Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Townsend announces brief Scotland summer camp

Darcy Graham vs Australia
Scotland's Darcy Graham is tackled in their fifth place play-off with Australia at Avchala Stadium on day five of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 18 June. Photo: Levan Verdzeuli / World Rugby.

If you want to know what a full strength Scotland group looks like, unfettered by injury at the start of a long season, this is not quite it. But the group announced by Gregor Townsend today gives some insight into the players he will look to in the Autumn and beyond.

They will take part in a brief summer camp in St Andrews before resuming duties with their clubs. It will be a chance for Townsend to take a look at Huw Jones and Sean Maitland who sat out the summer, as well as beginning the toughest decision he may have to make that the Lions previously spared him – what to do about Greig Laidlaw.

As usual there are a couple of new faces, including Project-y players Anton Bresler (SA) and Phil Burleigh (NZ). Considering two of our areas of depth are in the second row and at centre they may be lucky to get caps with so many ahead of them in the pecking order, but Richie Gray’s not travelling due to his back injury which gives the new coaches the chance to run the rule over the lanky South African.

More welcome are the inclusions of Darcy Graham and Matt Fagerson both of whom had stellar Junior World Championship campaigns and along with Scott Cummings will be looking for a strong season early in their pro careers to keep them involved at the national level.

There’s a welcome return too for David Denton who will visit the squad despite injury, alongside a number of players who will be a big part of Townsend’s plans.

A lonely rehab continues for Mark Bennett and Al Dickinson, among others.

Notable absentees include Josh Strauss, Matt Scott, new Glasgow signing Ruaridh Jackson (who Toony let go from the Warriors originally) and Damien Hoyland. Also missing from the group that toured in the summer are Alex Allan, D’arcy Rae and Sean Kennedy, while Jon Welsh, Simon Berghan and Cornell du Preez were involved in squads as recently as the 2017 6 Nations.

If everyone listed was fit you’d have a strong group of 23+ but there is a lot of rugby to be played, starting this weekend.

Phil Burleigh (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 26 caps
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
Rory Hughes (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Huw Jones (Stormers) – 8 caps
Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) – 58 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 28 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps
Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 21 caps
Greig Tonks (London Irish) – 8 caps
Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 33 caps

John Barclay (Scarlets) – 63 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby) – 2 caps
Anton Bresler (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Matt Fagerson (BT Sport Academy aligned to Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 110 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – 16 caps
John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby) – 16 caps
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) – 18 caps
Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 27 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) – 4 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 12 caps
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 30 caps

Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby)
David Denton (Worcester Warriors)
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors)
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)

Still on the injury list and not considered:
Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh)

UPDATE: Matt Scott and Murray McCallum were called up to the camp on Sunday as cover for Phil Burleigh (shoulder) and Gordon Reid (concussion).

17 Responses

  1. Where’s Matt Scott? Can’t believe that Phil Burleigh is in ahead of him.

    Same thing with Anton Bresler… We have plenty of young second rows that could push for a place.

    What have these guys done to merit a Scotland call up, other than sign a contract and stay in the country for the required time? It seems to me that selection of residency players is pre-ordained rather than on merit.

    1. Maybe Gloucester didn’t give permission for him to go? Obviously can’t play out of the designated world rugby windows but i’m not sure what the rules are for get togethers? If they’re going to be training rather than social then the club might have said no? I’m more suprised that some of the exiles players, Visser, Maitland etc are actually there.

      1. Yeah, maybe just came down to a club by club basis.

        Centres ahead of Burleigh: Jones, Taylor, Dunbar, Grigg, Horne, Bennett, Scott. Even with Bennett injured its harsh on Scott but maybe Burleigh is in to try out as cover at 10 or 15?
        Locks ahead of Bresler: Gray, Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist, Swinson – but both Grays are injured currently which it makes it a little more udnerstandable even with Cummings on board.

  2. Maybe Gregor has just called up those who he could get plus one or two fringe guys. Who knows?

  3. Bressler – …….Like his parents and siblings, Bresler was born in Namibia. His birthplace was by design to ensure he wasn’t the only one in the family left out but he is keen to stress he is very much South African: “I grew up here. Proper South African, proper Boks ­supporter,” he says……..

    I reckon he’s got a bit of “dog” in him, something we maybe lack.

  4. Concerning that Dickinson and Sutherland are still injured. That’s about a year now? Could Dicko be done as an international level player? Sutherland missing such a long spell could really put back his development too.

  5. Really rate Bresler but would rather we had Carmichael and Hunter-Hill in the mix if we’re just having a look at potential players.

  6. No Gray boys for the AI.

    I reckon Swinson is a better impact substitute.

    So it’ll be from Toolis, Bressler, Gilchrist

    1. It better not be. Bressler is a journeyman. We have young exciting locks including our u20 Capt who was one of the standout players in the whole of the JRWC – there is no need to waste time of Bressler.

  7. Has there been any info on the Celtic boks salaries? If they are on NH cash what chance do you think there would be of the likes of Strauss du preez, even jones going back in the future for kings or cheetahs and it not impacting their Scotland chances.

  8. Bressler ? Do us a favor. Overrated and nowhere near international
    standard. Left SA because he wasn’t good enough for Super Rugby.
    International lock ? Ha ha ha

  9. Huw Jones had a big game last night in the Currie Cup for Western Province against the Lions. Scored two tries and was a beast in defense against Van Rensburg – a recent Bok- and Vorster, a recent SA ‘A’ center.
    Totally bossed them and smashed into tackles

  10. Was doing the Murrayfield tour with my boys last week and saw Mark Bennett – a point at the knee brought a cheery grin and a big thumbs up so hopefully it will not be too long before he is back out on the pitch. I think Burleigh is perhaps being looked at as cover at 10 rather than in the centre. He has some nice touches but is not close to the skill set of Jones, Dunbar, Taylor, Scott, whereas we all know the cupboard is barely stocked once Finn is out the way. It may be that GT is playing psychological games with the likes of Weir and Jackson – pull your socks up because I will look outside the pair of you.

    Bresler – difficult. As Scrummo says, we have Hunter-Hill and Carmichael coming through, so why bother? On the other hand, with the Grays missing, and Cummings still relatively green, Bresler does have the advantage of having been there and done that, which the others don’t. I think he has done well in tandem with Toolis at Edinburgh and deserves to be looked at.

    It is very pleasing to see the likes of Graham, Bhatti and Fagerson, M, in the squad. The reason that the ABs are so successful is revolution through evolution – bringing in the right players at the right time. Thanks to the Academies we are now in a position to be able to identify talent and blood them in an appropriate manner which should help them become better international players.

    Last thought – Laidlaw. What does GT do with him? Clearly he is one of our better players – there is no argument on this, he has been chased and signed by two well funded clubs in Gloucester and Clermont – but does he fit into the Toonie vision? I hope that he does, in some fashion. We still don’t have the strength in depth to cut guys loose, and Laidlaw has a very astute rugby brain. I think he will play another year for Scotland, but I would dearly like him to be involved as Hines and Blair have been going forward.

    1. I would Keep Laidlaw as replacement 9 on bench until end of next WC , then he goes for possibly horne or hidalgo clyne if he is in form

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.
Gregor Townsend has named his team to face Canada in the first match of the Skyscanner Americas Tour with 10 players given the opportunity to make their Scotland debut.
Craig is joined by Iain, Jonny and Rory to discuss Glasgow's momentous win in the final of the 2024 URC

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion