Allan Massie

SRU president Dee Bradbury is a member of Oban Rugby Club. Picture: SNS/SRU.

Allan Massie: SRU short-sighted to omit Glasgow and north from Super Six

Losing 43-19 always sounds pretty bad, but few would have expected Scotland to beat South Africa in the under-20 Junior World Cup being played in Argentina, and it wasn’t a one-sided match with Scottish tries coming near the end as so-called consolations. On the contrary, we were only three points behind going into the last quarter of the match. So the difference was staying-power and perhaps the quality of the replacements who flooded the field from the hour-mark.

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Finn Russell, left, is still the go-to man for Scotland at stand-off, despite Adam Hastings' rise to prominence. Picture: Bruce White/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: Hastings is fine prospect but Russell is picture perfect

The other day, Dave Rennie commented that Adam Hastings was already, or perhaps would be, a better stand-off than Finn Russell. This surprised more than a few of us who are members of what the former England scrum-half turned TV pundit Austin Healey once called “the Finn Russell Appreciation Society”. That, as I recall, was on an evening when Finn had orchestrated the demolition of Healey’s former club, Leicester.

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Brilliant Fijian No 8 Viliame Mata could be key for Edinburgh. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: Form favours Glasgow but Edinburgh have forward power

Edinburgh have beaten Glasgow twice, so that they have already retained the 1872 Cup and they are the only Pro14 team to have won at Scotstoun this season. This might reasonably make them favourites today, even away from home. On the other hand Glasgow have recovered from their humiliating loss to Saracens in the Heineken quarter-final more convincingly than Edinburgh since they let victory slip in their quarter-final against Munster at Murrayfield.

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A head injury forced Finn Russell to miss Scotland's Six Nations match with France. Picture: SNS

Allan Massie: Safety to the fore in revision of laws

Football is a simple straightforward game and so its laws, which are easily understood by fans, have remained more or less unchanged for ages, only the interpretation of some, such as what constitutes a dangerous or illegal tackle, being revised. But rugby union is so complicated that a periodic review of 
its laws has been deemed necessary, and there will, it seems, be another revision of several of them after this year’s World Cup.

Glasgow scrum-half Ali Price played youth-grade cricket for Cambridgeshire. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Allan Massie: Sporting all-rounders a vanishing breed

Profoundly disappointing. That’s the indisputable Scottish verdict on the Heineken quarter-finals. Edinburgh opened the door an inch to Munster and so let slip a match they had the winning of. You had to conclude it wouldn’t have happened the other way round.

Sergio Parisse, the greatest Six Nations No 8, will be missed if he bows out. Picture: AFP/Getty.

Allan Massie: Grand Slam built on leadership, efficiency and luck

There have been a good many Welsh teams more exhilarating to watch than Warren Gatland’s Grand Slam winning side, but very few that might lay a claim to being as effective. Wales reminded us that there is more than one way to win a match. Their game was built on the leadership of Alun Wyn Jones, a hard-working and efficient front five, a voracious and skilful back-row, a pair of centres who offered rock-solid defence in midfield, a full-back who swallowed up opposition kicks and reliable goal-kicking. Then they had a try-scoring wing in Josh Adams and what every winner of a Grand Slam needs: a generous slice of luck, with regard to injuries and opposition 

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Scotland forwards 'Grant Gilchrist, left, and Ben Toolis in action against Italy. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: Who will win pack battle between Edinburgh and England?

Can the Edinburgh pack beat the England one, or at least achieve equality against it? These are the first questions about this afternoon’s Calcutta Cup – surprising ones certainly. Admittedly it’s the Edinburgh pack without Bill Mata, but Exeter’s Sam Skinner is no mean substitute for the brilliant Fijian. Still, it’s an interesting challenge for Richard Cockerill’s men, lent this weekend to Gregor Townsend. Not even in the great days of Hawick’s “Green Machine” did one club supply seven-eighths of a Scotland scrum.

Six Nations
Jim Renwick is mobbed by Scotland supporters after a 15-6 win over Wales at Murrayfield in the 1981 Five Nations Championship. Picture: TSPL

Allan Massie: Scots can revive memories of Renwick and Co with win over Wales

I thought we might beat France, but wasn’t surprised that we didn’t. Scotland have always found it difficult to win away from home. Jim Renwick was one of the greatest midfield backs we have ever had, but, first capped in 1972, he had to wait till that astonishing 1982 game in Cardiff to win a Five Nations match away from Murrayfield. Yet the teams he played in beat the great Welsh side of Gareth, Phil, Gerald and JPR in 1973 and ’75, while also recording resounding Calcutta Cup victories at Murrayfield.

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