gregor has done fantastic over the years and people talk in one hand the breadth of talent we have and in another breadth that Scottish rugby is in a mess and there is no talent! You can’t have it both ways , Gregor gets my vote and see where we are when his contract runs out

      14
      57

Comments are closed.