Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Squad for the Summer Tour to Japan

Vern Cotter - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Vern Cotter - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Vern Cotter today announced the Scotland senior squad that will tour Japan in the summer for a two test series to be shown on the BBC. That it could be seen as developmental depends on how you view the opposition (just ask South Africa) and results could prove vital with a tough autumn schedule, especially if Argentina finally get their full team for a tour.

To that end Cotter has picked a 27-strong group for the matches at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota City (18 June) and the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo (25 June). Only three players who didn’t play in the Six Nations have made the cut: Fraser Brown, Henry Pyrgos and Damien Hoyland.

Others who miss out include Duncan Weir and Matt Scott, although the sight of Alex Dunbar limping off against Connacht on Saturday may yet change things there. Cotter also confirmed that Mark Bennett has been left out to be allowed for consideration for the GB Sevens squad for the Rio Olympics. It’s also slightly jarring to see the name Lamont missing from the squad for the first in a long time, but Hoyland has earned his place for try scoring form; Matt Taylor will be working on his defence though.

There is an argument that John Hardie could have been rested given that he’s about the first name on the team sheet so his place will be safe in the autumn but has been playing top-flight rugby solidly since the start of the last Super Rugby season, and perhaps also WP Nel who has played 60+ in every Scotland game since the World Cup. However, given Grant Gilchrist’s continued absence, it’s about as strong a Scotland squad as you could pick at the moment and Cotter seems in no mood to experiment.

Scotland squad for tour of Japan:

Alasdair Dickinson, WP Nel, Moray Low, Rory Sutherland
Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown
Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson
John Barclay, David Denton, John Hardie, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson

Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos
Finn Russell, Ruaridh Jackson
Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor
Damien Hoyland, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser
Stuart Hogg

21 Responses

  1. Given that Vern has gone for a full strength squad the only questions for me would be that Hardie has been looking like he needs a rest & the preference for Swinson over Toolis or, my preference, Harley, in Gilchrist’s continued absence.

  2. Not a massively interesting or bold selection from BVC but given that wins are essential for ranking points probably the right call. Good to Hoyland and Sutherland there and hope Mcinally gets a start.

    Personally would have gone for Ashe over Denton as he’s younger and more need of the experience. Not really fussed either way though. Swinson’s an odd pick as he’s been on the bench all season and been a massive liability discipline-wise when he’s come on. Not many other options though I suppose.

    The only selection that I’m actually disappointed by is Hardie over Watson. Hardie’s brilliant and would be first choice against any of the top tier teams but this felt like a real opportunity to reward Watson for a great season and give him some top level experience. Given that Hardie’s effectively coming off a double season, this would have seemed logical to me.

    1. I for one am happy it was neither “interesting” or “bold”. Job is to win both games and ranking points. I’ve no desire for a raft of left field selections. Cotter is, if nothing else, consistent. Weir’s last showing ruled him out. Bennett, see below, is likely going to Rio. This is not the time or place to bring in some of the other guys touted. Simple process, make squad, impress within that environment, play consistently well at club level. Sorry, Jocky, how can you compare Low, who starts regularly at Exeter and a bit like Taylor has improved a lot since he was first capped, with Berghan? Same applies to Dean, not even close to the pecking order.
      Hoyland, I am please to see go, he will need to up his defence, Time for him to step up to the plate to add to his solitary cap. Lee Jones might have gone, but given Hogg is the only out and out 15 not surprised Maitland got the nod.

    2. Not sure where the Hardie double season chat is coming from. He was injured for the tail end of the Super Rugby season, so his Super Rugby season finished on the 30 May 2015 same as all the NH players.

  3. Strong squad alright and for me Cowan is the notable absentee

    I wonder if now the Irish are relegated BVC may not b keen to pick from the championship moving forward

    Personally really pleased that Scotland are clearly going there to win and to develop the platform as a squad

    I will b there cheering them on :)

    1. Im a fan of Cowan but I would still have him behind Hardie, Watson and probably Barclay, but thats when Cowan is on form, which he really isn’t this season. He’s been superb for LI for three years now, but this season he’s been pretty woeful, as has most of LI to be fair. So for me, Cowan’s exclusion is no surprise and deserved.
      Watson, on the other hand, can deem himself very unlucky to miss out. As it has been said, he’s on a great run of form and Hardie surely deserves a summer’s rest after 2-3 years of continuous rugby as well as moving and settling into a new country, that has to take its toll, especially the way in which Hardie plays the game which is very Jacques Burgeresq. Happy to see Hoyland in there, although Lee Jones can count himself unlucky to miss out, as can Weir but I’m a big fan of Ruaridh Jackson at the moment, and hope he kicks on at Quins. My biggest disappointment is the overlooking of Ben Toolis once again, I think he’s an excellent second row and is a closer like-for-like squad option for the Grays than Swinson is in my opinion, but I won’t moan too much about it.
      I am worrying that Dunbar’s injury worries may continue, and perhaps a full summer off would have been beneficial for him, and also worry about Bennett’s state of mind, hopefully dropping him will kick him on and not get him down.
      Overall, good looking, familiar squad without much experimentation, which is probably right given the fact that we have finally got a bit of momentum and making changes could potentially harm that. Go well boys!

