Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


U20s and A Teams Announced for Friday

Scotland A Team Logo

Shade Munro has challenged his Scotland A charges to complete a home and away double over England Saxons this Friday (kick-off 8pm) and set the tone for the nation’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Last season Scotland’s back-up senior side ran in four unanswered tries to win 35-0 against their English counterparts at Netherdale, and now prepare for a return fixture at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Falcons.

Munro said: “This is the first senior representative match of 2013 for a Scottish side and, as an opener for the RBS 6 Nations Championship, we have the opportunity to put a marker down and show what Scottish rugby is about, while those selected have an excellent chance to show why they deserve to feature in the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations campaign.

“However, with just one game for the Scotland A team this season, these elements are really an aside to our main objective. Everything this team has done has been designed to put us in a position to beat the England Saxons at Newcastle.”

It’s a good looking team on paper, although mirroring the senior side there is a distinct lack of a specialist openside (Roddy Grant, anyone) in the starting XV or on the bench. The pack looks mobile, and there are good strike runners all through the backs including the return of Nikki Walker. Although I will confess to knowing little of Saracens’ Duncan Taylor.

Walker’s inclusion adds experience to the back-line, which is completed by uncapped Edinburgh Rugby full-back Greig Tonks and 2012 Melrose Sevens winner Taylor, both of whom qualify for Scotland through Scottish parents.

Scotland A team to play England Saxons at Kingston Park

Friday 1 February (kick-off 8pm) – live on SkySports

15 Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby), 14 Duncan Taylor (Saracens), 13 Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors) – 3 caps, 12 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), 11 Nikki Walker (Worcester Warriors) – 24 caps, 10 Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) – 1 cap, 9 Sean Kennedy (Glasgow Warriors); 1 Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks) – 24 caps, 2 Steven Lawrie (Edinburgh Rugby), 3 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap, 4 Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps, 5 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), 6 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby), 7 Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) – 20 caps, 8 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN

16 Alun Walker (Edinburgh Rugby), 17 Grant Shiells (Newcastle Falcons), 18 Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), 19 Robert McAlpine (Edinburgh Rugby), 20 James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), 21 Jamie Stevenson (London Scottish), 22 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh Rugby) – 7 caps, 23 Dougie Fife (Edinburgh Rugby)

Duncan Taylor (23)
Centre (Saracens)
Height – 6ft 3in (1.89m)
Weight – 15st 7lb (100kg)

Born in Northampton Duncan Taylor is a strong running centre who impressed the Saracens coaches with his performances for Bedford Blues in the Championship in the 2010/11 season.

Before his arrival at Saracens, he enjoyed a peripatetic upbringing due to his parents’ employment, which saw his begin his schooling and rugby at Davidson Mains Primary School in Edinburgh. He then attended Olney Middle School, playing for Olney RFC on the first of two occasions either side of a spell at Davidson School in Sydney, Australia (playing for Garigal RFC) before returning to Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell.

He then signed for Bedford RFC aged 17 where he spent two years with the club’s Colts and two seasons with first team, during which they reached the Championship playoff semi-finals in both seasons.

He joined Saracens as a dual registered player at the start of the 2011/12 season before winning the Melrose Sevens title with the Premiership outfit the following summer and making over 20 appearances for the Premiership club.

Duncan qualifies for Scotland through his Scottish parents Lindsay and Colin who are from Stranraer and Glasgow respectively.

Jamie Stevenson (20)
Scrum-half (London Scottish)
Height – 1.85 m (6′ 1″)
Weight – 84 kg (13st 5lb)

Born in London, former Scotland age-grade scrum-half Jamie Stevenson represented Kent under-16 and 18, London Irish under-18 and 19, and Scotland under-18 and 20 through Scottish Rugby’s exile programme.

Despite a strong age-grade representative career, he began playing rugby as a hooker before switching to the back-row, before finally resting at scrum-half.

As a senior player he recently made a big impact in his club’s British & Irish Cup clash against Gala, registering a hat-trick in the pool clash against the Maroons. Stevenson qualifies for Scotland through his father, Neil, who hails from Cardross.


Meanwhile Glasgow Warriors and Currie lock, Jonny Gray will captain the Scotland under-20 team for their opening 6 Nations clash against the Auld Enemy on Friday (1 February, Brickfields Recreation Ground (Plymouth Albion), kick-off 5.45pm).

