Tom English

BBC Scotland's chief sports writer

Analysis and opinion from BBC Scotland's chief sports writer

About Tom

Tom is BBC Scotland's chief sports writer. He is a... Read more about Tom English six-time winner of the Scottish feature writer of the year award and has twice won Rugby Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards. His columns and radio documentaries have been short-listed for media prizes in Scotland and the UK.

He has been a sports journalist for 25 years, the highlight being an afternoon spent with former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. He joined BBC Scotland in 2014 and writes and broadcasts on many different sports.

Gregor Townsend

'Townsend needs tries against Italy'

Read full article on Six Nations: Gregor Townsend needs Scotland tries against Italy

For a team that can't score a try comes a Test against a side that can't stop conceding them.

On Saturday, Scotland play Italy in Rome in round three of the Six Nations. It's fair to say that the title-defining stuff will happen elsewhere that day, but this is a major game nonetheless, not in terms of the destination of the championship but in the stability of Gregor Townsend in his role as coach.

Scotland have picked up two losing bonus points in the Six Nations

'Scots toughen up but lose way in attack'

Read full article on Six Nations: 'Scotland add belligerence but are burdened by wastefulness'

The good news is that in this Six Nations championship high on Scottish try-scoring opportunities but devoid of actual Scottish tries they now go to a place where they have a recent track record of crossing the white line - Rome.

The bad news came on Sunday in a double dose when Finn Russell dynamited the hope of a return to Test rugby any time soon, and angered team-mates into the bargain, then later, when Italy followed up a wretched loss to Wales with a spirited performance in Paris.

Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell

'After Storm Ciara came Hurricane Finn'

Read full article on Six Nations: Scotland & Gregor Townsend hit by Hurricane Finn after Storm Ciara

If Gregor Townsend thought Storm Ciara wreaked havoc at Murrayfield on Saturday, she was as nothing compared to the scattered debris of Hurricane Finn on Sunday.

Speaking in his first interview since BBC Scotland broke the story of his dramatic exit from Townsend's squad, Finn Russell has gone on the attack in a major way, questioning the environment created by Townsend, criticising his coaching methods and revealing that he can't operate in the Scotland set-up unless there are major changes.

Hamish Watson

'Scots need fire & ice like boxing champ Taylor'

Read full article on Six Nations 2020: 'Scotland need fire & ice like boxing champion Taylor'

Thank goodness that the talking is about to stop and the action is about to begin.

The pre-match trash about "war" and "hate" was always somewhat lacking in believability and entertainment value coming from the mouths of a softly-spoken Scot with one Calcutta Cup to his name and a fine young Englishman who's never played in this fixture before. Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali, it was not.

Scotland lost out 19-12 in Dublin

'Scotland produce same broken feeling'

Read full article on Six Nations 2020: 'Positives for Scotland but Ireland loss produces same broken feeling'

At the end, Scott Cummings ripped off his scrum cap with such force that you had to double check that his head hadn't come off with it, then fired the thing to the ground in a fit of frustration that told you everything about the previous 80 minutes at the Aviva.

The sight of the second-row looking up to the sky with a pained expression encapsulated the story of Scotland's day.

Gregor Townsend

'Scotland must find dark side to see light'

Read full article on Six Nations: 'Scotland must find dark side before they can see light'

For Scotland to get a win in Dublin on Saturday, there's a list of things they must get right, a list so long that you could paper the route from Stephen's Green to Lansdowne Road with it.

First, they need to turn up, something they singularly failed to do in Yokohama when the sides last met for a game that was all but over after 26 minutes. Next, they had to get their best team on the field, a hurdle that has already been clattered rather than cleared with Finn Russell's abdication and injuries to Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury.

Scotland squad

Who should Scotland pick against Ireland?

Read full article on Six Nations: Pack puzzles & who is lucky 13? Who should start for Scotland?

When Scotland got dumped from the World Cup by Japan, everybody knew that change was coming in its wake. We just had no idea of how much change.

Three players have retired - Greig Laidlaw, John Barclay and Tommy Seymour - and one has been suspended - Finn Russell. Injury has robbed Scotland of Darcy Graham for the opening game against Ireland on Saturday.

Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell

'Mediator needed in Russell-Townsend saga'

Read full article on 'Mediator needed in Russell-Townsend dispute before it's too late'

When the dam burst and Finn Russell departed the scene earlier in the week this was the brief, but knowing, response from one Scotland player: "No surprise."

The comment spoke to a situation that some say has been developing for a while now, not just something that happened in the bar of the team hotel on Sunday night or, for that matter, in the Twickenham dressing-room at half-time in the Calcutta Cup in March.

Mark Dodson

'Dodson has the money but won't escape the flak'

Read full article on 'SRU chief Mark Dodson has the money will never escape the flak that goes with it'

It's hard to know what caused the biggest tremor in Scotland this week - the winds of Storm Brendan whipping around the country or the thud of Mark Dodson's wallet landing on his desk at Murrayfield.

Already on a hefty annual salary of £455,000 a year for running Scottish rugby - more than three times the wage Nicola Sturgeon gets for running Scotland - there was the revelation that the chief executive at Murrayfield pocketed an extra £478,000 in bonuses, accrued over three years and paid in one lump sum in 2019, bringing his grand total earnings to £933,000, a wad of cash so thick it would choke an elephant.

Scotland failed to progress from the group phase at the World Cup

'Scotland are a team that needs to get brutal'

Read full article on Six Nations 2020: 'Scotland are a team that needs to get brutal'

It's not hard to imagine Gregor Townsend spending the months since a dismal World Cup roaming the highways and byways of world rugby in search of a Scottish qualified beast or two to up the nasty quotient in his Six Nations pack.

If, in the deepest corners of Afrikanerland, he managed to locate a loosehead bruiser with a reputation for cruelty and a granny from Kirkintilloch then he's kept it quiet so far. We live in hope that Hamish van den Berg, the hitman of Potchefstroom, will be unveiled as a Scotland player any time now alongside his freaky 8ft ball-carrying cousin, Murdo 'I run through walls' du Plessis, but we shouldn't hold our breath.