Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


5 Uncapped Players to Tour

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Scotland coach Andy Robinson today announced a 28-man squad for the tour of Australia and the Pacific Isles.

Just few of the other players left at home this time out are: Ruaridh Jackson, Graeme Morrison, Hugo Southwell, Moray Low, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson, Alex Dunbar and Johnnie Beattie. If the new guns – in the loosehead and centres particularly – bed in successfully, some of these guys may struggle to return come the autumn. Conversely the likes of Fusaro, Dunbar and Wilson should count themselves very unlucky not to be going.

The potential is there for a young exciting backline although there is plenty of familiarity and experience too. Whether Robinson would actually field a backline of Laidlaw, Weir, Visser, Scott, Ansbro, Brown, Hogg remains to be seen. We are more likely to see Evans or Lamont on the wing as Brown is the only fullback other than Hogg and Cusiter and Blair are both in the squad as scrum halves. Good to see Grove and Ansbro back in the mix alongside the young gun Scott. De Luca will no doubt prove a controversial selection as always.

This is of course Tim Visser’s first call up; Tom Brown, Tom Ryder, Ryan Grant and Rob Harley are also uncapped. The last four-named were among the Scotland A squad who put England Saxons to the sword 35-0 at Netherdale in February, while Visser, the 24-year-old Dutch born winger, will qualify for Scotland through the three-year residency rule on 12 June and will thus be available for selection for the Tests against Fiji and Samoa.

22-year-old Tom Brown, a product of North Berwick RFC and the Edinburgh Academy, who has also played club rugby for Currie, admitted: “It was a pretty tense day yesterday wondering if the call might come and when it did it was pretty overwhelming but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Welsh, Weir and Scott have a single cap each but this tour is a clear opportunity to earn a few more.

“One quarter of the squad has yet to start an international but we’ve seen from the manner in which Edinburgh and Glasgow have finished the domestic season that there’s confidence that we will be looking to build on” said coach Robinson at the announcement

Without further ado, here are the players due for a bruising down under:

Backs – Joe Ansbro (London Irish), Mike Blair, Tom Brown (both Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby), Max Evans (Castres), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) and Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)


John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross, Ross Ford (captain) (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Grant, Richie Gray, Dougie Hall, Robert Harley, Alastair Kellock (all Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh Rugby), Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) and Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).

Unavailable through injury: Kelly Brown (Saracens), David Denton and Lee Jones (both Edinburgh Rugby)

Rested: Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby)


Head coach – Andy Robinson
Assistant coach – Scott Johnson
Specialist coaches – Massimo Cuttitta and Duncan Hodge
Fitness, strength and conditioning – Neill Potts and Huw Jones
Team manager – Gavin Scott
Team operations co-ordinator – Kirsty Mackay
Medical – Dr James Robson, Dr Jonathan Hanson, Paul McGinley and Stephen Mutch
Analyst – Ciaran Beattie
Media – Graham Law
Baggage master – John Pennycuick

Squad departs: Thursday 24 May


Tuesday 5 June v Australia in Newcastle, NSW, kick-off 7.30pm local (10.30am BST)
Saturday 16 June
v Fiji in Lautoka, kick-off 2pm local time (3am BST)
Saturday 23 June
v Samoa in Apia, kick-off 3.30pm local time (3.30am BST).

11 Responses

  1. I think AR has got 80% of the decisions right with this squad. Form has been rewarded and youth has been given a chance. Shame for Moray Low and Fusaro to lose out, and I think Dunbar’s burst of form came a little too late in the season. Laidlaw should probably be captain, too. But, after berating a lot of AR’s selections in previous years, I’m happy to tip my hat to him when he gets them mostly right, as he has done here.

    Now let’s wait and see who he selects for the first test.

    If everyone is fit and qualified, here is my 1st XV from that lot

    1. Welsh
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Ryder
    6. Harley
    7. Rennie
    8. Vernon
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. Visser
    12. Scott
    13. Ansbro
    14. M Evans
    15. Hogg

    Subs – Hall, Grant, Kellock, Barclay, Weir, NDL, Brown.

  2. Obviously the inclusion of Visser is going to make all the headlines, but that masks lots of questions.

    Here’s a few of the questions I have:
    (1) I’d have liked to see a 30 man squad travel, why are only taking 28? Perhaps is forces AR not to mix things up too much between each game?
    (2) What are we taking three hookers, yet only one No. 8? Ok, so Kelly and Denton and injured and Barclay has had some time at No. 8 as he’s not first choice No. 7 for his club, but we seem light in the back row.
    (3) The follow on from the above is why is Chris Fusaro not on this tour?
    (4) Dougie Hall is a very nice guy, but for me if we’re taking three hookers I’d have gone for youth, which means taking Pat MacArthur, or if AR really wanted to surprise people Finlay Gillies.
    (5) Has Grove been brought in to help shore up Laidlaws defensive frailties at 10?
    (6) In the management team listed as going their is no Defence coach! Is Mr Taylor not joining the tour party? If Taylor is unavailable then why are we not taking Mercer or would that make his departure from Glasgow all the more ridiculous?
    (7) Is Euan Murray still the player he was a few years ago, and perhaps more importantly is he the way forward at Tight head? I’d have liked to see Cross and Low as the two TH’s taken.

    1. The plan was for a bigger squad before the NSW Waratahs game was cancelled, but why the arbritray reduction from 38-28 for one less game I don’t know. Agree that perhaps this might have allowed for the likes of Dunbar or Fusaro to travel, even if for experience. Suppose it might be financial.

  3. In case anyone is interested it breaks down as follows although there are plenty who can (and will) hop categories:

    Fullbacks: Hogg, Brown
    Wings: Lamont, Visser
    Centres: Ansbro, De Luca, Grove, Evans, Scott
    Flyhalf: Weir
    Scrum halves: Blair, Cusiter, Laidlaw
    Number 8: Vernon
    Openside: Rennie, Barclay
    Blindside: Strokosch, Harley
    Locks: Gray, Kellock, Ryder
    Tighthead: Cross, Murray
    Hookers: Ford, Hall, Lawson
    Loosehead: Welsh, Grant

  4. Right. PLayers that shouldn’t be in the squad:
    M Evans – Plays few games in Castres and hasn’t really made a name for himself there. Other players here are just as good, if not better, and are getting regular game time. He needs to go and let youngsters in. Furthermore, he aint Shane Williams. A small, mediocre player is just a weakness.
    Blair- getting on and leaving Edinburgh. Time to bleed NEW talent.
    Strockosh – And how did he play better than Fusaro???
    Ford – Woeful captain and over-rated.

    Players IN-
    Fusaro – Great player, young, bright future. If we give him intl rugby it might persuade him to stay in Scotland. Also, J Davies whom I believe is fair in handing out praise, says that he is “excellent”
    Dunbar – Exceptional player and a proper centre. Actually makes breaks and tackels. Bit like Roberts or Nonu. Really good talent.
    Prygos – Great player and young – doesn’t seem to always get concussed or knocked out like Blair.
    R Wilson – May be because of injury but playing v well for Glasgow.
    Seymour – very good player.
    Beattie – playing well for Glasgow.

    Here is my 22

    Glasgow 1-3 Inc. R Grant.
    4 Gray
    5 Ryder
    6 Harley
    7 Barclay
    8 Vernon
    9 Cusiter
    10 Weir
    11 Visser
    12 Ansboro
    13 Lamont
    14 Brown
    15 Hogg

    18 Kellock
    19 Rennie
    20 Laidlaw
    21 Scott
    22 Grove

    1. Where to start…

      You claim that Max Evans shouldnt be going because he cant start regularly for Castres, and then suggest Seymour as an alternative. I hope you see the irony there.

      You claim that Blair should be left out for Pyrgos. Really? The form scrumhalf in Scotland, for a player that secured a contract extension by the skin of his teeth because he was playing so poorly mid-season. If we want slow ball, no eye for a break, and questionable decision making, sure, Pyrgos is the man. I also believe you have Blair mixed up with Chris ConCusiter on the “always getting concussed” front. The later has far more reputation for injuring himself than Blair.

      Fusaro can count himself unlucky. However, he is an out and out seven. He cannot cover any other positions in the backrow, and we already have a player in the squad who is the same, Rennie. He is also on form, but what wins it for him is he is the current holder of the shirt, and has proven himself at International Level. Fusaro will get his time, he only just had his breakthrough season. I think its no bad thing to give him the summer off to recuperate and crack on next season after a proper rest. If he doesnt suffer from second season syndrome, im all for him stepping up. You claim however that he shouldve gone instead of Strokosch. While I am not convinced by Stroks myself, you have to consider that they play in different positions, and we are short on Blindsides with Kelly Brown being injured. I think the player who Fusaro wouldve replaced is Barclay, as they are both opensides. However thanks to Lineen, Barclay wasnt just dropped like he shouldve been, but shipped into another position, meaning that Robinson had the temptation to pick him which he wouldnt have had if John had just been dropped when his form dipped.

      Dunbars time will come. Had the party been 32, then he probably wouldve travelled. As it stands however, it was a toss up between Scott and Dunbar. Scott has been performing for Edinburgh since the start of the season. Dunbar only for the past 6 odd games. Scott is also playing with the holder of the 10 shirt at club level, and is proven to work well with him. These two factors likely were deciders.

      You suggest that Beattie has been playing well for Glasgow. SO well that he struggles to make it into the matchday 22 for most games, with his position instead being taken by a player who is out of position. As i have said above, I dont agree with Lineen doing that, but the fact still stands, Beattie hasnt been getting gametime for glasgow, and therefore cannot be picked. Contradicting your reasons for leaving Evans out, again.

      Wilson was probably touch and go with his injury. In a small tour squad, theres no room for that. His time will come, same goes for Mcinally.

      Ford shouldnt be captain, I agree, but hes not overrated. In fact, with all of the abuse he gets, I dont see how he can be. When his throwing works, hes one of the best hookers in the business. The problem is, it comes and goes. People easily forget how good his throwing has been for the 2 seasons or so up until his nightmare in Italy.

      Im very interested as to why you select Lamont at 13 aswell, ahead of 3 genuine 13s who are in the squad, especially as hes proven time and agin he doesnt have the distribution or awareness to play in the centre.

      Look were all entitled to our opinions, and theres nothing wrong with naming your dream team of favourite players regardless of their form etc, but trying to justify your favourites based upon stuff that just isnt true, or contradicts other stuff youve written just makes you look bad. Im not trying to start a fight, or belittle you, but maybe just proof read stuff before you post it.

  5. Didn’t totally agree with Andy either but can’t help but feel that AR is stuck at getting about 80% (I would argue that it’s as much 80%) of the selection right as noted by MJW’s post above.

    Is getting 80% of the selection really good enough? In a tour party of 28/30, it means that there are 6 players who have been included who shouldn’t have been. If you extend that % correctness of selection to the starting 15 and the bench then theres 4 players included who shouldn’t have been. I am of the opinion that thats pretty much a handcap we had to carry through the 6N’s. With such a small pool of players being 80% correct on selections is something we can’t overcome most of the time.

    My personal view on who shouldn’t be in the tour squad vs. who should/could have been in is as folows;

    In but Shouldn’t be:
    Murray – Yesterdays man (albeit very good in his day) playing in a relegated team. No real form.
    Barclay – Poor form, can’t dislodge Fusaro at Glasgow and is no No. 6 in my book even as cover.
    Vernon – Poor form for most of the season, couldn’t make sale’s starting XV most weeks. Didn’t play badly in the 6N’s during his limited game time, but if you can’t hold your place at club/region regularly……..
    3 Hookers – Ford’s selection as a hooker is ok, but are 2 more really necessary?
    NDL – up and down form, too erractic and a liability at international level. I know he’s been playing better, but how many chances should a player get?
    Max Evans – see comments on Vernon.

    Out Who Should/Could have been in

    Just a subjective opinion, but I recon the likes of Gatland are at the 95%+ right level most of the time. I think AR has been at 80% on his best days.

  6. So sorry to not see Dunbar on board (haven’t really seen/ heard much about Grove this season to know comment on that). Still finally having some potential creativity in the midfield is a relief and hopefully bodes well for the future. I am concerned about Vernon at 8 with Laidlaw at 10. The latter player HAS to be in at 9 or 10 as his guile, confidence, competitiveness and heads up style are exactly what we’ve been lacking. However, big Netanie, Denton (and I guess Brown too)are able to protect the wee fella at 10 with their extremely physical presence. I’m not sure how well that role will be filled by Vernon. I fear we could get smashed to pieces. Like many others I see Laidlaw and Weir as the halfback future partnership. Some people say that this is a defensive liability as they are too small. However, scrum halfs are allowed to be wee, and anyone that thinks that Weir is a defensive liability probably hasn’t seen him play much. He puts in the hits and though not much on the vertical axis is actually about the same weight as Johnny Wilkinson, who was never regarded as one to shirk a tackle.

  7. i think Andy Robinson must look toward the future as the 6n team played poorly. moments of good play however they could not execute the game plan which was put in place by Robinson. He looks to play a fast expansive game (like Edinburgh) however he picks out of form dated players. go with youth if it doesn’t work fine pull them off at half time and go to plan b. but Scotland need a clear game plan. We have good players in MOST positions however i feel its time to blood in new players for 2015.
    my starting 15:
    we want tries! lets except we are not a huge team and not play “bash up rugby”

    1. Australia game is on Sky Sports, apparently they (SRU) are looking into the possibility of the other games being shown but I would suggest we’ll be very lucky if anyone is willing to cough up funding to show Scottish rugby at 3am, which is going to make it a tough sell.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion