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.

Sports quiz of the week!

This week’s sports quiz looks at training ground bans, postponed matches and five-year plans.

Put your sporting knowledge to the test below!

 

 

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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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:

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.

Six Nations Podcast: Can Scotland defeat Ireland?

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Scotland play Ireland tomorrow in the Six Nations (Credit: Scottish Rugby / Facebook)

Scotland host Ireland tomorrow in the Six Nations, looking to record back-to-back wins in the tournament following last week’s victory over Italy.

David Ronney and Bryce Donaldson join Luke Barry to assess Scotland’s chances.

 

To read assistant coach Mike Blair’s thoughts on tomorrow’s match click here, while for Jamie Ritchie’s thoughts click here.

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