Scotland A will seek to maintain their fine recent run at Netherdale when they face England Saxons at the Galashiels ground in a mouth-watering Calcutta Cup curtain raiser on Friday 3 February (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).
Inspired by large Borders crowds, Scotland A have won their last four fixtures at the venue, beating Tonga in November 2009 and securing a 100% return from games against USA Eagles, Ireland Wolfhounds and Italy A last season.
Another big gathering is expected for the Saxons clash, with admission to the match again free to everyone.
Flush from European success with Edinburgh, the former Ireland, Ireland A and Ireland under-21 coach Michael Bradley will be assisted by Scotsmen Stevie Scott (Sale Sharks) and Craig Chalmers (Melrose), both of whom are well acquainted with the passion that the Borders public bring to such occasions.
Bradley today named an initial squad of 15 players who will convene for training at Murrayfield on Monday 30 January. The group will be supplemented by members of the Scotland squad for the opening two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations Championship as the two teams are fine tuned.
The initial selection features eight players from Glasgow Warriors, four from Edinburgh Rugby, and three exiles, Jack Cuthbert (Bath), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors) and Grant Shiells (Newcastle Falcons).
Prop Shiells, who learned his trade at Kelso, is one of four players now in line for his first taste of A team action. Edinburgh Rugby backs Tom Brown and Matthew Scott and Glasgow Warriors hooker Pat MacArthur are the others.
Bradley told scotlandrugbyteam.org: “The game against England Saxons is shaping up to be a fantastic occasion. There’s a great opportunity for our players to come together and prove they have what it takes to win on the international stage for Scotland, benefiting from the support of what I’m sure will be a terrific crowd.”
With the Six Nations sure to be as committed as ever, players like Beattie, Scott or Roddy Grant will be looking to show they have been overlooked and would be worth a call-up should there be an injury problem. In particular, Beattie – who has already proven he has what it takes to win on the international stage – finding the form that smashed Ireland in Dublin would be a welcome answer to the question as to who Scotland’s first choice Number 8 is.
“We’ve named a group of guys today who deserve recognition for the form they’ve shown with their clubs in the first part of the season. I’m hugely looking forward to working with them and the other players who will join us from the Scotland squad in the week of the game” Bradley continued.
“It’s about fronting up to what is sure to be massively physical challenge from England Saxons, and bringing together all the positive things we’ve seen from these players so far this season in one passionate, committed and ultimately winning performance for Scotland.”
Fans can get in the mood for a terrific weekend of international rugby by watching the Scotland A captain’s run, the last training session before the Saxons clash, in the flesh.
The session will take place from 3.15pm at Netherdale on the eve of the game, Thursday 2 February. All are welcome; admission free.
Scotland A Squad to play England Saxons at Netherdale, Galashiels on Friday 3rd February (Kick Off 7.30pm, Admission Free)
Backs: Tom Brown (Edinburgh Rugby), Jack Cuthbert (Bath Rugby), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), Matthew Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Colin Shaw (Glasgow Warriors)
Forwards: Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby), Grant Shiells (Newcastle Falcons), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)