Super Series: Stirling Wolves take no prisoners against out-gunned Future XV

Hosts score 14 tries in a desperately one-side affair

Stirling Wolves centre carries the ball against the FOSROC Future XV. Image: Bryan Robertson
Stirling Wolves centre carries the ball against the FOSROC Future XV. Image: Bryan Robertson

Stirling Wolves 92

Future XV 14

DAVID BARNES @ Bridgehaugh

IT is hard to say what positives can be drawn from this desperate mismatch, between a powerful and experienced Stirling Wolves side determined to keep their foot on the accelerator throughout as they hunted a win which would kick-start their season following two narrow defeats, and a makeshift and callow Future XV side missing its Scotland Under-20s contingent who are still being rested following their involvement in last month’s Junior World Trophy in Kenya.

A number of these Future XV players are taking their first steps into adult rugby, and it really did look like a contest – which isn’t really the right word – between men and boys for long spells.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, we are told. But more questions must now be asked about whether this policy of heaping Scotland Under-20s hopefuls together so that some Super Series teams don’t have to select them ahead of more seasoned players is in the best interests of the individuals involved and/or a realistic way of raising standards generally.


Super Series: Ayrshire Bulls blow Heriot’s away in first half

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Super Series: Craig Jackson develops his coaching credentials with Stirling Wolves


“It is tough for the boys but you can’t fault their effort,” said Scott Forrest, who is now the Future XV co-coach alongside Fergus Pringle. “We knew it was going to be tough coming into the game and they showed lots of character.

“The first thing we said to them afterwards is that losses like that are tough to experience – and it was a similar situation in the Under-20s Six Nations with the loss to Ireland – but there is a lot they can take from it.  The easy thing for them to do is shy away from it and try to bin it, but if I’m being honest, there are a lot of things we can fix pretty quickly going into next week.

“Of course we worry about that [denting to their confidence] but we are where we are this week in terms of the squad we’ve got. These players have done really well to come in and train together for two sessions on Thursday and Friday, but that was a bit of an eye-opener for them because it was a step-up to what they faced in our previous matches against the Knights and the Bears.”

The Future XV now face a daunting run of matches on consecutive weekends against the three pace-setters in this league, with Heriot’s first up next weekend, followed by Ayrshire Bulls and Watsonians.

“The Heriot’s game is probably going to be quite similar for us in terms of the boys who have been in Kenya [with Scotland Under-20s] being given another week to build their load back-up, because that’s what’s best for them, but in the Bulls week we’ll start to get a few of them back,” added Forrest.

“Ultimately, I think we are looking at the second half of the season when we start spending more time together as a squad, and are able to really start building together.”

Meanwhile, Wolves head coach Eddie Pollock was unapologetic about his team’s uncompromising approach in a match which as already dead as a contest after 2o minutes.

“I’ve got a championship to win,” he stated. “We’re here to develop players but we’re also here to win games. We need to get and keep our scrum and line-out functioning so that we’re ready to face Watsonians next week, who are very strong there.

“It’s a difficult one because we train hard every week to go out on a Saturday and score points, so we had to approach this game like we were playing Watsonian, Heriot’s or Ayrshire Bulls,” he added. “And we’re a really physical side so it was a massive challenge for these Future XV boys, but they have to learn how to defend powerful mauls and scrums, and they’ll get better for it. In the second half, we looked to play off the scrum more, and they played pretty well for a period.

“We got a lot of guys who haven’t had much game-time over the last two games some minutes on the park, and we feel that we’re now in a pretty good place in terms of guys being match-fit and not having too many injuries. We’ve also got nine points out of three games, so we’re in the hunt, and we’re looking forward to having Watsonians here next Friday which will be a big game.”

Wolves muscled their way into an early lead when Craig Jackson kicked a ruck penalty to the corner and Reyner Kennedy finished off the line-out maul, with Marcus Holden adding the first of his eight conversions.

The hosts struck again on 10 minutes when Ryan Southern scooped up a loose ball then beat the final defender with a well-timed pass to scorer Kyle McGhie.

Future XV had lost captain Callum Smyth to a head injury by the time Wolves claimed try number three on 19 minutes, when Southern went from finisher to creator with a neat flick after a long passage of continuity play, which gave Glenn Bryce the space he needed on the left.

And the bonus point was wrapped up just a minute later when Bryce collected an unpressurised kick and sent the ball left-ward towards the powerful Ross McKnight for a gallop up the left wing. Southern, McGhie and Sam Rockley all kept the move going before Holden finished off.

Then, two minutes later, Bryce went over again, for his second and his team’s fifth try, with Wolves scoring at ease and the Future XV looking completely lost.

Tired of cutting their opponents to ribbons out wide, Wolves opted for a try through their dominant pack next, marching one line-out maul 30-yards before being awarded a collapsing penalty five yards from their opponents’ line, then kicking to the corner and walking the ball over for Kennedy to add the finishing touch.

Bryce claimed his hat-trick on 32 minutes after Ed Timpson broke from his own half and McGhie provided the link.

There was, at last, some light relief for the Future XV on 36 minutes when Callum Ferrie skipped into space inside his own half and carried all the way to the Wolves 22, before feeding Josh Beveridge, who handed on to Amena Caqusau to finish off.

But Wolves had the final say of the half with more two tries. First, another sweeping attack featuring McKnight, Southern and Bryce was finished off by McGhie, then another line-out maul which made 20 metres provided the platform for slick hands to send Sam Rockley in, which made it 61-7 at the break.

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To their enormous credit, the Future XV would not lie down, and they scored again at the start of the second half when Southern jumped out the defensive line and Caqusau darted through the gap to claim his second.

Wolves took a while to settle back into their stride but were soon back on the front foot when Kennedy collected an overthrown line-out and motored home for his hat-trick.

The ball was then shipped left to McKnight straight from the restart and McKnight slalomed home from 70 yards.

Future XV had another period of possession on Stirling’s 22, but kept on getting dumped backwards in the tackle, and then Wolves went the distance again from turnover ball with replacement scrum-half Eric Davey getting on the score-sheet this time. Jackson’s conversion took the home side up to the 80-point mark with 20 minutes still to play.

Next Wolves decided to return to some line-out maul training, kicking a penalty to the corner and rolling hime against by now token opposition, with replacement hooker Gregor Hiddleston getting his name on the scoresheet.

Wolves came within a whisker of passing the 90-point mark when McKnight, Rockley and Mike Heron attacked down the right, but the Future XV’s cover defence managed to squeeze them out in the corner, which is worth recognising because despite a harrowing 80 minute these youngsters battled right to the end.

Unfortunately, the visitors then failed to clear downfield, and from a scrum on their own line, Jackson sent Rockley over on the short-side of a scrum-five.

 

Teams 

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; S Rockley, R Southern ( M Heron 50), M Holden (C Scott 40), R McKnight; C Jackson, K McGhie (E Davey 50); L Quarm (G Ratcliff 65), R Kennedy (G Hiddleston, 65), L Skinner (M Tamosaitis 65), H Ferguson (J Pow 62), T Smith, E Timpson, C Gordon (R Knott 50), E Hasdell.

Future XV: S Wilson (F Watson 47); B Riley, N Calder, C Ferrie, A Caqusau (R Lile 70); I Coates, J Beveridge (R Cadzow 47); C Smyth (B White 14), F Duraj (E McGeoch 70), A Rogers (R Cromar 70), T Peach, R Burke, F Wilson (M McKay 70), C Nolan, T Currie (F Douglas 40).

Referee: David Sutherland

 

Scorers 

Stirling Wolves: Tries: Kennedy 3, McGhie 2, Bryce 3, Holden, Rockley 2, McKnight, Davey, Hiddleston; Con: Holden 8, Jackson 3.

Future XV: Try: Caqusau 2; Con: Watson 2.

Scoring sequence (Stirling first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 24-0; 26-0; 31-0; 33-0; 38-0; 40-0; 45-0; 47-0; 47-5; 47-7; 52-7; 54-7; 59-7; 61-7 (h-t) 61-12; 61-14; 66-14; 68-14; 73-14; 78-14; 80-14; 85-14; 87-14; 92-14.

