Six uncapped players were named today in a 43-man double squad for Scotland’s packed June Test match tour schedule.
Glasgow Warriors’ forwards Gordon Reid, Alex Allan and Kevin Bryce and their talented midfield colleague Finn Russell are joined by London Irish openside Blair Cowan and Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half Grayson Hart for the tour which will mark new head coach Vern Cotter’s introduction to the role.
Scotland’s matches are v USA in Houston on Saturday 7 June; Canada in Toronto on Saturday 14 June; Argentina in Cordoba on Friday 20 June; and South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 28 June. The 43 consists of 19 from Glasgow Warriors, 17 Exiles and seven from Edinburgh Rugby.
“Working with Scott Johnson and the national coaches, we’ve selected, effectively, two squads for our itinerary this summer taking into account Glasgow Warriors’ pursuit of PRO 12 silverware and the fact that our match against South Africa falls out-with the IRB Regulation 9 window”, said Cotter.
“We’ve included a mix of the battle-hardened and promising new talent and it will be good to see how players step up to tough and different challenges at the end of a long domestic campaign.”
Cotter will consider captaincy when the preparations begin for the North American leg of the tour next week.
In terms of world rankings the Springboks, who are in Scotland’s Rugby World Cup pool, sit second in the IRB list; Argentina are ninth; Canada are 15th and the USA are 18th.
A number of players will not tour either through injury, elective surgery or possible involvement in the sevens competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow in July. The squad for the Commonwealth Games will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday).
Jack Cuthbert and Matt Scott (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) and Ross Rennie (Bristol Rugby) would have been included for the tour but for injury. Additional players could yet be added to the squads.
Nine players are scheduled to undertake the entire four match tour: forwards Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Kevin Bryce, Moray Low, Geoff Cross and Grant Gilchrist and backs Alex Dunbar, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg.
Kyle Traynor will join the squad after his club’s Greene King IPA Championship final second leg against London Welsh on Wednesday 4 June.
Ed’s note: It’s difficult to know what exactly will happen following phase 1 and how many might follow on into the next portion of the tour. We’ve seen plenty of selectorial nonsense during Johnson’s custody of the team but surely we’re not taking on the Pumas and the Boks without the likes of Cusiter (or even Laidlaw) in the vicinity?
I’d imagine it turns into some sort of survival of the fittest where we see who is still going by then following the first two games and the French players returning to their clubs. One thing is for sure, it’s a great chance for Finn Russell and a bit of a blow for Mark Bennett who has done more to merit inclusion than, say, Kevin Bryce (although that is down to relative depth in his positions) with Scott out and no sign of Alex Grove yet again.
It is highly likely Bennett (along with possibly Richie Vernon, Lee Jones and James Eddie) will return to Sevens duty instead.
Scotland squad for the Test matches v USA and Canada
Forwards: Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) Age 22 uncapped; Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) Age 28 Caps 30; Kelly Brown (Saracens) Age 31 Caps 63; Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25 uncapped; Blair Cowan Age 28 uncapped; Geoff Cross (both London Irish)Age 31 Caps 28; Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 4; Richie Gray (Castres) Age 24 Caps 37; Jim Hamilton (Montpellier) Age 31 Caps 55; Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) Age 32 Caps 43; Kieran Low (London Irish)Age 23 Cap 1; Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) Age 29 Caps 26 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) Age 27 Caps 4; Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) Age 27 uncapped; Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) Age 31 Caps 38 and Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby) Age 28 Caps 4.
Backs: Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks) Age 31 Caps 68; Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 8; Max Evans (Castres) Age 30 Caps 42; Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) Age 22 Caps 3; Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) Age 21 Caps 20; Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) Age 28 Caps 29; Sean Lamont Age 33 Caps 86; Sean Maitland Age 25 Caps 9; Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors) Age 21 uncapped; Duncan Taylor (Saracens) Age 24 Caps 10 and Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 26 Caps 12.
Scotland squad for Test matches v Argentina and South Africa
Forwards: Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25, uncapped; Geoff Cross (London Irish) Age 31, Caps 28; David Denton Age 24 Caps 22; Alasdair Dickinson Age 30 Caps 34; Ross Ford Age 30 Caps 75 (all Edinburgh Rugby); Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 2; Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby)Age 23 Caps 4; Jonny Gray Age 20 Caps 3; Rob Harley Age 24 Caps 4 (both Glasgow Warriors); Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) Age 29 Caps 26; Pat MacArthur Age 27 Caps 4, Gordon Reid Age 27 uncapped (both Glasgow Warriors); Tim Swinson Age 27 Caps 7; and Jon Welsh Age 27 Caps 2 (both Glasgow Warriors).
Backs: Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 8; Dougie Fife Age 23 Cap 1; Grayson Hart Age 25 uncapped (both Edinburgh Rugby); Stuart Hogg Age 21 Caps 20, Peter Horne Age 24 Caps 2 (both Glasgow Warriors); Ruaridh Jackson (London Wasps) Age 26 Caps 23, Sean Maitland Age 25 Caps 9; Peter Murchie Age 28 Caps 2; Henry Pyrgos Age 24 Caps 10; Tommy Seymour Age 25 Caps 8; and Duncan Weir Age 23 Caps 13 (all Glasgow Warriors).