Six Nations U20 Summer Series: Scotland hammered by Georgia

Head coach Kenny Murray insists that players should not be blamed for age-grade side's failings

Scotland suffered a heavy defeat to Georgia in their final pool match of the Six Nations U20 Summer Series. Image: ©INPHO/Ben Brady
Scotland suffered a heavy defeat to Georgia in their final pool match of the Six Nations U20 Summer Series. Image: ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Scotland 17

Georgia 55

THIS loss should not come as a huge surprise given that Georgia had won the only two previous encounters between these nations at this level, but the one-sided nature of the contest was horrifying from a Scottish perspective and needs to be the catalyst for a serious external inquest which gets to the roots [plural] of the problem.

We’ve heard lots of positive things recently about Jim Mallinder‘s restructuring of Scottish Rugby’s Performance Department, but why has it taken so long to get going on this? Scotland have now lost 13 games on the bounce at this level and been so far off the pace during their three pool matches in this ‘Summer Series’ that you can’t help but worry that the horse has already bolted. With private equity money flooding into the sport, and new global competitions now an inevitability, this is the worst possible time for the Scottish men’s game to fall off the side of a cliff.

If Scotland has not already been left behind then it is holding onto the top nations’ coat-tails with an increasingly strained grip. At least the boss man – who has been in situ since 2011 – managed to get his new contract which will run until June 2025 signed, sealed and delivered last month.

As for this young Scottish team – lambs thrown to the wolves – the ordeal isn’t yet over. They must now take on Ireland in a cross-pool play-off next Tuesday. They lost 59-5 to that opposition during the Six Nations, and it will take a Herculean effort and miraculous change in fortunes for them to make it more of a contest this time.


Pat MacArthur returns as head coach of Ayrshire Bulls

Adam Ashe takes coaching role with Stirling County Wolves Super6 team

That was the month that was: June 2022


“[That was] torture, to be honest with you,” conceded head coach Kenny Murray afterwards. “We started off well and got ourselves into a decent position, but then just made some errors. We lost a line-out on their five-metre line when we were 12-0 up and if we had scored that we would have been 19-0 up.

“We got into that cycle of scrum, penalty, driving line-out, which put us under pressure – and they just completely outmuscled us.”

As disappointed as Murray clearly was, he was at pains to protect his players from shouldering the blame, highlighting that they are victims of a player development system which has not only fallen behind Scotland’s Six Nations rivals, but also the likes of Georgia, who are considered a second tier rugby nation and barred from dining tab the top table.

“This is what people maybe don’t get: that Georgian team are full-time rugby players, every one of them, whereas we’ve got guys who are not, so we’ve got to redress that balance quickly,” he pointed out.

“I think we just need to get the pathway we are bringing the boys into better, we’ve got to make the pipeline stronger to develop players to make sure we are developing big men. Rugby at this level is a really physical sport, so at the moment we are way off that.

“At the moment there is a whole host of things we need to get better at, and it is not just this under-20 group it is the whole performance pathway.

“The big thing for me when watching these Georgian, Italian and Welsh teams – they are all really big men and in a collision sport we are not able to compete physically at this level.

“I think what we are asking of some of our players is really tough. We’ve got to make sure that the programmes are helping the boys play at this level, because at the moment they’re not.

“We’ve all got to be better. It is not the players’ fault. It is all of us in Scottish Rugby need to be better.”

Looking ahead to the Ireland game, Murray added:  “We don’t have a choice, we’ve got to get back. We’ve got probably our hardest game coming up next week now, so it is going to be tough. We’ve got another couple of day’s training to get ready, but the games don’t get any easier – this is international rugby.

“That’s the learning curve for a lot of our guys and for us as a country – we need to be better, we need to be so much better in everything we do.”

“I just spoke to them in the changing room and kept it pretty low key. I’ve asked them all to go away and look at their individual games and see what they think they need to work on. We’ll have one-to-one review meetings because we don’t have time to sit alone and feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to get on with it and be honest.

“But we’re not going to solve things overnight. There are guys here who are probably not conditioned to play at this level, and we’ve got challenges we need to tackle from a skills perspective as well.”

