U20s 6N: Young Scots taught another painful lesson as impressive Italy run riot

The home side ran in six second-half tries to overturn a 14-7 half-time deficit

Scotland under-20s were taught a lesson by their Italian counterparts
Scotland under-20s were taught a lesson by their Italian counterparts (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli / Inpho)

Italy 47

Scotland 14

ITALY confirmed their rising status in Six Nations u20 rugby by following up their away win over France two weeks ago with a sumptuous victory over a Scotland side that led at half time but which had no answer to the power of the Azzurini’s forward play after the interval. 

Given Italy’s record in recent World u20 Championships and that win over France in round three of the championship, the result at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso was not unexpected and it now gives the Italians the opportunity to finish in their highest ever position when they face Wales next weekend.

For Scotland, the magnitude of the defeat may be discouraging but the visitors can take much from a game in which they led 14-7 at the break.  The leak of 40 points in the second half was very much down to the sheer power of the Italian forward pack and the strength of some very physical specimens coming off the bench for whom, it would appear, the dietary preference is carne over pasta.


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Six Nations round four: Italy v Scotland live blog …

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Of course there is nothing new about Scotland age-grade teams facing bigger and more physical opponents but that has not generally impacted on what really matters: the senior game. It may simply be a matter, as some have suggested, of Scots maturing at a slower rate than u20 rugby now demands and if that is the case then there is probably little that can be done.

Scotland u20s head coach Kenny Murray, however, chose not to accept the ‘Italian forward power’ narrative, instead looking at what he considered to be shortcomings in his own team’s second half performance. “It was the opposite to France and England. We got ourselves into a good lead but then had a really disappointing second half,” said Murray.

“I thought we lost momentum in the second half and there were some errors there, both sides of the ball and not capitalising on good bits of work.

“There was too much soft rugby from us in the second half, and that made it easy for them to win the game. Yes they’re a big team, but we set ourselves standards, irrespective of who we play. If teams are good enough to score tries, then fine. But we’ve got to be tough on ourselves . We allowed them some soft tries and we weren’t clinical when we had the ball. We’re disappointed at our own performance in the second half rather than looking at them, to be honest.”

The game went to script in the opening minutes with Scotland suffering an early set-back after Italy, having set up camp in the visitors’ 22m area, struck from a penalty-created line-out with a series of pick-and-drives that ended with second row Piero Gritti muscling over from zero range for a try under the posts, leaving stand-off Martino Pucciariello with a simple conversion kick.

It was a trade-mark slow start for Scotland but Murray’s men soon made amends by pinning Italy back in their red zone from an excellent chase by Geordie Gwynn and debutant Finlay Doyle of Isaac Coates‘ clever kick to the corner.

Then when Italy tried to extricate themselves from their own line, Hector Patterson charged down the attempted clearance kick of his opposite number Mattia Jimenez, but it was Euan McVie who got hands on ball to touch down. From wide out Coates struck the ball superbly to grab the extra two points, levelling the scores at 7-7.

Italy looked set to repeat their earlier strong man tactics with a series of short surges by their powerful forwards only for the Scots to achieve a turnover. Buoyed by thwarting the Azzurini from breaching the visitors’ line, Scotland turned their attention to attack. And from an attack set up by Coates, centre Findlay Thomson, with an improvised pass gave Fergus Watson just enough room to show his running skills, the big wing finishing a swerving run with a meaty fend-off to score a peach of a try in the corner.

Once more Coates proved his goal-kicking prowess, drawing the ball round skilfully to nail the conversion goal to put the visitors 14-7 ahead, a lead the Scots maintained going into the break.

Italy, clearly hurting by trailing at half time, turned the screw at the start of the second half through power scrummaging and inspired back play that the Azzurini had failed to display in the first half.

Then with pedigree prop Marcos Gallorini added to Italy’s frontal force Scotland’s defence gave way handing Italy an easy try from the ruck by Gritti, the second for the second row. The score was reviewed by the TMO to check for Gritti being in an offside position in the ruck but to the disappointment of the Scots the try stood.

Stand-off Pucciariello added the extras and then increased his tally by goaling a couple of pile-driver tries by hooker Nicholas Gasperini that emphasised the Italians’ muscular dominance up front.

From a plethora of possession Italy extended their lead with a try by full back Mirko Belloni, remarkably unconverted by Pucciariello, and then continued their festival of scoring with a try by stylish wing Marco Scalabrin, plucking the ball out of the air from a high kick, before finishing in cavalier fashion with their seventh touchdown, this time by replacement Patrick De Villiers.

Both of the last two scores were converted by Pucciariello sealing Italy’s second successive win in this season’s u20 Six Nations and taking the Azzurini a step nearer a respectable finishing place in the championship.

 

Teams –

Italy: M Belloni (F Bini 65); M Scalabrin, F Fusari, N Bozzo (P De Villiers 66), F Imberti; M Pucciariello, M Jimenez (L Casilio 52); S Pelliccioli (F Pisani 65), N Gasperini (V Padoan 65), D Ascari (M Gallorini 50), M Midena, P Gritti, C Zucconi, L Bellucci, J Botturi. Replacements: V Padoan, F Pisani, M Gallorini, G Milano, R Paganin, L Casilio, F Bini, P De Villiers

Scotland: J Hocking; F Doyle, G Gwynn, F Thomson, F Watson (J Ventisei 40); I Coates (M Urwi#n 57), H Patterson (M Lock 67); R Deans (C Smyth 66), J Blyth-Lafferty (G Parry 67), C  Norrie (R Whitefield 67), E McVie, R Burke, R Hart (L Coulston 64), F Douglas (J Morris 64), T Currie.

Referee: Saba Abulashvili (Georgia)

 

Scorers –

Italy: Tries Gritti (2), Gasperini (2), Belloni, Scalabrin, De Villiers Cons  Pucciariello (6)

Scotland: Tries McVie, Watson Cons Coates

Scoring Sequence (Italy first) 5-0, 7-0, 7-5, 7-7, 7-12, 7-14 (ht) 12-14, 14-14, 19-14, 21-14, 26-14, 28-14, 33-14, 38-14, 40-14, 45-14, 47-14

 

Yellow cards –

Scotland: Coulston (78)


Six Nations round four: Italy v Scotland live blog …

About Alan Lorimer 349 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

57 Comments

  1. Surely one of the problems is the degree to which so many good Scotland players arrive as fully-formed item having been developed in other countries. I have nothing against Duhane vdm and his ilk, but if the full Scottish team relies on this, it means the under-20s are likely to be considered largely irrelevant.

  2. What is the point of the SRU? Decade follows decade of failure at all levels. We don’t even have a sevens team any more.

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  3. No one who is commenting on hear wants to be negative everyone wants to see our future film internationalist doing well however this is not going to happen with the current Academy set up the people who are running it and the current coaches most who have been in the failing system for years and once the fail at one job they get moved to another. The nepotism within the coaching structure is ridiculous and anyone near youth or age grade rugby knows this. John Fletcher is probably the most dangerous man to wreck our youth age grade system with his bunch of yes sir coaches who are terrified to rock the boat. Murray’s highlights last week against England was seeing three of their players walk away on crutches a great advert and comment to get young people in to the game. There is talent there there are very good coaches out there but unless you are willing to sell your soul you will not get anywhere in the Age grade coaching set up. Someone with a pair of balls needs to say enough bid enough it is not working and get the right people not the yes brigade and start again as we will never catch up at this rate.

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  4. In Italy at U17 the top 130 players are identified and offered places at 4 rugby schools.

    At U20 that’s whittled down to 35 who all train and are educated at one venue.

    They then play professionally just below the URC.

    This is NFL style elite player identification, capture and development.

    Ireland also have a system purely geared towards identifying and developing elite potential.

    It’s intense and systems like this mean you wave goodbye to the grassroots. Pretty much. As has happened in American Football.

    But that probably is what it takes.

    • That would be decried on here… closed shop… jobs for life… no chance for others… once your in your in 🤔

      • “When WATCHING top level school rugby”

        So you have no actual knowledge or understanding of how schools are coaching their players then.

        Not my experience at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

    • Actually the academy setup you are describing in Italy is the previous to current one, put in place by Irishman Stephen Aboud. When new FIR management arrived they reworked it so academy players are closer to clubs and franchises as criticism from grassroots led to previous FIR president to receive only 3% of the votes. That said, U20 performance has remained consistent.

  5. The way the team competes for long periods before dropping off a cliff does suggest a gap in conditioning, both physical and mental.

    Italy has a network of academies and a professional rugby tier below urc in which their U20s play.

    We haven’t settled on a solution yet. Some here are bemoaning the end of S6 but S6 wasn’t something that enjoyed universal acclaim either.

    I don’t think a district championship is a solution.

    But as usual in Scottish rugby everybody is quick to point out the problem.

    What’s the solution?

    • What is the solution? Well whatever it is nobody on this forum or writing the articles is receiving huge ‘Dosh’ to find the answer as are the incumbents of EH12.

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  6. This is dreadful journalism….that score is clearly incorrect. We were told that S6 was starting to pay dividends and shouldn’t have been binned and the futures had learnt so much from all those beatings…..no sign of the usual suspects on here how strange??!! It’s clear that the pathway system has failed and add in a totally inept coaching set up it’s a perfect storm of nepotistic incompetence which is killing our development system. Pre S6 we were 5th in RWC now we are unable to justify being in 6n. Dodson etc al should go now not wait for the lucrative summer pay offs. Whole system needs a reset. For all the criticism the club scene got it was entirely semi pro in top tier and mostly semi pro 2nd tier with plenty of full time pros getting a run out and produced likes of Horne Russell Griggs Gilchrist etc. meaningful club rugby is vital and lads from 15-22 need to play as much as possible not as little as possible. It’s unclear what academy even involved because the handling skills are lacking and so is the strength n conditioning. The ‘Fewer Stronger’ ethos had been an utter disaster.

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    • Agree with much of what you and others have said about S6 in particular and the pathway in general. From a distance it isn’t easy to comment on the strength of the Club game and whether a well drilled Club side would have dealt with what I always thought was a mix and match system in the S6, but surely joining your local Club and progressing through an existing system and gaining promotion through the Club on merit, learning from established players offers up continuity and for want of a better description an Esprit de Corp especially in an area where well established clubs have a long history of rivalry and bragging rights.
      Super Six was always a faux animal. Neither Fish nor Fowl, nor am I convinced that the Academy system offers anything other than coaching [from the results not very effective] and Gym work.
      Consider the fact that you are not in a team you are in effect in a competition to show out more than the other bloke in your position, is that potentially more beneficial preparation for playing a ‘Team’ sport than being in a Club system, if you get my drift, again if I am wrong with that thought from a distance I’m certain somebody will point out my miss conception of the system.
      Whatever is the way forward it needs to be thought out not just in EH12 5PJ but a genuine combination of all participants.
      The game is on a knife edge in these professional days and just look at what we are up against, if Italy can organise and U20 side with only a couple of professional sides and frankly no history of a club structure to compare with Scotland, just what is going on?
      I never wanted the game to go open, I always said be careful what you wish for and it is obvious that some Unions developed a better system than we appear to have at the moment.
      But we are where we are, fingers crossed for this afternoon, it will not be an easy day at the office.

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  7. Einstein’s quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” rings loudly here.

    Whatever the merits of “improved performance” and good halves we aren’t doing well in this competition or generally in U20 rugby. As much as I believe coaches should take the rap for losses, Murray can only work with the material he’s given. Would Townsend fare better here? I doubt it.

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  8. I rather fancy that the Italian starting selection was based on the fact that they considered they could afford to ‘rest’ some of their first choice players and the fact that the lads went in at half time in the lead having conceded an extremely early try is a credit to them.
    Again like some of the previous fixtures this season the U20’s didn’t seem to have any structure especially in the second half when the ‘probable’ first choice XV hit the field. Another aspect I noted, a good comment from Martin 12.09am questioning the exposure that our young players get and the teams our 6 Nations opponents are connected.
    Like Scotland, Italy only have 2 professional sides’ and the wonder as to why the Italian pathway seems to have developed an improved product, for want of a better description, that basic critique can only be placed directly at the coaching and development system as governed by the SRU.
    As if the 5 Second-half tries were not painful enough, yet again I have to question the commentating, cliché ridden and at times vacuous “he’s half Scots half Can Opener”!!!
    It isn’t misogyny, I’m really impressed with Hollie Davidson on the primary basis of Davidson has talent and deserves her place and in time greater Responsibilities, the other individual offers up what best could be described as a Red Top Tabloid soccer commentary meets Wuthering Heights meets Debby does Dallas, “there he goes pumping those thunderous thighs”.
    Good grief, give me strength.

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    • “Like Scotland, Italy only have 2 professional sides’ and the wonder as to why the Italian pathway seems to have developed an improved product”

      Well one reason is that Scotland have Dodson and Italy doesn’t.

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  9. Another game another of our top players injured… it’s every game isn’t it, two more early Italian tries should of been called back no5 knocking on in the maul, and the player in front of the ball, and the cleverness of Italian coaching (trap the man in at every opportunity and the ref will follow with his whistle, but that’s all there was to say on our behalf…. Stop giving the ball away in our own half with these infernal scrum half hit and hope kicks. Put the bloody thing in their 22, defend from up there not in our 22 ! But as a supporter that’s as depressed as I’ve felt all year. Gotta show bottle against the Irish now. Or it’s new broom time for the staff at least !

  10. Naive and follishnto suggest that only the senior game is what matters. These results at U20s over recent years point to Scottish decline and an Italian rise to come at senior pro and national level. Look at Benetton also and the recent ongoing growth in Italian rugby is stronger than Scotlands, and I say that as a long standing Warriors and Scotland fan.

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  11. Was full of hope in that first 40 minutes but normal service resumed in the second. The SRU really need to look at other nations and what they are doing. Yes we have a smaller pool but that is no excuse. We are seriously letting these lads down. As someone previously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Its the same with the U18s. Being 7 ft tall isnt enough, Being 120/130 kg isnt enough. We need lads with skills, mobility, rugby intelligence, physicality and grit. There are a lot of good players in both the 18s and the 20s but there are lads who have been in the system for years who they just wont let go and who used to be stand outs at one point but are now just average. There are good players left at home all the time and they must wonder what they need to do to get into the team. The SRU need to have a serious look internally at what they are doing wrong. Its not the lads fault. Other nations are so far ahead of us and they must start asking why. There is no accountability. Its seriously depressing

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    • Spot on with much of what you say. Height/weight over skills and actual impact on games seems to be a common theme. I’ve noticed the number of times impressive height/wait stats have been mentioned about u20 players this season, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best option.

      I’m for a new head coach, and an urgent fresh look at who is out there doing well in club rugby. Surely we can’t finish with the wooden spoon in the 6 Nations (three poor competitions in a row for the group) and just keep plodding along with the same coach and the exact same group of players for the World Trophy in the summer?

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      • Definitely time for a new coach and a new approach. Dodson’s exit should facilitate this I hope.

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    • Once your in the system even when they turn out to be average you can’t get out ..
      that’s what’s wrong in Scotland … no late developers are given a chance …. Are the coaches and management scared to admit they got it wrong ….seems like that… complete thing needs overhauled and a sweep with new broom.

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      • Of course the coaches/selectors aren’t prepared to admit they got it wrong. They stubbornly stick with those they selected a couple of years ago, to do otherwise would be to acknowledge that their player development over the last two years had failed.

        Mentioned it before, but the most glaring example of this for me was when Kenny Murray came to watch a few of his u20 squad in action in a Prem match last season. In the end another 18 year old, that wasn’t in his squad, scored a couple of tries and was presented with the man of the match award with KM looking on. This achievement was completely blanked by KM – it was someone from outside of their bubble, can’t be having that.

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  12. We need an U20 or U21 option for boys to play after they’ve been abandoned after U18s to fend for themselves in adult rugby to which many are simply not physically ready and will almost certainly walk away from the game.So many good young players not in the pathway system at this stage who might bloom a couple of years later on are lost forever.

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    • We don’t need a new league system for u20s or 21s. If those 18 or 19 year oldd are not good enough at their club there will be a nearby club a lower level. Promote dual registration, build links between clubs, stop clubs hoarding players or telling players they need to play at a certain level. Players 17+ year old will learn way more playing Nat 1, 2 or 3 than sitting on the bench or playing 2s for a a Prem club.

