KO 2.00am Sunday 10th June 2018
(7.00pm local time, Sat 9th June)
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
TV coverage – BBC1 Scotland from 1.45am
Dougie Vipond, Andy Nicol and John Barclay are in the studio with John Beattie and Chris Paterson providing commentary.
There might be a sense of deja vu about this summer’s tour schedule for Scotland. 4 years ago the dark blues also tackled Canada, USA and Argentina – although at least there’s no 5,000 mile trip to South Africa tacked on at the end of this season’s travels. This should (hopefully) be the last of the “bits and pieces” tours for the national side though. Following the 2019 RWC Scotland will rejoin the top table, including 2 and 3 match series against all of the Southern Hemisphere’s Tier 1 nations during the next 10-year cycle. The aim to grow the game globally will likely mean more 2 test tours for all concerned, to provide more nations with meaningful games during June.
Number of times Scotland have played the Rugby Championship countries away from home in the last 10 years:
Argentina – 6 (including this season)
Australia – 2
South Africa – 2
New Zealand – 0
It may actually be the last time taking on the North American nations on their own turf for a while, so let’s enjoy the opportunity to develop some new caps and younger players with a seriously challenging 16 months ahead, running through to the Rugby World Cup in Japan in the Autumn of 2019. First up this summer – it’s Canada.
Canada Scouting Report
Record in this RWC cycle
Played – 27
Won – 9
Drawn – 1
Lost – 17
Games against Tier 1 opposition
This will be just the third match against a Tier 1 side for Canada since the last World Cup. They lost narrowly (18 – 20) at home to Italy in summer of 2016 and later that year they were well beaten (21 – 52) by Ireland in Dublin.
Route to RWC 2019
Canada have been to all eight previous Rugby World Cups but that proud record is under serious threat ahead of the 9th edition in Japan next year. Having missed out on the Americas 1 place to USA, the Canadians then slipped to defeat against Uruguay in the battle for the Americas 2 qualifying slot – losing both the home and away leg of their playoff against Los Teros.
There is one final chance for the Canucks to make it though. A four-team repechage will provide the 20th team to join the RWC action in 2019 and a place in Pool B which includes both New Zealand and South Africa.
Glasgow Warriors’ own Canadian sensation DTH can der Merwe is still providing the firepower for his adopted country – and will skipper them throughout this summer’s action. With 99 career tries already on the board (47 for Glasgow, 32 for Canada, 19 for Scarlets and 1 for Newcastle) could DTH bring up his own personal century of scores against a side packed with his Warriors’ clubmates?.
Flanker Lucas Rumball has only missed a handful of games since making his Test debut as a 20-year-old in February 2016. Now 22 he’s already picked up 20 caps while playing across the back row for his country.
Named as Canada’s top young male player in his teens and having captained the Maple Leafs in the World Rugby U20 Trophy he’s been earmarked for success from an early age. Mostly featuring as an oversized (6’4″) openside, if selected he’ll provide a physical test for young Jamie Ritchie, who has the 7 shirt for Scotland.
This will be just the 5th time the two sides have met in a capped international. Past matches:
Scotland 22 – 6 Canada
Murrayfield, 12 January 1995
Scotland: Damian Cronin (1T); Gavin Hastings (1C, 5P)
Canada: Gareth Rees (2P)
Canada 26 – 23 Scotland
Vancouver, 15 June 2002
Canada: Phil Murphy (1T); Jon Thiel (1T); Jared Barker (2C, 4P)
Scotland: Mike Blair (1T); Chris Paterson (1T); Simon Taylor (1T); Brendan Laney (1C, 2P)
Scotland 41 – 0 Canada
Pittodrie, 22 November 2008
Scotland: Nikki Walker (2T); Ben Cairns (1T); John Barclay (1T); Al Strokosch (1T); Rory Lamont (1T); Phil Godman (3C, 1P); Dan Parks (1C)
Canada 17 – 19 Scotland
Toronto, 14 January 2014
Canada: Jeff Hassler (1T); James Pritchard (4P)
Scotland: Grant Gilchrist (1T); Greig Laidlaw (1C, 3P); Stuart Hogg (1P)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant 1: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant 2: Derek Summers (USA)
TMO: Dave Ardrey (USA)
It’s the summer tour so it’s that time of year when Scotland get a rookie official for one of his first tastes of taking charge of a Tier 1 side. After Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) for the opening game of the Japan series in 2016 and Paul Williams (also New Zealand) in last year’s match against Italy in Singapore, Kubo-san will be the latest ref to provide a fresh challenge for the Scottish players to figure out.
Discipline in the early part of the Townsend era has been reasonably good. Scotland have managed to average single digits for penalties (9) across Toony’s first 11 matches in charge (their opponents have conceded 11 per game). There have also been just 2 sin bins so far while the Scots have benefited from their opponents giving up 1 red and 9 yellow cards.
As you’d expect against the side who (given performances mentioned above) could be considered the weakest, Scotland’s 23 is experimental. Grant Gilchrist will skipper the side (for the first time since 2014) in the absence of tour captain Stuart McInally. With Rambo out, the front five is much as could be expected from the personnel available, with Fraser Brown filling in and the only big difference from recent teams being Allan Dell returning at loosehead.
After that, things go full Tombola with David Denton the voice of experience in the back row and Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie the flankers.
There’s a brand new half back pairing of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Ruaridh Jackson (who has played fullback all season) and a new midfield of James Lang and Chris Harris. Blair Kinghorn will earn his first start at fullback but expect him to shift to the wing should he play well enough to escape any Night of the Long Toonies that could follow an underperformance as we saw in Fiji last summer.
Relative to the Scotland touring squad as a whole, the bench is actually pretty strong with Ali Price, Jamie Bhatti and Mark Bennett all guys who have regularly started for Scotland in the past or recently.
The opposition may be “only” Canada, but Townsend is clearly setting a challenge to these players – prove you are good enough. With the home side sure to be fired up, and led by DTH Van Der Merwe, they won’t have long to do so.
Scotland XV: Blair Kinghorn, Lee Jones, Chris Harris, James Lang, Byron McGuigan, Ruaridh Jackson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, David Denton.
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum, Lewis Carmichael, Luke Hamilton, Ali Price, Adam Hastings, Mark Bennett.
Additional squad reporting: Rory Baldwin