Well, you may or may not know this, but I like rugby. I like GOOD rugby, I should say.
Despite this, I follow my country, Scotland. This is, of course, Six Nations season, and as such, this basically means that the other five teams take it in turns to kick the living daylights out of our sorry squad.
Traditionally, the Scots have generally been quite good at rugby… perhaps never world beaters, but good enough to hold our own and pull off the odd title win in the Six Nations (or Five as it was) tourney. Recently, we’ve been the strongest team in the competition… mainly because we’ve been at the bottom of the table holding the other nations up.
This year looks like being no bloody different…
The game today against the Welsh invaders (well, if you believed the BBC’s Scottish News, that’s what they were) was shambolic; it was teeth-grindingly awful; it was diabolical; worst? it was embarrassing.
Whether they’ve changed the rules to make it illegal for a Scots player to tackle an opponent without being knocked at least 3 feet backwards. Sure, the first try was scored during a period when we were reduced to 14 men, thanks to Geoff Cross and his suicidal head first assault on a knee-cap…but they would have steamrollered over us without that advantage anyway!
They oozed power, pace and class, without ever giving the feeling that they were out of 2nd gear. We oozed desperation, panic and the feeling that we couldn’t even find 1st gear, let alone second.
The main culprits for me? Well, I’ll go into that in a second. The team itself though was poorly organised and looked like they’d met each other for the first time 10 minutes before kick off. Mr. Hadden has to take the blame for this lack of conduciveness.
The Welsh team fought like demons for each other; they supported, they harassed, they supported the ball carrier and provided a simple out ball more often than not. When they had to defend, they dug in like their life depended on it – take the last 5 minutes or so of the 1st period as an example, they calmly repelled a frantic Scots attack, which was easily the most confident we had looked in the entire match.
Our team had no drive, no desire and most appallingly for a Scottish team, no damn PASSION.
How we managed to stay within 13 points of the Welsh is more down to them not killing us off with conversions rather than any great spirit from ourselves…
Surely this has to be Frank Hadden’s last chance. I’m not saying we should change coach now – not much point mid Six Nations campaign – but come the end of the tourney, he has to go… be it of his own volition or be it forced upon him, his time is up.
Who can replace him? There is another problem… I don’t know! The heart says Ian McGeechan but my head says surely he would not be remotely interested in what is fast becoming a poisoned chalice.
On to today’s culprits…
Southwell: Honestly… did little to nothing with his kicks, and was guilty of some terrible ball handling. Not the worst player on the pitch, though.
Webster: Bravely tried to carry on despite knocking himself silly. Looked like he didn’t know where he was for a while. Looked like he might have contributed, had a couple of strong runs.
Cairns: The Invisible Man. Was he even playing? I didn’t notice him until he was replaced! Awful.
Morrison: Can’t recall him doing much wrong. Or right. Or much at all, to be honest…
Lamont: How this man gets a game at THIS level is beyond me. Really, really, really awful. Plus point: He’s not Rory.
Godman: Hailed by the BBC pre game as a great potential stand-off. Pffft! Did precious little with the ball and kicking was suspect.
Blair: An off day for Mikey. One great tackle on Lee Byrne and a lot of possession but didn’t build the play in his usual manner. Poor.
Jackson: Totally anonymous. Can’t remember his name being mentioned once in a positive manner.
Ford: See above… might as well not have been there.
Cross: Best moment was crying his eyes out during the national anthem… carted off the pitch after trying to head butt someone’s knee. Never a good idea.
White: A shadow of his former self, sadly. Winding his career down. The presence that he once had is no longer there.
J Hamilton: A menace at line-outs, but not ENOUGH of a menace. By no means the worst player on the field though.
Hogg: Another Mr. Average. Did little to support the play and tackling was a nightmare.
Taylor: Probably the best starter, to be honest. Tried to get things going but had precious little support and was often running into a Red sea with little support.
Barclay: Did OK, I thought. Unlucky to be replaced but by that time it was all over.
Paterson for Webster (21): Don’t get me started. A one trick pony with the boot, and not a leader. Not powerful enough to be playing where he was slotted in today, despite a couple of decent runs. A luxury player, not an essential one.
Dickinson for Cross (31): Slotted in and promptly vanished into the desert of anonymity that we seemed to revel in today.
M Evans for Cairns (52): Changed the pace of the game for us. Should have been on from the start, looked genuninely excited to be on the park and tried his damnedest to get involved.
Gray for Barclay (56): Not entirely sure why the change was made but did alright. Not ground breaking or dynamic, but decent.
Cusiter for Blair (62): Did his starting chances no harm with a series of nice touches. Was quick, strong assured but again let down by those around him.
Hall for Ford (62): Says a lot I didn’t even realise he came on!
Brown for Hogg (73): Another average, no frills cameo. Game was long gone by this time.
In the name of all that’s right, this starting line-up has to be ripped apart and rebuilt before next week. France in Paris? We are just target practice if we don’t sort it out and quickly!
If nothing else, all I want to see is some passion from the guys on the pitch. They should be giving everything they have and more for the right to wear that jersey, not just going through the motions as they did today.