The SRU had been hyping the squad announcement to levels that really ought to be reserved for The Beatles reforming with all four original members. We were promised glitz and glamour but got a visibly irritated Vern Cotter rushing through the squad sheet and players fidgeting like primary school kids at a Christmas Carol concert.
There had been rumours cirulating that Cotter’s announcement would contain a few surprises and that proved to be the case.
Here’s the 31 man squad that will travel to England:
Al Dickinson (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant (Glasgow), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (Glasgow), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons)
Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Ross Ford, (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Tim Swinson (Glasgow)
David Denton (Edinburgh), Josh Strauss (Glasgow), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow), John Hardie (unattached), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan)
Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, capt), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh),
Finn Russell (Glasgow), Duncan Weir (Glasgow)
Mark Bennett (Glasgow), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Peter Horne (Glasgow), Richie Vernon (Glasgow)
Sean Lamont (Glasgow), Sean Maitland (London Irish), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow), Tim Visser (Harlequins)
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow)
Blair Cowan and Rob Harley are the notable exclusions in terms of Vern Cotter’s selections so far during his tenure as Scotland Coach. John Barclay has also failed to make the cut despite his superb performance against Italy.
Cotter has decided against risking Alex Dunbar and so Richie Vernon, quite rightly, earns his place in the squad. He does, however, give Sean Maitland the benefit of the doubt.
Many had written off Alasdair Strokosch’s chances of making the cut but Cotter obviously values his experience and he does offer an option in the second row. Tim Swinson also makes a surprise appearance having dropped out of the squad due to injury only to return having come through Glasgow Warriors recent pre-season friendly against Canada.
The main talking point will be the inclusion of Scotland’s two “project players” and John Hardie. The debate about World Rugby’s eligibility rules will contine to rumble on even if there are changes. I have already explained why I think the current laws are suitable in today’s modern world. The media will now be beating a door to Peter Wright’s door to get a quote about how furious he is and how it’s immoral for these players to be representing Scotland.
Let’s not forget that all three players, especially Hardie, gave up lives elsewhere to come and play in Scotland. Strauss and Nel have embraced life here with open arms. Nel considers his children to be Scottish and Strauss was apparently visibly moved when Cotter told him he was to be named in the World Cup training squad.
Out of the three John Hardie has perhaps the most to lose from coming to play for Scotland. Yes, he had amitions to play for the All Blacks once, but he has given up a lucrative contract with the Highlanders to come to Scotland with no prospect of a job aside from a short term two month contract with the SRU.
So who do you think is the biggest ommision from the squad?
Who shouldn’t be on the bus?
And how far will this squad of 31 actually get?