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:

Sports Paper Review: March 8th

Copy of BREAKING NEWS-4

Fraser Munro spoke to Luke Barry and Bryce Donaldson about today’s big stories in sports, from Hearts’ striker penning a new three year deal to Scotland rugby captain being benched for the weekends game.

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:

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The squad facing Wales (Credit: David Ronney )

To read more articles about Scottish rugby, click here.

New Stadium could give Edinburgh a Fortress to Defend

 

A new stadium planned to be built next to the Scottish national Stadium, Murrayfield, has been given the go-ahead by Edinburgh council.

It is hoped that the new build will be completed next year in time for Edinburgh Rugby to make it their new home.

With just under 8,000 seats it is hoped that sell-out crowds will gather to watch a revitalised capital side. With significantly less seats to fill than Murrayfield’s 67,000.

Less seats mean a more intense atmosphere can be achieved making Edinburgh a more daunting opponent, allowing them to build a club identity and creating a closer connection with fans.

Edinburgh forward, Rory Sutherland said:

“We would like somewhere we can call a home.

“It’s going to be important for creating an atmosphere, getting the support in … it can make a big difference.”

Head Coach Richard Cockerel added:

“It’s great to have your own home. we had over 7,000 here at the weekend and with the new stadium holding 7,800, we can start to get sell-out crowds like they have at Scotstoun.

“It then becomes our own atmosphere, our own pitch, our own stadium, our own branding, all those things. We can build our own identity and move forward.

“Edinburgh will have a permanent home that we can build a team and a club around.”

 

Scottish Rugby – Where Are We Now?

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Lights out at Murrayfield, prior to kick-off against Argentina on Saturday

With two of Scotland’s three Autumn Test matches having come and gone, we take a look at where Vern Cotter’s men are and what to expect ahead of next year’s Six Nations.

The fixtures began for Scotland on the 12th, when despite a largely impressive team performance, they suffered a one point defeat to the hands of Australia at BT Murrayfield.

The second match was also held at Murrayfield on Saturday, when an 83rd minute Greig Laidlaw penalty claimed a 19-16 victory for the Scots, although the performance left spectators with a few questions

Scotland 22-23 Australia

The home side got off to an impressive start against a strong Australian team, when Huw Jones scored his first international try, as he collected Finn Russell’s chip in the middle of the pitch, to race in under the posts. This added to Laidlaw’s early penalty and by converting the try, Scotland raced into a 10 point lead with less than eight minutes on the clock.

Reece Hodge got the Wallabies back into the match with a fine solo effort, before Jones’ second try of the half ensured that Scotland went in with a 17-10 lead at the interval.

A second half try from Jonny Gray extended Scotland’s lead but two Bernard Foley penalties ensured that the Scotland fans had a nervous finale in store.

Despite Will Skelton’s sin bin and the Aussies being subsequently down to 14 men, they still had the desire and the quality  to break the hearts of the Scottish faithful as Tevita Kuridrani’s try was converted by Foley, to snatch the win by a single point.

Scotland 19-16 Argentina

In what proved to be a far less captivating encounter at the weekend, Murrayfield’s ‘lights out’ pre-match entertainment ironically led to a rather dull first half of rugby. Cotter’s men led 6-3 at the break, thanks to the boot of Greig Laidlaw, with Nicolas Sanchez scoring a solitary penalty for the Pumas.

The game was crying out for a try and it came early in the second half, when Matias Orlando gathered a crossfield kick to silence Murrayfield, as he put the visitors in front for the first time.

However, the Scots responded well and Sean Maitland crossed the whitewash, after good work from Huw Jones. Finn Russell failed with two late drop goal attempts, but Scotland were awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time and Laidlaw held his nerve, to secure the win which sees his team move above their opponents in the latest IRB rankings.

Scotland are currently training at Oriam this week, ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Georgia at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park. They can expect a tough match with a physical team, who are undoubtedly on the rise as a rugby nation.

The Georgians will come into the fixture on the back of an impressive 20-16 victory over Samoa in Tbilisi at the weekend, and will be looking to take advantage of the artificial playing surface, which the Scots aren’t used to.

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Star Performers

Huw Jones = Arguably Scotland’s stand out performer for Scotland this Autumn. The Edinburgh born centre flew out to South Africa on a gap year in 2014 and later signed for Super Rugby side, The Stormers, for whom he is a regular try scorer. Throughout the two matches at BT Murrayfield, he has shown signs of his blistering pace and attacking prowess, regularly breaking the gain line and bringing teammates into play. At the age of 22, Jones looks destined to have a promising international career ahead of him.

Hamish Watson = The 25-year old flanker has been a consistent performer for Edinburgh both in the Pro 12 and European competition. He was able to continue that form in the Scotland jersey, showing great physicality and awareness, leading to multiple turnovers against Australia.

Jonny Gray = Following a solid performance alongside his brother, Richie, against Australia, in which he scored his second try for his county, he coped well in a new partnership with Grant Gilchrist on Saturday. The second-row continually took the game to the Argentines, making yards and putting in a big shift in defence. With 27 Scotland caps under his belt, many would be forgiven for thinking he’s been around for a long time, but at only 22, Jonny is another player who Scotland will be able to call on for the foreseeable future.

 

Six Nations

In terms of the 2017 Six Nations, which begins in February, Scotland fans have the right to be optimistic as the country now boasts a very promising group of players, which includes a great deal of both experience and youth. Vern Cotter has brought a very attractive form of rugby to Murrayfield, which has shown, especially during last year’s World Cup. With home fixtures against Ireland, Wales and Italy, Scotland will be targeting victories in all three and have as realistic a chance as ever, of challenging for the title. This will be Cotter’s final tournament as Scotland Head Coach, before his replacement, Gregor Townsend, takes over the reigns in June.

 

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