Allan Massie

Should Scotland now say thanks and good-bye to Greig Laidlaw? Picture: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Allan Massie: World Cup has been great success but it devalues Six Nations

Whatever the result of the final, this will be judged a successful and, importantly, an enjoyable World Cup, though one of course which has been disappointing for Scotland and Ireland. Compared with the football and cricket World Cups, there is still a huge gulf between the strongest and weaker countries. So there are too many very one-sided matches in the pool stage, even if there are fewer won by a margin of 70 points or even more.

George Ford was superb against the All Blacks.

Allan Massie: England were very good and, God help us, can improve

England were so good on Saturday that, when it was all over, one was surprised that the margin of victory was only 12 points and that they didn’t score a try after the second minute of the game. Some will indignantly remark on the two disallowed tries, always a futile observation. The first one seemed pretty obvious. The little knock-on that led to the second being disallowed could only be spotted by the TMO and some will mutter about this, but we have to accept that, in professional rugby, the TMO is as much part of the game as the DRS is in Test cricket.

Steve Hansenhas enjoyed a long and successful tenure as All Blacks coach. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP

Allan Massie: Coaches now to the forefront but suffer from expectations and impatience

Coaches get as much attention as players these days, just as football managers do. Everyone in football knows that the most successful managers were themselves often no more than average players. So too in rugby. Steve Hansen has never scored a World Cup try. Neither has Eddie Jones or Warren Gatland. I think South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus may have done so, but even if he hasn’t, he is the odd man out among the head coaches of the semi-finalists: the only one who has played international rugby this 

Dejection at the final whistle following defeat by Japan. But the numbers just don't stack up for Scotland. Picture: PA.

Allan Massie: Scotland needs a third professional club

The post-mortem will go on for a long time, as indeed it must. It should, however, be extended well beyond an examination of coaches, players and performances, for it is likely that such an examination will yield few useful results. Indeed it might lead to the conclusion that, things being as they are, we did a bit worse than we had hoped, but it is unlikely we could have done much better.

Opinion 6
George Horne and Jamie Ritchie will hope they will be celebrating another Scotland win. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Allan Massie: Japan on a high but Scotland have cause for optimism

Journalists have often previewed matches while aware that vile weather may lead to postponements. Today is different, for the pool match between Scotland and Japan is threatened with cancellation, not postponement, the latter being, according to Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s tournament director, “unfeasible on logistic and safety grounds”.

Rugby Union
John Barclay is congratulated by Duncan Taylor after scoring Scotland's eighth try during the victory over Russia. Picture: Adam Pretty/Getty

Allan Massie: Scotland’s two clean sheets impressive but Japan are a different beast

I t is already an odd World Cup for Scotland. We didn’t, as the old hack used to put it, “trouble the scorecard” in losing to Ireland. Now, against Samoa and Russia, we have scored 95 points and conceded none. Clean sheets are rare in rugby now; two in a row very rare. Critics have for a long time said it’s too easy to score tries against Scotland. Well, we’ll see how the defence stands up against Japan.

Australia centre Samu Kerevi, right, was controversially penalised against Wales. Picture: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Allan Massie: Change the laws to eliminate high tackles

There have so far been two surprising results in this World Cup and one half-surprising one: Uruguay’s defeat of Fiji and Japan’s of Ireland were the surprises, the scale of Scotland’s loss to Ireland the half-surprising one. Actually, in retrospect, one might think that the Japan-Ireland result was only half-a-surprise too. Japan had, after all, beaten South Africa in 2015. Now they were playing at home and, in the last four years, they have had much more top-level experience than before. There was a fair chance they would pull off one big win. We Scots can only hope it’s only one. More on that in the future.

Opinion 1
Pecali Yato of Fiji is tackled by Australia's Reece Hodge. Picture: Getty.

Allan Massie: Citing players for dangerous tackles is a step in right direction

N o use crying over spilled milk. Most of us have probably been told that by mother, grandmother or a tough-minded aunt. Quite so: no point in tracking back and reviewing our first disastrous game in Japan. Looking coldly at where we are, we can say it’s where we feared we would be, needing to beat Samoa, Russia and Japan to qualify for the doubtful pleasure of meeting, probably, the All Blacks in the quarter-final.

Rugby Union
Ian Smith , in white, dives over thee line to score a try against South Africa on his debut for Scotland in 1969. Picture: Colorsport/Shutterstock

Allan Massie: Celebrating an age when it was a crime to congratulate a try-scorer

W ell, assuming all have come unscathed through last night’s return match with Georgia, it is passport-checking time for the happy 31, coaches, analysts and so on. Suddenly 22 September and the match against Ireland look very close. Meanwhile it is agreeable to step back in time and to remember, and reflect on, the days when rugby was a recreation for players and not a job or career.

Rugby Union 1
Scotland's Stuart Hogg, left, and Finn Russell after the 17-14 win over France. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: Gregor Townsend’s Scotland selection should maintain the winning habit

Anyone turning up or tuning in a few minutes late last Saturday and finding Scotland already 0-7 down might have been excused for muttering , “Same old Scotland, sleepy start – why do we take ten minutes to wake up?” Yet it wasn’t like that. We had actually started briskly and were looking lively, even dangerous, when Damien Penaud intercepted Peter Horne’s pass and ran half the length of the field to score. If Penaud had mistimed his move, the try might have been scored at the other end of the field.

Rory Hutchinson in action for Scotland against France in Nice. Picture. Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: ‘We played like someone rubbing sleep from his eyes’

“We don’t do mediocre.”
This might be the confession of a Scotland player if he departed from the approved script in a TV interview. “We’re either brilliant or horrible,” he might add. “In Nice we were truly horrible.” So indeed we were, every it as horrible as in the first half-hour at Twickenham in March. That day, as we happily remember , the second half was indeed brilliant. Sadly, there was no such brilliance in the second half last week. The best that could be said is that it wasn’t as horrible as the first.

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