U20s 6N: Scotland blown away by Italy’s third quarter blitz

Head coach Kenny Murray stresses that players must have more exposure to high level rugby at a younger age

Simone Brisighella of Italy is tackled by Scotland's Kerr Yule. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Simone Brisighella of Italy is tackled by Scotland's Kerr Yule. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Scotland 17

Italy 40

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium

A THIRD quarter blitz set-up a comprehensive win for Italy, and left Scotland licking their wounds at the end of a tough age-grade Six Nations campaign which started promisingly with the team picking up two bonus points against England and then tasting victory for the first time in 15 matches against Wales, before they slumped to three heavy defeats on the bounce.

The lowest point of the championship was undoubtedly the 82-7 hammering suffered against Ireland last weekend, and head coach Kenny Murray said he was pleased with how his team had bounced back from that harrowing experience.

“The boys responded well in that first half,” he said. “We’d talked about work-rate and physicality, and I thought the boys imposed themselves well on Italy.

“Defensively we were good, we really shaped their attack, but losing our tight-head prop [Eben Cairns] to injury early on put our set-piece under pressure, and in the second half we made too many unforced errors, couldn’t keep hold of the ball, and they absolutely dominated us from a set-piece perspective. You just can’t play rugby without a set-piece.


Scotland v Italy report: late Blair Kinghorn try secures bonus-point win for hosts

Gregor Townsend begins talks with Scottish Rugby about his future

Scotland v Italy report: late Blair Kinghorn try secures bonus-point win for hosts


“Once you get into that cycle of giving away scrum penalties and having to defend driving mauls, it just takes it out of you. If you look at the size of the Italians, they were just bigger men than us, that’s the reality, and we just struggled against that.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t win at least two games over the course of the tournament,” he added. “If we’d been two out of two that would have been a brilliant start for us, so to be 36-31 up against England with eight minutes to go and not find a way to win is disappointing.

“Against France and Ireland, we were well beaten and there’s a lot of learning from that. They were just miles better than us. And again today we were outmuscled. It highlights where we are as an under-20s team and as a rugby-playing country … we need to be better, we need to develop our players better to compete at the highest level, and at the moment we are a fair but off that.”

The team’s next target is the Junior World Trophy in Kenya in late July, which Scotland must win in order to secure promotion back into the top flight World Championship for 2024.

“The support and commitment from rugby has been excellent,” Murray added. “I’m here in a new role as head of player transition, we’ve got coaches in to work with the players, so we’re definitely on an upward ladder. But the big thing is that we need to be better at producing players and developing players to come and compete at this level.

“Today we were down to pretty much our last prop available in Scotland to play at tight-head, and other countries don’t have those problems. So, we need to develop players younger because physical development doesn’t start at 18, it needs to start at 14 or 15.

“All these guys [in the Scotland under-20s squad] are already joined up with Super Series [Super6] clubs for the ‘Sprint’ competition, so that will help us during the April/May window, before they come back in to camp for the World Trophy during the summer.

“I’m absolutely not going to criticise the players, who have worked hard in training and their commitment on and off the field has been excellent. They want to play rugby, but at the moment we can’t impose ourselves physically on this level of opposition. They are a hard-working group who want to do well and that’s going to stand us in good stead for Kenya.

“From Scottish Rugby perspective, we want to be dining at the top table of World Rugby at all levels. The senior team have had a good year, finishing just behind the top two teams in the world in their Six Nations, and we want to be there or thereabouts as well. It is going to be tough at the Junior World Trophy, because teams are getting better, but we’re going there to get ourselves back into the Junior World Championship.”

 

With a strong wind at their back, Scotland got off to a flying start as they looked to exorcise the demons of last weekend’s hammering at the hands of Ireland. Richie Simpson made the most of scrappy ball off a rapidly back-pedalling home scrum to sniff out a gap on the blindside, winger Alessandro Gesi – younger brother of Simone, who debuted for the senior Azzurri team on Saturday –managed to intercept the offload only to inexplicably flip a loose pass 15 yards backwards to nobody, and Dan King didn’t need to break stride as he cantered onto the loose ball and onwards under the posts.

Simpson added the conversion, but Italy bounced right back with classy full-back François Carlo Mey collecting the restart and streaking 50 yards downfield before earning a ruck penalty which was sent to the corner, setting up a line-out maul which thundered over the for the visiting team’s opening points scored by Giovanni Quattrini.

The scoreboard operator barely had a second to draw breath before Scotland struck again through a ruck penalty which was turned into three-points by Simpson, making it 10-5 to the hosts with 10 minutes played – but then the scoring dried up.

The remainder for the half was battled out in the middle third of the park, with neither team managing to control possession for a long enough to really stress their opponents’ defence.

Ben Afshar did have a chance to break the stalemate five minutes before the break with long-range shot at goal after Jacopo Botturi was penalised for being slow to roll away from the tackle just inside his half own, but the Scotland scrum-half’s effort drifted to the left of the posts.

And Scotland threatened again a few minutes later through Geordie Gwynn on the left wing, but his chip ahead did not bounce favourably and Sebastiano Battara was able to snuff out that attack.

Given that Italy had the wind at the back after the break, and that they have won the second half of all four of their previous matches in this Six Nations campaign, it was always doubtful that Scotland’s five point lead was going to be enough. A better conversion rate of just one score from five entries into the Italian 22 during that opening 40 would certainly have been helpful.

 

It took the visitors just three minutes after the game resumed to push their way into the lead for the first time in the match with No 8 Botturi muscling through four tackles to score under the posts, setting up an easy conversion for Simone Brisighella.

Italy struck again through scrum-half Battara at the back of a totally dominant scrum following a brilliant outside break from full-back Mey.

It was now pretty much one-way traffic, and Botturi again burst past four tacklers for what he thought was his second try of the match, only to be called back for a double-movement. It was only a temporary reprieve for the increasingly bedraggled hosts, with tight-head Marcos Francesco Gallorini muscling over for the bonus-point try.

Gallorini struck again just after the half hour mark when he picked up at the back of a ruck on the SAcottish line and leapt over a pile of bodies to touch down.

A combination of Italy clearing their bench, and also picking up two yellow-cards in quick succession – against Filippo Lavorenti for a an upright tackle which led to a clash of heads with Afshar (mitigated down from a red because of a change of direction) and Lorenzo Elettri for playing the ball on the deck on his own line – curbed the visitors’ momentum during the final quarter.

Scotland picked up a consolation score with eight minutes left through Will Robinson on the right, but Italy had the final say, when replacement tight-head Nicholas Gasperini muscled over in injury time.

 

Teams –

Scotland: D King; K Johnston (W Robinson 66), D Munn, K Yule ( B Salmon, 50), G Gwynn; R Simpson, B Afshar (C Clare 70); C Davidson (M Surry 50), J Blyth-Lafferty (C Tait 50), E Cairns (R Deans 25), E Erskine (H McLeod 62), R Hart, L McConnell, S Derrick, J Morris (E Guy 52).

Italy: F Mey; A Gesi, D Passarella, N Bozzo, F Bozzoni (L Elettri 41); S Brisighella (G Sante 64), S Battara (L Casilio 70); D Aminu (R Bartolini 62) G Quattrini (N Gasperini 64), M Gallorini (A Artuso, 64) A Mattioli, P Turrisi ( E Pontarini 68), C Berlese (F Lavorenti 66), D Odiase, J Botturi.

 

Scorers –

Scotland: Tries: King, Robinson; Con: Simpson 2; Pen: Simpson.

Italy: Tries: Quattrini, Botturi, Battara; Gallorini 2, Gasperini: Con: Brisighella 4, Sante.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 10-5 (h-t) 10-10; 10-12; 10-17; 10-19; 10-24; 10-26; 10-31; 10-33; 15-33; 17-33; 17-38; 17-40.

 

Yellow cards –

Italy: Lavorenti (70-mins), Elettri (72 mins)


Gregor Townsend begins talks with Scottish Rugby about his future

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.