 

It started so brightly. Scotland drew first blood when Christian Townsend looped round scrum-half Ben Afshar then sent an excellently weighted kick down the tramlines, before showing impressive pace against Georgian winger Shalva Aptsiauri to win the race to touch down, claiming the opening try and hopefully giving pause for reflection to some of those who have chosen to scapegoat a 19-year-old because of his family background.

Things got even better for the Scots when Andy Stirrat charged down a lacklustre Petre Khutsishvili clearance and managed to ground the ball before it bounced over the dead-ball line, with Townsend adding the conversion.

But Georgia bit back in the 19th minute when forward power squeezed a sequence of penalties, leading to an attacking line-out which powered over the line with ease, for Rati Zazadze to get the downward pressure and Khutsishvili to add the extras.

Buoyed by this, Georgia continued to turn the screw up front, with the Scotland front-row spoken to after a scrum wheeled then fell apart, and the Eastern Europeans motored home a line-out maul from 25 yards out a few minutes later, the score going to Beka Shvangiradze.

Townsend then immediately gave away a penalty in the middle of the park for flopping over the tackled man, and although Scotland managed to stem the line-out drive this time, they were then shoved off their own ball at the resulting scrum, allowing Alexandre Kuntelia to claim Georgia’s third try inside a 13 minute window. Khutsishvili converted again.

Scotland steadied the boat briefly, but conceded a fourth try just before the break when Georgian forward power once again squeezed resistance out of the side in blue, although this time the score was finished off by some neat handling which sent winger Shalva Aptsiauri over on the right, with Khutsishvili adding the touchline conversion.

After such a bright start, it had been a bruising second quarter to this match for the Scots, but they showed resilience to finish the half driving a line-out towards the Georgian try-line, even if they didn’t have the firepower to get the job done.

 

With Ollie Leatherbarrow and Patrick Harrison coming off the bench to add ballast up front, Scotland started the second half brightly, and celebrated the collection of a scrum penalty like they had scored a try. A great rip by Max Williamson also helped set the tone during this period. But there was an awful lot of handling errors, loose line-outs and misjudged kicks, meaning the deficit stayed at 14 points.

And then Georgia, with a completely changed front-row, roused themselves and stretched further ahead with a second try for Zazadze; before a Khutsishvili penalty from in front of the posts, awarded against Harrison for not rolling away, stretched it out to a 24-point game.

The Scots rallied again and Williamson pulled a try back when he claimed a line-out on Georgia’s 22, providing quick ball for some powerful driving play from Duncan Munn and Leatherbarrow, before Williamson got involved again to muscle over.

Alas, the prospect of an audacious comeback was short-lived because Georgia bounced right back with Aptsiauri making the initial break before a sublime offload sent Shvangiradze in for his second and his team’s sixth try of the contest.

Replacement Paata Galdava‘s try, converted once again by Khutsishvili, brought up the half century for the Georgians with 10 minutes still to play, and more maul misery for Scotland saw Nikoloz Babunashvili claim the next try four minutes later.

The match ended with a fairly innocuous bout of handbags, leading to Leatherbarrow and Tornike Kakhoidze being sent to the sin-bin.

 

Teams –

Scotland: K Clark; K Johnston, D Munn, A Stirrat, G Jones (R Daley 68); C Townsend (E Cunningham 40), B Afshar (M Redpath 59); I Carmichael ( A Rogers 34), G Hiddleston (P Harrison 4o), G Scougall (C Norrie 54), J Taylor (J Spurway 68), M Williamson, L McConnell ( E Groenewald 71), T Brown (O Leatherbarrow 40), R Tait (M Deehan 61).

Georgia: S Liparteliani; S Aptsiauri (L Sakhelashvili, 71), T Kakhoidze, I Metreveli (G Chikovani 8), G Kevkhishvili (N Babunashvili 59, V Iremadze 64); P Khutsishvili, D Khuroshvili (K Iashvili 64); G Mamaiashvili (S Abramishvili 44), G Maisuradze (N Sutidze 48), A Kuntelia (B Tsikhistavi 48), A Burduli, G Kervalishvili ( P Galdava 54), L Tshikhistavi, R Zazadze (T Baikhoidze 71), B Shvangiradze (B Gelkhvidze 68).

Referee: Ollie Cross (Ireland)

 

Scorers –

Scotland: Tries: Townsend, Stirrat, Williamson; Con: Townsend.

Georgia: Tries: Zazadze 2, Shvangiradze 2, Kuntelia, Aptsiauri, Galdava, Babunashvili; Con: Khutsishvili 6; Pen: Khutsishvili

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 12-5; 12-7; 12-12; 12-17; 12-19; 12-24; 12-26 (h-t) 12-31; 12-33; 12-36; 17-36; 17-36; 17-41; 17-43; 17-48; 17-50; 17-55.

 

Yellow cards –

Scotland: Leatherbarrow (79mins)

Georgia: Kakhoidze (79mins)


Pat MacArthur returns as head coach of Ayrshire Bulls

About David Barnes 2991 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.

43 Comments

  1. The physical, conditioning and skills deficits on display tell us that the age grade setup is not fit for purpose. There are probably 3 main reasons, all continually aired but the solutions to which are continually thwarted.

    1) By any Tier 1 standard, a very small pool of players to choose from. There are only about 20 state schools playing any serious regular rugby. There were anothe 20+ keen to join in and play in Tier 4 in the schools leagues. That was kicked out by the clubs, who wanted the same boys to play in club youth teams. Net result is that virtually none of these schools are now playing rugby, while Club youth is as underwhelming as ever.

    The hard answer is that we need the conveyor belt of young players that schools alone can produce. Club resistance to Tier 4 has set us back years.

    2) Super 6 is not the answer to the problem, as few U20s are going to get game time. Dodson’s original proposal was that the Pro academy players, augmented by club players, would compete against the other Pro team academies, so they would be playing against other rising stars and future internationists. Again, the clubs blocked the proposal, wanting to keep oor boys to play in domestic league games, which led to the creation of Super 6. So now at best they sit on the bench for Super 6, while the Irish and Welsh academy boys play high-level cross border games. It means that our age-grade players are not getting the competitive game time they need to develop and will always start with a handicap at international level.
    Another big own goal from the Scottish Rugby community…

    We need to join the Irish and Welsh in academy games. The French Espoirs play weekly at each age grade against other Pro team sides, we cannot hope to compete against other Tier 1 nations doing things the way we are.

    3) Partly because of the above, not surprisingly, we look well behind on conditioning and skill levels. Get academy games going and bring in a couple of coaches who have proved themselves at academy age-grade level elsewhere, we would see a significant improvement in playing standards.

    But we need to start at 1) above, until we are casting a much wider net at schools level, we won’t be unearthing the number of big, physical young players that we need to compete internationally.

    Playing inter-district games is not really an answer to any of the problems and anyway the Premier clubs have continually blocked this route.

  2. Chas Its not rocket science at bourghmuir.You have a head coach thats job for 5/6 years was pathway rugby under 16/18 rugby at broadwood.He understands how it should work.Just a pity these other super 6 coaches didnt see it this way.I have heard all the arguments before the reason we bring non scottish qualified boys to super 6 is to bring up the standard.This might be the case but all super 6 has become is a place to park academy /pro rugby players.That edinburgh and glasgow are not sure of their future.At the same time bring boys from abroad on the cheap give them a super 6 contaracts and see how they go.Its just a bit like the old days when the academies would release players to play in the prem.Nothing is going to change in the near furure.In the mean time alot of these boys will exit rugby and might never be seen.

  3. So a couple of weeks after Townsend again peddled the miserable ‘we are too wee a country to be competitive’ line Scotland get pumped (again) by a nation half its population with comparatively little rugby heritage. Did the Georgian lads look like they thought they were from too small or too poor a country?

    The SRU should have been talent scouting across geographic and social class boundaries throughout Scotland decades ago rather than relying on the same tiny domestic talent pools and project players developed by other unions. That well is going to run dry fast with the move to 5 year residency criteria and the English league introducing penalties for teams with too many non-English qualified players (meaning a disincentive to give a contract to a Scottish Q journeyman).

    I think the Super6 is a great pathway on paper, but if you aren’t even turning over rocks to find the best physical specimens in our youth (irrespective of background or region) then Super6 will just be a sticking plaster over an open wound.

  4. Scotland as a rugby nation has always punched above its weight we can compete with any country on a good day
    I believe that the current system needs overhaled, In theory it should work with super 6 as a minimum standard for our young players to develop but doesn’t.