 

Player-of-the-Match: In what turned into an exhibition match for the home side, Glenn Bryce scored a hat-trick and was involved in several more flowing moves.

Talking point: The credibility of the league and of Scottish Rugby’s development strategy is damaged by mismatches like this. One of the big arguments for Super Series was that it would offer players tough matches every week to really push on their game. Realistically, did anyone gain anything really worthwhile from this?


Super Series: Craig Jackson develops his coaching credentials with Stirling Wolves

About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

38 Comments

  1. Where’s Mr Milne …conspicuous by his absence on this one.
    Explain this nonsense Ian .
    Serious injuries await .

    Ps
    Still locked in my bedroom

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  2. Gemmell s job description is performance Director ‘ for Scottish rugby .

    Well as Jimmy Cricket used to say something or somebody isn’t performing right .
    What a waste of money this super 6 is .
    How these SRU employees justify their inflated salaries is a joke .

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  3. Whilst I think this was always going to happen with the futures in super series
    You can’t blame dodson for this I doubt he actually made this decision , Mallender , murray and fletcher are the ones who have questions to answer

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  4. So we don’t need any sides from Glasgow in this joke of a competition but instead we will play a bunch of kids who aren’t even ready to play for the U20s. And Dodson thinks this is the way forward.

    For God’s sake someone sack him now before he totally destroys Scottish club rugby, makes Scotland even more of a laughing stock and most importantly of all injures a youngster for life.

    Or do we as in so many other areas have to wait for the worst to happen before we hold an enquiry which will of course report we have learned lessons so it won’t happen again? (While Dodson retires to count his money).

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  5. At least mouse will be happy, now that there is a super series article that has produced some comments!

    It may well be that it is a mistaken idea, but yesterday was not the day to judge it. So far the futures XV have used 42 players in 3 games but only 9 of those are actually in their nominated squad. The decision to hold back players who were in Kenya or Trinidad has impacted the selection, as has injuries to a number of players. Saturdays squad had only three players born in 2003 – everyone else was under 20 qualified and 10 of them were under 19. With only two Wolves players – Davey and Rockley – being younger than the oldest Futures players, it literally was men against boys. If Futures had their full strength team out it is likely that only Coates, Casaqua, and Smyth, from this team would be anywhere near it. That does raise serious questions about the concept as many on here have said, and it did make for unpleasant viewing at points as DB comments, but judgement on the concept may need to be reserved until we have a team featuring Liam McConnell, JBL, Kerr Yule and Finlay Douglas et al. Hopefully it will not be too late by then in terms of physical or psychological scars done to their stand-ins.

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    • Sorry but surely we can’t expect the boys who are being held back to suddenly come in and work miracles. Remember they were the mainstay of a disastrous 18 months for U20’s rugby in Scotland. Not only have they been found woefully inadequate against other U20’s teams but now they’re expected to play against older stronger men. You may get away with a couple of backs but to put a pack which clearly couldn’t perform against boys their own and pit them against men is nothing short of stupid. And encourage or condone that in just irresponsible

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    • Why didn’t the SRU just play this side in the second half of the super 6 season when all players will be available? They are never going to win the tournament, so what’s the point of playing miss matches?

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  6. If I had a son in there I’d be pulling him out fast. Lambs to slaughter.
    These lads need to be playing good level of club rugby soon as they turn 18, get them experienced/good enough to get in a S6 team. Preferably do away wi Super 6 and have a 12 team premiership and some district games. Forget the Cup.

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  7. In fairness this is the only way I can think of to ensure that our youth players are playing high level rugby. I don’t always agree with Dodson and co’s methods but Scottish Rugby is in a far better place now that it was before their stewardship. Maybe, just maybe they know what they are doing and can see the bigger picture. There is so much negativity about Super 6 but the fact is that something needed to change and the club’s themselves were far too self involved to grasp that. Personally I would have preferred them to go with a district system but the Borders clique couldn’t set aside their differences to support the reivers when they were a thing so what was were the chances of representative sides being well received?

    The SRU do not control selection at the other franchises and there is no incentive for those clubs to invest in youth because they get nothing back for it.

    The U20’s were physically dominated by their French and Irish counterparts too when they played in the spring. Was that unsafe as well? Heck, maybe we just shouldn’t field a U20’s side if it’s unsafe? Maybe I’m being callous but if we don’t change something then our national team won’t be winning for much longer and rugby faces being basically wiped out in Scotland as a result.

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    • So what you’re saying Ovalogs is that a 92-14 humiliation for a group of young players who were scraped together during the week is all part of Dodson’s masterplan? This whole mess is the fault of the Borders clique? Hard to take those comments seriously to be honest but I appreciate you may not be as close to this as some and therefore unable to see exactly what’s going on.

      The negativity is justified, this competition is doing the opposite of what it was intended to do and is a total waste of money. There’s not even enough players to fill 6 competitive squads nevermind 7.

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    • Mm. Learn to swim by jumping in at the deep end and seeing who floats isn’t really a strategy.

      Just maybe Dodson happened to be lucky that he followed on from McKay who did all the cutting and stopped the bleeding? And managed to land some hefty sponsorship deals along with selling the family silver to CVC.

      As one wag on these pages was always saying – let the professionals do their job. They have been in U20 rugby for over a decade and at best we can say with consistent results – losing!

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    • The SRU absolutely have a say in Franchise team selection and to claim otherwise is utter nonsense. It’s why some players have played for 3 teams in one competition and fringe Glasgow and Edinburgh players get a run out. The reason that they have continually failed to ensure young players are on the park (despite that literally being the reason for S6) is that they couldn’t bear the thought that it wouldn’t be seen as ‘superior’ to club rugby. It’s a vanity project. There was a hugely petulant reaction when a lot of the top club players didn’t want to join up. The coverage of club rugby was massively downgraded by the SRU to ensure that it couldn’t outshine the new toy.Scottish rugby is in a far worse position since Dodson and his pals took over. Participation numbers are collapsing in both senior and age grade rugby and the only reason the senior national team is competitive (it’s not really we haven’t won anything in 24 years!) is the vast amounts of money being spent on mercenaries. Other nations laugh at us for this. Prior to S6 our u20s were 5th in RWC. Now we can’t get out of the 2nd tier. It’s literally made our age grades worse. The academy system we now have has seen us fall behind the likes of Spain and Uruguay. Other nations have players pro ready in their teens whilst we won’t let the same age of players on the park. Prior to S6 the likes of George Horne was playing Prem rugby at 17. Club rugby is a far better environment for bringing through young players not least because it has the jeopardy or promotion and relegation and the club’s mean something to their communities. Artificial franchises playing each other many times over in front of fifty odd bored fans repetitively for a trophy noone cares about develops noone. It’s a nice pay day for the 30 plus year old journeymen but it’s ultimately a series of friendlies which noone buys into. It’s utterly plastic and the lack of interest from fans and indeed broadcasters illustrates this. What’s worse is that we are currently spending millions on something which has no return on ‘investment’. Allied to the vast amounts that is wasted on foreign scouting and recruitment we are starving grass roots rugby of cash to indulge this vanity project. It’s the opposite of what Ireland have been doing for the last 15 years and there’s a clear comparison to be had between their achievements and ours.

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    • The Borders don’t have a big enough population to support a professional team but did you notice that the biggest crowd in the Inter District Championship (by some distance) was for the South v Edinburgh game. District rugby is the only option for a semi professional team in the Borders. Individual teams will never carry enough support to compete against the central belt.

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    • Initially not many supported Edinburgh but they were given time to grow – the Reivers were set up to fail. It would have taken time for every rugby playing kid to identify with their local pro side.

  8. Euan Muirhead, man of the match for Boroughmuir Bears yesterday, Andy McLean, Boroughmuir Bears and Eric Davey, Stirling Wolves are 3 under19 players who have dodged a bullet by not playing for the Futures. They will all learn more from this experience than playing for the Futures.
    Abandon this team now and reallocate the players to the other 6 teams, or the Premiership and let them learn from playing alongside more expienced players

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  9. The genius that came up with the Futures squad idea should be falling on his/their sword tonight.

    Putting a load of boys together to play against older/stronger/far more experienced players was always going to be a disaster, a dangerous one at that. Young players need experience around them when they start senior rugby – the senior players often coach them through games, providing leadership and physicality. Without that crucial support you get stupid results like 92-14.

    I feel sorry for the lads, they are the victims of some clueless decision makers. Hopefully their confidence doesn’t get drained from them (and hopefully there aren’t too many injuries).

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  10. Time for the governing body to step in before someone gets seriously. If Dodson, Gemmell and co won’t act then the community game must to protect their players who are being drafted in under-prepared and at short notice for a defacto scratch side against professional players.

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    • I don’t know if I’d advise any teenager to accept an invite to join the Futures squad. If they are playing regularly in the Prem/Nat 1, surrounded by experienced players, in my book they are going to learn far more from
      that than they would playing alongside other teenagers in a Futures squad that is losing heavily every week.

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  11. First thing is this isn’t a full strength “Futures” squad, the squad consisted of very little of what would be the planned 20s squad for next year and included 1 lad from the Kenya tour who is no longer envolved with the academy system and just giving a favour, alongside 2 other lads who are no longer in the system yet helping the lads out and recieving some quality game time before the start of the premiership season. The starting squad also only included 5 of the 30 stage 3 pro academy players for this upcoming season with the remaining lads on rest after the tour as deserved. Although the planning may seem poor or dangerous as it had been pointed out, the powers at be can’t move the league to please the futures squad as that isn’t the way this works. I believe there is a benefit to this squad and the 20s will reap the rewards as they will train 2-4 times a week with eachother and play through to November, which leaves you with 2 months of camps leading up to the 6 nations this will not only improve the lads but expose them to a higher level of rugby in all areas; skill, physicality and speed reducing the jump from Prem or in some cases last year national 1, 2s teams in reserves leagues and lads from England in 2s and 3s squads to the level of rugby played at age grade international. These boys will improve, the intended squad will be put together in the upcoming rounds. This does not mean the past 3 rounds has been a waste as 20s outside shouts; Callum ferrie, Scott Watson, Craig Nolan have been given their first taste of super series rugby and if called upon to represent the country have been exposed to a similar level of rugby. There are obviously issues, that I do not disagree, something has to be done, but this team and idea, is not a bad one and can improve the 20s squad.

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    • You need to measure it against alternative proposals Scotland Fan, this competition is setting back Scottish Rugby well over a million per season. Sticking plaster solutions have been applied consistently from day one and the Futures XV is only the latest one. The competition itself is ultimately flawed and needs to be completely rethought as the scoreline today clearly evidenced.

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    • The powers that be can’t amend the fixtures schedule….whit??? The clue is in the name ‘Powers’!!! They literally organise this farce of a league….albeit the word organise is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. The squad won’t see the 6N at this rate. Have to say I really like what Stirling County do normally but the triumphalist tone of their social media was pretty crass and the patronising ‘Futures didn’t give up’ line didn’t help this. Also don’t think the ‘I have a trophy to win ‘ line was anything but tone deaf. Suspect there may be some regret about this. It’s clear the S6 clique are so far down the rabbit hole that they are completely blind and deaf to reality now. They don’t care who gets injured or destroyed on the self interest campaign. After RWC we need to turnover the SRU upper echelons and end the S6 farce so we can start fixing Scottish rugby. It’s well past ridiculous now.

