World Rugby U20 Championship 2019: Scotland squad

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.

Carl Hogg will be the under 20s third head coach in as many years, following on from Bryan Redpath, who was in charge for the 2018 tournament, and John Dalziel who lead Scotland to 5th place in 2017. Hogg has by and large kept faith with the group that he guided through the U20 Six Nations – although injuries have deprived him of a handful of players.

  • Jack Hill, Rory Jackson, Tom Marshall, Lomond McPherson and Mak Wilson could all make their debuts at this level.
  • Rory Darge, Angus Fraser, Sam Grahamslaw, Charlie Jupp, Rufus McLean, Jack Mann and Finlay Scott might have been involved in the squad but for injury.

The Squad

Will Hurd (Cardiff Metropolitan University), Euan McLaren (Ayr), Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), Murphy Walker (Stirling County), Mak Wilson (Melrose)

Ewan Ashman (Sale Academy), Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Accies)

Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), Ewan Johnson (Racing 92 Academy), Marshall Sykes (Ayr)

Back Rows
Connor Boyle (Watsonians), Ross Bundy (Stirling County), Jack Hill (Durham University), Teddy Leatherbarrow (Sale Academy), Tom Marshall (Newcastle Academy), Kwagga van Niekirk (Golden Lions)

Scrum Halves
Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains), Murray Scott (Watsonians)

Stand Offs
Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks)

Cameron Anderson (Wasps Academy),  Grant Hughes (Stirling County), Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), Ollie Smith (Ayr)

Back 3
Jack Blain (Heriot’s), Matt Davidson (London Scottish), Rory McMichael (Heriot’s), Lomond McPherson (Watsonians)


  • The current squad have 126 previous caps for the Under 20s (last year: 94).
  • They average 4 (last year: 3) previous appearances each in the forwards and 5 (last year: 4) in the backs.
  • 4 players featured in the last U20s World Championship – which equals the lowest number of returning players ever for Scotland.
  • Forwards Ewan Johnson, Marshall Sykes and Murphy Walker along with stand off Ross Thompson combined for 9 starts and 7 sub appearances during the 2018 tournament.
  • Jack Blain’s 80 minutes for Edinburgh away to Benetton 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 commenced.
  • As things stand none of the squad currently have a full-time professional contract with a top tier team for next season. There have been some pretty strong rumours though that Matt Davidson is on his way from London Scottish to Glasgow Warriors as a medium to long-term replacement for Stuart Hogg.
  • 12 members of the squad will still be eligible for the U20s next season. Add in Rory Darge (who played in the 2017 tournament); Rufus McLean (who played in this season’s U20 Six Nations); and Jamie Dobie (who will be on a full-time contract with Glasgow in 2019/20) and Scotland could send one of their most experienced squads ever to the 2020 Championship. The goal for this year’s crop is to avoid relegation so that when these guys return in 12 months it’s to the top tier tournament and not the second division World Rugby U20 Trophy.

One to watch – forwards

Murphy Walker

Position – Prop
Previous caps – 14
Pro team – Glasgow Warriors through the Scottish Rugby Academy (no first team appearances yet)
Key strength – Primarily a tighthead, Murphy has been able to slide over to play loosehead for both Scotland U20 and Stirling County. He hasn’t looked out of place on either side of the scrum and will continue to develop as he matures.
Useless trivia – He played more club games last season than any of Glasgow’s other SRA stage 3 players.
He’s like a young…??? Given his switching back and forth between TH and LH prop it’s a tough one to call at this stage. He’s likely to fit in again at loosehead for this tournament so that the young Scots can get their two strongest props on the pitch (Murphy and Euan McLaren). Once he settles into a role it will be easier to gauge where he’s going. There is maybe a bit of the Zander Fagersons about him (although not quite so precocious) and he definitely won’t take a step back when it comes to the physical stuff.

One to watch – backs

Jack Blain

Position – Wing
Previous caps – 5
Pro team – Edinburgh through the Scottish Rugby Academy (1 appearance)
Key strength – He’s big – a rare commodity among Scottish backs until recently. Like Stafford McDowall last year the power Jack will offer in the backline will provide different options for Scotland. Also like Stafford before him there’s much more to Jack’s game than just size – he is fast and skillful as well.
Useless trivia – The first player born after 1st January 2000 to play for either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Could he become the first noughties full Scotland cap as well?.
He’s like a young… ??? A quick skim through Scotland’s wingers from the professional era doesn’t bring up too many like young Blain. The only taller wing would be Edinburgh teammate Blair Kinghorn who has shifted from his more usual full back berth on a reasonably regular basis for Scotland. Jack is a more powerful and aggressive player, more often using his size in a way that the sylphlike Blair will not. A fairly unique prospect then and one who could go a very long way in Scottish rugby.

The first matchday squad

Here’s the team Carl Hogg has selected for the opening game against South Africa. There are just 3 changes from the XV that faced England in the final round of the U20 Six Nations.

There’s a welcome return for Marshall Sykes who, along with Tom Marshall, comes into the back row for for the injured Charlie Jupp and Jack Mann. In the backline Grant Hughes is selected ahead of Robbie McCallum at inside centre.

Scotland U20 team to face South Africa U20: 15. Matt Davidson, 14. Rory McMichael, 13. Cameron Anderson, 12. Grant Hughes, 11. Jack Blain, 10. Ross Thompson, 9. Roan Frostwick; 1. Murphy Walker, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. Euan McLaren, 4. Ewan Johnson, 5. Cameron Henderson, 6. Marshall Sykes, 7. Connor Boyle, 8. Tom Marshall.

Replacements: 16. Rory Jackson, 17. Andrew Nimmo, 18. Will Hurd, 19. Mak Wilson, 20. Ross Bundy, 21. Jack Hill, 22. Kwagga van Niekirk, 23. Murray Scott, 24. Teddy Leatherbarrow, 25. Nathan Chamberlain, 26. Robbie McCallum, 27. Ollie Smith, 28. Lomond MacPherson.

At Racecourse Stadium, Rosario in the World Rugby U20 Championship this Tuesday 3rd June (kick-off 2.30pm BST/ 10.30am local time) – streamed live on

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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.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

9 comments on “World Rugby U20 Championship 2019: Scotland squad

  1. Scrummo on

    Great article. I foresee a Scotland backline of the future containing:

    11. Nairn
    12. McDowell

    14. Blain
    15. Kinghorn

    Towering! Must be a 6 foot 3 or above outside centre kicking about somewhere too!

    Good to see us putting out a good sized starting pack with Sykes and Marshall in the backrow, Boyle almost a stone heavier than in the 6N and nobody undersized which has been a weakness in previous tournaments. We will miss Darge and Grahamslaw though.

  2. Bazz on

    Great read.

    I thought it might be helpful to look at players who are eligible next year who already have some experience (3 + caps) to get an indication of how we may perform next year and comparing that to our 6N rivals. The logic being that the better players tend to be involved in 4 or more tournaments at this level.

    Scotland: 8 (9 including Darge)
    Ireland: 4
    Wales: 10
    England: 6
    France: 5
    Italy: 8

    So while we should fare better in 2020 I don’t exactly expect a massive turnaround in fortunes (many of those eligible for 2020 aren’t starting either)…So if we can avoid relegation this year I think we should be aiming for 7/8th in 2020.

    I’ve had a crack of guessing the u20 side for 2020 and I’d say its one of our better sides but don’t think we will be breaking new ground either.

    15. Rufus Mclean
    14. ?
    13. Ollie Smith
    12. Robbie McCallum
    11. Jack Blain
    10. Nathan Chamberlain
    9. Roan Frostwick / Jamie Dobie
    8. Rory Darge
    7. Connor Boyle
    6. Jack Hill
    5. Cameron Henderson
    4. ?
    3. Mak Wilson
    2. Ewan Ashman
    1. ?

    • Scrummo on

      I think our best sides have been 2016 and 2017. Purely as I’m bored on a train right now:





      I’ve just cherry picked players from the 6N and WC squads of each year but we had some awesome players over the two years and there are other current pro players I haven’t named either. If next years side can get close to being looked back on like these we will have done well.

      I know Disco has done articles before on under 20s graduating to pro deals and full caps, another article like that would be interesting reading.

      • Kevin Millar on

        Yeah I’ll be doing an update on the players graduating when we do the wrap-up at the end of the current tournament. Been plenty happening with those 2016 and 2017 squads – the likes of Craig, Shiel and Nairn getting debuts; McDowall, Hutchinson and Davidson more regular game time and Kerr and Graham being capped. Still developing nicely to become the core of the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland squads over the next few years.

  3. James on

    Looks like the team fought hard to be only 3 points down on 63 mins so a shame to lose by such a margin.

    One observation (from looking at the timeline of scores having not seen the game) is that twice we scored and then SA scored within a couple of minutes (and our other try was a penalty try on halftime!) and once SA scored and then scored again 2 mins later so perhaps there’s a concentration issue around restarts. Take those points off and the score is much more respectable.

    Here’s hoping the boys can pick themselves up for the game on Saturday.

    • TeamCam on

      I thought SA got the rub of the green but, to be honest, they looked by far the better team. They played like they expected to win and had a greater number of game changers. That said, I think our lads are capable of far more than they showed; they shot themselves in the foot a lot. I think that they, like the national squad, have a mental block to address.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      Yes, I believe the key one was around a restart that gifted them a score straight away. Interview over on The Offside Line with Murphy Walker suggested as much.

  4. Bazz on

    Promising performance from the U20’s. A 19 point loss which i believe is our smallest loss against NZ at this level.

    Going 26-0 down after 26 minutes signalled a disaster but we actually won the remainder 33-26 to bring the final score to 52-33 which included an 80th minute try from NZ.

    Big game against Georgia…

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