    The SRU have the keys to the doors that open Super 6. The only alternative would be Edinburgh & Glasgow age grade u18s & 20s playing regular games against the senior oppositions age grade equivalent.
    The Irish Provinces do it as do the English premier clubs its really not Rocket science I just takes guts and vision to change what’s not working

    You have head coaches Like at Bmuir who clearly believes in their young guns like McConnell who has been great in Italy & Lafferty etc who seem to get decent amounts game time well-done Bmiur what about the other super 6 can’t say I see much elsewhere.
    We need to set a minimum game time for our young plyers or we will always be 2nd in the2 horse race.

    The current Pathway System has given us some top class players just not enough to stop us shopping in SA when we need a new player this needs to stop for the sake of the future of the game in this country we must invest in the youth system.
    C

    • Scotland as a nation have 2 pro teams the rest of the URC nations have 4 or 5 each.
      This means not enough scottish players get the requisite game time to learn improve and go on to become professional international players. How do we fix that? Monetary investment in more pro teams so we have at least 4 pro teams like we used to in 96.

      How do youngsters become better at anything, you need to play under the highest pressure as often as you can and this doesn’t happen. The highest pressure is not Edinburgh vs Glasgow age grade or East vs West….
      I know the conditioning specialists tell us that the science behind overplaying is detrimental to their development. But if you don’t know how to play or cope at that level it’s because you’ve simply not experienced enough time to understand how to play and cope with the mental demands. We continually give away penalties to bigger opposition (game understanding) who kick into our 22 and maul us to death (physical conditioning).
      For me, scrap super 6, the clubs or schools always produced good players who went onto represent their districts. Play district rugby at age grade and speak to the other URC unions about a cross border competition at age grade. At least a minimum of 10 games, say us and the Welsh sides. Currently 5 games is nowhere near enough Glasgow, Caledonia, Borders, Edinburgh then a one off east vs West. Sign these kids and develop them in a pro environment. If anything they will have had a couple of years to ensure they are playing on a level playing field before going out to play in u20 World cups etc where they will be fully prepared to play against other nations and not as is the case just now be lambs to the slaughter. It’s not the players fault, they are being let down by firstly the system and secondly by the lack of investment to create a pro Rugby environment and competition for them to fully develop and give them the best possible chance to become future international players.
      We can’t currently expect to compete with other nations just now when it is simply not a level playing field. I hope we don’t lose these youngsters to the game because of this bad experience. It’s time to stop talking and invest heavily in the future of our game, we say these things every year when we hit an under 20 competition and get our just desserts. Start acting Scottish Rugby not just talking.

  5. A lot of comments about lack of game time for the U20 players – this is clearly an issue and surely there are solutions to this.

    The area that is harder to fix is the shear size and physicality of the players. Conditioning can only take you so far. You cant turn a scrawny 14st 18 year old into an 18st bruiser by doing a few weights. You need the raw ingredients ie you need players with the correct physique and size. As a nation we don’t produce a lot of big players – we suffer at senior level from this also but with man years of players we can piece together a competitive pack (sometimes).

    So no magic solutions here unfortunately and we will never look like the Georgian U20’s. Some of the individual SA schools teams are probably bigger than our U20 team – they are physiologically bigger as a nation.

    What we can do of course is get more people to play at grass roots school and club level so that we have more chance of unearthing the potential big physical athletes we are craving wherever they might be hiding. This is ultimately where the focus needs to be and is a long term issue and I know is a recurring theme on this site. Unfortunately we may have to suffer more years of pain before things get better.

  6. The Borders may not be big enough to support a pro team but it’s the only bit of the country where Rugby’s the everyman sport. Most of our best players still come from there or have strong links to the region (eg Cam Redpath) as does our coach.

    Then there are the (mostly Edinburgh) private schools which are hugely resourced and standards very high in the best ones.

    My instinct would be to milk those places but they either seem to be neglected or just left to get on with it.

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  7. Iain Milne mentioned the other day about reluctance in some quarters when professional rugby was on its way. No doubt some of the resistance that was encountered then with regard to the set up of professional sides and the perceived diminishing importance of the Clubs where our traditional XV’s were sourced.
    Is it the case therefor that there is still a semblance of hostility and distrust within the SRU, or even some of the Clubs? Is there still within the Murrayfield mind set that it’s an ‘us and them’ situation and Dodson has come in with his ‘my way or the highway’ style of management that blights sensible discussion as to the best way forward to keep our primary game at least at the table if not at the head of it.
    If you collate most of the critique of the current governance of the SRU a consistent criticism is that there isn’t any joined up pathway from School to Club to representative rugby and the professional game, the main gulfs being the No Mans land between Club and Semi-pro and thence to the professional game.
    An aspect that seems to be recurring is that identifying and getting promising age related Players into a competitive system as it stands just isn’t fit for purpose. It seems as I understand it the academy Players move away from their clubs on an ad hoc basis into Super 6 or some form of structured coaching for age grade squads, does this mean they loose out on regular game time?
    Are promising players getting moved out of the Club environment, one which offers regular games and support into as I said above, a sort of no man’s land? Surely emerging young players are better off staying within their club system where there is not only continuity but dare I say historic pride in turning out for example Melrose or Hawick in a competitive environment: well hopefully you get the point I attempt to make.
    Psychologically leaving a home club to play for Southern Knights perhaps doesn’t have the same dynamic as being selected for a Borders select XV in a divisional competition and then back to the home club getting regular competitive game time at different levels but with continuity.
    Potentially Scotland’s Rugby future is standing not at a cross roads, we were there some time ago, we are at an abyss and failure to fund the game where it starts at Schools [wasn’t Keith Russell attempting to promote more schools to take up the game?] and at Club level where players develop and stop funding pointless vain glorious projects in the South of France or America or in a niche part of the game which in professional participation will only leach funds away from the source of the playing pool of either gender.
    Scottish Rugby can’t afford Dodson’s decisions on or off the field in fiscal terms or in structure of Scottish Rugby from getting players of quality into the game and progressing through a defined and structured system. How an individual ‘Not wanted on Voyage’ from a running the small adds of a local newspaper group ever managed to get into his present position could surely only have been achieved by the old adage of BS baffles brains.

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  8. Grant
    You have it spot on . The Irish are light years ahead of Scotland with a player pathway system going back to the early 1990s . Lets go and learn from them .
    The SRU should invest in the success and enthusiasm of mini rugby by involving schools ( state and private ) , clubs , academies and Pro teams in JOINTLY building the pyramid of rugby from the bottom up – concentrating on broadening the playing numbers base and strenghening the core playing skills and physical conditioning

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    • I think you need goldfish bowls to produce test players.
      Places where rivalries are hot and results really matter.
      The Welsh have a goldfish bowl in S Wales.
      The Irish draw most of their players from their provincial schools cups, and all of those are Goldfish bowls. Especially Leinster.

      We used to have a goldfish bowl in the Borders. It’s still there and they still produce our best homegrown players but it’s small.

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  9. I think its important to remember that these are still young lads. Its not their fault. Its the fault of management and the union in terms of their ability to steer and guide the squad to a place of high performance.

    We are miles behind any nation we try to hold ourselves against as a standard.

    Look at Ireland. In a fine vein of form and only going to get better.

    Why?

    Because they have the systems, personnel, investment, and the foresight to see that these lads need protecting, guidance, chances, good rotation, and above all else the ability to believe in themselves as a squad.

    I was at the Irish High Performance Centre in Blanchardstown a couple of months ago as a guest of the IRFU and it is quite the set up. Everything there is geared towards supporting growth, education, athletic ability, recovery and unity.

    But what really stood out is how they have all the various squads there mingling, sharing ideas, and creating a united front on how they approach the game in its various formats.

    I’ve yet to see any of that advertised in Scotland. It needs to be about more than the senior test squad.

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  10. One small further point. I took my 17 year old daughter to her first international at Murrayfield against South Africa last year. Although she went to a rugby-playing school her total experience of the game up until that point was half a dozen Warriors matches at Scotstoun.

    After 20 mins or so she turned to me and said ‘we can’t win this game.’ I asked her why she thought that and she said ‘we make too many mistakes, we’re not as big and aggressive as them and they seem to do things more quickly’. I appreciate it’s a naive point I’m making but look at what happened in the URC this year – South African domination again.