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  12. Got to admit I was delighted when relation of mine made the Futures squad, although I warned he could expect a season of hammerings as he and his team mates would be years behind physicality wise. Having witnessed the opening games, my fear is that the ‘kids’, no matter their potential, are in real danger of serious injury. Look, they’ll volunteer to keep hitting the brick walls of the experienced, physically huge Super sides, but their coaches and more importantly, the game’s hierarchy, need to rethink their strategy. Yes, I want to see my ‘kid’ play at the top level, but not if they’re to be fed to the vultures. Surely the other Super sides have youngsters of their own they could run out when they face the Futures – that way both sides might benefit. Whatever, something needs to be tweaked …

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    • Maybe they ought to of made the games with no points available for the senior teams then they would rest their big players 🤔

  13. What a shambles.. total mismatch that was always going to happen.

    An the changing of coaches too what’s the point. Two of the three coaches that failed in Kenya get a nice number as co head coaches. An Kenny Murray must of thought I don’t fancy this one!!

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  14. This has gone from being a farce to becoming an extremely worrying situation. How can Lawson Murray and Mallinder see any positives in this let alone ‘easy fixes’. The Kenya debacle now this just underlines how seriously delusional these guys are. Even with the introduction of the U20’s who lets be honest are woeful things are not going to improve. You cannot just cannot have a team of boys playing against men. There is a serious welfare issue here with not only the psychological impact of beatings like this but it’s only a matter of time before someone gets badly hurt.

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  15. The decision making that leads to and allows this type of fixture is worthy of an institutional enquiry as it is absolutely woeful and will lead to serious injury. There is absolutely no consideration for player welfare when taken in the context of what nearly every Scottish rugby fan could see coming yet the SRU heirarchy could not….
    To throw these young lads into this “competition” on this basis is totally irresponsible and bereft of common sense. I have previously expressed concern at these decision makers but this rubbish makes me very angry and these ifiots should be held accountable for this stupidity.

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    • I’m another that has gone beyond the disappointed/disillusioned stage, to the point of simply being angry at how poorly Scotland’s young rugby talent is being managed. A complete clear out at the top level is needed, administrators and coaches – they are doing an awful job.

  16. Yet another example of the lack of credibility from the SRU decision makers. This was always going to happen it’s just blind luck it took 3 games. As alluded in an earlier comment the established Super 6 sides should have been instructed to play fringe players against the Futures but as usual they go full strength. It is incomprehensible that the Super 6 decision makers could not see this coming. Not only is it a non contest , it is actually a player safety issue , it is men against boys and regardless how plucky the futures players are there is the potential for serious injury due to the physical mismatch. It simply confirms how bad the decision making is and that so much of it is decision making on the hoof.
    With the Futures having Heriots and Ayr over next two weeks there has to be some type of instruction given to these sides for to avoid this happening again. It may actually serve to get the Super 6 sides to actually conform with what it was initially designed for , to develop all squad players as opposed to the same 15 each week , maybe even give Blair McPherson his only week off since the start of Super 6….perish the thought …
    What some of these guys get out of this is beyond me other than multiple splinters from warming the bench.
    SRU needs to wake up to itself before someone gets seriously hurt and Mr Mallinder and Dodson , please move on …

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    • .Mallinder ..Gemmell and especially Dodson should all do the right thing and resign ..
      Just making Scottish rugby a laughing stock

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  17. Everybody could see this coming.
    You talk about player development and welfare.
    The clowns who are running our game need sacked.
    The 20s will have no front 5 players left by November or before.
    What a shambles.
    Would like to here Mallander & Gemmel get out of this one.

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  18. Said it a while ago about the public schools v private school debates so got to be consistent routs like this are bad news for the beaten side. I’ve always said mismatches help no one. And I sincerely hope there is an emergency meeting immediately. There are obvious stars in the making in this futures side… but the chances of long term damage must be very high with these games, can Scotland afford to loose a future star in this experiment 🤔

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  19. Everybody could see this coming.
    You talk about player development and welfare.
    The clowns who are running our game need sacked.
    The 20s will have no front 5 players left by November or before.
    What a shambles.
    Would like to here Mallander & Gemmel got out of this one.

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  20. Honestly who gains anything from this? Stirling not getting a fair contest at the same level of their ability? Future XV being demoralised after such a drubbing? Struggling to understand the reasoning behind introducing this side as who is gaining any positives from this?

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