52 Comments

  1. Until the SRU realises & accepts that international props need hugely different physical attributes to virtually all other positions, with a lot of these attributes being unique & slow developing, then nothing will change. The SRU picks their district development squads at roughly 15 years of age largely based on touch rugby & passing skills, as well as strength-to-weight & maturity. What the SRU seems to completely fail to realise is a lot of these kids that are performing well at 15 (usually as they have been on S&C training for a couple of years by then & are at a well coached schools/ clubs) have actually plateaued in size & strength development. A very common comment by people in the know is that “once a person is within the academy setup then it is multiple times harder to be dropped from it than for anyone else to enter”. Therefore the slower developers, whose strength & dynamism doesn’t match their size until later on in their teens, are overlooked or dismissed, & certainly don’t get the same pathway opportunities & expert coaching which their potential deserves. In most cases it will be these slower developing kids who have the greatest potential to go on to develop the necessary size, strength, & technique for being top level international props. Although the SRU appears to recognise this situation, unfortunately to-date nothing appears to have been implement to address the problem (the Scrum School Programme initiative is a step in the right direction but doesn’t tackle the issue raised here). So until the SRU takes this issue seriously & implements change within its selection & pathway system, our props will remain much smaller & have less physicality when compared to other nations.

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    • Nepotism abounds in Scottish rugby circles .
      Once you’re in you can’t get out abounds in squads ( look at players backgrounds )
      Until this is dealt with and young guys picked on ability and not from family or where you come from .
      Nothing will improve .
      Total sham in my opinion

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    • I hope Zander Fargerson stays injury free . Or there’s no point going toW C. 2 pro sides , premier league , Super six, total = at least 18 tight head props playing in Scotland and yet we have to rely on J P NELL “ old war horse “ as replacement .

  2. Having been in Swansea on Sunday to watch a fascinating match unfold (Scotland V Wales under 18) I need to tell you all that the Scottish boys constantly pushed the Welshmen in the scrums, lost About 50% of our line out ball to good Welsh jumping and an even contest in the backs division. I got home to watch the under 20’s match the Italians in the backs, but get hammered by massively built props in the azurri blue, I’d say three plus stone apiece more, these are not people who are found when the circus rolls into town once a year! They are developed and clearly bought into, and shown a future in the game, these specimens don’t appear overnight 🤷‍♂️ But the 18s did well, so what happens in those two years to each countries forwards needs a keen eye, for no mater the fight in a destroyer it’ll get blown out of the water everytime it goes up against a battleship. There is only one answer… development of talent acquisition within Scotland primarily… on another note having friends in the English setup and Welsh it’s very disappointing to see their players proudly wearing the same pristine kit as the first teams. While Scotland pull on the hand me downs of the last few years… things like that shout amateur week more than anything else and must filter through to the players 🤔

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    • @Robbieco. Good point at the end. Once witnessed a regional match (leading to Scottish National age group selection) where players had to put on the wet/stinking tops from the older age group that had just finished playing. Embarrassingly amateurish, can’t do anything for players/coaches involved.

  3. Sean Lineen turned the U20’s around several years ago after the mess that P Wright et al left behind & picked kids on ability & presented a report, as did Keith Russell, on a root & branch change – guess what, both ‘left’ & the status quo has remained – Turkeys rarely vote for Xmas & so the SRU reaps what it sows!

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  4. Complete overhaul is needed top to bottom for the entire Scottish process in under age rugby .
    You have to be picked on ability .that doesn’t happen presently .
    Most of the Coaches are from the ‘ jobs for the boys ‘ culture up at Murrayfield .who if they fail at one thing they’re moved to another position
    That has to go .but will it .

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    • The’Coaches ‘ in the system seem to be there for life .
      Doesn’t matter if they’re useless they are are just moved to another position .
      In any other business failure means you are jettisoned to bring someone in who knows the time of day .
      Not at Murrayfield .
      That’s what’s wrong .
      Has to now

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  5. There was a stage not that long ago, maybe just 6 or 7 seasons, when Scotland U20 were competitive and reached no.5 in the world.
    I can’t believe the player base has changed that much in the intervening years and the U18s are still generally competitive so there must be something happening in the transition from that level.

    We know about the goldfish bowl of Leinster schools and so on but what about other countries?

    Italy seem to have professionalised their U20s.

    Is it just the case that our players are not getting the same exposure to top level rugby and physical conditioning as others?

    Or is it something else?

    • When the kids move into the U16 and U18 regional set ups within the SRU, the expectation is that the level of coaching, admin etc is higher than that of the school/club.
      In some cases that may be true, but it is also the case that it is a step backwards for many of the boys. Simply not good enough.

