World Rugby U20 Championship 2018 Review: Scotland’s Backs

All 12 backs in the Scotland squad for the World Rugby u20 Championship saw some game time in France. There was definitely a core of 6 within that group who were first choice in their positions (scrum half, centres and back 3), with Callum McLelland (Edinburgh) edging a close battle with Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks) for the 10 shirt.

Appearances – most minutes

  1. Logan Trotter (wing / full back) – 388 minutes
  2. Stafford McDowall (centre) – 338
  3. Paddy Dewhirst (full back) – 320
  4. Kyle Rowe (wing) – 311
  5. Charlie Chapman (scrum half) – 308

Stirling County flyer Logan Trotter was the only Scotland player to start all 5 matches in the tournament. In fact, along with Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr) and Kyle Rowe (Glasgow Hawks) the back 3 selections were very consistent throughout the tournament. Their combined return of 7 tries certainly helped justify coach Bryan Redpath’s faith in them as a trio.

In the absence of the injured Marr scrum half Kaleem Barreto, Gloucester’s Charlie Chapman hoovered up the minutes at 9. He really grew into his role as placekicker and decision maker as the tournament progressed. There’s a bit of a logjam of young scrum-halves at his club but his showings over the summer will have done his chances of progression no harm at all.

Attack – top carriers*

  1. Paddy Dewhirst (full back) – 11.0 carries per 80 minutes
  2. Kyle Rowe (wing) – 9.0
  3. Ross Thompson (stand off) – 8.7
  4. Stafford McDowall (centre) – 8.1
  5. Cammy Hutchison (centre) – 7.1

The young Scots did a good job of getting the ball in the hands of their dangerous wide men on a regular basis. While the back 3 may have impressed (and picked up a rake of tries) it was the centre pairing of skipper Stafford McDowall (Ayr) and Cammy Hutchison (Currie) that really stood out in attack. At 10-15kg heavier than Scotland’s other main backs the midfield partnership used their physicality well but also added some nifty footwork and quality handling to the mix. They were the top players in the Scotland squad for defenders beaten (with 11 and 10 respectively) and added 7 clean breaks and 7 offloads through the first 4 rounds of matches.

Defence – top tacklers*

  1. Patrick Anderson (centre) – 11.0 tackles per 80 minutes (82% successful)
  2. Fraser Strachan (centre) – 10.6 (86%)
  3. Kyle Rowe (wing) – 10.0 (83%)
  4. Charlie Gowling (scrum half) – 9.0 (44%)
  5. Stafford McDowall (centre) – 8.4 (93%)

The Scottish midfield came under a lot of pressure, especially in their game against England when Patrick Anderson (Melrose) and Fraser Strachan (Northampton) seemed to be confronted by wave after wave of white shirts! For the second season running Stafford McDowall was the key defensive linchpin and his ability to perform to a consistently high standard on both sides of the ball bodes well for a future professional career. Special mention for Cammy Hutchison and Ross Thompson who made 100% of their tackles during the first 4 games.

Check out this article for some analysis of Scotland’s forwards during the tournament.

* Unfortunately ESPN haven’t provide stats for Scotland’s last match against Georgia. The marked stats are only for the first 4 rounds against Italy, Argentina, England and Ireland.

Note that only players with a minimum of 80 minutes played are included. Carries and tackles are calculated by dividing the number of tackles/carries by number of minutes played and multiplying by 80.

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
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