Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Hoyland of the Rising Sun

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

Vern Cotter has named a strong but slightly different-looking Scotland team to the one that finished the Six Nations in March for the first test in Japan.

The big change is a first start for flyer Damien Hoyland who is rewarded for a strong end to his season at Edinburgh and an impressive cameo in the London Sevens. Matt Scott comes in to partner the now-cemented in Champions Cup and Premiership medal winner Duncan Taylor in the midfield. Ruaridh Jackson fills in for Finn Russell at 10 as expected in his first starts in that shirt since 2013, with Pete Horne offering cover from the bench. There is also a return to the Scotland fold for Sean Maitland who will want to state his case for a starting berth from the replacements.

The other big change is at hooker: Stuart McInally gets a welcome start while Fraser Brown will understudy. Before you get too misty-eyed at the winds of change finally swinging through the Scotland front row, Ross Ford is rested with a calf injury and will have to wait for cap number 100. Nonetheless it represents a big chance for his challengers to show the differences they offer, in both cases a lot more in the loose. McInally’s ball carrying ability may make up for the lack of it in the back row where Ryan Wilson has been picked at 8 ahead of Strauss and Denton, who to be fair are known quantities.

Richie Gray has made it back from France in time to partner brother Jonny in the second row while the flanks see the continuation of the JohnJohn axis Hardie/Barclay, one of the success stories of the Six Nations.

Once again Greig Laidlaw will captain the side at scrum half. Other fixtures of the side like WP Nel, Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg will look to continue where they left off.

Scotland are unbeaten against Japan at test level, however they have also travelled to Japan and lost in uncapped matches. Against a team just one rank below them in World Rugby’s table, it will be no easy match.

Scotland team to play Japan at Toyota City Stadium, Saturday 18 June (kick-off 7.20pm BST, 11.20am BST) – live on BBC:
Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Matt Scott, Damien Hoyland, Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Alasdair Dickinson, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, Ryan Wilson

Substitutes: Fraser Brown, Rory Sutherland, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland

Unavailable through injury: Ross Ford (calf).

21 Responses

  1. Scotland simply have to win this match. If the Japan team posted in the Glasgow forum is correct they are missing a host of leading players from the World Cup including Goromaru, Tanaka, Leitch, Broadhurst, Ives, Fukuoka, Male S’au. They still have a very good front row and with Mafi and Tui in the backrow lots of ball carrying threat. But they have a 21 year old with one cap at SH, a centre at FH and a caretaker coach. Any loss would be a humiliation for us, regardless of how impressive Japan were at the World Cup.

  2. Top marks FF for getting the spelling right (I think) on those names!
    It’s a strong Scotland team, and I’m pleased to see Hoyland and Jackson having a run out. Scotland should win if they have the motivation right for it.
    One leg ‘on the beach’ attitudes could be fatal.

  3. Really looking forward to this, if Japan play in a similar fashion to how they did under Jones it should be good fun. Despite all the missing players, I’m a wee bit worried about Mafi: he caused us some real problems in the World Cup game until he had to go off.
    I’m glad Vern has opted for Jackson at 10. As much as I like Weir, I think picking him for that Ireland game at the end of the Six Nations was a big mistake – Jackson and Horne are far more suited to the way we’re trying to play. We should definitely be expecting a win, and some solid defending would be nice to see for a change so that I don’t have to watch through my fingers whenever Japan get the ball…

  4. I think the pivotal figure here could be Ryan Wilson at 8. I’ve often been a critic in the past but he’s played his best rugby at number 8, and his efficient tackling in defence could be key to stopping the rapid Japanese attack.

    1. Agree with that – time for Wilson to show whether he’s really international level or not.
      I always worry about these games – slipping below 100% performance is always a risk for us, and the margins are so small. Hopefully we can be totally professional, dominate, play some good attacking rugby – and keep squeaky bum time to a minimum.

      1. He’s 27 years old, not 22. We should know if he’s up to it or not by now. He’s just not big enough to be an International class 8.

      2. I’ve never really understood what Vern sees in Wilson – he tackles well but never seems to offer much by way of ball carrying or open play. However, Cotter knows far more about rugby than I do so there must be something there that I’m missing. I still think he must be counting the days until Cornell du Preez is Scottish qualified though. Will he be available for us for the autumn tests?

    2. Wilson hasn’t shown anything to convince me he’s any better than Denton, Strauss, Ashe, Bradbury, any of whom I would pick ahead of him.

      1. I would not disagree on Wilson. On his last few outings he has behaved himself and actually stood out , so right now he is a safe pair of hands and will get around the park. Our lineout has underperformed lately and he is great in lineout IMO.

        Now Barclay that is quite different , I see him as the kind of bloke who will play it, his way, or no way. Technically no issues however he is an unsafe pair of hands. Great if he can adapt to the referee and is a bit less single minded. I only hope that in this game of all games he gets it right and we do not need to pull him off early if he gets frustrated.

  5. I reckon we need Denton @ almost 19st he had much need physicality to the forwards. Will – Du Preez becomes SQ in October & I’d like to see a back row of Denton, Hardie & Du Preez in the Autumn Internationals.

    1. Well I dont disagree with Hardie, Du Preez looks the part however Josh Strauss has yet to prove himself, so both need to prove themselves.

      Denton has been around long enough to come to a judgement and we have seen the best and worst. He is inconsistent and barely getting a game at his club.

      David Denton needs to get on the road to recovery by getting a new club who will give him game time. He is in a rarefied atmosphere at bath and frankly , is not cutting it with his international peers.

      1. Bath was a basket case last season under Ford and Denton isn’t the only player whose career has nosedived whilst there. He has performed well for Cotter in the past and I expect there will be a fair number of changes next week.

        It is a little embarrassing that we seem incapable of producing our own back rows but Bradbury, Ritchie, Miller and Smith look like they can all make a serious impression on the Scotland squad in the future.

  6. Du Preez is the only guy without Scottish blood but he is an exceptional talent, I thought Denton was colossal in the RWC but the Bath move hasn’t worked out so far. Another guy who intrigues me is Berghan, he has the size to be a very handy guy to have around but he is not getting much gametime, agree with Bulldog re Sutherland.

    Look forward to seeing Scotland v a team who like to “play rugby” should suit us.

    1. When I watch Berghan, I feel like I’m watching an amateur rugby player who just happens to be MASSIVE. In the open he’s a liability at times particularly in defense.

  7. Scotland struggling to impose themselves on the Japanese, hoping it goes like the World Cup game & Scotland score a few points in the 2nd half. Japan starting to give away multiple penalties

    1. Scotland were pretty rusty but in the end it was a comfortable win in tough conditions a long way from home. I’ll take it.

      If we’d been a bit more clinical at a few points we’d have won by a big margin. Disappointed we never really looked like cutting loose but Japan were very competitive at the breakdown and I thought our energy levels were poor – perhaps not surprisingly.

  8. Sums it up decently. Hope the knocks aren’t too serious. Let’s hope we play a bit better next week.

  9. +ves from SCO match:
    Sutherland a perfect replacement for Dicko going forward.
    Maitland looked fit again.
    Hoyland looked good going forward.
    Russell looked healthy doing the punditry. Thank God.
    There’s definite wiggle room for selections next week. Would like to see Horne at 10 and Jones at 12 next week, and Pyrgos getting some bloody game time!
    They won.

    Things to work on:

    Retention – Way too many turnovers; need to use our size advantage and stay big in the tackle. Don’t need to worry about getting held up by the Japanese.

    Transition – Realignment after turnovers must be quicker. Really the only time Japan threatened us was directly after a turnover.

    Possession to Points – We had 2/3s of the ball; we should be notching at least 40 points with that kind of possession. Feel like Taylor & Hogg are among the only players with the confidence to break protocol and try to create something themselves.

  10. Cheers Robbie re Berghan, used to be a regular Edinburgh watcher before moving to Newcastle, only see 2 or 3 Edinburgh games a year now.

    Re today, I think we really miss Finn Russell, slow service by Laidlaw didnt help the backline. I like Hoyland but he missed a few tackles today. Jackson did ok but Horne @ 10 may interesting next week. Like to see Jones get 30mins too

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion