U20s 6N: Scotland hammered by rampant Ireland

Record defeat highlights gulf between the development pathways of these two countries

Paddy McCarthy carries the ball for Ireland Under-20s against Scotland Under-20s. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Paddy McCarthy carries the ball for Ireland Under-20s against Scotland Under-20s. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Scotland 7

Ireland 82

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium

REALITY bit Scottish rugby on the backside at Scotstoun this evening [Friday], with the national under-20s side on the wrong end of a result which equals the country’s heaviest ever defeat in a men’s international match at any age level (matching a 78-3 loss to Australia at under-19 level in 2006).

A bigger, stronger, faster, hungrier and better prepared Ireland outfit ran out 12 tries to one winners over a hapless Scotland side who learned a tough lesson about just how badly it can sting if you are a yard off the pace or an inch off target at this level.

After pushing England all the way in round one of this age-grade Six Nations campaign, then picking up a first win in 15 outings when they took on Wales in round two, it looked like this might be an uplifting campaign for Kenny Murray‘s side in contest to recent disappointments at this level. But this 80-pointer, following on from their 54-12 loss in France a fortnight ago has well and truly burst that bubble. Next Saturday’s championship denouement at home to an Italy team who beat Wales 29-25 earlier in the evening will be approached with with a sense of extreme trepidation.

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As ugly as this score-line looks, some comfort can be drawn from the knowledge that it could have been a whole lot worse. At half-time Scotland were 47-0 down and run ragged. A combination of home resilience after the break and a drop in focus from Ireland meant the humiliation of a three-digit defeat was avoided. But this will be of scant consolation to the players and coaches as they pick through the bones of a record shattering defeat.

“A bit of a reality check, wasn’t it?” reflected Scotland head coach Murray afterwards. “We knew it was going to be really tough and we probably got a vision of where we really are in terms of our young players at the moment in comparison to some of the countries we are up against.

“It’s really tough to take. You don’t like seeing players take a beating like that, and I feel for all the staff as well. But we need to pick ourselves up because we’ve got another international to come next week – so we’ve got to get back on the horse.”

“For 10 top 15 minutes after half-time, we probably got a wee bit more clarity, but in all honesty, we were second best for the first minute to the last,” he added.

“I just thought we lacked a bit of bravery at times. Things like letting high balls bounce – schoolboy errors – at this level of rugby that’s not acceptable. This is big boy rugby. Those Irish players will be playing international rugby in a year or so. I’m really disappointed with some of the basic errors we made which led to tries.”

The tone was set with less than three minutes played when Sam Pendergast, the elegant Irish stand-off, sent a grubber through Scotland’s defensive line, for centre Hugh Cooney to sweep on to, and flanker Ruadhán Quinn acted as the link to send winger Andrew Osborne over.

Four minutes later, Irish tight-head prop Fiachna Barrett muscled over from close range; and try number three arrived in the 14th minute when hooker and captain Gus McCarthy pounced from the back of a close-range line-out maul.

The bonus point was in the bag with just 21 minutes played thanks to a glorious set-move from a close-range tap-penalty, which saw Barrett shape to take the direct route to the line but before flicking a backhanded pass to the scissoring Quinn, who crashed over.

Scotland simply could not get a foothold in the game. On those rare occasions they managed to salvage onto possession from a backward pedalling scrum or a rare Ireland error, they were almost immediately swamped by green jerseys and any chance of reversing the flow was gone.

There was a promising passage just before the half hour mark, which included Duncan Munn charging down Fintan Gunne’s clearance forcing Ireland to scramble backwards, but the hosts went off their feet at the ruck and that chink of light vanished.

Instead, a midfield burst from John Devine off another wonderful slight-of-hand from Barrett split Scotland wide open, and the move was finished under the posts by Gunne, with Pendergast once again converting. Then, some more silky handling from Barrett sent Quinn over for his second, and there was still some five minutes left in the half.

Scotland had a chance to regroup while their scrum-half Finlay Burgess was treated on the pitch following a knee to the head, but normal service quickly resumed when the game got going again with James McNabney muscling in for try number seven in overtime of a harrowing opening 40-minutes.

The half-time stats made for grim reading. Ireland had enjoyed 71 percent of possession, and carried 87 times to make 770 metres (8.85 metres per carry), while Scotland had managed just 148 metres off 30 carries (4.93 metres per carry). The hosts had made more than three times as many tackles as the visitors (98 versus 32).


Scotland started the second half in determined fashion with a ferocious counter-ruck from Rudi Brown and Liam McConnell earning a penalty in the middle of the park and prompting a minor scrap. They built from there and finally got off the mark when some sharp phase play softened Ireland up and Luke Townsend broke the line, before recycling quickly for Corey Tait to pick-up and dive between the posts.

Alas, that was as good as it got for the home team. Ireland’s replacement second-row Diarmuid Mangan rampaged home from 40 metres to put the visitors back on the front foot.

Scotland continually made life harder for themselves than it needed to be with overthrown line-outs and penalties on the deck.

So, although points were not quite as easy to come by during the third quarter for the home side, they continued to dominate possession and territory, so it was only really a matter of time before they truck again, with Quinn claiming his hat-trick.

Further misery was heaped on the Scots with 10 minutes left when second-row Jake Parkinson was red-carded following head-on-head contact with opposite number Evan O’Connell, and a flurry of late Irish scores from Danny Sheehan, Rory Telfer and Oscar Cawley took Ireland past the 80-point mark.


Teams –

Scotland U20s: D King (A McLean 54); L Jarvie (B Salmon 51), D Munn, K Yule, G Gwynn; L Townsend, F Burgess ( C Clare 35); C Davidson (M Surry 66), C Tait (E Young 66), M Ogunlaja (R Deans 51), J Parkinson, H McLeod (R Hart, 54), L McConnell, R Brown (J Morris  73), J Morris (S Derrick 41).

Ireland: H McErlean (R Telfer 60); A Osborne, H Cooney, J Devine, H Gavin; S Prendergast (M Lynch 54), F Gunne (O Cawley 60); G Hadden (G Morris 50), G McCarthy (D Sheahan 50), F Barrett (P McCarthy 50), E O’Connell (C O’Tighearnaigh  60), C O’Tighearnaigh (D Mangan 51), J McNabney, R Quinn, B Gleeson (L Molony 66).

Referee: Takehito Namekawa (Japan)


Scorers –

Scotland: Try: Tait; Con: Townsend.

Ireland: Tries: Osborne, Barrett, McCarthy, Quinn 3, Gunne, McNabney, Mangan, Sheahan, Telfer, Cawley; Cons: Prendergast 7, Lynch 4.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 0-26; 0-28; 33-0; 35-0; 40-0; 42-0; 47-0 (h-t) 47-5; 47-7; 52-7; 54-7; 59-7; 61-7; 66-7; 68-7; 73-7; 75-7; 80-7; 82-7.


Red cards –

Scotland: Parkinson (71mins)


Attendance: 2,792.

Scotland v Ireland: Jonny Gray and Jack Dempsey added to home starting XV

About David Barnes 3891 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Whilst we all care deeply for the state and future of Scottish Rugby as evidenced by the huge number of posts, we need to keep a perspective on where the problem lies. I know the score is horrendous and clearly there is a big gap between us and Ireland at this level but sometimes the score on the day overaccentuates the difference in calibre. It was certainly one of these bad days.

    Regards where the problem lies – I really don’t see why pointing the finger at S6 has much to do with the U20 performance. The problem is much deeper rooted and starts much earlier. The U20’s are just out of school and so if we don’t produce enough quality at the school level then the U20’s will reflect this. Regards the physical size of some of our players compared with some others, we just don’t produce that many big physical specimens. You cant do too much in the years post school in the U20 coaching set up if you are starting at a pretty low base.