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  13. I think its very sad that Scotland can fail to prepare 23 young men to compete at this level. I totally agree the gameplan was completly one dimensional however it did keep us in the game first half. Are we really wanting our under 20s to box kick the ball away and hope for a mistake. Should we not be encouraging creativity, off loading, improving skill, game awareness and active decision making. Can we not let them play rugby and hopefully improve even in defeat. If this is the first result from the blueprint perhaps it needs more tweaking. There have been many changes to try and improve skill and ability but in the end the large scale resource we have for players are local clubs. Assist them and maybe they can again produce the young skillfull ready players that the SRU can hopefully develop into International players which in turn will improve our club rugby.

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  14. I think its very sad that Scotland can fail to prepare 23 young men to compete at this level. I totally agree the gameplan was completly one dimensional however it did keep us in the game first half. Are we really wanting our under 20s to box kick the ball away and hope for a mistake. Should we not be encouraging creativity, off loading, improving skill, game awareness and active decision making. Can we not let them play rugby and hopefully improve even in defeat. If this is the first result from the blueprint perhaps it needs more tweaking. There have been many changes to try and improve skill and ability but in the end the large scale resource we have for players are local clubs. Assist them and maybe they can again produce the young skillfull ready players that the SRU can hopefully develop into International players which in turn will improve our club rugby.

  15. Let’s not beat about the bush , the first 40 mins from a quality perspective was absolutely awful from both teams , and we would be wrong to claim much positive from that other than we were maybe slightly less bad than Italy. The skill level , ambition and poor technique shown by both teams was so poor. Scotlands territorial game plan was poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. Many will say cut the boys some slack but these boys have been afforded the best resources the SRU can offer since U18 level or even before but lack so many basic skills. Many of them look out of condition which again is confusing given that they are training regularly.
    The current coaching regime has to be considered , I have seen no progression in any aspect of skill level or performance over past 3 years. The game plan they apparently put in place shows no ambition and is just a very poor copy of pro rugby.
    This group of players must be completely disillusioned with many of them having gone through a season getting hammered in the Super 6 and now hammered in the 6 nations. Winning is not everything but being successful in the odd game at least creates momentum and some positivity.
    The second half was a chastening experience and highlights that this group are well short of the required standard however I put the majority of the blame at the door of the system and coaches who are coaching their players away from the instinctive , positive type of game they should still be playing at this age grade.
    How many box kicks did we see in the first half last night when Scotland had posession , far too many. Most kicks were poorly executed and simply kicking away hard earned posession. Italy noticeably changed the tempo in the second half and moved towards a more running game, they dominated the gain line.
    Who wants to see protracted box kicking at U20 level ? It should be banned at U20.
    The Scotland performance however was not the worst aspect of the night however…. yet another abject display of commentary again spoiled this as a spectacle. Surely an organisation like the BBC has an obligation to provide 2 commentators that can speak the Kings English fluently without continued poor oration , general babble and a contest to jam in as many ill conceived cliches as possible , woeful commentary and really cringeworthy.

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    • When watching top level school rugby I often think the ‘positive, instinctive play’ you mention is coached out of them fairly young. Those school teams are like well oiled machines with the players like highly polished cogs. It’s more difficult to adapt as a young player when you’ve been conditioned and so finely tuned to playing that way, with the same teammates for most of your youth rugby. When these players leave school the transition can be difficult as opposed to players who have come through the club youth system, eg Watson, who seems to be adapting well and looked great on the wing.( I hope his injury is nothing serious.)
      I think Millan Browne had a good point when he said that the pathway should only be for club youth because schools already have multiple training and S&C sessions and are doing a good job with their players. Club youth is full of raw talent and if more were supported with pathway training and S&C it would develop more of those players on, instead they are dropped because they either aren’t as confident as the school boys or a bit rough round the edges.

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    • GRob, The King’s English? Everything that is wrong with rugby in this country in a single statement, utter snobbery.

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    • GRob, The King’s English? Everything that is wrong with rugby in this country in a single statement, utter snobbery.

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  16. I believe the current crop of 40 players in the mix for selection will be technically the best there is in Scotland at rugby.

    It is a bit of a numbers game to some extent. England France and Italy will have a greater pool of players to choose from and therefore will naturally have more top talent in their first xv. When these nations rotate their squads that’s when Scotland can compete in halves of rugby. Scotland continually can compete against wales with similar numbers of player pool and structures. Scotland seem to be losing to the Welsh at the moment due to mentality more than anything else.

    As for Kenny Murray his tactics seem to work in the first half and performance was good? Massive momentum shift in second half after couple of errors and a dodgy try.

    Also Italy brought on a couple of giant, probably first xv starters

    The other nations all seem to be bigger than the Scots.

    Rugby is a hugely physical game and size and power matters. It gives a team the platform to play. Scots were once the tallest of all European peoples with Highland men pushing up the average to between 6ft and 7ft.  
    At the end of the 18th century a survey of 600 crofters from Glen Tilt in Perthshire discovered every adult male in the glen was at least 6 feet tall – and broad with calves at least 17 inches around. The population of Glen Tilt were also long-lived, thriving on the traditional Scottish diet of oats, barley, vegetables, milk, butter, eggs, local grown fruit and honey supplemented with small amounts of meat, venison and fish. It’s why armies were always packed with Scots.

    The Scots need to start nutrition and strength and condition at 15/16 rather than 18. At that point they are physically behind other nations which makes it difficult to compete.

    More oats, less fish fingers. Improve the school /club pathway structure. Allow the giant highlanders and borderers a route to play at a higher level. Sorted.

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    • Interesting so many thumbs down.

      There’s a lot wrong in the Scottish game and much of the critique from others has merit.

      BUT … I have no idea if this history lesson is right. However, I have some sympathy that the poor nutrition in our diet in general and at schools specifically is a contributing factor.

      In general, I have deep concerns on way our rugby is run in Scotland.

    • Agree with some of what you say, but the selections (senior contracted players) were maybe the best available when those contracts were awarded, but, as has been said elsewhere that seems to be them locked in for national duties through their age grade journey with no others in the Scottish system, Premiership, S6 or PONI who subsequently showed ability or improvement considered. The
      I don’t think anyone commenting on this article will disagree that school/pathway (I would add local club to that list for those not in the fee paying school situation) needs improved, the raging debate is ‘how’. A mucking out of the age grade coaching staff starting with Murray will not be the silver bullet, but it’ll be a start. I am lost as to how he is still in that position. Maybe swinging the axe will fall to the Malinder replacement, which will be too late for the summer Trophy campaign. The pool for selection needs to be enlarged beyond the fee paying school focus and into local clubs that is simple statistics, not a huff about fee paying schools and the SRU coaches that have worked in them. My experience shows some of our local clubs were reluctant, or unable to promote their talented boys to a pathway scheme as they risk losing the rising star on the club scene, and for sure the commitment time wise and financially from parents to support a son in a pathway programme is significant. I know several families who had talented u15/u16 level boys who just couldn’t commit to that. So that was the pathway ambition over for them. I haven’t seen anything in the SRU blurb about the new pathway that suggests how they will improve anything in the new set up, I just see a nice little flow path with no detail to indicate a good idea is coming after the demise of the SS. I’m not holding my breath. I could prattle on, but most of it has already been said here.

  17. I believe the current crop of 40 players in the mix for selection will be technically the best there is in Scotland at rugby.

    It is a bit of a numbers game to some extent. England France and Italy will have a greater pool of players to choose from and therefore will naturally have more top talent in their first xv. When these nations rotate their squads that’s when Scotland can compete in halves of rugby. Scotland continually can compete against wales with similar numbers of player pool and structures. Scotland seem to be losing to the Welsh at the moment due to mentality more than anything else.

    As for Kenny Murray his tactics seem to work in the first half and performance was good? Massive momentum shift in second half after couple of errors and a dodgy try.

    Also Italy brought on a couple of giant, probably first xv starters

    The other nations all seem to be bigger than the Scots.

    Rugby is a hugely physical game and size and power matters. It gives a team the platform to play. Scots were once the tallest of all European peoples with Highland men pushing up the average to between 6ft and 7ft.  
    At the end of the 18th century a survey of 600 crofters from Glen Tilt in Perthshire discovered every adult male in the glen was at least 6 feet tall – and broad with calves at least 17 inches around. The population of Glen Tilt were also long-lived, thriving on the traditional Scottish diet of oats, barley, vegetables, milk, butter, eggs, local grown fruit and honey supplemented with small amounts of meat, venison and fish. It’s why armies were always packed with Scots.

    The Scots need to start nutrition and strength and condition at 15/16 rather than 18. At that point they are physically behind other nations which makes it difficult to compete.

    More oats, less fish fingers. Improve the school /club pathway structure. Allow the giant highlanders and borderers a route to play at a higher level. Sorted.

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  18. The manner of the second half capitulation signalled the end for Murray. Disparities in stature can be compensated by physicality, technique and a smart game plan. The first was demonstrated in the first half and in parts of the other fixtures. Not so sure about the other aspects.

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  19. I can’t remember a more chastening 40 mins for Scottish rugby in last 20 yrs. I dont know enough about the system to know whether selection is wrong. And my experience of watching the best coaches coach suggests that everyone delivers the same technical lessons. These boys don’t lack talent, but they appear to lack the sort of competitive edge and decision making ability that can only come from exposure to s higher standard of rugby at a younger age. Douglas, mcvie, the 8 from last night will play for Scotland, in spite not because of the system. I think the problem is schools. If our best players played clubs not schools, they would be playing club at 18/19/20, and there would be a subsequent toughness and savvy that can’t be found in schoolboy rugby

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    • @Conrad “I can’t remember a more chastening 40 mins for Scottish rugby in last 20 yrs“

      Unfortunately, I was at Scotstoun last year for the Ireland spanking, it was very similar to last nights second half.

      We are totally in a different league as borne by our inability to rise out of the U20 Trophy and regain entry into the U20 Championship.

      As many have previously commented and is all over Scottish Rugby’s Facebook posts, everyone knows our “system” is wrong. Everyone is pointing to the owners of that system, the SRU and alas, this is where the problem lies. The organisation needs a root and branch review, it’s simply not fit for purpose and is killing the game rather than developing it. Sure, our national team is sitting reasonably well in World Rankings with the highest % of imported players, our two Pro teams are doing reasonably well also but again but beyond that….?

      Our U20’s are going backwards, we failed to execute a semi-pro layer bridging the gap between amateur and pro, our U18’s appear to be wrong side of the scoreboards also and we think the answer is extending what we’re doing from U20 to U23.

      We have a big problem developing young players and our whole pathway system is a joke. Even players within it or who’ve come through it will candidly attest to that however, with the SRU culture of unwillingness to listen and a lack of transparency to all of its stakeholders, I fear this will only get worse. What about surveying current and past players about “the service” they provide? What about publishing the independent report recently conducted?

      This is simply yet another indicator that what we are doing needs fixed but I’m sure the 500+ employees of the SRU will sit behind closed doors, make some more PowerPoints, tweak the Blueprint, take it on Roadshows and carry on as normal.

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    • Conrad, you are hopeful you are right but taking Freddy Dougals as an example. He’s the best 7 in the championship but with Watson, Ritchie, Crosbie, Dodd and Boyle ahead of him at Edinburgh it will be 2 or 3 years before we see him regularly at club level. So maybe at 23 he will get a look in at national level talked about as a good young player. The lack of playing opportunities stunts the growth of our young guys.

      • Old warriors who have peaked like Watson & Ritchie need to be allowed to head abroad at the end of their contracts to allow for the up and coming players with potential to get significant game time at Edinburgh or Glasgow. At the moment we have the insanity of veteran Scottish qualified players being hoarded at the 2 teams by the SRU.

  20. What surprised about this defeat was that in the first half we seemed to match the physicality of the Italians with a lot of fierce tackling and strong defence but then in the 2nd half the complete opposite. I know Italy raised their game and brought on some big specimens in the 2nd half but I was surprised how badly we fell away.

    No easy answer – I know a lot call for Murrays head but its a lot deeper than the current coach. I have said for a long time that physicaly we are simply a lot smaller at this level than most of the top nations and until we find a way of unearthing some giants we are always going to struggle. Ireland next week will be no easier and I hope the guys can restore some pride.

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    • @Ross. There are psychological issues within the squad too. Thanks to the Futures experiment, most of them must be completely lacking in confidence, some of them would probably struggle to remember the last time they won a game of rugby!

      The collapse in the second half last night wasn’t just down to physicality, the whole team just panicked and fell apart when things started to go against them.

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  21. Irrespective of people’s feelings on Kenny Murray, it’s unacceptable for our under 20s to be this far off the pace, especially in comparison to Italy – the only other team in this competition with two professional sides and, historically, the only team we’ve been better than year in year out. There are talented players in this group who will go on to play for Scotland and have good professional careers once they get exposed to professional rugby, but the vast majority of the squad won’t get the chance to make it that far because of days like this and setups like ours, and I really feel for them.

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  22. Watching the ENG v IRE and WAL v FRA game and what is hugely apparent is the club names their players are linked to. Appreciate they are not IXV for Sarries, Saints, Pau, R92, Cleremont etc. but they are clearly exposed to training/playing at a high level.

    I’ll put my tin hat on now but the endeavour to create a semi pro layer in Scotland (of course, the execution of it was typical from the SRU) was a step in the right direction IMHO. The Glasgow and Edinburgh A allowed senior/experienced to blend with upcoming, the Futures allowed the potential stars if the future to benchmark themselves and gain some insights to a higher level.

    Unfortunately we’ve taken a regressive step backwards by 5 years. As Alan says in the article “ITALY confirmed their rising status”, the other perspective is “SCOTLAND confirmed their backward status”.

    Our entire system and its governing body needs an overhaul. There’s a report sitting in Edinburgh from an independent body with recommendations, of course only for the eyes of a select few as one can only imagine their findings are either damming, too radical or both.

    Our sport in Scotland needs radical change however, the monopoly that controls is completely autocratic, out of touch and lacking in accountability. The broader community it’s is divided with a lack of vision, strategy and tactics to execute against the vision.

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  23. Genuinely… how long can Kenny Murray keep his job? There is something wrong with this whole setup, and I can’t see anything but wholesale changes fixing the rot. There are some extremely talented boys – the back row including Ruaridh Hart tonight, some of the back 3 in particular – but they are being let down with what appears to be a poor training regime

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    • Performance related pay? For the pathway selectors and coaches? Just throwing that idea out there because something needs to put the dynamite under the bums of the u15-18 selectors who feed our u20s and the subsequent coaches

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      • A couple of the coaches I saw when my son went through the pathways system simply weren’t suited to the job. They strutted about with such arrogance, not engaging properly with the boys or parents. It was certainly a case of we’re all powerful and you do exactly what we say – there was no opportunity to to provide feedback on the experience.

      • You want decent people. You’ve got to pay them. Performance related bonuses maybe.

    • It would actually be a joke if KM is given the go ahead to lead the squad into the World Trophy in the summer. Head coaches/managers in sport don’t hang onto their jobs on the back of repeated failure. It just hasn’t worked out for him with the u20’s. Surely there’s no coming back from losing a half 40-0 to Italy after being in charge for so long?

      I continue to question selections. I’ll resist naming players, but certain players made the exact same mistakes again tonight as they’ve made previously, at pivotal moments in the game. I believe there other players available that wouldn’t make these mistakes time and time again.

      The lads are trying so hard, but that was shambolic in the second half. Really felt sorry for them, it’s hard to take any enjoyment from an experience like that.

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      • Unsure what mistakes your on about, the only pivotal moment I saw was the half time whistle when whatever was said was either complete garbage or totally misunderstood… stop kicking the bloody ball away ten meters might be decent advice for starters !

      • @Robbie. Another failure to find touch at 14-7 early on in the second half, within a minute it was 14-14. It was pretty much a collapse after that.

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      • @Robbie The second half debacle obviously wasn’t all down to a missed touch. I was giving an example of a player making an easily avoidable mistake at a crucial moment in the game. A mistake that had been made by the same player several times in previous games, but he remained an ever present. That’s on KM, not the player himself.

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  24. Whilst Italy ‘confirm their rising status’ we are confirming our sinking status. Feel for the boys, esp Watson who looked a real star on the wing tonight, and our captain who is now out of the comp. Hope Watson ok for next game.

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