  6. I only caught the first half yesterday when they were actually doing OK despite being monstered in the scrums. If they could get parity in the forwards they would be competitive but you cant compete if you are getting tanked up front. Both Italy and France have some huge players who are just physically much bigger than us and its hard to compete against this. We need to unearth some bigger specimens otherwise this will continue. Our backs looked more competitive. I don’t remember the disparity in shear size up front existing 10 years ago. No conditioning will enable a 14-15 stone prop to compete against a 18 stoner. Where are the big boys going to come from? As others have said we may only find 2 or 3 players each year homage it to the top and this is enough to feed the International pool in later years. I do worry about prop in particular because outside of the U20’s I am not seeing any up and coming Scottish born props who look big enough to compete at international level in the future.

    • Nat 1 has some big props who play against men every week. These boys are strong experienced with good skills and technique more than capable of handling the French and ltalian forwards further more they can carry better tackle better than what was on show in the 6 nations. Why weren’t they picked? Well the reasons are listed in the comments below.

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    • As we are all aware the U20 results will have longlasting effects on Scottish Rugby, time to trust club rugby to produce the future stars.

  7. If the SRU want to get serious about giving more homegrown players a chance then they should be looking at sending some of our better, established pros to Ulster. That would create space for more players to come through in Gla/Edin. Cynical I know, but it’s no secret that the Ulster branch and their fans are sick of being marginalised by the Dublin clique. They now accept that they’ll be getting no more than a few token call ups to the national side.

    We should look to get a foothold over there and establish a mini player base that allows new talent to breathe. At the moment these bloated Gla/Edin squads just don’t have room for everyone but we don’t have enough players to create a third competitive team. If we could get a group of 6/8 over to Belfast to play top level rugby without the cost of running third team then we could really expand our options. It also means thise players are not scattered all over the English prem.

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  8. U20s team is a waste of time anyway as we just pick rejected Boks, All Blacks and now Irishmen for the adult team. There little chance of any of these boys playing for the big team.

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  9. All young players have to be looked at .
    Players at 12- 13 yrs seen to be world beaters are put in system and can’t be discarded …… WHY .

    often overtaken in ability by maturing young lads who have never been given chances .
    never looked again at because this is the SRU way.
    Influences from famous fathers .coaches .where you come from abounds in Scottish rugby .
    Just look at most of squad selections …. stinks from nepotism.

    will it change .doubt it .
    But looking at chaotic season and results .something clearly has to .

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    • Daffy. There is the situation where Academy lads are playing 2nd XV rugby, while non Academy boys (same age/position) are being picked ahead of them for the 1st XV. Puzzling.

      • It’s who you know in Scottish rugby circles .
        .just look at selection in squads
        Nepotism abounds .
        Stinks

  10. Dogma in the post below [2.18am] offers up a good question, in particular of the Italian squad, where once Italy fielded a UN XV the preponderance now appears to be home grown talent in the main.
    I don’t suspect for a moment that the SRU is the most affluent Union, nor do I suspect that we have the greatest catchment of players playing Club Rugby. With that thought clearly to the fore the only thing that can be improved is the organisation, or pathway from Club to the Jersey.
    That more than anything means not wasting revenue on vanity projects that divert funds from the Goose laying the Golden Egg. I tried briefly to find out if the SRU were still funding Clubs overseas but the SRU search engine gave me no clues. Supporting Clubs outside of Scotland is hardly a move to bring a smile to a struggling Club looking for logistical support.
    Don’t be diverted with ideas that emanate from the URC that are primarily for their Marketing benefit, keep to mind that the cake is the same size no matter how many slices you divide it into.
    If you learn anything in life or business, it’s that you can’t manufacture success by calling something ‘Super’ or ‘New’ that’s just a Marketing word stuck on a faux competition, organic growth is the better long term proposition, the Clubs and the SRU have to work together, development between Clubs and local schools needs to be developed, all schools, and with that thought lobby the Government to re-introduce sport of a competitive nature throughout the schools public and private in school time and recompense the teaching staff, identify the teacher with an interest in the game.
    It isn’t Rocket Science but in these days where common sense looses out to a couple of dissenting voices it my as well be.

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    • As I mentioned to Dom Ward, this goes a lot further than the SRU. We need government change in education attitude, not just sport but extra curricular activities. Every child has a talent and our education system should be giving the chance for a child to find that talent.
      On a personal basis my family had no history of sport in it never mind rugby. We lived in a pretty rough area and my father sent us to Heriot’s ( not private at the time). I saw a rugby ball for the first time in my life. For me and my brothers the rest is history.

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      • So much depends on the staff at the school, I had an enthusiastic headmaster that got me into Athletics and that led to Rugby, as you say it goes beyond the SRU, remember the days when teaching staff would even volunteer to take extra curricular sport.

      • Iain unfortunately sport isn’t important in Scotland. Schools are going backwards in terms of their delivery and the deminishing number of diehards with memories of a vibrant club scene are of an age that makes us less relevant .
        Mixed in with a general change in demographics and modern safety concerns I genuinely fear for our great game.
        It will never go back to what was but it must be tailored so we encourage as you I remember once put it “more bad players “but then importantly a strong pathway for the better ones
        The fact we never willing accept change goes along way to holding our game back and we never seem to be able join things up to ensure we achieve our aims.
        Watching the slammed series about 70s Welsh rugby was a reminder that we no longer have the numbers watching, supporters no longer have the closeness to the players and the so called development of players and game organisation often make it less of an appealing spectacle. It’s a different game
        With the increase in litigation and the need for more safety within the game its now impossible for normal club games to be refereed in the same way as pro ones. Belive There’s going to be a separation brought about initially with the tackle height. We will have the standard game with regulations that allow players and officials greater protection.
        The pro game with greater medical support cameras etc etc will have different boundaries. That will mean there will be a need for a transition level for u20s and academy players. So s6 or a derivative of.
        In a more complicated environment we must be willing to embrace the fact young players deserve those in charge at all levels to be looking forward not backwards with a wide perspective of the changes the game faces

      • Alas, “fewer, but stronger” falls on Murrayfield, but it would be good if Scottish Government took those responsible for that strategy and banned them from sports administration for evermore.

  11. For some context.

    I was listening to the Science of Sport podcast about should kids sport be non competitive.

    As they are from South Africa they referenced Craven Week. This is a provincial rugby competition at U13 U16 and U18.

    For every 1000 players at U13, 240 make it to U18. Of the 760 that stop playing 730 drop out between 13-16.

    What’s going on? Maturation. The big 12 year old is caught up by the rest at 15 and likely didn’t develop the skills or mindset due to their relative size. Obviously other factors will matter.

    The bigger issue for Scottish Rugby is we don’t have the sports culture of South Africa or Ireland come to that. From a much smaller base we will be having the same drop off rates.

    It’s not just about more S&C and better coaching. It’s a radical rethink of youth development with less pro coaching and more fun and enjoyment. Less specialisation at young age and focus on gross skills.

    This model doesn’t work for all sports (I’m thinking gymnastics and swimming) but does for team events like rugby where physical maturity is a massive component. We can’t afford to reject players at 13-14.

    And then of course there is the transition to seniors for U18……

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    • Dom I think the issue in systems like SA, NZ (and Ireland) is that between 13-18 big clubs and rugby schools come in and cream off the players they think have elite potential and stop them playing for their clubs.

      The most extreme example of this kind of system is the American system of High school, college, major league and maybe a minor league which is still elite.

      There is not much organised community adult sport in the US as we would recognise it, and in American Football, the closest sport to Rugby, there is none.

      These systems result in a goldfish bowl and produce elite players but arguably at the cost of grassroots so you have to have some way of sustaining a broad base at pre-teen level and accept the adult game will probably suffer.

      How do the French do it? They do almost everything through community rugby as far as I can see, but they also have huge bits of the country where community rugby is a massive tradition that maybe we don’t and a big population we definitely don’t.

    • I have been saying for years about playing for fun. Especially up to the ages of 14 then bring in competition.
      Not sure if the sports culture is any different across the board in Ireland or that they are not dominated by soccer as we are over here. Rugby is their main professional sport.
      Though rugby is a major interest to me my worry is our failing school education system. This is where developing youngsters will happen in sport and the arts. Until we get a radical rethink by government then we will continue to fail our youngsters. Long term thinking will produce a healthier society and a more educated society and save billions in the long term.

  12. So because we have historically been poor at developing young players it’s impossible to start doing it now??!! Italy France n Ireland have totally changed their attitude to player development in a relatively short space of time and are producing pro ready teenage players and in the case of France n Ireland feeding more pro sides than we are. It can be done but too many people want to protect the status quo rather than see Scottish rugby evolve. Einstein had something to say about running the same experiment over and over again. Time we listened and made fundamental change from the top down. In the pre S6 days we used to cap young players like Logan Stanger n Hogg. Johnny Gray was a Glasgow regular at 18. Now we are terrified to let Horne get a game and he’s 26!! At the beginning of the season I watched a couple of Caley Midlands u20 teams playing friendlies against a touring Argentinian college squad. The players had no prep, no training and only met up for a trial prior to playing the games. They were all from the lower leagues and the standard was surprisingly high for lads that had never been looked at before. They put up a fine show (oddly far better defensive organisation than the national u20s could dream of) and it was clear that there players there that given 12 months of full time training and S&C could do fantastic things. The talent is out there but we would rather throw millions at poaching other nations cast offs. It’s a shame Scot Gov gave that money to the SRU. Had it gone directly to clubs the SRU would have to stop wasting money abroad and start properly developing our young players. Some of the cartel might have slunk off whence they came if the trough had dried up.

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  13. I wonder how much game time the u20’s will actually get in the Super 6 ‘Sprint’ competition? There’s little point in the whole squad signing for Super 6 sides if they’re not going to be starting games, or at least getting a good run out whenever possible. In several cases players will be making a huge jump from Prem 2nd XV’s/the bench for a Nat 1 side, to play Super 6 rugby. Will they be selected? Is the SRU in a position to stipulate that the u20’s must play?

  14. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t win at least two games over the course of the tournament,” he added. “If we’d been two out of two that would have been a brilliant start for us, so to be 36-31 up against England with eight minutes to go and not find a way to win is disappointing.

    England result was all on you and the coaches Kenny. 6/2 split on the bench, starting an X factor winger who you took off after 55 mins not to be seen again for the whole tournament meant that you ended up with a 9 at 15 in the last then minutes. England scored from a cross field kick to win the game. Never mind the 3 tries scored in the first 14 mins as the back three pendulum wasn’t functioning.

    With that, try changing your 13 rather than your wingers in every game. While he maybe a leader, his default position is to run back inside all the time. Worked better at 12 today v Italy with a proper 13 coming on in the second half.

    • We only beat Wales by a point after they had five yellow cards and we only got back into the English game because they went to sleep. We are getting worse not better.

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  15. I have said for many years now it is simply not a level playing field. All French players are attached to at least a Top 14 club and some have already made their Top 14 debuts, England and Ireland are more or less the same. I couldn’t agree more with Kenny Murray but until Scottish Rugby either creates a third Junior Pro Team and we throw some serious money at that then we will never be able to compete fully with these other nations and the odd token win will continue to be the norm, never mind Australia and New Zealand. Was James O’connor not 17 when he made his full Wallaby debut!!!

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    • True. The only thing stopping us producing pro ready age grade players is the system that the SRU out into place. It can be done but for some reason we are determined to throw millions at players from anywhere but Scotland. It’s obviously unsustainable but the status quo rules unfortunately.

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  16. Well here we go again with the BS from Kenny Murray and his coaching team. When are the powers that be Jim Mallinder { has anyone actually seen him} John Fletcher head of coaching or whatever title he has going to admit in it current format the whole Academy system is flawed and not fit for purpose. We lose a TH prop and KM blames that for the rest of the woes surely our replacement TH should be just as good as the starter or is it easier to blame the replacement. There is no definitive plan or idea to have our U20s prospects playing hard competitive rugby week in week out. Again we have all the usual coaching terminology coming out which is in layman’s term BS. How many of the young men will actually make full international in the next 3 year a very low % hence the SQ program and dragging out birth certificate in every rugby playing country to see if you have any link to Scotland for example you have tasted short bread so you must be Scottish. Will whoever is last to leave the age grade building please switch off the lights.

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    • But nothing has changed since my days. If you look back at all the Scottish school boy teams moving forward to the U20’s sometimes in a particular year none made it to the top. Where Scotland have been successful is identifying the few genuine talents who were capable of playing top level rugby. If 3/4 players each year make it to the top then the U20’s have done their job.

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  17. if anyone watched it they just might think that actually Scotland played better rugby, Italy simply monstered us with a giant pack. This meant every scrum turned into a penalty and Italy marched upfield to the next lineout and maul

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    • You’re right and actually for the future of some of our players the game will be an irrelevance. As they mature into adult rugby seldom will they face such inequality in the set piece and other skills will come to the fore.

  18. The props that were selected for this tournament were simply not good enough and have let this team down in every game.
    All of them, to a man.
    Not their fault that they were picked but can’t be fair on the rest of the boys who have tried to compete to constantly let down by players who just shouldn’t be there.
    The gaul of this man to come out and say this.
    “Today we were down to pretty much our last prop available in Scotland to play at tight-head, and other countries don’t have those problems. So, we need to develop players younger because physical development doesn’t start at 18, it needs to start at 14 or 15.
    I know of at least three props who are bigger, stronger, more aggressive can tackle, can carry can scrummage. Murray knows them Pringle knows them. Than any if the props in this squad. He just won’t pick them.

    “All these guys [in the Scotland under-20s squad] are already joined up with Super Series [Super6] clubs for the ‘Sprint’ competition, so that will help us during the April/May window, before they come back in to camp for the World Trophy during the summer.
    Firstly why have they got Super6 places when they play 2nd team for their clubs and can’t even perform against players their own age let alone the props from Ayr, Watsonians and the others.
    How many are even going to feature in the super6 especially after that performance? Granted they were the bottom of the selected barrel but they were awful,truly awful
    What is even worse is that they’re going to spend the spring and summer getting no game time with their super6 teams because they’re simply not good enough then get rewarded with a trip to Kenya where we’re going to have to watch the same shite again.

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  19. The Ulster Schools cup final was played between Royal Belfast Academical Institution & Campbell College Belfast at what I still call Ravenhill on Friday in front of a claimed 8000 folk.
    And we wonder why Ireland produce so many quality players…..

    • Aye similar for Leinster schools cup. The standalone show are miles ahead of our u20 players let alone our u18s …who knew that developing as many young players as possible would raise standards and make individuals more competitive ??

      • It would be good to know how Italy are now producing such strong U20 teams! Is anyone in the SRU studying how other countries are so much more successful?

    • Ireland produce elite players out if a schools goldfish bowl probably at the expense of their community game.
      They don’t have to co-exist with another wealthier professional team ballsport either as GAA is amateur, unlike football.

      Not saying we shouldn’t be aiming for more intense schools rugby- we should – but Ireland is different.

  20. Yeah the Ben Ryan report….whatever happened to that? Was it completed or did the Mafia just not like what it had to say? The sad fact is that this direction of travel was predicted when Fewer Stronger first came about. It was blindingly obvious what would happen. We need a full reset of the whole system ASAP.

  21. Did I read somewhere (probably on this website) that a report has been commissioned or is underway looking at ways we can improve the competitiveness of our underage teams? Some fairly urgent action is required!

  22. Thank goodness it’s over. Another depressing tournament for the U20s.

    Yes we are improving and can get better. But so are the other sides.

    It will be interesting to see how many U20 players get picked for the Sprint series and how much game time they get. Who knew that playing rugby helped develop players? Obviously no one down Murrayfield way.

    • Yes but you cannot just throw players into a level of rugby they are not ready for. That is why we have players at U20 playing at different levels from Nat 1 right through to the pro level. Of course they are then exposed at U20 level. The success in Scotland has come from developing the handful of players who are good enough to play right at the very top. You just have to look at the age group teams/ Scottish school boy teams over 50 years to see how few in each group go on to play for our country.
      The question is can we ever change this trend. That would take a massive cultural change in our educational system where extra curricular activities become the norm.

    • I agree Dom but Super 6 will not prepare these youngsters, they need to be playing regularly against URC A or B teams or fully for Glasgow or Edinburgh but at least being professional and playing against other professionals can only be a step in the right direction. It takes money and investment though and will Scottish Rugby commit to that rather than put a sticking plaster over a now large crack.

  23. Not sure if it would be much help but it would be great to see bigger crowds at these games. How about playing them outside the central belt eg Highland’s ground in Inverness? Likely to get a big, vocal support.

    • It’s a fair point. I’m showing my age but I remember there was huge excitement in Inverness when the u18s played Australia u18s in Inverness in the 80s. Folk turned up just to watch Aussie lads training. Same when North Midlands played NZ u21s. Doesn’t seem to be any touring going on at age grade. Can’t help but think that would be a better use of funds than throwing £125000 a year at one twenty one year old Australian player. A summer tour against the SH club and national sides would benefit the players in high intensity game time.

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