Monday musings: Some thoughts post-Fiji and ahead of South Africa

Kettle Collective

The dust has now settled on Scotland’s 54-17 victory over Fiji, the South Africans are in Edinburgh and everything is building up again to a massive weekend of rugby at BT Murrayfield.

Here are some Monday musings to keep you up to speed with everything that is going on…

A (good) headache in the second-row

 Over the years Scotland have been blessed with some cracking second-rows – and the current crop are pushing each other on for places at the moment.

With Richie Gray and Tim Swinson missing this month of international action through injury it looked as if Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis would be rotated in the number four and five jerseys.

However, Exeter Chiefs’ man Sam Skinner came into the reckoning having been eligible through his Scottish father and on his debut against Fiji he was named Man of the Match.

He also played part of the game at number six, showing his versatility, and now it looks like head coach Gregor Townsend and forwards coach Danny Wilson will have to think long and hard regarding who will be in the starting XV against South Africa, who will be on the bench and who will miss out in the second-row.

Scotland v Fiji

Brothers in arms

What a day it was for Pete and George Horne on Saturday.

During the Autumn Test victory over Fiji their dream of playing at BT Murrayfield together became a reality when scrum-half George, 23, joined centre Pete, 29, on the field at the national stadium.

George came on in the 61st minute from the bench and while Pete was replaced 11 minutes later by Adam Hastings, you get the feeling that we will be seeing a lot more of the two Howe of Fife products together in a Scotland jersey.

This was the fourth time they had appeared in a matchday squad together, but the first time in a home game after matches in USA, Argentina and Wales earlier this year.

Pete said: “At the anthem we were standing together and it got a wee bit emotional.

“It’s something before the game you don’t think too much about [playing together for Scotland], mum and dad can enjoy it and our friends and family, but you’re just focusing on a game.

“I’m sure when our careers are finished it’s something we’ll look back on very fondly.”

Experience matters

 There is no doubt that Wales’ defence is stronger than that of Fiji’s, but there is also little doubt that the experienced backs brought into the starting XV made a big difference against the latter at the weekend.

Between them captain Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg have 200 caps between them and they made them count as the team ran in eight tries.

Laidlaw and Russell are, on the face of it, very different players at nine and 10, Laidlaw seems more controlled and thoughtful while Russell likes to take a chance if it is on.

However, they are maybe more similar than a lot of people think, they certainly have a great understanding between the two of them and Russell, who has flourished since moving to France in the summer, seemed much more measured in his play than previously.

Winger Maitland grabbed yet another try while Hogg looked good at full-back given that he has just returned from injury.

Scotland v Fiji

Home sweet home

The win over Fiji was Scotland’s ninth in the last 10 matches at the national stadium, stretching back to 2016.

The defeat came against New Zealand – and even then Scotland pushed the world’s best close – and as a result of that great run which has included victories over the likes of Australia and England tickets for the 67,144 seater stadium are now hard to come by.

Think back five years and there was not much chance of a Fiji match being sold out at the same location, but it was at the weekend and that is down to the way that former head coach Vern Cotter and now Townsend have got this team playing.

Up to sixth in the world now with the fifth best team in the shape of South Africa coming to town this Saturday is a mouth-watering prospect.

And given that it is an evening kick-off the atmosphere should be superb – we cannot wait!

The Doddie Gump Gathering of 10,000 headbands

Following the success of the march in Rome – when thousands of Scotland fans marched to the ground during the Six Nations in March – and in view of Doddie Weir’s  impending award from the city, The Lord Provost has closed off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh between the Bridges for a gathering between 2 and 3pm this Saturday.

The Lord Provost and Doddie will speak from the Mercat Cross at 2.30pm after which he will be taken through the assembled crowd in a Land Rover and on to BT Murrayfield.

In order to raise funds for Doddie5 Foundation, the organisers – including former Scotland captain Rob Wainwright – have thousands of headbands that will be available to supporters around town on the Friday evening at selected bars and then also on the day.

At the supporting bars, there will be ‘Doddie’s Pints’ or other promotions with a portion of the price being donated to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Get involved!

Doddie march

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT and Rob Wainwright for the images

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