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.”

Women’s Six Nations: Female players are treated differently to men – Forsyth

Jemma Forsyth represented Scotland in the 2017 Women’s Six Nations tournament (Photo courtesy of Jemma Forsyth)

Female rugby players in the Six Nations are being treated differently to their male counterparts, according to a former Scotland women’s international.

Jemma Forsyth has claimed that women’s rugby is still not seen as equal to the men’s despite the sport’s growth in recent seasons

“While women’s rugby has grown in recent seasons, it’s still not looked at with the same sort of equality as men’s rugby,” Forsyth told EN4 News. 

“If you compared it with tennis at Wimbledon for example, women’s tennis is on TV just as much as men’s tennis is, they’ve got the same facilities, they’ll play on the same courts. Everything is exactly the same.”

The women’s Six Nations runs concurrently with the men’s tournament but matches are staged at different venues and female players often have to deal with inferior facilities and playing conditions.

“Women play in the Six Nations exactly the same as men do, the exact same dates, the exact same teams, the tournament follows the exact same structure. But you don’t get provided with the same quality of venue or the quality of changing rooms.”

Former Scotland international Jemma Forsyth spoke to EN4 News about the inequality between the men’s and women’s Six Nations tournaments

 

Last month there was controversy after Wales’ team were left without hot water following their Six Nations match against Ireland, while Scotland and England’s rearranged fixture, postponed due to Storm Ciara, was played behind closed doors even though the men’s match went ahead in front of a capacity crowd at Murrayfield.

The Six Nations also has the widest gender pay gap out of the UK’s biggest sporting competitions, with the winner of the men’s tournament receiving £5 million while the winner of the winning women receive nothing.

Forsyth made more than 20 international appearances for Scotland over two spells but was forced to quit because she could not balance playing rugby with a full-time job, and she said that further investment in the women’s game would help close the gap.

“Rugby is a business at the end of the day, and if they don’t see women’s rugby bringing in money then they are not necessarily going to spend the same money on women’s rugby that they would on men,” she said.

“But to counter that, if you don’t put the money in then you won’t get the same following as what the men get.

“So I think they’ve got to invest more, which I do genuinely believe Scottish Rugby has started to do. They’re definitely going in the right direction with investing more and it has started to grow, and I think it will continue to if the investment is there.”

Julie Inglis, board trustee of Scottish Women in Sport, called on rugby’s governing bodies and the Six Nations organisers to address the inequality.

“It’s quite evident that the Six Nations tournaments are being treated very differently,” Inglis told EN4 News. “Women’s rugby is not taken as seriously as it should be.”

Inglis also stressed that the problem isn’t exclusive to international rugby.

“I can’t say this for every rugby club but there are certainly many where they are treated very differently and the women are almost not taken seriously.

“There needs to be change at board level and committee level all the way through the sport.”

The Scottish Rugby Union supports up 10 female players with professional contracts. England and France are the only women’s Six Nations teams to offer professional contacts to their full squad.

Scotland play France in their third match of the campaign at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Diamond Daniel and trophy droughts: Sport Quiz of the week!

This week’s sport quiz looks at Hearts’ derby drubbing of Hibs, Ronaldinho’s brush with the police and the Six Nations. Try your sporting knowledge below!

 

Podcast: Scotland look to end France’s Six Nations winning streak

Joe Anderson is joined on the EN4 News Six Nations podcast by Ryan Nixon, Erin McRitchie and Fergus Robb, as they discuss this weekend’s matches. Scotland welcome France to the capital – looking to end the French three-game unbeaten run, and England take on Wales in what will be a tightly-contested match, as Ireland and Italy is postponed amid Coronavirus fears.

 

Edinburgh Rugby: Substance over style will do for coach Cockerill against Cardiff

Richard Cockerill has seen his side remain top of the Pro14 Conference B, despite key players being on Scotland duty (Credit: Edinburgh Rugby Twitter)

A win for Edinburgh Rugby this evening will ensure they stay top of the Pro14’s Conference B table.

Welsh team Cardiff Blues travel to BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh’s third game in three weekends, and head coach Richard Cockerill has stated that he is not too concerned about flare in the encounter.

“I’m not fussy about our style,” Cockerill said. “Substance, physicality and mentality should be ten out of ten for us, and we should go out with confidence to make sure we get our performance right.”

Both sides come into the game on the back of a win, with each side scoring five tries last weekend – Edinburgh against Connacht and Cardiff Blues against Benetton.

“They’re a half-decent side – they’ve got good players. They’re missing a few players but crikey, so are we,” Cockerill explained. “We should be well motivated since we’re on a good run, so we need to make sure we get all the basic things right.

“It’s the same as the last two weeks; the weather will be a little bit better, but we need to be really functional and practical in how we play. We just need to go and win the game; do whatever it takes to win.”

Edinburgh fly-half Simon Hickey says that the team’s defence coach, Callum McCrae, has ensured his side know what they are up against: “They are an expansive team and have the ability to shift it, get it to the edges and cause trouble that way. They’ve got some good set-piece strikes and also some good individual players.”

Hickey’s teammate, back-row Nick Haining, expressed how impressive an achievement it would be were Edinburgh to take five points from the current run of three games during the international window of the Guinness Six Nations.

“I think it’s a testament to everyone in the squad and the depth that we have to have got those results so far. It wasn’t an easy game at Scarlets, but we ground out the win, then we had a good performance against Connacht at the weekend.”

“We’re confident going into Cardiff, and we think we can really take maximum points from that and not give them anything. They’ll be a good side, but we’re in good form at the moment and we’re confident.”

Scrum-half Charlie Shiel will be handed his first Murrayfield start tonight, partnering George Taylor and James Johnstone in a new-look centre for Edinburgh.

They also welcome back Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Bhatti after Scotland duty, as part of five changes to the team from last weekend’s bonus point win against Connacht.

Scotland Under-20s players relishing the opportunity to play England in front of Myreside crowd in mini Six Nations clash

 

Scotland Under-20 head coach, Sean Lineen, has made two changes to the starting 15 ahead of this evening’s clash against England at Myreside.

Loose-head prop Thomas Lambert comes in for Alex Maxwell, while tight-head prop Mak Wilson takes the spot of Dan Gamble.

The Scots go into the fixture off the back of a tough 38-26 loss to reigning champions Ireland in Dublin last weekend, while their counterparts arrive in Edinburgh sitting second in the table following a 29-24 away victory over France.

“They’re very physical, powerful players, and they play at a very high standard,” Scotland starting hooker Ewan Ashman said of the English opposition.

“They’ve got a lot of Gallagher Premiership players in their squad. So it’s going to be very physical up front, and the boys are going to really have to stick together on this one.”

Ashman, who was the top try scorer in last year’s Under-20 World Championships, comes into this campaign as one of the leadership figures in the squad.

His role sees him pair new captain Rory Darge in leading the forward pack.

Darge concurred with his teammate in his estimations of the England side, telling EN4 News: “They’re big, big players and a lot of them play at a really high level, so they’ll understand what it takes to win games.

“They’ll come at us with a lot of physicality and power. The challenge for us is just to match that as best we can and get into them.”

The Scotland boys will have their foothold in the match boosted by the fact that the encounter will be taking place at George Watson’s Myreside stadium, a ground known for the close atmosphere it can create.

“It’s a really good atmosphere at Myreside, the stand is almost on top of you, so if there is a good crowd there then that’ll be awesome,” Darge said.

Scotland need a win to keep their slim hopes of a title win alive, while stopping rivals England from retaining their Calcutta Cup crown.

Bradbury the sole change to Scotland squad named to face England

Magnus Bradbury is the only change to Gregor Townsend’s Scotland side who host England at BT Murrayfield for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash.

The Edinburgh back-row missed last weekend’s 19-12 defeat to Ireland in Dublin, the side’s opening game in the Six Nations, with a thigh strain.

Forward coach Danny Wilson saw promising signs in the defeat to Ireland.

“What happened for us in Dublin last week was some fine margins. One or two things went against us,” Wilson said.

“We talked about some of the positives of last week, but we lost the game. This is a home game; we have to go out there to win.”

Having been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup in the group stages last year, Wilson is hoping that Scotland take experience from the tournament into games of this size.

“We’ve learnt some lessons from the World Cup,” the assistant coach said. “International rugby is an extremely physical game, we know the physicality that will be required for us to be competitive.”

Eddie Jones’s England side may be favourites to win the competition, but they will be desperate for a win in Edinburgh after losing their opening game to France 24-17 in Paris last weekend.

The World Cup runners-up lost on their last visit to the capital in 2018 and failed to claw back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham last year, settling for a draw.

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg is expecting a different England performance this time around.

“We can’t stand back and admire England for too long,” he said. “They’ve got some cracking individuals, they got to the World Cup final for a reason.”

“We’ve got the game plan and the players in this squad to win test matches. There’s a Calcutta cup to play for and that’s all we’re concentrating on.”

“I truly believe if we nail our jobs in attack and defence, we can turn over England.”

Scott Cummings, who will start against Eddie Jones’ side, has become a regular in the team since the World Cup in Japan. The lock told EN4 News about how the experience of the big stage has prepared him for tomorrow’s game.

Scotland trained at BT Murrayfield this morning ahead of the game. (Credit: Joe Anderson)

“That final game against Japan, in Japan, was such a tense atmosphere with everyone supporting Japan, wanting them to come through.” he said.

“Ireland away was also an amazing atmosphere but I don’t think there won’t be many better atmospheres that Scotland vs England at Murrayfield.”

“England will be looking to be dominant upfront but so will we. We know that if we win upfront we have the quality in the backs to break the game open. We’ve just really been focusing on ourselves and what we can do in the game”

Nick Haining, who gained his first cap for his country when he started in the loss to Ireland, drops to the bench in Bradbury’s place.

Meaning Bradbury will start in an all-Edinburgh back row featuring Jamie Ritchie on the blindside and Hamish Watson at openside.

An unchanged backline sees Ali Price and Adam Hastings form a familiar partnership from club level, with Sam Johnson and Huw Jones – who have both scored tries against England in 2018 and 2019 respectively – start in midfield.

Hogg captains the side in a back-three with Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn joining him.

Podcast: Scotland welcome England to Murrayfield for crunch Six Nations match

Joe Anderson, Erin McRitchie and Ryan Nixon of EN4 News sit down once again to discuss the past weekend’s results in the 2020 Six Nations, as well as how Scotland will fare in this year’s Calcutta Cup match against England.

 

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Muzambe looking to banish Ireland defeat with win at Scotstoun

The Scotland Women’s rugby team will run out at Scotstoun Stadium on Sunday afternoon to take on England in their second Six Nations clash of the tournament.

The Scots are on the back foot in their group having lost to Ireland on Sunday, while England are favourites following their 19-13 win over France.

Panashe Muzambe, who plays for Edinburgh side Watsonians, has recently became a permanent fixture in the starting 15. Speaking exclusively to EN4 News, she says that the defeat hasn’t knocked the players confidence, and minds have switched to Glasgow at the weekend.

“The loss on Sunday was tough but we played our game for the majority of the eighty.” She said. “The players gave it everything but unfortunately we didn’t close out with the win.”

“Scotstoun is amazing and the pride that I have felt running out of the tunnel during the autumn test was unreal. I look forward to another opportunity on Sunday.

“It’s special representing your country in front of a crowd at home and the girls will be filled with confidence by this I’m sure.”

(Credit: Panashe Muzambe)

With Women’s Rugby constantly growing, Panashe says the tournament has given exposure to her teammates and others.
“It’s vital that the game keeps getting exposure,” she said.

“The more people that get to watch the squad play live on television, the more we can grow the game. It’s great for younger girls to see that there is a pathway for them just like the boys do.”

With a spot at the 2021 World Cup at stake, Scotland can’t afford to let England take advantage of any slip-ups.

Podcast: How will Scotland fare without Finn Russell in Six Nations opener?

As the Six Nations are set to get underway on Saturday, EN4 News’ Joe Anderson, Erin McRitchie and Ryan Nixon sat down to discuss Scotland’s chances in the tournament.

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