    If the Six Nations were to become the Twelve Nations split into two divisions we would be the international rugby equivalent of Raith Rovers.

    Rugby matches are now being won by the teams who can force the most penalties and drive opposition sendings-off. Can we develop these attributes?

  11. Super Six hindering not helping player development? Who would have thought that other than just about everyone?

    Well done Mr Dodson. The man who does for Scottish Rugby what Boris Johnson has done for the Tory party while his acolytes look the other way and say nothing in order to keep their jobs. It stinks.

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    • How do you know that? it hasn’t really had a chance and there’s still some way to go in terms of expansion and cross border competition. I think your being a bit premature to call it a failure

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  12. Why are South Africa so successful? They breed the type of players who will dominate at line-outs, the breakdown and the scrum. They force penalties from which they consistently win further territory or rack up points. That is the basis of successful modern rugby at the professional level.

    Scotland, on the other hand, look as if they are trying to produce players who can play like a 70’s Barbarians team from the amateur era. We cannot now compete with the nations who correctly identified 20 years ago how the game would change as professionalism developed.

    Let’s face it – future rugby will not require players to be smaller or slower. What can we do now to anticipate how the game will look in 10 years time and create the kind of improved physicality required to compete successfully?

    I don’t know. I need the ‘experts’ to tell me.

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    • SA are successful for many reasons…foremost of those is that its practically a religion over there. Rugby and Cricket is all there is in terms of team sports.

      We don’t have that in Scotland…and never will.

      We also don’t have the level of investment that SA do in their programs. It is not even comparable with the investment they make in the Junior Springboks.

    • it also helps that virtually every boy plays rugby in SA and has about 450000 registered players whereas we have 40000

  13. Really interesting reading the comments on here. A few observations. Its lazy to lay this at Dodson’s door. He doesn’t coach play or particularly understand rugby and he’s not meant to. He runs the business and appoints others to deal with the playing side. This is at their door and he only becomes culpable if he doesn’t act now or soon
    Loads of talk about all these young lads do is train. That being the case, why is the coach questioning their conditioning? That has to be personal responsibility.
    Guys can’t get in the S6 teams, well they did for the Sprint (was that brought in as a development tool, it looked like it). After that the players need to question themselves – is this what I want, am I prepared to make the physical / social / etc sacrifices to be absolutely the best I can be? The limited evidence at the moment says the answer from too many is no.
    Coaching – U16/18/20 coaching is a specialist skill, its NOT the same as coaching adults. U20 needs complete clarity of thought and message. That really isn’t visible at the moment. Were we developing the younger guys for next yrs U20 and beyond or chasing a win? What was the plan to cope with an excellent Georgian pack? Bet it wan’t to defend the drive by having 6 forwards in a heap on the ground with no opponent anywhere near as the maul headed for the line (last driven try).
    I have some sympathy for these lads, they are potentially good players, however, lack of being properly conditioned is damning, failing in the no skill parts of the game, their responsibility.

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    • You are correct up to a point. Mark Dodson is very knowledgeable about the emerging players. I’ve heard him discuss them several times. I would also add that he’s not the type to stay in his lane. He is actively involved in all aspects of Scottish Rugby whether that’s the business or playing side.

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    • All the successful teams have at least 1 part of the country which could be described as a rugby goldfish bowl. Somewhere where rivalries are really intense and games matter.
      In Wales it’s the whole of South Wales.
      In Ireland it’s their schools cups.
      In SA/ NZ it is their schools and their provinces.

      We used to have the Borders but it has been neglected. It says something that they still produce our best homegrown players like Hogg and Graham.

      The S6 was supposed to create something like that but hardly any of our U20s are regulars in it which hurts when they’re almost always playing full time pros at big academy sides or even 1st team starters.

      A complete indictment of the set up as currently constituted.

    • Dodson is the man in charge and the man who sets the policy. The lack of structure in Scottish rugby much caused by the ludicrous Super Six and the abandonment of club rugby is entirely his fault.