Gray, who will lead the team for the first time, will be joined by elite development players Rory Hughes (winger, Scotland 7s), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (scrum-half, Edinburgh Rugby) and Adam Ashe (back-row, Glasgow Warriors) in the starting line-up.

From the Scottish club game Keith Buchan (Boroughmuir) is at full-back, his club team-mate Damian Hoyland slots in on the wing; from Gala Chris Auld (centre) and Russell Anderson (hooker) win starts; Ayr’s D’arcy Rae is at tight-head prop and Jamie Bhatti is at loose-head and is joined by his Stirling County team-mate Ruaridh Leishman in the back-row.

Completing the starting team are exiles Adam Sinclair (Perpignan) at lock, Will Bordill (Sale Sharks) in the back-row and Glasgow Warriors and Clermont Auvergne centre Mark Bennett.

Head coach, Sean Lineen, said: “It’s been a really exciting process working with a group of young players who are willing to learn and who want to do something special in this year’s 6 Nations and IRB Junior World Championship.

“We’ve had four camps and every single player has worked hard, so we’re going down there to give an outstanding performance and there are players who have missed out this time around who are very disappointed.

“However, I’ve been really impressed with the coaching group and the players. We’re really looking forward, with huge anticipation to Friday, so we can see what we can do and hopefully surprise people. England are always a very good team and they will be a good measure of where we are.”

Edinburgh Accies full-back Ruaridh Young will travel as 24th man.

The Scotland under-20 team to play England under-20 on Friday (1 February) at the Brickfields Recreation Ground in Plymouth v England under-20 is as follows:

15 Keith Buchan (Boroughmuir), 14 Damian Hoyland (Boroughmuir), 13 Chris Auld (Gala), 12 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors / Clermont Auvergne), 11 Rory Hughes (Scotland 7s / Stirling County), 10 Tommy Allan (Western Province)
9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby / Heriot’s); 1 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), 2 Russell Anderson (Gala), 3 D’arcy Rae (Ayr), 4 Jonny Gray (captain) (Glasgow Warriors / Currie), 5 Adam Sinclair (Perpignan), 6 Ruaridh Leishman (Stirling County), 7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks), 8 Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors / Stirling County)

16 Calum Black (Edinburgh Accies), 17 Shawn Muir  (Hawick), 18 Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Rugby / Stewart’s-Melville FP), 19 Cameron Turner (Aberdeen Grammar), 20 Tommy Spinks (London Scottish), 21 Ali Price (Bedford Blues), 22 Alex Hagart (Aberdeen Grammar), 23 Robbie Fergusson (Ayr)

22 Responses

  1. Disgrace that Rae has been handed a start- not fit enough, not smart enough, overweight and extremely poor technically. Hope personally that he gets found out on friday night in a big way. Bar that think its a very good selection Jonny Gray at captain should lead the team well and will be backed up well by Bennett, Bordill and Ashe amongst others. Would like to see Ashe really step up in this championship and start to force his way into the Glasgow squad, consistently powerful at County and reads the game well for a back row. We all know by now that Bennett is a star in the making but center partner Chris Auld could potentially play his way into an EDP contract as might Tommy Allan and hopefully Robbie Ferguson as well who has been outstanding for Ayr all season.

    In terms of the boys left out disappointed young James Malcolm never made the squad watched him play against Ayr and he is a superb prospect smaller than Rae but much fitter, stronger and more skilled. Also Murdo Mcandrew would have probably been a good shout at scrummy since Hidalgo Clyne isn’t consistently playing at scrum half and started last seasons championship at 15

    1. Returning at a late date to this article having watched games so far – you have a point. Good to see James Malcolm in the squad now. Team playing well but think the weak spot lies at 9. Not convinced SHC is a born to be scrum half – slow to the breakdown and ponders then makes a decision. Would have had Price/McAndrew joint place after game against Ayr and SHC a definite third and his game against Scotland select wasn’t outstanding and hasn’t improved to date. Agree with comment below – think this is another player the SRU have highlighted and are determined to promote regardless. Where will they try him next? Good to get the results going their way so far.

  2. It’s disappointing to see that Tommy Seymour isn’t included in the A team although that might be because he’s likely to be included in the 6 nations at some point

    1. No he’s just typically what the sru go for in props big and not a lot else, seen far smaller boys work far more effectively, also from what I’ve seen he seems like an arrogant boy

    2. 1. John Sutton said: January 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
      Disgrace that Rae has been handed a start- not fit enough, not smart enough, overweight and extremely poor technically. Hope personally that he gets found out on friday night in a big way………….
      In terms of the boys left out disappointed young James Malcolm never made the squad watched him play against Ayr and he is a superb prospect smaller than Rae but much fitter, stronger and more skilled.

      Did young Mr Rae piss on your chips??

      John Sutton said: January 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm
      No he’s just typically what the sru go for in props big and not a lot else, seen far smaller boys work far more effectively, also from what I’ve seen he seems like an arrogant boy

      Mr Sutton I’m one of those guys who is affiliated to a Club on the Southside of Glasgow but each week watches one of our “Local” sides rather than travel across the district (?) to grounds like Falkirk and Dunfermline. I too have seen Messrs Rae ; (+ Chris Barnes) and Malcolm … all of whom are in the wider Under 20 Squad.
      I’m afraid I agree in principal about Rae AND similarly Barnes. Unfortunately young Malcolm appears to be behind 2 older players in the “Pecking Order” .
      I.M.H.O. we are stuck in a situation where SRU picked Rae & Barnes as 14/15 year olds and having spent so much money on them cannot “Cast them off”.
      It’s heard it said that Whitecraigs did not want Rae “loaned” to them as he ‘weakened’ their scrum.

      A friend [a scrummage coach] would tell you that there are better age group Props in National A & B (where young Malcolm plies his trade) and reminded me that Ewan Murray (as U-18), Ryan Grant & John Welsh amongst others rarely featured at Age Group level …. Those who did when they were youths predominantly disappeared when it came to Pro-Rugby.
      There are exceptions …… Aladair F**6king Dickinson (as he’s been described elsewhere in Blogs) came through the system but many Front Rows believe slipped throw the net to get a Contract ??????

    3. Agreed although I doubt Rae will be starting the next game after he was completely blown out the water by the england front row, would like to see Bhatti Anderson and Cringle start with Muir Malcolm and unfortunately probably Rae on the bench. Anderson is clearly the strongest of the 3 at the moment but Malcolm could probably give black a run for his money. Have to question why the SRU have got 2 EDP hookers plus 2 more academy hookers when there seems to be a prop shortage

    4. Got to wonder where robbie wilson of muir is as he is academy contracted and colin hutton could make the bench as tighthead

  3. Has Roddy Grant really offended someone? He was about Edinburgh’s best player across the 1872 games yet can’t even make the A squad???

    1. Roddy Grant had an operation on his hand last week and is now out of contention for the season I believe.

  4. Thank you for that Phoenix -now it all becomes clear. Our top 4 opensides out through injury, that is fairly unlucky, especially since it would have been an obvious position to hurt England. I was beginning to wonder whether Roddy must have been caught at it with Dodson’s missus or something. It’s even worse news for Edinburgh – not that Bradley plays him enough anyway. These squads look fairly solid, though they’ll have to do something special for a repeat of last year.

  5. I would have liked to see Neil Cochrane of Bedford included at hooker – he’s moved from flanker and established himself as a key player in a top championship side. A hooker with the carrying, and breakdown skils of a backrow forward – I’d have liked to have seen him tested at a higher level. He’s only 29 so as a hooker he’s probably got atleast another 4 years in him.

  6. U-20s Why was Spinks on the bench( no 20 ) sooooo long ,Man of the Match against England last year, Should of had the no.6 shirt on from the start .Plays for London Wasps U -18 and the Wasps A team when not playing for London Scottish .Constistanty outstanding and shows great determination and flair

  7. Speaking a long while after this convesation started here but thought it would be good to hear the opinions now the tournament is over. As it seems to be mostly about the front row, do you think they will bring in ‘muirs robby wilson and big colin hutton from stirling for the Junior world cup? A lot was being said about wilson early season, after he dimantled alex allan and george hunter, but I believe he sufferd a neck injury, and hutton is a big weight to shift in the scrums but only his fitness is in question. Could these two bolster the scrums which was the only real weakness over the six nations?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion