湯姆-英格利希。阿根廷的失利暴露了蘇格蘭的軟肋

2個月前
湯姆-英格利希。阿根廷的失利暴露了蘇格蘭的軟肋

在經歷了40分鐘那種在2022年已經變得非常熟悉的惰性之後,蘇格蘭在胡胡伊攪動起來。在中場休息時,他們以18-6落後於普馬斯隊,但他們奮起直追,迅速打進兩球並將自己拉平。他們終於有了球和類似於進攻的凝聚力。進入最後一節,我們將看到格雷戈爾-湯森的球隊是由什麼組成的。巡迴賽的沉沒或游泳時間。

在阿根廷的80場比賽中,蘇格蘭打了大約15或20分鐘。這是一個反覆出現的主題。橄欖球可能複雜得讓人抓狂,但現在有一個基本原則,就像一個世紀前一樣簡單和直接。如果你的防守不到位,那麼你可以忘記它。如果你能輕鬆得分,那麼你就會給自己留下一座山要爬。有時你會爬上去,但更多時候你不會。

當然,他們沒有芬恩-拉塞爾、斯圖爾特-霍格、克里斯-哈里斯、哈米什-沃森和傑米-里奇。他們的缺席可能解釋了一些情況,但這裡有一個更大的衰退圖景。這五個人中有四個人在加的夫首發,這是自近三年前日本世界盃以來球隊最糟糕的表現。里奇是那個沒有上場的人。當時和現在,人們都能敏銳地感受到他的損失,不僅僅是他的好鬥,還有他的智慧和領導力。

蘇格蘭隊的隊伍中缺乏壞脾氣,里奇就是典型。在周六,每個人都太善良了。在阿根廷對陣阿根廷的比賽中,友善是不可取的。自2020年以來,蘇格蘭的每場大勝都有里奇的身影--主客場對陣英格蘭,主客場對陣法國,在拉內利客場對陣威爾士,在穆雷菲爾德主場對陣澳大利亞。2021年在愛丁堡輸給威爾士的比賽中他沒有上場,今年在加的夫輸給威爾士的可怕比賽中沒有上場,在都柏林毫無精神的失敗中沒有上場,在胡胡伊的絕望中也沒有上場。

當里奇不在的時候,蘇格蘭在討厭的方面掙扎。這不是他們今年狀態跌落懸崖的唯一原因,但這是其中的一部分。

  • 無 蘇格蘭在阿根廷的三場測試中輸掉了第一場

更多並不意味着更好

還記得蘇格蘭的防守是歐洲最好的時候嗎?還記得什麼時候很難擊垮他們嗎?那是2020年和2021年。防守教練史蒂夫-坦迪(Steve Tandy)在此基礎上登上了獅子隊的教練席。在2020年六國賽的五次測試中丟了五次球。不真實。2021年的六國賽中丟了10個球。仍然令人印象深刻。

幾乎從里奇在本賽季六國賽的首場比賽中屈服於腿筋受傷的那一刻起,也就是戰勝英格蘭的那場比賽,事情就發生了變化。他們在那場比賽中丟了一個試球。在對法國、意大利和愛爾蘭的三場沒有里奇的比賽中,他們又丟了13個,周六對普馬斯的比賽又丟了三個。

在四場比賽中丟了16個試球。這比他們在2020年的九場測試中的失球數還要多,比他們在2021年的九場測試中的失球數還要多。保持戰鬥力的老口號就這樣了。這支球隊有一個軟肋,它正在使蘇格蘭隊陷入困境。

很多人都在談論蘇格蘭的球員深度增加。更多的球員並不一定意味着更好的球員。他們在20歲以下的球員中幾乎一無所獲,這是一個荒蕪的空間,蘇格蘭橄欖球在這裡失敗得很慘。U20隊現在正處於12連敗的狀態。

在主要國家中,蘇格蘭在提供年輕的測試球員方面肯定是最差的。只有兩支職業球隊是一個主要障礙。這一點在短期內不會改變。

湯森現在處於一個令人羨慕的位置。在第一場測試中,他的布景有時會出現問題,在三場測試中,他幾乎沒有一個值得稱道的前線載體。測試賽的侵略性是缺乏的。殘酷性在哪裡?難道總是要由里奇來做嗎?

他們在2020年和2021年的兩個賽季都有這樣的表現,但現在已經沒有了。他們是在高海拔地區比賽,這是肯定的,但我們不要在這裡搞藉口。公平地說,事後發言的人中沒有人走這條路。

湯森選擇讓一些鋒線球員休息,如果他正在贏球,並有自由嘗試新的組合,這也不錯。他需要勝利。他需要回到一個地方,讓球隊必須付出比阿根廷隊更多的努力才能擊垮他的球隊。

2020年,蘇格蘭平均每場比賽丟了15分,2021年平均每場比賽丟了19分。在2022年,這個數字已經飆升至24.5。行進的方向讓人深感擔憂。隨着世界盃在明年9月開始,蘇格蘭已經選擇了一個糟糕的時間開始倒退。

湯森需要從金戈鐵馬那裡得到更多

這是一個集體性的下降。球員和教練。不可避免的是,有一些人比其他人更容易受到關注,布萊爾-金霍恩就是其中之一。不要忘了他的一幫前鋒遠遠沒有達到他們之前的水平,金霍恩是蘇格蘭球迷中一些憤怒評論的對象。

湯森正在尋找證據,證明他把他變成國際級10號球員的希望正在取得進展。完全可以理解教練為什麼要堅持這樣做--芬恩-拉塞爾本賽季表現不佳,他顯然不確定亞當-黑斯廷斯--無論如何,他有傷在身--而羅斯-湯普森仍然太過生疏。

他需要金霍恩通過,為拉塞爾提供真正的競爭。湯森對飛人比賽的遺忘比我們大多數人都要多,所以他一定看到了一些東西,告訴他金霍恩可以做到。

在聯合橄欖球錦標賽中,有證據表明他在10號位上的能力,但大多數情況下都是在對陣較弱的球隊。偶爾,他在對陣一些較大的球隊時也有閃光點,但聯合橄欖球錦標賽的比賽和正式的測試橄欖球之間有天壤之別。它是同一項運動,但也僅此而已。

金霍恩在周六做了一些聰明的事情,但他沒有控制力,他的失誤數高得令人氣憤。雖然湯森在這方面是全心全意的。他迫切需要在未來兩周內得到一些回報。

不僅僅是金霍恩--這個問題遠遠大於10號位的人--而是他們所有人。他們的退步已經很明顯了。湯森、坦迪和其他人有兩周時間來扭轉局面。他們更好地忙碌起來。


After 40 minutes of the kind of inertia that has become painfully familiar in 2022, Scotland stirred in Jujuy. Trailing the Pumas 18-6 at the break, they rallied, scored two rapid tries and drew themselves level. They finally had ball and something resembling attacking cohesion. Entering the last quarter, we would see what Gregor Townsend's team were made of. Sink or swim time on tour.

Scotland played for about 15 or 20 minutes of the 80 in Argentina. A bit of a recurring theme that. Rugby can be maddeningly complex, but there's a basic that's as simple and as straightforward now as it was a century ago. If your defence isn't up to it then you can forget about it. If you ship easy scores then you're leaving yourself a mountain to climb. Sometimes you'll climb it, more often than not you won't.

Of course they were without Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris, Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie. Their absence might explain some of what went on, but there's a bigger picture of decline here. Four of that five started in Cardiff, the worst performance the team has put in since the World Cup in Japan almost three years ago. Ritchie was the one who didn't play. Then and now, his loss is felt acutely, not just in his belligerence but in his intelligence and leadership.

Scotland lack badness in their pack and Ritchie typifies that. On Saturday, everybody was too nice. Nice ain't cutting it against Argentina in Argentina. Every big Scotland victory since 2020 has had Ritchie at the heart of it - home and away against England, home and away against France, away to Wales in Llanelli, home to Australia at Murrayfield. He didn't play in the loss to Wales in Edinburgh in 2021, didn't play in the awful loss to Wales in Cardiff this year, didn't play in the spiritless defeat in Dublin, or in the despond of Jujuy.

When Ritchie's not around, Scotland struggle on the nasty front. It's not the only reason their form has fallen off a cliff this year, but it's a part of it. • None Scotland lose first of three Tests in Argentina

More doesn't mean better

Remember when Scotland's defence was the best in Europe? Remember when it was difficult to break them down? That was 2020 and 2021. Steve Tandy, the defence coach, got on the Lions coaching ticket on the back of it. Five tries conceded in five Tests in the 2020 Six Nations. Unreal. Ten tries conceded in the 2021 Six Nations. Still impressive.

Almost from the moment Ritchie succumbed to a hamstring injury during the opening game of the Six Nations this season, the win over England, things changed. They conceded one try in that match. They conceded 13 more in three Ritchie-less games against France, Italy and Ireland and another three against the Pumas on Saturday.

Sixteen tries given up in four games. That's more than they conceded in nine Tests in 2020 and more than they conceded in nine Tests in 2021. So much for the old mantra of staying in the fight. There's a soft underbelly in this team and it's sending Scotland spinning into reverse.

There's been much talk about Scotland's increased player depth. More players doesn't necessarily mean better players. They're getting pretty much nothing from their under-20s, a barren space where Scottish Rugby is failing dismally. The U20s are now on a run of 12 straight defeats.

Of the major nations, Scotland must be the worst at delivering young Test players. Only two professional teams is a major barrier. That's not changing any time soon.

Townsend is now in an unenviable position. His set-piece was in trouble at times in the first Test, of three, and he barely had a single carrier worthy of the name up front. Test match aggression is lacking. Where's the brutality? Does it always have to be down to Ritchie?

They had it for two seasons in 2020 and 2021, but it's gone now. They were playing at altitude, for sure, but let's not engage in excuse making here. To be fair, none of those who spoke afterwards went down that road.

Townsend has chosen to rest some frontliners, which would be fine if he was on a run of wins and had freedom to experiment with new combinations. He needs victories. He needs to get back to a place where teams have to work a whole lot harder to break down his side than Argentina had to work.

Scotland conceded an average of 15 points per game in 2020, an average of 19 points per game in 2021. In 2022, that number has rocketed 24.5. The direction of travel is deeply worrying. With the World Cup starting next September, Scotland have picked a bad time to start going backwards.

Townsend needs more from Kinghorn

This is a collective drop-off. Players and coaches. Inevitably, there are certain individuals who draw the heat more than others and Blair Kinghorn is one of those. Never mind that his pack of forwards are nowhere near their level of before, Kinghorn is the subject of some angry commentary among Scotland fans.

Townsend is looking for evidence that his hope of turning him into an international class 10 is progressing. It's wholly understandable why the coach wants to persist with this - Finn Russell has had a poor season, he's clearly not sure about Adam Hastings - who, in any event, is injured - and Ross Thompson is still too raw.

He needs Kinghorn to come through and provide genuine competition for Russell. Townsend has forgotten more about fly-half play than most of the rest of us will ever know, so he must be seeing something that tells him Kinghorn can make it.

There's been evidence of his ability at 10 in the United Rugby Championship, but it's been against the lesser lights for the most part. Occasionally, he's sparkled against some bigger teams, but there's a world of difference between URC matches and proper Test rugby. It's the same sport, but only just.

Kinghorn did some clever things on Saturday, but he had no control and his error count was infuriatingly high. Townsend is all-in on this though. He desperately needs some payback in the fortnight ahead.

Not just from Kinghorn - this problem is far, far greater than the man at 10 - but from all of them. Their regression has been stark. Townsend, Tandy and the rest have two weeks to turn this around. They'd better get busy.

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