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  14. John evans i have watched this all unfold from the start of super 6.Young boys being signed up by super 6 team squad of 33/35 players.Given limited game time most weeks or not making match day squad.These boys are relessed by the acadey to play super 6.But most of these clubs have signed bigger better and older semi pro players.Its nothing to do with player development super 6.look at clubs like ayr how many boys are coming through the club system to super 6.Imagine training all week to turn up on a thursday to find out your not making the match day squad.And we exspect these boys to go out and compete at this level.But its ok because at the end of super 6 the boys that got limited game time.Were then released to get game time with premier clubs. And most of these boys were academy players.My advice to any young player stuck in this system.Get out find a club and go play at the highest level. And strive to play 80 min rugby each week if possible prove yourself.Then we might have a squad of 20 year olds that could compete at this level.

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  15. Was hoping for a better result in this match and seemed to be on from the off with some quick scores. But then the old failings emerged and we were overpower by the opposition.

    Murray is right – the players aren’t the problem here. It’s the whole rotten system that’s let them down.

    It was only 4 weeks ago that Mallinder, Fletcher and Murray were out talking about the transformation of the performance dept and how Super 6 was a vital part of that https://www.theoffsideline.com/jim-mallinder-john-fletcher-and-kenny-murray-discuss-performance-department-priorities/

    It would appear that it hasn’t helped the current U20s one little bit. “I think we just need to get the pathway we are bringing the boys into better, we’ve got to make the pipeline stronger to develop players to make sure we are developing big men. Rugby at this level is a really physical sport, so at the moment we are way off that.“ Well spotted Kenny. So how do you fix it?

    Perhaps ensuring these players and others in the pathway are actually playing games of rugby rather than sitting in the gym? Though after the Georgia game it doesn’t look like much weightlifting is going on in those gym sessions.

    The words of Einstein are very relevant here “ The thinking that got us to where we are is not the thinking that will get us to where we want to be.” Thinking and reflection seem to be rare commodities in Murrayfield. Maybe changing that will help? Over to you Mr Dodson.

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  16. I think there’s quite a lot of hyperbolic over reaction coming from journalists who have an axe to grind with the SRU – Robertson, Palmer, Reid is etc.

    Of course 13 losses in a row is not good enough, but age grade rugby to some degree is always going to be cyclical to some degree. It was only 2 6N u20 campaigns ago that Ollie Smith, Rufus Mclean, Matt Currie, Ewan Ashman and Rory Darge were playing U20’s and are now touring with Scotland.

    The reality is that not every year will we need players from U20’s to transition to Scotland senior team. Let’s say just Patrick Harrison makes it from this group, fine, it’ll be enough.

    If there’s no faith in what’s coming down the line at U16 and U18 level then there’s a bigger problem, but unfortunately I only follow as far as U20’s.

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    • Sorry but the concept that you obviously don’t require new talent coming through each season is just wrong I suggest. Surely one of the greatest motivations in any Sport is the pressure of someone after your Jersey.
      I’m afraid it looked more than a cyclical aberration, if you look at the Welsh or Italian squad there didn’t appear to be the same physical gulf as there was against the Georgian pack, they just looked better drilled and quicker whether it was pace of mind or play.
      It isn’t just the spectators that noticed the difference in standards, I venture to suggest that the disconsolate look on some of our U20 subs going on the field against Georgia was proof were it required that the players realised that themselves.

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    • It is true that a few seasons ago the U20s were competitive. It is also true that the U18s look competitive.

      It’s not the conveyor belt it needs to be though.

      If you looked at the really strong U20 sides most of the players are already professional.

  17. The simple fact is the selectors left behind boys who are far more capable in terms of physicality aggression and skills. Not to blame the boys who were picked they just are not good enough. Its not all doom and gloom Believe me, the talent is out there and theres lots of it. Picking them is the issue

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  18. Really sorry for the lads, the Georgian pack was well drilled and lethal near the line and it’s the first time I’ve seen a balding U20 player.
    I thought Pool A sides would beat any of the Pool B and sad to say I don’t see any realistic chance for our U20’s and that gives me no pleasure suggesting that: going forward there has to be improvement in many areas.
    I wondered why having been steamrollered by the Georgian pack, with minutes of the 1st half left why attempt to drive over, would it not have been a better idea to get it out to the backs and nearer to the posts somebody must have realised the Georgian pack would be waiting for them.
    We must all have seen the other sides, all of them looked better drilled, little wonder when you hear of them playing for Cardiff, Ospreys, Clermont, Montpelier and on and on, where would the so called Super6 fit in against that opposition.
    As David Barnes pointed out the Fat Controller has managed to get his extra 18 months on the gravy train and for what reason, I’m damned if I can see one. The decisions Dodson has made in recent weeks will tie the SRU into diluting the finances long after he has gone, [speed the day] but will that spending be to the betterment of the grassroots, or our primary Men’s game, I don’t think so.
    A few weeks back the SRU announced £4million+ for Women’s professional rugby, a loss leader in every sense especially if the SRU get dragged into a URC women’s league as is being proposed by the Rathbone Hotel clique in Dublin, can we afford that expense?
    Support women’s rugby at the grassroots level alongside the men’s game by all means and if subsequently the money is there then fair enough, but it isn’t my position isn’t a misogynistic one it is a financial observation.
    The Pizza is the same size whether cut into six or a dozen pieces, perhaps the Fat Controller has delusions and thinks the Pizza is his equivalent of 5 loaves and a couple of Fish, if you get my drift.

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  19. I’m curious about the professional game in Georgia, you would think our super6 should at least be on a par with it. Clearly something is wrong with our development pathway that super6 ain’t going to fix. What a mess I feel sorry for the young guys and the SRU have a helluva lot to answer for!!

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    • Majority of Georgian u20s play for French espoirs sides I think.

      Georgian domestic rugby is professional, though with limited financial clout. Georgian rugby is largely bankrolled by the former president who is a billionaire.

      • No, not this year. Barely 20% of this Georgia U20 plays in France. It was a suprising gamble and it paid off.

  20. There’s no honesty from Murray. Most of these players are training as though they were pros but with no real game time. At least one of the squad has told me he wished he’d never gone pro as his target is ‘to make the bench in super 6’- wow! Why not do away with any age grade teams and simply look for players like Schoeman, Price, Watson, Van der Meuwe who can qualify via lineage or residency. It would be cheaper and less tortuous. Invest in grass roots and international and forget what’s in between- it’s irrelevant. Mallinder, Fletcher and their teams are all posted missing tonight. Thank goodness for Hollie D- the one bright light in Scottish international rugby.

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  21. “a collision sport we are not able to compete physically at this level”

    gosh, well maybe setting up a development system that focusses on playing the fastest rugby in the world and not to worry so much about the power side of things like scrums & line-outs, then we might have a wider pool of players who are naturally larger and with an appetite for the physical contact side of things.

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  22. Why do our youth teams look smaller than the opposition?

    Should just play the under 18s.

  23. Zero point claiming the current crop of players and coaches. They’re all let down by a failing system. Which is only interested in two teams.
    More investment of time within grass roots to develop a larger quality playing pool, wether that’s done through school or club. Currently what is been delivered at all levels isn’t good enough, and standards needs to be risen in order for any real improvement to be seen.

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  24. So who is going to be held accountable for the debacle that Under 20 rugby is? Players? Coaches? Performance Department? Something the new Scottish Rugby governance structure needs to address as a matter of urgency.

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  25. Excellent opening by David Barnes and appreciate the honesty from Murray. We really are peering over the abyss and must avoid the kind of death spiral Scottish football endured and will never recover from.

    Recently the SRU has trumpeted the fact our pro-teams will now have bigger playing budgets than their English rivals. For heavens sake divert some of those millions from the professional tier to the development of the youth game and focus on ensuring professional pathways allow young players to operate in professional environments as teenagers. We have a short window to fix this crisis in the game.

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  26. Why are players not conditioned properly. A failing of S&C coaches or the players themselves?
    What was the thought process behind so many underage players? If for experience be upfront, but if we needed better results pick the older players. Not great experience getting battered like that anyway.
    Did we know what was coming and if not why not? What was the game plan to get round it?
    No clarity, no obvious game plan brings no success.
    And finally coaching u20 is a specialist skill, not like coaching adult lite.
    All reasons why KM should go, and the players should be told in no uncertain terms what it takes to be successful ( clue it’s not having a famous name, or going to the right school)

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    • “The right school”? So where are all these great U20 players who are overlooked who went to the “wrong school”. I’ll wait.

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  27. Not enough 20s games for separate rankings, but if something of a separation was made here, might be a starting point. Talk is getting battered by tier 2 teams but at this level not so.

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