Scotland under-20 head coach, Peter Wright, today named his team to play against England under-20 at Firhill on Friday night (3 February) in their RBS 6 Nations opener, kick-off 7.30pm.
Four players return to the under-20 set-up hoping their experience will help the new blood at this age-grade level. Edinburgh Rugby’s Robin Hislop will captain the side, with Harry Leonard, Alex Allan and Mitch Eadie all returning to the starting line-up having played in last year’s competition.
The match, which is FREE for spectators, and will also be live streamed on www.scottishrugby.org, also sees second-row Jonny Gray make his under-20s debut having been promoted from Scotland under-18. Also starting will be Tomasso Allan, who plays at Western Province in South Africa and whose uncle, John Allan, played both in the dark blue of Scotland and for South Africa.
Wright is well aware of the challenge that Friday’s match will bring but he knows his men can begin their campaign with a flying start against the Auld Enemy.
He said: “We have had a strong pool of players who have trained well in preparation for the RBS 6 Nations championship. This has made selection for the England match difficult.
“I have included four guys who were involved last year who will bring leadership and experience to the side. The others, particularly Gray and Adam Sinclair, have all earned their places on merit, performing their way into contention.
“The England game will be a huge battle, but we have players who will bring pace and physicality to the match.
“On the bench we have another pool of talent, some of whom have pro-experience, and who will come on fast and strong.”
The Scotland Under-20 Team to play England Under-20 on Friday 3 February at Firhill Stadium at 7.30pm: 15 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Scotland 7s / Heriot’s), 14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby / Edinburgh Accies)
13 Robbie Fergusson (Ayr), 12 Tomasso Allan (Western Province), 11 Michael Crawley (Boroughmuir), 10 Harry Leonard (Edinburgh Rugby), 9 Scott Steele (Leicester Tigers); 1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby / Boroughmuir) (captain), 2 Fergus Scott (Currie), 3 Alex Allan (Loughborough Students), 4 Jonny Gray (Hamilton), 5 Adam Sinclair (Stirling County), 6 Mitch Eadie (Bristol Rugby), 7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks), 8 Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir)
Replacements: 16 George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby / Stewart’s Melville), 17 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), 18 Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), 19 Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies), 20 Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), 21 Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors / Ayr), 22 Finn Russell (Falkirk), 23 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)
Scotland Under-20 RBS 6 Nations fixtures are as below, with free entry to both home matches:
Friday 3rd February 2012, Firhill Stadium – Scotland U20 v England U20, 7.30pm
Friday 10 February 2012, Parc Eirias – Wales under-20 v Scotland under-20, Time TBC
Friday 24 February 2012, Netherdale – Scotland under-20 v France under-20, 7.30pm
Friday 9 March 2012, Dubarry Park – Ireland under-20 v Scotland under-20, 7.05pm
Friday 16 March, Calvisano – Italy under-20 v Scotland under-20, 6pm
Meanwhile Scotland Women’s head coach Karen Findlay has opted for a blend of youth and experience in the team selected to take on England at Lasswade on Sunday 5 February (kick-off 5pm, free entry).
Scrum half Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars) will win her 50th cap while at the other end of the scale winger Sarah Dixon – who scored a debut try against Holland Women in November 2011 – wins her second. The team will be captained on Sunday by tight-head prop Tracy Balmer, who led Scotland to the victory in Amsterdam.
Findlay said: “I’m really excited about playing England then France at home – they’re both massive challenges – and I’m particularly looking forward to kicking off the tournament against England.
“Every game is going to be a challenge and I’d like to think the hard work we’ve put in – in terms of coaching and player effort – since the last Six Nations will have paid off. We did a lot of soul-searching and have worked hard to improve our core skills and basic preparation.”
Much of the hard work has centred around the regular Friday night Scotland Series training games which have seen new players come through and exisiting team members raising the bar to put their hands up for selection.
Adds Findlay: “The squad has changed and now it’s all about putting everything we’ve worked on into practice, on the day.”
The Scots’ first game is at home against England on Sunday 5 February and culminates away against Italy on Sunday 18 March.
Audio of Karen looking ahead to the England game and speaking about her coaching experience with former New Zealand coach, Graham Henry, is on the web site at www.scotlandrugbyteam.org
Scotland Women v England Women on Sunday 5 February at Lasswade RFC, kick-off 5pm
15 Stephanie Johnston (RHC Cougars), 14 Katy Green (Murrayfield Wanderers), 13 Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
12 Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), 11 Sarah Dixon (Stirling County), 10 Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars), 9 Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars); 1 Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), 2 Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers), 3 Tracy Balmer (Worcester) (captain), 4 Anna Swan (RHC Cougars), 5 Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead/Jordanhill), 6 Charlotte Veale (London Wasps), 7 Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers), 8 Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond)
Replacements: 16 Lindsey Smith (Darlington Mowden Park), 17 Suzanne McKerlie-Hex (Murrayfield Wanderers), 18 Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), 19 Kath Muir (RAF), 20 Tess Forsberg (Richmond), 21 Lisa Ritchie (Carlisle), 22 Caroline Collie (OA Saints)
Scotland Women’s RBS 6 Nations fixtures are as below, with free entry to both home matches.
Sunday 5 February, Scotland v England, Lasswade RFC, kick-off 5pm
Sunday 12 February, Wales v Scotland, Cross Keys RFC, kick-off 1pm
Saturday 25 February, Scotland v France, Stirling County RFC, kick-off 2pm
Friday 9 March, Ireland v Scotland, Ashbourne RFC, kick-off 7.30pm
Sunday 18 March, Italy v Scotland, Rovato Stadium, Brescia, kick-off 2.30pm