Six Nations: Full previews as Scotland men’s, women’s and under-20’s teams prepare for France test

 

Scotland Men vs. France

Sunday March 8, Murrayfield, 7:45 PM 

Weir returns to Scotland fold against tournament favourites

Wigan Warriors fly-half Duncan Weir could make his first Scotland start under Gregor Townsend as he is named on the bench for the squad to face France at Murrayfield.

He made the last of his 27 caps in 2017 before his former Glasgow Warriors boss Townsend omitted him from the fold after becoming Scotland head coach.

“When I reflect on the England game, to have someone like Duncan on the bench would have helped,” Townsend admitted.

In one of three changes to the side, Nick Haining takes the spot of Magnus Bradbury at number eight, while Fraser Brown will make his 50th cap by replacing Stuart McInally.

The visiting team have been tipped by many to emerge as the competition’s winners, having won all three of their matches so far.

Scotland’s form contrasts greatly, having picked up just the sole victory in the Stadio Olympico last week with a 17-0 win.

“We’re going to have to deliver our best rugby of the championship in order to beat a team in such good form,” Townsend said.

“It’s a very different French team to the one we played in Paris 12 months ago, that’s for sure.

“France’s victories have been built on an aggressive and well-organised defence, so the precision, decision-making and attacking game will have to be very good to get in behind them this weekend.

“It’s no different to the challenges we face every week in this championship.”

The game has survived any threats of cancellation due to the coronavirus, while the Italy vs Ireland match due for the day before was deemed unsafe to go ahead.

 

Scotland Women vs. France

Saturday March 7, Scotstoun, 7:45 PM

Scotland unchanged despite two opening losses

Head coach Phillip Doyle has named an unchanged side as Scotland look to bounce from opening defeats in the Women’s Six Nations.

Scotland have not played in over three weeks after their round 3 match against Italy in Rome was postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus in the country.

But Doyle has picked the same XV that would have started against Italy, with hooker Lana Skeldon set to win her 40th cap.

Scotland opened their Women’s Six Nations campaign with defeats to Ireland and England, while France are second in the table after thrashing Wales 50-0 in their last outing.

Speaking ahead of the game, Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm said the team’s rhythm had not been disrupted by the postponed Italy fixture and insisted they were ready to go.

“We’ve had a bit longer rest than we would have had, so I think we’ve got a fresh squad who are chomping at the bit to get going this week, which is a positive,” Malcolm said.

“We haven’t had that exposure to a Test match so we’ve upped the intensity in terms of contact in camp this week, which we wouldn’t always do in the build-up to a match, but the girls are firing on all cylinders and just ready to go again. So I think the break has actually done us good.”

Scotland Under-20’s vs. France

Friday 6th March, Netherdale, 8:00 PM

Frostwick the sole change as Scotland look to edge ahead of France

Scotland and France sit level on points ahead of their penultimate Six Nations match in Galashiels tonight, with one win apiece.

The young Scots are looking to build on their first victory of this year’s tournament following their 30-29 victory over Italy in Round 3 last week., after losing the opening two.

Only one change has been made to that victorious side, as Roan Frostwick replaces Kyle McGhie at scrum-half.

He has impressed for Watsonians this year in the inaugural Super6 tournament and credits time spent with Edinburgh Rugby and playing in the new competition for his step up in standard.

“I was lucky enough to be invited to pre-season with Edinburgh which kicked on really well,” he said. “I’ve trained pretty much the whole time with Edinburgh this season, and being at Watsonians has helped massively.

“There’s definitely a step up from the Premiership to Super6 and then from Super6 to this [international]. Credit to Scottish Rugby for trying to make that transition for younger players into a more professional environment. It has really worked.”

Scotland are yet to beat France at under-20 level, and Frostwick believes that attacking is the only way to pick up that elusive win.

“We had a good go at them last year – I think it’s on the cards [a first win],” he predicted.

“We are a good side, France are a good side, you can’t take that away from them.

“Against England we started well but we couldn’t hold it, and we ideally should’ve won, but if we come out the gates firing, France will be shocked and we just carry on the momentum.”

Scotland coach Townsend names six uncapped players in Six Nations squad

Scotland international head coach Gregor Townsend named his wider training squad for the Guinness Six Nations on Wednesday and among the bulk of Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh players, Townsend named six uncapped players to his side.

(Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

Head coach Gregor Townsend named a 38-man training squad on Wednesday as preparations begin for Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations campaign.

A large majority 29 players are provided by Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh – Scotland’s only two professional clubs who compete in the Pro14 competition – with an additional eight currently playing domestically in the English Premiership and a further one in the French Top 14.

The squad announcement also marked the naming of a new Scottish captain, following the retirement of Greig Laidlaw from international duty last month. Townsend elected to appoint Exeter Chief’s Stuart Hogg to the position.

“He really cares about playing for his country, what the jersey represents and also getting the best out of his teammates,” the head coach explained. “He’s a really intelligent rugby player who’s learning and improving with every season. He’s very good at bringing others into the game and building relationships with those around him.”

Hogg will have his leadership abilities first tested with a training camp in Portugal – a camp which Townsend stated only approximately 32 of those named in the wider squad will travel to – before travelling to face Ireland in Dublin for the tournament’s opening encounter.

There will be six players in the wider squad hungry to be involved in the Portugal camp, and ultimately, throughout the prestigious tournament as it progresses.

Of the six uncapped players, three have represented Scotland at Under-20s level, another has represented the country on the 7s circuit, whilst the latter two gain qualification through a grandparent and residential status respectively.

Second-row Alex Craig – who has 12 caps to his Scotland Under-20s CV – had his potential identified through his appearances for Gloucester this season, as Townsend said of his ability: “Every time he’s played, he’s looked more confident. He’s got a real explosive, dynamic quality in his ball-carrying, allied to his huge work-rate and that huge defence.”

Edinburgh’s back-row Luke Crosbie has been applauded by many for his work-rate and responsibility during the test players absence at the Rugby World Cup at the beginning of the season. Townsend sees promise in the athletic forward: “He’s tough, and his tackle percentage is over 90% – I think it’s 94% this season. We like the fact that, when he gets the ball, he’s so athletic that he can really go at the opposition.”

Thomas Gordon is a flanker that burst his way on to the scene at Scotstoun for the Glasgow Warriors last season and has not showed any signs of holding up since. This is a quality the Scotland coaching staff admire in the young player.

“We think we’ve got a potentially exceptional player,” Townsend said. “His man of the match game against Edinburgh at the end of last season, in one of his first starts for Glasgow, showed there was a special player there.”

Nick Haining is a forward who qualifies to represent the thistle through a grandmother from Dundee, and he has proved to be a strong back row contender at Edinburgh this season. Townsend has been taking note of the large Australian’s promise as well: “He has nice skills, good handling and he’s a big man. He has good footwork. He’s a skilful player, a powerful ball-carrier and a good defender. To us as coaches he has the attributes to do well at international level.”

Glasgow Warriors’ backline was boosted by the arrival of Kyle Steyn last year as the South African born player moved to the 15s game from the Scotland 7s circuit. Townsend, having named Steyn in his World Cup squad, knows what the back is capable of.

“He works hard on his game, so things like high-ball catching and contact work, you see the improvements month to month. He’s a really professional player.”

It is Ratu Tagive that closes out the uncapped contingent as he joins his fellow Warriors back Steyn in Townsend’s squad. Despite struggling for game-time at Glasgow the past couple of years, Tagive has taken this season as an opportunity to prove himself.

Townsend added: “Getting into the Glasgow team was a huge step forward when you think of the wingers they have there. He’s a hard-working player who should thrive in the environment with the players he’ll have around him.”

And so, despite notable injury omissions – Matt Fagerson suffered broken ribs, James Lang tore his hamstring, and Sam Skinner has only this week returned to full-time training – and players just missing out – Mark Bennett was one notable centre pipped to the post despite enjoying an on-form season with Edinburgh – Townsend acknowledged that there is still opportunities for fringe players to be brought in to the fold should they return, and be needed, throughout the process of the tournament.

The first test for Townsend’s team will be their opening fixture with Ireland on Saturday Feb. 1 in Dublin, with kick off at 4:45pm.

(Credit: EN4 News)

 

Scotland team:

Forwards: Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Alex Craig (Gloucester), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Allan Dell (London Irish), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Tom Gordon (Glasgow), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Worcester), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).

Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow), Stuart Hogg (Exeter), George Horne (Glasgow), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton), Sam Johnson (Glasgow), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Byron McGuigan (Sale), Ali Price (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow), Ratu Tagive (Glasgow).

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:

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.

Four uncapped Edinburgh players are included in Scotland’s test squad

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has included four uncapped Edinburgh Rugby players in his squad for next month’s Autumn Test Series.

It will be Townsend’s first series in charge on home soil at Murrayfield. The test begins on November 11 against Samoa, followed by New Zealand on November 18 and concluding with Australia on November 25.

Centre Phil Burleigh, scrum-half Nathan Fowles, front-row Darryl Marfo and back-row forward Jamie Ritchie are the Edinburgh Rugby call-ups. Ritchie scored a try in Edinburgh’s recent 37-14 victory over London Irish in the Challenge Cup.

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Phil Burleigh is one of ten uncapped players in the squad (Credit: Edinburgh Rugby)

There is no place in the team, however, for two Edinburgh players. Magnus Bradbury is out as he serves a club suspension for picking up an injury on a night out and fellow back-row John Hardie is under investigation for alleged cocaine abuse.

A total of 10 uncapped players have been named in the 36-man squad. The other six include Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Luke Hamilton (Leicester), Scott Cummings and George Turner (both Glasgow).

As Greig Laidlaw is missing with a fractured ankle, John Barclay has been named captain for the series.

There are places in the team for full-back Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour following their involvement with the British and Irish Lions earlier this year.

Townsend has said that he will not be trying to experiment with his new-look side when the series begins.

“There are 10 uncapped players – five of them have been involved before, but we wanted to choose this squad based on form.”

“We will be looking to play our best team in all three games. Now is not the time to be trying things we are not sure about”.

SCOTLAND SQUAD FOR AUTUMN SERIES IN FULL:

Forwards: Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, John Barclay, Scott Cummings, Cornell du Preez, Zander Fagerson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Luke Hamilton, Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson

Backs: Phil Burleigh, Alex Dunbar, Dougie Fife, Nathan Fowles, Chris Harris, Nick Grigg, Stuart Hogg, Pete Horne, Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Huw Jones, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour

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