What is Scottish DNA? Are the current Scottish team playing to their DNA? We ask these questions and more.
Before we look at the Scottish DNA, a huge shout out must go out to Paul Futers for taking the time to answer our questions and give an insight from a Scottish fan. Thanks for this Paul.
1. Game Plan/style. What is the traditional style of play for the Test team?
Aggressive, tireless back row play supported by a solid pack. A good 9/10 combination is essential, feeding a back division with at least 1 elusive runner and a world class 15. Never the biggest fastest or most skilful team, Scotland perform best when they play ‘Collective Rugby‘, always looking to put teammates into space or running good support lines. Common attack ploys are the kick through and chase and the break out from defence. Scotland also makes good use of mauls and lineout moves.
During the Amateur Era Scotland often won games by tiring out opposition forwards and making use of their pack’s superior stamina. This part of Scotland’s game plan has been negated by the introduction of replacements into the game. An excellent Fullback often provides Scotland with a means to counterattack or clear their line.
2. Who were the great players in the past, up until those just retired?
- Tight 5: Gordon Brown, Peter Brown, Iain McLaughlan, David Sole, Doddie Weir, Jim Aitken, Damian Cronin. (7)
- Back Row: Nairn MacEwan, David Leslie, John Beattie, Iain Paxton, Derek White, Finlay Calder, John Jeffrey, Derek Turnbull, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie. (10)
- 1/2 Backs: Ian McGeechan, Ian Robertson, John Rutherford, Roy Laidlaw, Craig Chalmers, Grieg Laidlaw. (6)
- Backs: Jim Renwick, Scott Hastings, Tony Stanger, Gregor Townsend, Sean Lamont (5)
- Full Backs: Andy Irvine, Gavin Hastings, Rory Lamont. (3)
3. Is there any pattern in those players? Their positions. For example, do certain countries produce talented players in certain positions?
Back Row, Halfbacks and Fullback.
4. Is that country now playing a modern version of their traditional game?
Scotland are playing to a modified DNA. Increased fitness throughout the team has replaced superior stamina in the forwards. Ferocious defence and increased tempo of the game are used to tire opponents. Good back row and excellent halfbacks feeding a fast, elusive back division full of skilled players. Everyone playing to put others into space with excellent support runners. Good use of mauls and lineout moves.
5. Are key players in those old positions strong today?
Current best players: Johnny Grey, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Huw Jones, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg.
Those players in bold are those I think are/were world class which is very subjective so I looked at a wider selection of top players for my patterns. It was on the second attempt at this that I realised that part of Scotland’s DNA used to be better stamina than many other teams they faced. I use the term fitness to mean speed, strength and agility and stamina to mean the ability to keep going without a drop in performance.
I believe that the introduction of multiple replacements negated Scotland’s stamina and the current success they are having is because Gregor Townsend’s preferred method of play is bringing this back into play by not allowing oppositions to catch their breath. While researching this I also noticed that something you recently described as a feature of the best modern locks has been present in Scotland teams since the 1950s. Many Scotland players listed as locks also played in the back row and many back row players also played as locks for Scotland.
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Author: The 1014 Rugby
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