Yesterday we looked at the World Rugby U20 Championship tournament as a whole and now here’s a more detailed rundown on Scotland and the players who will need to perform to ensure success.
Bryan Redpath will take charge of the Under 20s for the first time after inheriting the job from Stevie Scott. “Basil” has made a number of changes from the group who played together in the 6 Nations – although most of those have been enforced by injury or unavailability.
- Sam Grahamslaw, Finn Hobbis, Finlay Scott, Charlie Jupp, James Miller and Charlie Gowling could all make their debuts at this level.
- Ross Dunbar, Cammy Hutchison and Patrick Anderson are recalled after missing the 6 Nations.
Ross Dunbar (Boroughmuir), Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Academy), Finlay Richardson (Edinburgh Accies), Murphy Walker (Strathallan School), Finn Hobbis (Stewart’s Melville)
Finlay Scott (Jed-Forest), Robbie Smith (Ayr)
Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians), Ewan Johnson (Racing 92 Academy), Charlie Jupp (Heriot’s), Marshall Sykes (St Joseph’s College)
Rory Darge (Melrose), Guy Graham (NEWCASTLE FALCONS), Martin Hughes (Heriot’s), Devante Onojaife (Northampton Academy), James Miller (Watsonians)
Charlie Chapman (Gloucester Academy), Charlie Gowling (Stade Francais Academy)
Callum McLelland (EDINBURGH RUGBY), Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks)
Cammy Hutchison (Currie), Stafford McDowall (Ayr), Fraser Strachan (Northampton Academy)
Kyle Rowe (Glasgow Hawks), Logan Trotter (Stirling County), Sam Yawayawa (Glasgow Hawks)
Patrick Anderson (Melrose), Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr)
- The current squad have 94 previous caps for the Under 20s (last year’s squad – 127 and that itself was down from 214 in 2016). They average 3 (last year: 4) previous appearances each in the forwards and 4 (last year: 5) in the backs.
- 4 players were also selected in the original squad for the last U20s World Championship – which equals the lowest number of returning players ever for Scotland. Matt Fagerson’s call-up to the full squad and an injury for fellow back-row Archie Erskine haven’t helped matters – both would still have been eligible after being involved last season.
- Stafford McDowall is the only one of the returning players who was a starter in Georgia last year. Ross Dunbar, Robbie Smith and Patrick Anderson combined for 45 minutes off the bench during the 2017 tournament.
- 16 minutes as a replacement for Glasgow Warriors against Munster for Stafford McDowall is the sum total of this group’s experience of Europe’s top leagues. Compare and contrast with the 2017 and 2016 squads which each had 5 players who had debuted at that level by the time those tournaments started.
- Guy Graham (Newcastle) and Callum McLelland (Edinburgh) are currently the only players with full-time professional contracts for next season.
- A further 22 players are attached to professional sides through academy systems – 9 with Edinburgh, 7 with Glasgow, 4 with English clubs and 2 with teams in the French Top 14.
Four to follow
Position – Centre (and squad captain)
Previous caps – 15
Pro team – Glasgow Warriors through the Scottish Rugby Academy (1 appearance)
Key strength – At 6’4″ and already over 16 stone he’s massive for a young Scottish centre – and he can play a bit too
Useless trivia – He’s the tallest back in the extended Glasgow Warriors’ squad (bar converted flanker Richie Vernon, hallowed be his name).
He’s like a young…??? Given almost any player over 6’1″ involved in Scottish rugby gets stuck in the forwards it’s hard to find a good comparison! It will be fascinating to watch him develop and see what impact he can have in giving Glasgow (and Scotland?) different options in how they play through midfield.
Position – Lock
Previous caps – 5
Pro team – Racing 92 through their Espoirs (Academy) set-up
Key strength – High work rate and consistency.
Useless trivia – All his rugby education has been in France – which should lend a physical edge to his play!
He’s like a young… Jonny Gray. The signs are there – he made 17 tackles made with none missed in what was a very challenging opening fixture against Wales during this season’s 6 Nations. His main influences at Racing are the contrasting pair of Leone Nakarawa and Donnacha Ryan so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on his game.
Position – Back-row
Previous caps – 3
Pro team – Newcastle Falcons (no appearances yet with his deal starting next season)
Key strength – That legendary Graham chippiness will make him an awkward opponent for anyone, just like his dad, George, and older brother, Gary (recently called up by England).
Useless trivia – Finished as equal top try scored for Scotland in the U20 Six Nations (granted that only took 2 tries but still….)
He’s like a young….Hamish Watson. Like the Edinburgh flanker, Guy is a threat on both sides of the ball carrying hard into contact, tackling like a demon and providing a turnover threat to boot. Here’s hoping he doesn’t decide the Red Rose is more to his liking the way his big brother has…
Position – Scrum-half
Previous caps – 4
Pro team – Gloucester via their Academy set-up (yet to make his debut)
Key strength – A consistent threat around the fringes, making ground himself and creating space for others.
Useless trivia – Comes from something of a production line of Gloucester scrummies that includes recent(ish) England U20s Dan Robson and Callum Braley plus former Scotland U20 Ben Vellacott.
He’s like a young… Bryan Redpath. Well the height (or lack of it!) is there – Charlie is an inch shorter even than George Horne and 2 inches shorter than “just remember that he’s only wee” Ali Price. Hopefully, the current U20s coach can impart some wisdom as to how the smallest player on the pitch can still control the game.
The first matchday squad
Here’s the team for the opening game against Italy and it features just three changes from the XV that faced Italy in March – Redpath is looking for continuity, it seems.
Scotland U20 team to face Italy U20: 15. Paddy Dewhirst, 14. Logan Trotter, 13. Cameron Hutchison, 12. Stafford McDowall (Capt), 11. Kyle Rowe, 10. Ross Thompson, 9. Charlie Chapman; 1. Ross Dunbar, 2. Finlay Scott, 3. Finlay Richardson, 4. Ewan Johnson, 5. Jamie Hodgson, 6. Martin Hughes, 7. Rory Darge, 8. Devante Onojaife.
Replacements: 16. Robbie Smith, 17. Sam Grahamslaw, 18. Murphy Walker, 19. Charlie Jupp, 20. Guy Graham, 21. Charlie Gowling, 22. Callum McLelland, 23. Fraser Strachan.
At Stade de la Méditerranée in the World Rugby U20 Championship this Wednesday 30 May (kick-off 5.30pm GMT/ 6.30pm local time) – streamed live on worldrugby.org