      1. I think if you read the BBC write up you will see that Bennett has a decent chance of going to Rio with the U.K. Sevens squad. The coach, Amor, has made it clear that he will look at all the countries and XV players too. Certainly has to as none of England, Scotland or Wales have been tearing the turf up on the sevens circuit. He will need plenty time to integrate a squad which rules out summer tours and Rio. Thankfully Hogg hasn’t had his head turned.

        I, like others, would have liked Hardie to get a rest.

      2. Literally just read that about the Olympics and was coming to correct myself. Good luck to Bennett, I’m sure the Olympic experience will be very appealing but like you say, I’m glad he seems to be the only full 15 player that looks to be going from the Scotland set-up. We have depth at centre and can cope without him, especially with his poorish form of late. Hoggy on the other hand, it would have been almost a disaster to have lost him. The brightest spark in the team along with no depth in his position means he would have been a huge loss.
        Can’t think of many full internationals who will go with team GB, I know George North’s name was banded about but I believe that’s a no-go. Christian Wade on the other hand I believe is highly likely to be going.

      3. Fair comments Fifer.

        As for the insanity of 15s players for the Olympics well that merits a thread of its own so I won’t start here

  4. Looks like Jackson the the replacement standoff , thought this might raise a few eyebrows ?


  5. Alas Weir has shown a complete inability to play in the way Scotland need @ international level, he is too slow & despite improving for Glasgow lacks a threat.

    Denton has the physicality/beef required, & was badly missed in the 6N.

    Basically BVC hasn’t got that many players of the required standard to choose from (makes it even more perplexing as to why Edinburgh continue to be allowed to sign/play NSQ/ journeymen backs).

    I’d have had Chris Dean & Simon Berghan for Sean Maitland & Moray Low, no issue with the exclusion of Cowan

  6. As much as I see the need to win both games against Japan, and therefore a strong squad is a must, I would have liked to have seen a couple of the younger Edinburgh lads (Bradbury, Ritchie, Kinghorn) included for the experience, although I appreciate they are included in the U20’s tournament.

    I am slightly concerned about the lack of depth at centre, especially as Dunbar may be injured. If he isn’t fit enough to go then Matt Scott gets a call up, but then if something happens to him, Horne, or Taylor, and Bennett is in Rio, who do we turn to?

    1. Russell or Jackson or even Maitland, not forgetting Laidlaw’s ability to do a shift at 10. Pretty versatile group.

      Edinburgh’s ground move has been confirmed I see.

      1. Yup, Finn has played 12 before and I’m sure Maitland has been playing at 13 on some occasions this season with LI?

  7. Overall agree with most on here that picking the strongest squad possible is preferable to experimenting and overhauling things. However I would have liked a few more youngsters involved, or at least something which would point towards forming hierarchies amongst the players on the fringes of the team. At the moment we have the best team we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve followed Scotland but there seems to be little in terms of strategy aimed at the next world cup. It’s all very well bemoaning the lack of squad depth but that can’t change if we don’t bring new players into the pool.

    1. Gregor can you elaborate on “little in the line of strategy for the next World Cup” please?

      To me this squad is all about developing on this years 6 nations with a squad that is heading to the World Cup

      Bear in mind this is a bit and run tour – 2 tests in 8 days in and out. Also with Warriors season not finishing until ??? There will be only a week or 2 to prepare the full squad before they leave

      1. Apologies I didn’t see this until now. Yeah I think I may be slightly over pessimistic. And of course I failed to take the under-20 tournament into account.

        But equally, todays news has reinforced my feelings. Lamont coming in to replace Visser is proof positive that fresh blood is needed. I like Sean but at 35 he shouldn’t be near the international team. I’m not talking about wholesale changes but we need to start shaking up the squad fringes. There’s players in key positions who will be towards an age ceiling by the time of the next World Cup. But honestly my problem is what do we learn from taking the likes of Low, Swinson, Jackson and Lamont? What purpose do they serve which others with more potential couldn’t.

      2. I would agree re Lamont. A tremendous servant to Scotland and didn’t he retire from Internationals recently?

        We must win these 2 games and BVC has taken a squad to do that but at the same time when someone drops out like Visser it is a little concerning there is not someone selected to replace him with an eye to the World Cup

        Or more concerning would be if we don’t have one considered capable of stepping up (outside the 20s squad)

        Thoughts anyone please?

  8. Not sure where to put this comment so sorry for tangent – Rugby Paper has been carrying some interesting/worrying articles recently. Firstly, the pro-12 are apparently looking into a confrrence system and expansion into CAnada, USA (despite their new pro-league) and South Africa. Bizarre and looks a non-starter but the impetus is clearly a feeling, strongest in Wales, that the pro-12 is failing and we are being left behind by England an d France. Secondly, 6N are apparently heading towards talks about promotion/relegation and this has been forced by Wales and SCOTLAND. Promotion/relegation rather than expansion could be a disaster for us so I don’t understand the motivations. Both stories come from Peter Jackson, so not sure if he is very influential journalist with contacts or as much of a fantasist as his namesake.

    1. Sounds to me like part of the Welsh identity crisis after failing to qualify a team for Europe so they are looking for any option to try am save face and earn some $ to prop up their pro system which has more clubs than the country can support

      Crazy how many they go to judgement day though. Just shows that rugby has to be more than a game to attract the crowds it has to be an “event” then they will come

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion