Hugo Southwell To Miss World Cup

Out of work and now out of luck, Hugo Southwell is set to miss the World Cup in September after failing to recover from a knee injury. Having shown some form earlier in the season but then getting his face kicked in by Lee Byrne early in the Six Nations, Hugo then returned to a troubled end of season at Stade, damaged his knee in May and was eventually let go by Stade along with a raft of others. Rumours circulate he may be headed home to Scotland, but may prefer to stay in France. Although it has been sunny here today, so what’s not to love?

Having played a lesser role in training to now, the SRU has announced he will miss out “by mutual consent“. I am sure it was by consent of Robbo and Hugo’s knee, but not the rest of him who must have been itching to get to the World Cup.

This news all but guarantees Mossy a seat on the plane to New Zealand as the starting Scotland full back, and a chance to have a crack at his own kicking record from last time (17/17). Having taken over from Southwell during the Six Nations he displayed a degree of tenacity and pace in defence allied to his solid kicking and the odd jinking run that even had Andy Robinson conceding he had turned it around, having dropped Chris (33) at the start of the campaign. It also allowed young Jackson to concentrate on playing at standoff without having to worry about goal kicking too.

The end of the Six Nations saw Chris as the incumbent waiting for Southwell to return and try and get his shirt back. Now that won’t happen this year anyway, who is the main challenger in the squad?

One option would be a recall to the training squad for Jim Thompson, but with Jack Cuthbert and Rory Lamont already in place and ahead of Jim in the pecking order it seems unlikely for anything other than training cover (Robbo has said there will be no call-ups, leaving the squad at 38 for now, to be reduced to 30).

Lamont undoubtedly has the edge in experience, but he’s been injured on and off for a good couple of years and always seems to get injured just in time for Scotland duty. We haven’t seen the best of him in a Scotland shirt since around 2007, so I’d welcome the chance to see the Rory Lamont Helicopter again and I would think he is probably slightly ahead in the “if we don’t count form” stakes.

Hugo dropping out does improve Cuthbert’s chances of making a senior squad for the first time numerically if nothing else, and as he and Lamont could both also cover wing berths (Cuthbert’s hands are probably good enough to get him a centre spot too) from becoming slight outsiders given the competition for utility back slots, they are now both firmly in the mix for one given their regular work at 15, and might unseat any underperforming “I can only play wing” types.

I’d look for one or both of them to feature in the EMC warm up tests to show us what they can do and a decision to be made thereafter – while Paterson could well be wrapped in cotton wool and parcel tape and already posted on his way to Invercargill.

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