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Six Nations 2019: England v Scotland – the teams

England vs Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

The final Scotland team for a miserable Six Nations is here.

It’s about as strong as Gregor Townsend could pick with all the injuries – Jamie Ritchie the most recent casualty with a shoulder/neck injury. Magnus Bradbury will start at 8 while Sam Skinner is tried at 6 once again.

The bench looks strong in the pack, but Adam Hastings is arguably the only potential game-changer on there.

Will it be damage limitation against a strong and in-form England side, or will it be ChaosRugby™ reborn?

Don’t forget to check out Part II of Kevin’s preview tomorrow, as well as the latest podcast episode coming soon…

Scotland: Sean Maitland, Darcy Graham, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Byron McGuigan, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (capt), WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.

England: Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, George Ford, Ben Te’o

47 Responses

  1. No Jamie Ritchie or Horne on the bench is madness. If Hamish goes down we don’t have any 7 at all. Why oh why is Harris in front of Horne? Crazy biscuits.

    Apart from that I’m quite happy with the team starting and rest of bench under circumstances. Worried about Mcguigan.

    1. Ritchie is injured apparently. So on that basis fair enough with the pack selection.

      Not sure what Harris has over Peter Horne. Other than that not sure Toony can rightfully be accused of favouritism this time.

    2. Jamie Ritchie is listed as injured. Read the full story on SRU site.

      Harris is obviously preferred to offer back 3 cover. Makes sense given our propensity for injuries this season.

      Expectations are low. Anything better than a 20pt loss will be satisfactorily.

      1. Fraser Brown will do a decent job @7 if needed. Don’t know why but I’m faintly optimistic we may give them a game!

  2. Not sure from those available that I would have picked anyone different. Slightly concerned that our 11,12,13 and 14 between them have just 21 caps and quite a few of those are off the bench. The good news is they don’t have any experience of losing at Twickenham and Jones won’t be able to pour over hours of video footage to work them out. Hopefully we’ve worked out a good defensive pattern and can get some decent ball to play with, even if England just kick it to us.

  3. Considering they are just about the last 23 rugby players still standing north of the border, that is actually a really decent team.

    The forwards especially look powerful and should be able to negate the English tight game somewhat. Hopefully Skinner and Toolis can steady the lineout too.

    Glad to see Sam Johnson back, think he is defensively more solid than Horne and while he doesn’t have the boot, offers a bit more in attack.

    I perhaps would have put Z Fagerson and G Graham on the bench…if we were getting absolutely battered on the scoreboard we could have just chucked them on to scrap and try and take something from it!

    Seeing the teams I am (quietly) a bit more optimistic about the match. Real shame about Ritchie though as I think he has been our player of the tournament

    1. Its a good point, with no Wilson to wind them up and this tending to be a niggly game it might have been good to have someone tend the handbags.

      Lets just hope we push them back in the scrums and put them under a bit of pressure to silence the crowd.

    2. Agreed about Ritchie, and it would’ve been good to see Graham on the bench as he covers the back row and adds some ‘dawg’.

  4. About the best team available really.

    Obviously Harris is on the bench to cover 13 – we already have 10/12 (and 15…..) cover with Hastings so there is no need to have Horne on the bench as well.

    Now I think Harris is terrible, but it still makes more sense in this situation.

    Hope some of the young guys have a solid game.

  5. From the available players it’s difficult to fault the selection.

    Scotland are at their best when ChaosRugby is tempered with a bit of patience and composure and at their worst when they just start chucking it about.

    That’s what we need to avoid on Saturday. They can be competitive and give England a game, but only if they keep the ball when they get it and work the phases until it’s really on…

  6. Can’t believe England have dropped Cokanasiga – as much as their other wingers are dangerous, they are a known, predictable quantity whereas he can pull off the impossible offload and make something from nothing.

    1. Can…sort of…see their logic. Business as usual wins it for them. Cokanasiga offloads maybe a risk both ways.

      1. Cokanasiga in some ways doesn’t fit with England. They are not really that comfortable being adventurers against higher ranked teams or when the stakes are higher…against Italy…sure.
        I think its a positive sign for Scotland…there is a lot of expectation on England at home…if they dont win they will get slaughtered by their fans and media. Their team selection reflects that….they are a bit concerned Scotland could ‘click’.

        Yet again though… concerned about the midfield lacking power …and no regular 7 replacement….although no doubt Brown will step in if Watson goes down. Given the history of Graham england/scotland debate…maybe reason he wasn’t selected on bench.
        Given injury list …its hard to argue about the selection tho.

