Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


The Real Scotland Team to Face Japan

Ruaridh Jackson - pic © Al Ross
Ruaridh Jackson - pic © Al Ross

Kelly Brown will captain Scotland against Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday in the first viagogo Autumn Test.

Back-row forward Brown, 31, returns after recovering from the leg injury which cut short his involvement in Scotland’s summer tour to South Africa. It will be his tenth Test as Scotland captain and 59th cap overall.

He is one of six changes in personnel and two further positional switches from Scotland’s last match – the last-gasp 30-29 victory over Italy in the quadrangular tournament in Pretoria in June.

The modifications see Sean Maitland, Nick De Luca,, Ruaridh Jackson, Ryan Grant and Ross Ford join Brown in the starting line-up with David Denton and Alasdair Strokosch listed in their more customary back-row berths.

Two players who made their debuts in the summer, the Glasgow Warriors duo, wing Tommy Seymour (above left) and lock Tim Swinson (above right), will make their first starts at Murrayfield, while De Luca returns to the international arena for the first time since last November, having spent the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship on the side-lines through injury.

Scotland head coach Scott Johnson, mindful of the team’s reputation as being “slow starters” at the outset of campaigns, said: “We are looking to the future and we’re also looking at people’s futures too.

“This selection is a first chance for some to put their hand up.  We have a 22-months campaign pre-World Cup and one of the mantras is ‘this could be your last Test match’.

“It’s not a right to play for your country. You have to go out there and perform.  It’s important that these guys who have got the jerseys go out and perform.”

Johnson described Japan – conquerors of Wales during the summer – as a “formidable” team who have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.

He added: “Saturday is a good chance for the players to show their wares. Japan are well-coached, have a great work ethic and really good knowledge of rugby now.”

Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play Japan in the viagogo Autumn Test at Murrayfield on Saturday 9 November, kick-off 2.30pm

15 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps, 1 try, 5 points

14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
13 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps, 1 try, 5 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 15 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 79 caps, 11 tries, 55 points

10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 21 caps, 3 conversions, 2 penalties, 2 drop-goals, 18 points
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) 21 caps, 2 tries, 21 conversions, 47 penalties, 193 points

1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), 10 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 68 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) 56 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 55 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) 35 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) 58 caps, 4 tries, 20 points CAPTAIN
8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 14 caps


16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) 27 caps, 1 try, 5 points
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 22 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Richie Gray (Castres) 31 caps, 1 try, 5 points
20 John Barclay (Scarlets) 41 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps, 1 try, 5 points
22 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps, 1 conversion, 2 points
23 Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 3 caps

Referee: J P Doyle (England). Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales) and Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland).

11 Responses

  1. I am less than whelmed by this team. I think we’ve missed a chance to experiment with two tough Tests to follow – Gray Jnr and Bennett should have featured in some way.

    Kellock doesn’t bring much to the party beyond expertise in the lineout and a way with the ref. Welsh is very hard done by to miss out on the 23 altogether, and Cross is very lucky. Not sure what Pyrgos has done to be ahead of Cusiter, and NDL can count himself lucky that Dunbar is crocked.

    Of course, much of this selection was forced by injury, but I hope to see a much better team put out for the SA game.

  2. Don’t understand this ‘last chance saloon’ type of selection, in terms of selecting a number of players who need to take yet another chance to demonstrate their worth at this level or else be jettisoned forever (well, at least until their next chance!!). Feel that we are missing a massive trick with this selection. Murray is hugely out of sorts at Wuss, whose scrum is the weakest in the AP by far, the backrow is hideously unbalanced with no obvious 7 (in the link man role), and how many chances does de Luca get? Opportunity missed

  3. Quite a strange and disappointing selection in some ways. I too am bemused by the lack of an openside. What more do we need to find out about Stroker and Brown?… Apart from neither of them are actually opensides. Would have liked to have seen Bennett on the bench. Surprised by Pyrgos ahead of Cusiter. Surprised by Kellock starting. Had not made my mind up about 3. Welsh had a torrid time against Toulon.
    I suppose we might need to wait and see the rationale for this selection in hindsight with what SJ’s plans are over the three games. I think he has gone for what he will see as his first choice backline given injuries (and untested players), and a very experienced set of forwards. Not sure what we’re to find out from this… We better bloody win! Will give the team my full support obviously and hoping for a very compelling performance to get things off to a good start.

  4. I personally don’t see why the selection has been criticised so much. It’s a solid team with quite a few I experienced guys starting/on the bench. The combinations are well tested and proven, Ford and Murray have scrummaged together for years, Kellock is the right man to partner the inexperienced Swinson as they know how to work together from being at Glasgow, similarly Scott and De Luca are an established centre pairing although building towards 2015 this may be Johnson giving De Luca his last chance to prove himself. The experienced spine of the team will no doubt provide some confidence for the new guys. There was no point in throwing in a bunch of uncapped players just because it was Japan, my suspicion is that Johnson is saving the uncapped players for Australia/South Africa to give them something to prove rather than just handing them a cap and a victory against Japan

  5. A bit disappointed with the selection but generally I’ve been pleased with how SJ has been developing the squad. People seem to be forgetting that SJ capped 10 new players on the summer tour and there were more during the 6N. This selection seems like he is favouring consistency to ensure we get a win. I hope we see a combative side against SA and Australia with a few more chances taken.

    The main disappointment for me is that Fusaro isn’t starting. Guess he doesn’t think Strokosch deserves to be dropped which given his performances in SA is fair enough really.

    I reckon we’ll win with something to spare. Hope that doesn’t come back to taunt me!

  6. Would have loved Fusaro to get a bash at it, may hold him back for SA and if he plays well against that pack then he is a keeper!

  7. Have to agree with the general opinion. If Johnson wants to settle combinations now, and get a consistent team going, then we have to start playing with a balanced back row. We can’t expect to beat the top teams in the world without a jackal at the breakdown, and playing games without one will only hurt us in the long run I think.

    I would have liked to see Gray Jnr. get a run here over Kellock, if his ability to run a lineout is sound. Bennett’s too raw, and in the injury absence of Dunbar, De Luca is the only real choice available. Hopefully in the next few years Bennett and Fife kick on to give some more competition at 13.

  8. Not an overly bold team selection. The balance of the back row again seems completely wrong as we are crying out for an out an out openside. I feel against the likes of SA where they have a mahoosive pack it is almost worth going the complete other way and playing two opensides (fusaro&barclay) in a bid to slow the ball down and stop them playing. If Heathcote is being seen as a realistic option at 10 he surely had to at least be included on the bench here? Bennett is not quite there yet I don’t believe as needs a bit more pro 12 game time under his belt, while Dunbar is much more suited to playing 12. Therefore De Luca was the obvious (and in form) candidate. This is potentially his last chance so lets hope he can finally deliver on the int stage. Why is Kellock involved? Experienced, yes. But would not be in a matchday squad for any bigger games. Seems a wasted opportunity to allow Gray jnr or Gilchrist develop. Still lack a quality hooker

    1. Heathcote has had hardly any game time this season and at his age and experience will be hugely undercooked for test rugby. Some things are just out of SJ’s control – it has been said many times before but Heathcote has to move to a club where he’ll get a fair crack of the whip. That is probably not a club where your rival’s Dad is a coach and selector. Gilchrist has also been disappointing.

      I’m all for giving young lads a shot but the Japan game really is a must win match, especially as they’ll be in our RWC group. The Australia and SA games…well we’ve been pumped before and we’ll be pumped again so chucking some newbies in and seeing who sinks and who swims might not be such a daft approach.

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