    If we don’t get more children playing at school then we are always less likely to unearth a hidden gem of a player from a less established rugby background. We still rely mainly on the private schools playing serious rugby and so for me the root of the problem lies at the school level and getting more schools playing rugby. This has been a long standing problem since teachers stopped supporting out of hours activity at state schools. And as stated previously in a country where football is the much bigger sport there is no easy solution to this to change the culture to have more children wanting to play rugby. Its where the focus must lie however in the long term

    • Yet both France and Italy have produced exceptional U20 sides in recent years without a background of school sports teams. Unfortunately a vision of the future is rarely a version of the past.

      • I am unfamiliar with the French system but they clearly produce a large number of quality players – if its more through the clubs rather than schools so be it but they are good. i’m not sure what you are proposing for the solution to the Scottish system?

  2. No worries though, as they will go play Hawks 2’s or get 35 minutes for a super 6 team. That will help.
    So disjointed the players and the coaches are being let down by a poor and ineffective pathway system.

  3. I wasn’t watching in expectation, more in hope that those selected would be able to offer more competition than was on display last night. It was as if the two teams were from different age grades. It has to be dispiriting for those involved.
    The shuffling of the Super 6 schedule to give the youngsters game time is not enough and obviously far too late for the U20s 6 Nations. A clear and focused strategy to tie in schools, identify talent and unite behind regions, such as the old districts, seems a far more sensible route to finding sustainable domestic rugby talent.

  4. What we see with Wales’ national team at the moment will be Scotland within the next 5 years at this rate. Our decent run of performances/results shouldnt disguise that. Test level performance is a culmination of work done at lower levels in preceding years. We have a clutch of good homegrown players supplemented by a majority of non homegrown who have managed to click this season. That is not a sustainable model. This year we came out on the right side of the law of averages – we’d eventually have a purple patch if we kept brining in mercenaries. More often than not it will crumble.

    In the 1872 games this season the homegrown players were in the minority. That is an unacceptable benchmark of failure by the SRU and those who are paid a salary to develop our game. A culture has evolved that ignores this glaring failure, usually for fear that one might be labelled as a small minded bigot. We have our two pro outfits playing on rubber pitches. If these pitches were conducive to making better players as opposed to giving them third degree burns then the four Irish Provinces would have had them installed 10 years ago.

    Last night’s score was the net result of the SRUs attitude to test rugby. They have become very comfortable at turning the national team into Barbarians in blue jerseys without any fear of challenge. It is the easiest and laziest way of running our game. The function of the Union should be to open the game up to children in Scotland not create an ever narrowing pyramid.

  5. I don’t think things are as bad as people make out. The issues with U20’s is in the selection of players. We do have the skills to compete that is evident. It was the selection in key positions that let us down the scrum and the lineouts were simply not good enough not allowing us an attacking platform. We struggled to find a playmaker when Afshar got injured.
    Then there is the issue of physicality with one or two exceptions the lads out there were not big enough or aggressive enough. Clubs and the players themselves must take ownership of their physical preparation, theres no point in turning up to a training camp if you’re not conditioned to play against the French or Irish.
    What l saw in the four games was a lack of structure in play. Murray and Pringle are solely responsible for the selection disasters and not producing through capable coaching a team that may not win every game but should be able to perform better than we saw last night.
    Selection, preparation, coaching are pretty easy fixes.

  6. I would like an answer to how a coaching team can suggest it is correct to put a young stand off into the team when his only competitive rugby since the turn of the year is according to Melrose Instagram – two appearances off the bench for Melrose. Indeed if you look at the team selections on instagram site young Townsend has hardly played at all for Melrose this season ..
    How is this correct when you also have a player like Harris Rutherford who was named in the 20’s squad at the beginning of the tournament and has been playing 10 regularly for Gala, why is he not being given an opportunity ?
    Is it not common sense you have to go into these tough games with battle hardened players or at least players that are playing regularly.
    It’s nonsense decisions like this this that give credence to claims of nepotism and favouritism. I can see no logical reason why this decision was taken , it just makes no sense at all.
    It also highlights the flaws in the strategy where the coaching team have not given any other 10 game time during the first 3 games , it’s complete nonsense to expect a player to come in for injured 10 without meaningful game time or previous exposure at this level.
    This is a squad game and a major part of the issue is that Scotland have no depth and limited players numbers. Even when they get to this stage at U20 level we still see the blinkered actions of a coaching team that is not developing the player pool , actions completely counter productive.

    • @Jedfire. Can’t argue with that. How does a player that has barely seen any game time with Melrose suddenly come in and start for Scotland u20’s? It stinks basically. There are anomalies throughout the squad – players that have barely started a club game this season start for Scotland u20, while others that are regular starters/try scorers at Premiership level aren’t near the squad – how does that add up?

    • Something has to change .but it won’t .
      This nepotism thing is and always has been rife in Scottish rugby.
      Ordinary ‘Joe Bloggs ‘ son doesn’t have the same route no matter how well you play because it’s blocked by someone else with connections
      Be it family or where you have came from .
      Just stinks

    • Same thing happened last year with Redpath’s and Townsend’s sons..
      Always First choice no matter how bad they played .
      Others never given a chance.
      Where are they now ?…

  7. There is more money in Irish rugby, thats a given and presumably a big chunk goes on player development. However, we need to make more of what we do have. Some of those lads last night may be good but the worrying thing is it was impossible to tell as they are clearly nowhere near as seasoned in any way as their opposition. I mean surely as a minimum we can ensure the physicality needed. The SRU needs to be bolder with talented younger players signing any who clearly stand out to pro contracts much earlier (pro debuts at 22/23 is late) developing them and actively making them available for loan deals etc if no squad place available on match days. We also need less reliance on the private school sector. That is not to disrespect those schools who clearly do develop players but there must be so much untapped talent that has never picked up a ball. Too much reliance (also seen in other sports) on being introduced to the game by a parent who played, which is more noticeable in rugby. I’d guess too that our u20 squad spend less time together than other sides as we pull from teams down south when England, Ireland etc. probably have all their players situated in their home union.
    In terms of opportunities is there not a chance to invest in another franchise e.g. a welsh / Scottish side or partly in what was Worcester. Requiring x number of Scottish eligible players in the match squad? What about London Scottish, I don’t really understand why that hasn’t been a runner?
    All in all we need some fresh thinking that accounts and deals with our limitations. Too much hand ringing that this is just the way it is. This is the day job for those at the SRU, so fix it!

    • excellent thoughts. 2 immediate ideas spring to mind. first with 1 win in 15 it is time the U20s dropped a league to find a level where they are competitive. hammerings like last night may cause some to walk away altogether from the game and that can’t be right. secondly the union’s handsomely paid CEO must surely take accountability for the inability to grow participation, coaching pathway and competitiveness of scottish rugby. Instructive that the 2 most senior coaches in Scotland are now non Scots schooled in harder/ more knowledgeable competitions. Complacency and an obsession with reorgansiations seem to be inherent weaknesses in the current set up.

      • That one win came against a Welsh side that was pretty inept on the night. It also seems to have been overlooked that the Welsh had 5 yellow cards (I think), so played the majority of the game a man down, eventually only losing by 1 point. It was a false dawn, that’s for sure.

    • The Irish system is incredibly reliant on elite private schools, the competition between them and the virtually professional environments they provide for young players. A tiny handful of the Irish squad haven’t come through those pathways.

      I agree in Scotland we need to broaden our base by investing in youth rugby, supporting the grass roots and traditional rugby strongholds, but the private schools will need to play a central role in the system for the foreseeable future. We shouldn’t see overhauling youth rugby in Scotland as pitting private schools against the rest, but finding a way to elevate the standard and breadth of competition across the board.

      • Private schools just happen to be the ones that play rugby rather than GAA in Ireland, though, and not all feeder schools are actually private at all. Furlong didn’t go to either, he’s a club man. It’s not so simple. I think people are focusing on that narrative when they’d learn more looking at what IRFU picked up from the GAA.

    • Ireland has a massive private school sector and they are producing pro ready players.

      I’m more curious about how much rugby our U20 players are getting. In my view not enough to develop them.

  8. The whole of Irish Rugby is geared to producing elite players a bit like New Zealand and a bit like American sport.

    This comes at a cost to grassroots rugby.

    If you go down this route there’s always a risk that the game becomes perceived as elite and people will decide their kids should play another sport they can continue into adulthood.

    Scottish rugby has to co-exist with football which has huge participation and general interest at every level of the game.

    I know GAA is massive in Ireland, but it’s officially amateur and has no international profile so it’s not comparable to what Scottish rugby has to deal with.

    There are downsides to the Irish approach which they might get away with but we might not.

    If you don’t have a grassroots game then you don’t have an elite game.

  9. Ouch.
    The Irish players come out of one of the most intense school rugby bubbles on the planet mentally and physically conditioned to play professional rugby. We don’t really have anything like their school cup competitions.

    This was a hurtful result but the U20s gave England a good work out and beat Wales. They’ve had a few injuries and their intensity has dropped off but they deserve some credit.

    I think everyone acknowledges we have a problem giving players in that grey zone between being a junior and potentially being a professional player regular competitive rugby.

    How would you fix it? S6 could be part of the solution but doesn’t seem to be the whole?

    The U18s usually seem to be competitive but that hasn’t carried through into the U20s. What would you do to change it?

  10. There needs to be more investment in getting these players regular games. Yes they train regularly from the younger age groups, but a couple of games a year isn’t giving them the experience that they need when they come up against teams like this.

  11. Jeezo. Ireland are good everything clicked. We had a few injuries and made some errors. England just got beaten by 40 at Twickenham by France. This was a freak result. These young (it’s a very young squad) men will go and win the u20 trophy and get is back into the big league. Stats of our supporters is the embarrassing thing here.

  12. How are the SRU PR Department going to explain this one. How can Kenny Murray keep coming out and spew out the same BS he has down for two seasons. We are a young group we will take the learnings from this the coaching group are working hard. One win in 23 games against the Welsh who are in turmoil hammered last time out against France and now this.The holiday camp that is Scottish age grade rugby is not fit for purpose and it has been obvious to a lot of people for a few years now. The players can and will do what they are told to do by the coaching team there are good coaches within the current system but there are more there on who they know rather than what they know or what they can deliver at International age grade level. The scum was a joke lineout system obviously not working rugby intelligence at the breakdown is lacking maybe most of the players would have been in the system for a long time and if they do not have the skills or know how by the time they reach 20s then maybe the should not be selected but again players will do and put in to practice what they and more importantly how they are being coached.

  13. BT did more to clear the debt than anyielse and that deal was done prior to Dodson. Since then by every sensible metric rugby in Scotland has declined since he took over. Our strongest ever international squad was in late 80s /early 90s when we could reach RWC semi finals and win grand slams. Now we scramble around hoping for fourth in 6N. His own stated targets for last two RWC were to win the whole thing. Utterly laughable outside of Scotland. As in his previous job Dodson has been an arrogant disaster. That’s before you even scratch the surface of the Russell affair. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to how the judge was wring on that one too??

    • Dodson .Dodson .Dodson .
      Well what can I say about him .
      Absolute Zilch .
      A disaster for the whole of Scottish rugby with ideas out of Cloud Cuckoo land
      He’ll be there tomorrow though swanning around in his private box

  14. Don’t blame the kids – some in the training camps are expected to fork out themselves to travel to training, turn up at the click of a finger, lucky to get as much as a training top. Then there’s club and Super 6 training! These boys are also balancing work, school and university duties as well – and some even self fund a year or so out to pursue a full-time place in the game. Look, they’re happy to do it, and are backed up by family and friends; the SRU hierarchy should be ashamed of such a shambolic system and look at the seat of the malaise – HQ Murrayfield.
    Finally (for now), plaudits to young Munn for facing the music in last night’s post-match interview. Don’t tell me it’s part of the growing up process, one of his ‘coaches’ should have had the guts to at least save him that final mauling.

    • Alltalk. You’re spot on, most of these boys (and their families) are making huge sacrifices (time/balancing careers/financial drain) to have the honour of representing Scotland. They get very little support from the SRU, but they do whatever they have to because they want to be involved. It’s completely amateurish compared to other international set-ups. I would exempt the lads from any criticism, they aren’t getting anything like the backing they need.

  15. We should really look at what Italy have done to revolutionise their youth programme – at this point Ireland is well out of reach. It is possible to make rapid improvement at this level but it’s going to take investment and a bit of pain. Not sure the focus is there yet – Dodson has done well overall, the pro-side is been massively elevated. The youth system needs the same priority now.

    I also saw England lose to France at home by 40pts. France and Ireland are outstanding at the moment.

    • Italy aren’t too great at U18 level tho.

      We are usually OK.

      There seems to be something going wrong in that transition.

      At U20s level I think things like experience of competitive rugby and conditioning can make a big difference.

  16. Firstly this is not the fault of the players or even the coaches . The problem is much deeper and more difficult to fix .

    1 ) the participation numbers in rugby union is Scotland even 5 years ago is a third of Irelands (in truth we are a football nation from a participation view ) . I suspect the gap is even bigger now that Irish teams have been successful in recent years . With same population by the way .

    2 ) sport in general in Ireland ( mainly republic ) is massive the government invest, the communities invest – in coaches and facilities . You just need to drive around Ireland and see new facilities beside schools with scores of kids out playing .

    3 ) it’s not just a class thing because much of irelands talent comes from independent schools . I have heard that some independent schools play rugby as much as 2 hours day ! I know this happens at an independent Scottish school that regularly wins cup.

    So what is the solution well to shift this it needs politicians to take sport seriously – it’s almost laughable when we hear them boast about 2 hours of sport a week . When I was a kid at state school we played every Wednesday afternoon 3 hours and a game on Saturday . We are and will of course pay the price for lack of activity – obesity wellbeing not to mention national pride.

    We need paid sport coaches in every year in every school . We need to allocate time for sport – I would say min 5 hours week including weekends . If you want proof what happens when you do this – look at Iceland and football they qualified for European final with population less than Edinburgh .

    All the sporting bodies need to come together and actively campaign to for government to massively invest in sport in state schools and local clubs – invest means – time , competition , coaches , facilities

    I honestly believe if a political party made this commitment it would be a huge vote winner .

    Ah well I suspect that as long as we can import from other counties we can be competitive at senior national level . However a country that invests wisely in its rugby at school level will always have a steady flow of talent . Well done Ireland .

    • All very well M. Vickers, however Scottish Rugby received £20 million from the Scottish Government only last year as part of the Covid grant relief. How is our governing body doing in terms of investment in the game and doing what it currently can to create a thriving game at all levels? £1 million spent buying a share of an American franchise. What must be at least £1.5 million per season on Super 6 which has proved to be no more than a vanity project. Resources spent on Rugby Nicois and other vanity projects overseas. Heavy investment in foreign players to provide short term solutions at professional level All while our community game is on a steady decline. A prolonged governance review that uses up time and resources simply because no one appears to be capable of exerting authority over the Chief Executive. We need to fix our own problems first and that starts with change at the top.

    • I am struggling to think of any justification for hitting the ‘thumb down’ on this post other than a form of myopia and hitting the wrong symbol.

    • Irish rugby is reminiscent of American sport where the whole system is geared to identifying potential elite talent and participation drops off a cliff in high school.
      Most other unions including our own are at least dabbling in that direction but the Irish are probably furthest along it of any union apart maybe from NZ.
      It has downsides.
      There’s no organised grassroots adult American sport, similarly in NZ and Ireland junior and adult rugby away from the elite level is in decline.

      If you go down this route you’re at risk of people deciding they want to take up a sport they can play into adulthood no matter how good they are.

      In Ireland Rugby is the only official full time professional team ball sport so they might get away with it but in Scotland football is the biggest sport by far.

  17. Waiting to see the usual trolls tell us that we should keep letting the ‘pros do their jobs’ or keep saying that S6 is improving us….they were all over the threads for S6 announcements n the Wales U20 game… surely they won’t be ducking back down again into their little cave n telling us how we are all silly stupid n ignorant about how desperate a state Scottish rugby is?? Cmon tell us how great Dodson is please!!

    • Happy to respond. Mark Dodson has done a very good job since his involvement. Mistakes yes but I remember the half empty Murrayfield, the dire performances of our National tea’, the huge debt our sport was burdened with.
      Super 6 doesn’t produce the talent all it does, along with the clubs is try and give it an opportunity to flourish.
      We have our strongest international squad ever, something, somewhere is working.
      I’ll never say the SRU are getting all right, our coaches don’t get it all right, our clubs don’t get it all right but I refuse to jump on the bandwagon every time something goes wrong or something goes right.
      If you follow rugby closely you will not be surprised at last nights result the same as I won’t be surprised if some of those lads make it ti the top. 🐻

      • Don’t let the national side plaster over the cracks beneath the surface Mr Milne. There’s Covid and CVC money a plenty, is it being used to build a base. This is rock bottom for me and sometimes yuu need that to make real change. Georgia would’ve put a far better performance in and they don’t have half the nutrionists, sports scientists, strength & conditioning coaches, attack and defence coaches etc that we have. We need to challenge the existing strategy, is it growing the game and is it a making sure our 18 to 21 year olds are ready to play pro rugby.

      • It’s called holding people to account Iain. A man getting paid north of £500k per year, one of the highest paid chief executives in world rugby, doesn’t get a free pass for all of Scottish Rugby’s problems, many of which he either ignores, obfuscates on, or simply doesn’t have the capability to address.

      • Iain I don’t often agree with you however there is no point in throwing the baby out with the bath water. The current regime have got some things right irrespective of anybodies views of the individuals involved and their personal motivations. However to return to the issue in question, someone in an earlier reply referred to the fact that Scotland is a football nation and therefore it’s not surprising that rugby struggles for playing resources and investment. Have you looked at the national football team over the last 25 years. A total embarrassment. The bottom line, there is a direct correlation between investment and success in sport and until our government gets their fingers out their collective anti sport arses we will continue to suffer. If investment does ever arrive at grass roots level and what the SRU do with it is a completely different issue.

      • I can’t agree with any of that Iain, apart from that we have our strongest international squad ever. But what has Townsend done with that? Not nearly as much as their potential would indicate. When Plan A wasn’t working on the pitch, there was no plan B and I can’t be the only one wondering whether the Russell saga is all about Townsend ego Vs Russell wanting to run the attack, especially when the team was stuck on plan A. Meanwhile Dodson has done nothing to improve the player pathway from age grade or get rugby into the primary state schools but he has taken larger and larger pay rises whilst Scotland simmer at mediocre level, yet with world class players. Those world class players are the only reason Scotland sit 5th in the table. Townsend and Dodson are bloody lucky that our finest crop are keeping their heads above water and keeping the crowds at Murrayfield.

      • Well said Iain, as per usual a gross over reaction from certain individuals who instantly blame the guy at the top (im looking at you dogma).

        Is the result acceptable today? Absolutely not. However, they have showed massively improved performances only a few weeks ago with mostly the same players, which suggests a big part of the loss is down to the players not turning up, along with poor coaching. Of course, quality of depth must be improved as well, i suspect the Super series U20 side will continue to help with this.

        If we have a competitive performance against Italy next week, there can be no doubt that we have improved as a squad this year compared to previous. It is also worth remembering that the U20 Ireland squad is likely one of the favourites for the WC later this season, a seriously excellent team.

      • “Mark Dodson has done a very good job since his involvement”

        It is absolutely frightening that someone can be so blind to the state of rugby in Scotland to post that.

        Rugby in Scotland is so much more than the senior national side and running rugby in Scotland should be so much more than drawing a huge salary.

      • Mr Milne, whilst your contributions are normally balanced and contain some decent points , this on the other hand – not so much.
        The state of the Scottish game is not much different to Wales in that the disharmony between the clubs , SRU , semi pro outfits etc simply confirm that Mr Dodson has failed miserably and Scottish Rugby , whilst possibly in a better place financially thanks to BT is organisationally inept and accountable to apparently nobody …
        For an organisation to be unable to produce their financial accounts on time for an AGM is truly worrying and symptomatic that throughout the organisation there is a complete lack of accountability.
        Let’s not get too carried away with our senior playing squad and the suggestion that we are in a good place because of the current system. Approx 50% of the current crop have never had any interaction the the Scottish development system. The penchant for bringing in foreign players and coaches continues to increase at the expense of Scottish players and coaches. The unfortunate issue with the current 20’s intake is that it highlights how far the other countries have progressed whilst Scotland has stood still. In the majority of other teams , many of the players have had exposure at pro level already whereas other than an odd token appearance , basically none of the current crop of Scottish 20’s have played for either Scottish pro team , indeed many of them are only getting limited game time in Super 6. Will some get capped ? … possibly but this is becoming less likely as long as the SRU development process continues to fall of the pace when compared to the other nations.
        Physical size and basic rugby skills have been bemoaned in this group and this is a sad reflection of the current “Academy” group to which the majority of these players belong. Surely , particularly given it is such a small group in number the quality of conditioning and skills should be good enough to put these players in a better position than they are. It’s a poor reflection of the “Academy “ structure that we cannot up the basic skill and conditioning levels to that of the other nations.
        So , sorry Mr Milne I don’t think Mr Dodson has done a good job and we continue to be miles off the pace in development stakes and we really are clutching at straws to suggest we can take any comfort from the current senior team which is filled with players that have been developed in other countries.

      • Well Iain your reply supporting the SRU and the Dodson cabal is truly wonderful. As someone who has not played at your level but watched with more than a passing interest I’m astonished at your unflinching support for these so-called experts who have contributed to the downgrading of rugby in Scotland. Those who head up the business are ultimately responsible for the performance(s) both on and off the field and even being fair-minded they have failed miserably as far the game goes. Never mind Dodson’s so called saviour’s role, he earned almost a £1M for one years work – hardly likely to be based on the performance of the Scottish rugby team.
        We need to have the acumen to learn from the models being used by both Ireland & France and where possible adopt & adapt techniques to suit our domestic rugby through to international team level. I have mentioned in previous posts that Jim Telfer (a player who moved up the coaching ladder with a reasonable degree of success) advocated that Scotland look at the NZ system and adopt its approach to bolster our rugby. That was at least 20+ years ago and here we are in 2023 still bemoaning the problems in Scottish rugby.
        We need a “palace revolution” getting rid of Dodson, Jeffrey & Mallender et al and bring in new blood to tackle the systemic problems in our game. We need action and not the “hinger – ons” who enjoy the freebies as members of the SRU and its committees.
        Support all schools with rugby coaching + develop colts/age group rugby + develop all age groups from 18 yo’s to 22 yo’s + give club rugby the support to develop these initiatives + either disband the Super 6’s or have a premiership league with at least 16 teams with relegation and promotion to develop players for Glasgow & Edinburgh. The professional teams need to work to work more closely with the clubs – I marvel at the All Blacks who play with their club teams and their provinces whilst being internationalists.
        We need to put in place the building blocks for Scottish rugby NOW or will we face the demise of this fine game?? Shinty already receives more press coverage than club rugby and people in Edinburgh and Glasgow do not flock to watch the professional games, proportionately the Borders professional team had better attendances than both city teams – need I say more!!

  18. A complete disgrace tbh. A million miles off what is required. If you were Georgia you’d have to be asking if Scotland should at least be in a playoff to stay in the u20 six nations. I could handle it if games were lost by 5-10 points but we are regularly hammered and miles off. It’ll likely be one win in 3 six nations campaigns. Dodson and JJ were at the game and should be hanging their heads after that. Absolutely nothing is being put in at this level and it shows. Who will challenge them on this?? We are physically and skill wise not at the races. Frankly we’d be better off not competing at this level than getting absolutely obliterated. Either the players don’t have it which is a massive issue or they are not being properly coached and prepared. The number of weak penalties, a disastrous scrum and an inability to compete at breakdown was shockingly bad. The full team might be doing okay right now but we are not ‘building’ towards anything as it’s clear the cupboard is beyond empty behind them.


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