  7. Just worth observing that England’s starting XV is only 13 caps shy of our whole 23…

  8. Very unfair to call Chris Harris terrible. You’ve only seen him outside an out of position Huw Jones on his debut in front of 70,000 inflatable leek wielding nutters willing him to have to have a complete mental and physical breakdown.
    He was supposedly close to the England squad when Newcastle were topping the prem.
    He’s bagged a couple of good tries off the bench since.
    What is it with us?
    Why can’t we build players up?
    I’d say from what I’ve seen he’s a useful player who’d feature even if we didn’t have injuries.
    Obviously Hastings is covering the inside backs and fullback and Harris is there as a utility back to cover the outside back positions.
    Who else would you pick? If you pick Horne then picking Hastings doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    1. To be fair –

      First, I called him terrible but still said he is the best option for this game.

      Second, I haven’t just seen him play in his debut, which I agree wasn’t fair to judge him solely on. He has not impressed me the other times he has played for Scotland and some of us do watch the champions cup and a bit of premiership rugby now and then….

      Nothing I have seen makes me think he is ever going to be a good international player.

      Others are of course entitled to their own opinion.

    2. He’s mediocre and wouldn’t be near a Scotland squad if we could keep 2 or 3 centres fit.

      He’s scored 1 try for Scotland – a try my arthritic maw could have scored.

      Being close to an England cap doesn’t immediately make you some sort of star.

      Lots of people have BT Sport and can see Harris play – I doubt many people are basing their mehness on his Scotland performances.

      1. Don’t see any point in knocking a player who’s there because he can cover 3 positions and we’ve got injuries.
        Better hope he plays above himself if he comes on.

      2. Jonny b

        Agree with your sentiments. It’s all to easy to rubbish players on here. Giving them support is the decent thing to do rather than shoot them down. Harris to come on and get the winning try at the death!

    3. Chris Harris , is facing guys he faces week in week out , if he is going to have a decent game, it is this week. Time for the gambler to give it one last roll of the dice and head north with his chums tae think again.

  9. That midfield is going to be torn to shreds. Not sure what the better side would be but god I have an awful feeling about this.

    1. I think that is quite harsh. I am pretty sure Grigg hasn’t missed a tackle this tournament and for Glasgow his defence is usually excellent, the same as Johnson. One on one they both punch above their weight.

      Where we could be exposed (like in 2017) would be poor defensive systems, but you would like to think that Toony et al have studied this extensively and put wrongs to right. Another worry is that their big ball carriers, of which there are many (Billy, Manu, Sinckler, Launchbury etc) require two man tackles which can open spaces out wide though I genuinely believe that we are putting out a defensively decent team and would like to think we will not leak tries off first phase again.

      1. Grigg has actually been very solid defensively, he seems to have better timing of his shooting out the line these days.

      2. But what is noticeable is the way in which he tackles. Grigg being smaller than most hits below the knee which offers the attacking player the ability to offload meaning defensive players around Grigg are drawn in to the ball carrier who then passes to the nearest player who then has more space to attack. Big game for Grigg this weekend. I’m sure he will put things right and make it all count. COME ON SCOTLAND!!!!

      3. GT has selected a bunch of terriers for our backs… Apart from our no. 15 all are relatively sleek and nippy players, all in the hands of no. 10 that is Finn… Wonder what will happen if the forwards provide a steady platform through the game..?

      4. Something about Griggs tackling that has been pointed out elsewhere. Tackling so low he affords the tackled player time to offload, never a good thing for your defence. In fact he is often seen hanging on to the ankle of the attacking player and getting dragged along the ground. England will attack us through the middle. Nothing is more certain.

  10. At the start of the campaign I thought we would lose this and since then we have got worse due to injury but worse a drop of form of key players. And England look better. Oh dear.

    It’s an interesting back row. Looks built to try to match English muscle rather than compete at the breakdown. But with Richie out I don’t know that we have any other option. My worry is that if you give England multi-phases they just march steadily down the pitch.

    And Maitland as a full back is an issue as he has no distance on his kicks nor is really one for running it back beating two men.

    So for me I want to see if Johnson, Radge Wee Darcy (new name), Skinner and Bradbury can step up and give us something positive out of a really disappointing campaign.

  11. World rugby with a secret 5 billion offer investment from some company called ‘infront’ to surprise the unions… well played.

    Got a feeling change is coming.

    1. Let’s hope the smaller nations get a big chunk of that Money, the islanders in particular, imagine a well trained island based contingent, that could only be great for the game. Let’s hope they don’t have to beg for crumbs

  12. It’s been a frustrating and disappointing 6N so far. Two Tests we could have, possibly should have, won and a total stinker in Paris for which there are no excuses even allowing for key absences.

    With the RWC in mind, there has been a glimpse of silver lining in that fringe and up-and-coming players have had a decent shot at proper Test rugby that they probably wouldn’t have got in different circumstances. Some of those players look like excellent international prospects.

    Obviously hoping to see a good performance from our lads at Twickenham this weekend, but must confess my mind is already turning towards Japan, via the warm-up matches in the Summer, and to the prospect of seeing off Ireland in the opening match. Recovered stars back on form combined with new, quality players could make for a powerful squad. A squad that needs to believe it can go beyond the group and then beat NZ or SA in a QF.

    There’s been enough about this admittedly disappointing 6N to show we can turn Ireland over in the group. Anyone remember SO’B punching the air when we were drawn in the same RWC group?

  13. Only caught 20mins of the game at the weekend and just got round to watching it. I actually thought we played quite well, a hundred times better than that sham against France anyway. Guilty of the same things we have been doing, giving away soft tries and silly errors costing us points. Wales defence admittedly was ferocious and well structured but there were opportunities in there that we should have taken. I recall one I think at the end of the first half where Graham or Grigg made a decent break close to the line, I don’t know how we didn’t get someone over the line, it was literally harder not to score. Early in the second half we had another good one but a poor pass from Price led to Ritchie (I think) getting pinged.

    I still think we just lack the hard nosed will to win that other teams have. Wales do and always have, they find a way to win even if they are not playing that well, they enforce themselves on the game, dictate how the game is going to be played. It’s a mental problem that has plagued us for years, possibly forever with our plucky loser mentality but we are suffering from a lack of on field leadership, too many players to passive. They should hate and be disgraced by losing, I would rather see some of them storming off the pitch face like thunder kicking a bin than the smiling and waving kids aloft that went down, strange, and unhealthy. I thought stern Vern had coached a harder edge into us, we seem to have regressed.

    Given everything I actually quite like the look of the team for Saturday. I don’t think Price has capitalised on he benching has of Laidlaw, he really needs to put in a big shift. Skinner to me is a bit of a Marfo at the moment, he had one mythical good game in the autumn but hasn’t backed it up, not saying he isn’t a good player but I continue to find it odd how some players get lauded off the back of one performance whereas others eg. Pete Horne get vilified for one bad one despite many good games….

    1. … I like him though, he kind of reminds me of a young John Barclay, a captain in the making.

      As I said I actually thought we played pretty well in places against Wales, we missed a bit of Hogg or Jones magic to unlock their defence though so we ended up crabbing from side to side until someone made a mistake. Hope Maitland has his kicking boots on because I fear an ariel bombardment pinning us back and errors in our own 22 gifting them points. We do not want to be in our own third of the pitch, their midfield will make yards against us, running the ball out would be foolish in the extreme. Just do what Wales do, decide we don’t want to play the game in our own half and hoof the leather off it. Russell needs to get his kicking boots out to, couple of wayward kicks against Wales, the bit of the game I did see I turned off when he missed touch with a penalty.

      I’ve never placed any importance in finishing position in the 6N, if you don’t win then so long as you don’t get the spoon I don’t think it matters where you finish it becomes about wins and performances. We have a WC to prepare for, the plus side is most if not all of our big name injuries should be back in time to catch the end of the season so won’t be going in completely cold. At least some of our b team have got good experience of test rugby in this 6N. As last time anything less than a QF is abject failure, a decent game in the QF is acceptable and anything beyond that is fantastic.

      1. I think there is varying amounts of prize money possibly awarded to the unions depending where you finish, might be wrong on that though.

    2. That’s a bit harsh on Skinner – he got crocked 10 minutes into Italy game so hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he can do! Was tearing it up in a strong Exeter pack before 6N tho.
      I think most folk on here would argue that Horne has had more opportunities than most to show what he can do.
      I do agree with your point about our mentality as at times we appear fragile in that regard.

    3. Although I appreciate not being completely dominated any more, it just serves to highlight that the errors ARE the game, at least in the 6N.

      Italy games aside, every game I have watched so far has been lost through errors, not won.

      Many of these errors were “unforced”.

      Never a better time than this week to practise our “not losing” skills.

    4. Some interesting stuff. Skinner hasn’t had much chance to show as he’s been injured. Don’t think he’s played poorly for Scotland yet though in the very limited mins.

      You turned off after that missed pen? Wales kicked it out and we took a quick lineout and I think Dell eventually did his 40 m John Welsh type break (without the kick ahead ) into their 22 and we spent the next 10 mins battering their line. For once it didn’t end in us losing territory.

      Watson is key to this game it doesn’t matter if ur big small fast or slow Pinball manages to get free and make metres. No one else in world Rugby has his ability and ppl have yet to combat it.

      Horne has over 40 caps now I have no idea where the displeasure of him comes from. Sat was poor but Harris has still to prove his worth. Hope he does on Sat.

      We do score tries at Twickenham. Only issue is they score more usually. I’d take a tight 9-8 victory any day though I think that’s the most unlikely of anything.

      I have no idea how Darcy’s break didn’t end in a try. We needed quick ball and we needed to go wide after we drew in the defenders after two rucks. Loads of space at one point to the right price ignored it just like Laidlaw has. It was such a butchered chance.

      Alanlyst ur right their has been too many errors. Yet every team has errors so though we reduce them the players do seem to move on quickly from them which is good. No point dwelling on them in the moment. Thinking about making errors will cause more errors. how do we get less i have no idea.

      1. Reply last night doesn’t seem to have posted so I’ll try again.

        I turned off to go back to work, I was on oath to not be watching any rugby lol :(, had the penalty made touch I might have risked it a while longer! But yes we got away with that, it’s still a needless error that just puts pressure on ourselves rather than the opposition.

        I’m not dissing Skinner I’m just not seeing why everyone thinks he’s the second Messiah. He had an excellent game against, lets face it, a poor Fiji side when he was at lock. I though he was mediocre against a “proper team” in the SA match which I believe he started at 6. He hasn’t had much game time since but I’m failing to see why the “It’ll be fine when Skinner’s back” attitude has so much prevalence based on two and a bit games, not unlike Marfo a couple of years ago (whats he up to actually?). I hope he proves my doubts unfounded and plays a stormer.

        Pinball was outrageous when he came on, he must be an absolute nightmare to tackle.

        I’m not enjoying the return to white line fever, I thought we had managed to stop that and start scoring tries. Obviously doesn’t help that all our finishers are injured and Toonie sacked Tim Visser, the greatest poacher of them all.

      2. Almost agree with everything you say especially Visser. We deserved to beat Wales in 2017 but he was the difference that day looking back. He would have finished one of the chances Sat and we’d be home and have won. Darcy Graham and a 17 Visser would have been amazing to see.

  14. If im Ryan Wilson i would be telling the men to get stuck into England in the tunnel before the match, settle the early game nerves before it starts & small chance to put England of there game early on! get stuck into Sinkler i say.

    Would bring Wilson into the tunnel to wind them up also.

    1. We need to announce that we’ll be bringing in a specialist one mascot for the match a young 7 year old (mental age) Ryan Wilson who’ll be leading the teams out and will be in the tunnel from about 20 mins before kick-off. He’s never been jailed and so has a good character reference and will only enhance the atmosphere. Global Gym will have no issue with it till it’s too late!!!

  15. In the absence of a head to head comparison I thought I would stick up the current rugby pass index scoring for the teams.

    76 Moon 1 Dell 80
    91 George 2 McInally 87
    80 Synkler 3 Nell 86
    75 Launchbury 4 Toolis 87
    88 Kruis 5 Gilchrist 87
    73 Wilson 6 Skinner 87
    76 Curry 7 Watson 82
    78 Vunipola 8 Bradbury 79

    77 Youngs 9 Price 79
    92 Farrell 10 Russell 81
    84 May 11 McGuigan 73
    79 Tuilagi 12 Johnson 83
    87 Slade 13 Grigg 85
    89 Nowell 14 Graham 86
    81 Daly 15 Maitland 82

    80 Cowan-Dixie 16 Brown 78
    65 Genge 17 Reid n.a.
    73 Cole 18 Berghan 78
    70 Shields 19 Gray 81
    75 Hughes 20 Strauss 72
    88 Spencer 21 Laidlaw 84
    72 Ford 22 Hastings 84
    63 Te’o 23 Harris 60

    So if you look at the pack Scotland average 84.4 against England’s 79.6. For the backs its 81.3 against 84.1 in favour of England. For the subs its 76.7 against 73.3 in favour of Scotland.

    Feeling slightly more confident now. Just need to turn up with the right physicality and mindset. Oh yes and get Farrell rattled again.

    1. Thanks Al. Revealing, if a bit wonky…not your fault

      Harris maybe is “terrible” scraping into last place with a B-.

      1. To pick out a couple, why would Russell be only an 81 and Vunipola a 78?… Most of these scores don’t make any sense.

  16. Alas games aren’t won in a spreadsheet.

    A couple of notes though. Vunipola and Tuilagi are coming back from injury and this tends to lower their score. I would also say that they are marked men and make less yardage than they did earlier in their careers.

    On Russell, he’s dropped down the ratings a bit because the overall Scottish performance hasn’t allowed him as much influence. The other big factor for him this year is his defense, he’s missed 10 out of 29 attempted tackles in this years 6 nations according to Rugby Pass.

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