Jonny Gray set to make 50th cap for Scotland

Jonny Gray

Gray excited for Wales clash (Credit: David Ronney)

Glasgow Warriors lock, Jonny Gray will start against Wales on Saturday and will join an illustrious club of players who have racked up a half century of caps for Scotland rugby team.

The 24-year-old made his first full debut for the national side back in November 2013 and since then has impressed spectators with a number of solid performances. He is quickly catching up with older brother, Richie Gray, who has 62 national caps and one for the British and Irish Lions.

So far this tournament Jonny Gray has played 134 minutes making 15 carries and 37 tackles as part of the first line of defence against Ireland and France.

Jonny Gray is proud of his achievments but was quick to emphasise the weekends match will be a team effort. Wales are currently the only unbeaten team in this years Six Nations tournamnet.

“It’s not about me. This week is huge, last week was very tough to take.

“To be here is such a special feeling. It’s something I never thought that I would do when I was younger. To be here I’m very lucky.”

Even though Scotland can no longer challenge for the championship title, Gray insisted that playing for the country was an honour.

“When you are playing for Scotland there is always something to play for.”

 

Scotland welcome Grand Slam chasers Wales to the capital – The Six Nations Preview Show

Greig Laidlaw

Scotland captain, Greig Laidlaw is dropped to the bench for home match against Wales. (Credit: David Ronney)

Following back to back defeats in this Six Nations Championship, Scotland prepare for their last home match of the tournament against Grand Slam chasers, Wales.

With Scotland at terms with themselves out of the running to win the competition, they’ll be looking to upset the Welsh party with a win against the visitors.

David Ronney is joined by Bryce Donaldson and Fraser Munro for The Six Nations Preview Show.

Watch it below:

Scotland aiming for first Six Nations win

Rugby Ball

Scotland are yet to win a match this Six Nations. (Credit: David Ronney)

Scotland will look to pick up their first win of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations when they host Wales at Scotstoun tonight.

Shade Munro’s side have lost three out of three so far this campaign, but the match against Wales presents a realistic chance for the Scots to pick up a much-needed victory.

Tonight’s visitors sit one place above Scotland, having drawn once and lost twice in their three games so far. Rowland Phillips’s Welsh side held high-flying Italy last time out, and they’ll be looking to continue that momentum into the game in Glasgow.

Ahead of tonight’s game, Scotland have made four changes from the 41-10 defeat to France. The most notable change being Mhiari Grieve being brought in at scrum-half following Sarah Law’s injury.

As for Wales, Lleucu George gets the nod at centre. Lauren Smyth has also been drafted in, and joins George in the backline.

Kick-off tonight is at 7.35pm.

 

Wilson: Scotland can bounce back against Welsh

Matt Taylor

Danny Wilson is confident Scotland can put on a good performance in front of a home support (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby Assistant Coach, Danny Wilson, believes his side can return to Edinburgh with a win against Wales after a disappointing 27-10 defeat in Paris.

The Scots will face off against a grand-slam hopeful Wales on Saturday at BT Murrayfield.

A number of key players have returned to the squad in the past week and many in the Scotland camp are quietly confident they can cause an upset and delay celebrations in Cardiff.

Wilson said: “We know we didn’t do ourselves justice in France but we need to bounce back this weekend.

“We had a blip in performance, and we have to make sure that we raise our performance to a level where we can put Wales under huge pressure.

“There is no better opposition to bounce back against. The motivation levels should be through the roof to play a side that is coming [to BT Murrayfield] and looking for a grand slam.”

Scotland will undoubtedly start the match as underdogs but Wilson doesn’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

He added: “From my experience, when Scotland have been underdogs they have been pretty dangerous and have produced some outstanding performances against some of the best opposition out there. That’s what this weekend is about.

Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw

Finn Russell comes back into the Scotland lineup while Greig Laidlaw has been dropped to the bench (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is an extremely passionate group of players. As a collective, coaches and players, we weren’t happy with our performances at the weekend against France and we have come back very keen to make sure we put that right this weekend. That starts first and foremost with a performance full of identity and passion.”

Scotland currently sit fifth in the table, above only a pointless Italy.

Should Wales be triumphant at the weekend they will still be on course for their first Grand Slam since 2012, whilst a Scottish victory (and a favour from Ireland) could see them leapfrog last weeks opponents. To do that, Wilson knows the importance of home form.

He said: “The pressure of playing in front of a home crowd is an important one, a driving one and we will want to put in a performance that will make that home crowd proud.”

If Scotland are able to live up to what they claim they are capable of it will restore confidence in the squad after back-to-back defeats.

Though Scotland are out of the running for the championship there is still a chance for silverware. Their reward, regardless of result, is sure to be a contentious final game at Twickenham against England to defend their title as the current holders of the Calcutta Cup.

Townsend drops Captain Laidlaw as Russell returns to Scotland lineup against Wales

Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend has made the surprise change by bringing in Ali Price over Greig Laidlaw (Credit: David Ronney)

Scotland Rugby Head Coach, Gregor Townsend has left out nation captain, Greig Laidlaw in his first XV as part of four changes ahead of their match against Wales this weekend.

Ali Price is preferred over Laidlaw at scrum-half as Finn Russell, Willem Nel and Darcy Graham all come into the starting line-up.

Scotland host Wales at BT Murrayfield on Saturday as they look to stop the visitors hopes of a Grand Slam this Six Nations Championship.

With Scotland unable to win the tournament this year, Townsend explained why he made the changes to the side that lost to France two weeks ago.

He said: “We looked at every position. We also reflected on the fact that we are out of the championship now, so if there is someone out there that has really earned his opportunity.

Grieg Laidlaw

Greig Laidlaw has started the last six tests for Scotland (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is a good time to see if it helps the team.”

Russell is a welcome return to the squad after missing the match against France due to a concussion. His creative flair was greatly missed and despite his absence the play-maker still leads in the tournament for most try assists. His total currently sits at three and he will be looking to add to this account in front of a home support.

Price is set to earn his 23rd cap in Scottish colours and Townsend praised the Glasgow Warriors player.

He added: “Ali [Price] is one of the best in the game at moving the ball away quickly, through his own speed but also through his accuracy of pass.

“He has started this season in really good form.”

Gregor Townsend

Scotland have conceded 69 points in three matches this Six Nations (Credit: David Ronney)

Despite criticism Laidlaw has received for his inability to get the ball away quick enough from the break-down, Townsend still sees him playing a pivotal part from the sideline.

He said: “Greig [Laidlaw] is the only player who has started our last six tests so he is a key part of our squad. He is obviously going to play a different role this week from the bench but we see him playing an important part of the game on Saturday.”

Nel returns for his first appearance since coming off injured in the first week of the tournament. He will be a welcome addition to the forward pack which has struggled in the scrum, despite having the heaviest squad in the competition.

The prop only played 49 minutes against Italy but made six tackles and will work to stop a leaky defence that has conceded 69 points in three matches.

Graham makes his first start for Scotland after previously making two appearances as a substitute. He comes in place of the injured Sean Maitland and will join Edinburgh team-mate Blair Kinghorn at the back. The young winger turned full-back has impressed this year scoring three tries and leading the tournament in most carries, metres gained and clean breaks.

Tommy Seymour completes the back three and joins Jonny Gray to earn a half century of caps for his country.

Therefore the squad looks as follows:

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 19.38.59

The squad facing Wales (Credit: David Ronney )

To read more articles about Scottish rugby, click here.

Edinburgh’s Mata pens one-year-contract extension ahead of Pro14 clash

 

Edinburgh Rugby’s star flanker, Viliame Mata, has committed himself to the Scottish side until 2021 after signing a one-year contract extension.

The Fijian, known around BT Murrayfield as ‘Big Bill’, signed for Edinburgh in 2016 and has played a huge part in the transformation of Edinburgh Rugby into a top, competitive side.

Before coming to Edinburgh, Mata was an international sevens player for Fiji and won a Gold medal at the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.

Head Coach Richard Cockerill was full of praise for his influential play-maker. He said: “We’ve got to keep our best players.

 

“Bill is very happy here. he came [to us] as a world-class sevens player and with the environment that he’s in, he’s now a world-class 15’s player.

“We are delighted to have him for the next two and a half years.”

Edinburgh travel to Italy this weekend to face off against Benetton for a crucial Pro14 tie. Mata could prove pivotal to the side’s success on Saturday.

Speaking about his decision to stay in the Scottish capital, Mata said: “Edinburgh is growing into a great team right now. I am excited to be part of it for the next two seasons.”

“My family is settling well and we are loving the environment around Edinburgh.

“It is a beautiful city, but [perhaps] not the weather.”

Cockerill: Tough match against Benetton a must win

 

Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Richard Cockerill has labelled Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 match against Benetton as a must win.

Cockerill’s squad travel to Italy where they face second placed Benetton in Conference B with Edinburgh hot on their heels, four points behind in fourth.

A win at the weekend for the Scottish side would bring them one step closer to the Pro14 play-offs.

Cockerill spoke about how important a positive result would be over the weekend. He said: “It’s huge for us in the context of the conference. We have had a couple of defeats in the last three games.

“It’s going to be a very tough day but we need to go there and win. The reality is we need to win and we can’t hide away from that.”

The last time the two sides met was in September last year where Edinburgh scraped a narrow 31-30 victory. Benetton are currently the third best form team in the tournament behind only Leinster and Munster.

However, Cockerill believes that there is the opportunity for another high-scoring game. He added: “They are a good side but teams create opportunities against them.”

Centre Mark Bennett, knows that the days of disregarding Italian opposition are long in the past. He said: “We can’t take them for granted. They are a top, top side.

“We need to go into this one rearing to go. We all know how big a game this is for the club.”

Edinburgh are coming off the back of a disappointing 17-19 home loss against Cardiff Blues. This was the first defeat at BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh since April 2018 but Bennett insists that team morale is still high.

He added: “We have won eight out of our last 10 games. We’re in great form.

“We’re full of confidence. We have a great team and we have to just go for it.”

Gregor Townsend announces Scotland squad for Six Nations – Podcast

Following the release of Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad for the Six Nations in February, Bryce Donaldson and Fraser Munro discussed the players included and their thoughts ahead the competition.

six nations

Two Scottish sides in Champions Cup knockout would be ‘impressive’ says Cockerill

Richard Cockerill

Richard Cockerill wouldn’t mind assisting ‘our little brother’ Glasgow Warriors’ qualification. (Photo credit: Fraser Munro)

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill claimed it would be a win for Scottish rugby to have two sides from Scotland in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.

The side from the capital take on Montpellier tonight at Murrayfield in a deciding match to see who will finish top of Pool 5.

If Cockerill’s side beat Montpellier then it would ensure Glasgow Warriors’ qualification for the last eight as one of three best group runners up.

The Edinburgh coach felt having both sides in the knockout phase would be an important step for Scottish rugby.

Cockerill said: “It’s important for Scottish rugby. We’re a small nation and we’ve got a small playing pool. For us to be even contemplating getting two sides, a quarter of the European knockouts to be Scottish is pretty impressive.”

Cockerill added that the main focus was still on ensuring victory over Montpellier and subsequently a home fixture for the quarter finals.

He said: “We’re only interested in Edinburgh but the by-product is getting Glasgow [Warriors] through. It’s about time that we start doing them some favours, our little brother down at the end of the motorway. We’ll try get them qualified.”

Edinburgh have won their last six matches and remain undefeated at home. They’re coming off the back of a historic away victory against Toulon, the first ever Scottish side to win at the Stade Mayol.

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh host Montpellier at Murrayfield tonight. Kick off is at 7:45pm. (Photo Credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

However, focus now turns to another French side, Montpellier. Vern Cotter’s side beat Edinburgh 21-15 back in October 2018 and Cockerill said he’s expecting another close encounter this time round.

He said: “I’m sure Vern will have a well motivated team that will be well coached. They’ve got some exceptionally good players. I don’t expect them to be taking us lightly.

“We’re not playing teams anymore that rest their best players when they play Edinburgh, they’re picking their best players because they have to to get past us. I have every confidence that if we play as well as we can we’ll beat them.”

It all gets underway at Murrayfield with a 7:45pm kick off.

Edinburgh prepare for final Champions Cup group match against Montpellier

Edinburgh Rugby have named an unchanged side from last week’s win over Toulon for their final match tonight in Pool 5 at Murrayfield against Montpellier.

Richard Cockerill’s side will kick off three points ahead of their French opposition as they aim to land a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup should they be victorious by the final whistle.

A win for the side from the capital would also secure a place for Glasgow Warriors as one of the three best runners up in the group stage.

Edinburgh fullback, Blair Kinghorn was one of the try scorers in the historic win over Toulon last weekend. He believes the performances the club are producing this season are gaining the respect from clubs across Europe. He said: “We knew it would be tough, with a couple of really big teams in there and some especially tough away games.

Blair Kinghorn

Blair Kinghorn anticipates a tough match against Montpellier. (Photo credit: Fraser Munro)

“We’re really happy with the way we’re going and now it’s a case of keeping focussed on the job in hand.

“We feel like we’re earning respect in a wider pool not just in our own league so hopefully teams will want to come to Murrayfield because our home record is outstanding this year and we will do everything to keep that going on Friday.

“Everyone’s obviously really happy, but we’ve still got a job to do on Friday. Every single one of us is enjoying the rugby, we’re happy to be winning and most importantly to be playing well.”

“It was a fantastic result against Toulon and hopefully the fans come out in their numbers again on Friday night to get us across the line.”

Edinburgh opened their first Champions Cup campaign for five seasons with a 21-15 defeat away at Montpellier, who currently sit in ninth place in the French Top 14.

However, Vern Cotter’s side will know how dangerous Edinburgh can be at home. With Cockerill’s side yet to taste defeat at Murrayfield this season.

In spite of this, Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman insists that his side will go into this match with the odds against them. He said: “I would say that we are still underdogs for sure, if you look at the players and the experience that they have as a squad.

“It’s a team full of players who have worked very hard to get there and to play for a club like that is a fantastic achievement. The stats speak for themselves, a very successful club globally.

“We have home advantage, but Montpellier are an international team and for them travelling is like brushing your teeth so it’s not going to affect them at all. Murrayfield is a very special place and will be a boost of energy to us.

“This is a home test against one of Europe’s very best so the pressure is definitely on.”

Edinburgh could still qualify for the last eight of the Champions Cup but with a home tie in the quarter finals agonizingly close, Cockerill’s men can’t afford to slip up at the final hurdle.

It all gets underway at Murrayfield from 7:45pm.

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