"Hiding" - Finn Russell behaviour against Italy slammed, labelled a 'bottler' - Ruck

“Hiding” – Finn Russell behaviour against Italy slammed, labelled a ‘bottler’

n a stunning upset that left Scotland fans reeling, their hopes of seizing the 2024 Six Nations title were dashed in a heart-wrenching 31-29 defeat against Italy in Rome.

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Paolo Garbisi’s early kick catapulted the hosts into a commanding lead, only for Scotland to mount a spirited response with tries from Zander Fagerson and Kyle Steyn. Yet, the pendulum swung swiftly as Ignacio Brex notched a try for Italy within the opening quarter-hour.

Despite Pierre Schoeman’s valiant effort to keep Scotland in the game before halftime, Italy’s Louis Lynagh and Stephen Varney extended their lead with crucial tries. Even though Garbisi faltered with a missed conversion, his subsequent penalty sealed Scotland’s fate, despite a late surge led by Sam Skinner.

The aftermath was fraught with criticism, with Scotland’s star player, Finn Russell, bearing the brunt of the fans’ ire. Disappointed supporters took to social media to vent their frustrations, lambasting Russell for what they perceived as his absence in crucial moments.

“One fan lamented, ‘Finn Russell has gone into hiding when his country needs him most,’ echoing the sentiment of many who questioned his performance in the decisive stages of the match. Another remarked on Russell’s apparent disappearance in the second half, highlighting a perceived pattern in high-stakes encounters.

A third commented, ‘I have said it before but in big games or at key moments in Scotland matches, Finn Russell goes missing. He’s brilliant with the wind at his back and his pack on the front foot but when he doesn’t have it, he hides. He’s been anonymous in the second half.’

Another said, ‘Russell’s body language as a captain is actually horrendous,’

The disappointment was palpable as fans expressed disillusionment with Russell’s performance, with some even questioning his status as a top-tier player. Despite the accolades heaped upon him in the past, Russell found himself under intense scrutiny, with critics branding him as overrated and lacking the mettle to excel in pivotal moments.

As Scotland grapples with the aftermath of their devastating loss, the spotlight remains firmly fixed on Finn Russell, whose performance has become emblematic of the team’s collective disappointment. Whether he can bounce back from this setback and reclaim his status as a talismanic figure for Scotland remains to be seen.

“All Blacks-bound” – Five England players set to swap nations after falling out of favour 

World Rugby’s latest eligibility rules have opened up the door for several prominent England players to potentially switch allegiances to different countries. 

Under these new regulations, players can become eligible to represent another nation if they refrain from Test rugby for three years and have a birth connection to the desired country or through a parent or grandparent.

While the decision to switch national teams remains speculative, there are five players who could be considering such a move. Additionally, there are other notable names, such as Sam Underhill and Manu Tuilagi, who could also potentially swap nations. Underhill could opt for the USA, while Tuilagi may consider representing Samoa, given their respective birthplaces.

Furthermore, the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, might contemplate switching to Tonga, the birthplace of their father, under these new eligibility laws.

#1. Ollie Hassell-Collins (Wales)

The Leicester Tigers winger, who was given his debut by Borthwick in 2023, has expressed his willingness to potentially represent Wales in 2026.

Despite earning two caps for England during last year’s Six Nations, the 25-year-old hasn’t been included in Steve Borthwick’s squad since then. Notably, he was absent from England A’s recent triumph over Portugal.

Ahead of this year’s Six Nations, Gatland had mentioned Hassell-Collins several times, especially during the discussion surrounding another dual-qualified winger, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

“I have seen Gatland’s interview,” Hassell-Collins told the Telegraph.

“I’ve got two caps for England, and obviously I’m English. But if I don’t see anything in the next few years then it’s definitely something that I would consider.

“I would qualify [for Wales] the year of the World Cup – that is, if he still wants me. Wales is still part of who I am.

“My grandma was Welsh and I still have family over there. It’s still a part of me – and I’d never turn it down – but for now it’s England for me.”