Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Our Scotland XV: Front Row

Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant on the run - pic © Alastair Ross

Loose Head

Ryan Grant is the obvious candidate here, following his tour with the British & Irish Lions this summer. He may have to curb his enthusiasm in the scrum though, given the amount of penalties he gives away for Glasgow, particularly for early engagement or binding issues at the set piece.  Ironically, the change in scrummaging laws this season would have potentially seen Chunk excel with his low centre of gravity and ability to bore into his opposite tighthead. However, in his absence Grant will get more minutes at this level and the Boks’ game will be a good test of where he’s at for us. Ali Dickinson, Moray Low and Jon Welsh are all in the provisional squad and capable of playing at one and Gordy Reid must be disappointed not to be considered, but given that Ryan Grant is the only specialist loosehead he should secure the jersey.


Sorry to bang on about the Lions but after Dylan Hartley received his ban and couldn’t play it is interesting to note that Ross Ford wasn’t mooted as a replacement option, by anyone. For a player who made the grade 4 years ago, touted as future Lions captain it is a notable benchmark as to how firmly his career has plateaued since. He is named in the squad (of course) along with Scott Lawson (as standard) but Pat McArthur should take his rightful place as starting hooker this Autumn. Lots has been said about the exclusion of Dougie Hall, who’s done no wrong but the answer to that riddle may be  that Stuart McInally has also been invited to train with the squad and Steve Lawrie is listed as ‘unavailable through injury’. Hopefully this additional competition will spur on Ross Ford; otherwise he can condition himself for 20 minutes of international rugby off the bench for the next few years.

Tight Head

This is fast becoming a problem position for Scotland. Yes, right now we have Geoff Cross and Euan Murray vying for the starting spot with Dickinson, Low and (converted) Welsh on the back burner but that paints a false picture. Looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup (as Scott Johnson keeps banging on about) and Geoff and The Rev will probably not be the answer and there is a distinct lack of world-class, specialist threes behind them in the pecking order.  In fact, there are none. Unless you consider Ed Kalman a viable option? Which I personally don’t, give me Mike Cusack anytime. For the Autumn Tests however, my money would be on Geoff Cross. He’s an experienced, solid anchor for the scrum and whilst he may not have as much of the devastating raw strength of Euan Murray in the scrum he is at least available for the South Africa game, which will be huge.

Our team so far:

3. Geoff Cross 2. Pat McArthur, 1. Ryan Grant

Bench: Ali Dickinson, Ross Ford, Jon Welsh

8 Responses

  1. The point about the lack of depth in the front row is spot on. While both pro sides have been stacking themselves with an inordinate amount of hookers, it seems they’ve neglected to bring through any Scottish props, and the ridiculousness of converting Welsh to 3 shows how poorly managed the props that we do have are.

    I think Johnson should make it clear now that he considers Welsh a loosehead, and as much as they can, force Toonie to play him there.

  2. I don’t think it’s quite all so doom and gloom.

    Ford remains a good hooker. Hopefully injury free and with renewed confidence he can still improve as scotland hooker. That said McArthur is a good player and will do well if selected. I personally think Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally will add depth to the options between now and WC.

    In props Ryan Grant is quality and shoe in for Loose head. I think Murray will hold the jersey for non Sunday games. I think John Welsh can cover either side of scrum. Come world cup Nel of Edinburgh becomes an option (regardless of opinions on project players he will be available unless rules change) and he is a good quality Tight head who will bring in the quality. I like Geoff Cross but his lack of game time this season may mean he won’t start in AI’s.

    For me I would go Grant, Ford & Murray for Sat games. Welsh in THP for Sunday games. Bench Dickinson, McArthur & Welsh/Cross

  3. Would have liked to see Grant Shiells & Gordon Reid involved as well, We need to get a Front Row factory and the more the merrier

    1. Think Shiells is just coming back from injury. He was on the bench against London Irish at the weekend. Might get a chance if there’s a raft of injuries.
      Love to see us call up Scott Wilson from Falcons for A game.

  4. How many starts has Cross had for Eduinburgh this season?

    Is McArthur big enough for international rugby??

  5. It is that time of year and I must conceed that, as has been pointed out, my faithful hero is somewhat short on game time of late but that should not lead to doubt in our minds! After inexplicably having been given the summer off by Gatland, our man is chomping at the bit to shine once more. It is time for our prize bull, to leave the squat rack and make the short trip to the world stage and do battle against the best players on earth, just as he did last year. Step forward the man, the mith, the legend, the sex symbol, Girth. Girth to start.

You might also like these:

The Scotland team to face Chile this weekend has been announced and features 10 changes from the side that beat the USA last weekend.
Rory watches as Scotland reach the half way point in their tour with victory over the USA in Washington.
Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion