Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Swinson in as Skinner ruled out

Tim Swinson and Henry Pyrgos Scotland - pic © Al Ross
Tim Swinson and Henry Pyrgos Scotland - pic © Al Ross

Glasgow Warriors forward Tim Swinson has been “invited” into the wider Scotland squad for Rugby World Cup 2019. Swinson was last capped in 2018 and had a similarly late call-up to the 2015 squad as second/back row cover, a role he looks like he might yet fill in Japan.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Blade Thomson at 6ft6 is a candidate to fill in that covering role going the other way, so the call up for Swinson could just be pragmatic in terms of numbers with the aim to wait and see how that other injury turns out before making the final call on Thomson next week. No word if he’s been doing that in training though, pure speculation on my part. Interesting fact: Thomson played 10 of his 30 Super Rugby starts for the Hurricanes at lock, as well as all 4 of his Junior World Championship starts for the Baby Blacks.

With Skinner recently being considered more as a second row than a back row, it means yet another snub of Richie Gray who must be match fit given the Top 14 started last weekend. He definitely doesn’t fit the hybrid role that Townsend seems to be looking for though.

UPDATE: Gray ruled himself out: see

If Swinson does go as a fourth lock after Gray, Gilchrist and Toolis it would also be harsh on Scott Cummings who is in pretty good form.

Sam Skinner injured his hamstring in the match against France and after a scan on the evening of the game has now sadly been ruled out, with the recovery time required “deemed insufficient to play a meaningful part in Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign”, to quote the SRU press release.

It’s a harsh blow indeed for a player who looked like he would have a big role to play in the squad. All the best with the recovery Sam.

41 Responses

  1. Interesting hearing that Skinner is out and that Swinson has been brought in. That wont go down well with the Richie Gray fan club.

    1. It does seem totally bizarre that Gray was not called up, i originally thought they would not call anyone up.

      Its very hard to justify Swinson (an average club player but no more) over Gray, clearly something has happened to put him in Toonies bad books.

  2. Desperately unfortunate for Skinner who looked to be a nailed on starter and one of our few forwards with explosive power and a bit of bite. Seems to be a regular on the physio table.

    With regards to the 4th lock going, I think it will definitely be Cummings with Swinson being called up just to train.

    I had a feeling when the initial squad was announced that perhaps there was more than meets the eye with Richie’s exclusion, perhaps Toulouse offering a contract extension if he turned down international rugby? I think even Toony would struggle to spin a story than he rates Swinson higher who, himself, has had limited rugby lately.

    1. It’s LITERALLY not Toonie’s fault though. Read what Danny Wilson said. Richie opted out – he’s just become a father and he also wants to reach full fitness. Toonie’s been trying to get him into the squad for a while, probably before the first 42 was selected.

  3. Really Stu, did I touch a nerve? I was inferring to Gray not being selected ahead of Swinson, who at best was mediocre!!

  4. Apparently Richie Gray declined an invite to join the squad due to family reasons – his wife has just had a baby – so blaming Toonie is a tad unfair.

    1. Do you know what fair enough then. Invited along to hold the tackle pads when he has a baby, and should be in the team. It’s as insulting as Gatland; Toonie may have his reasons so not necessarily a criticism. But RG well within his rights to say no thanks.

    2. If you read what was said Toonie was in regular contact with Richie so not insulting at all.
      Indeed that clears it up and Swinson is definitely the next best. Even if it is just for training purposes.
      Real shame for Sam Skinner as he has performed consistently well, unlike some of the other locks. Unless Toolis has another shocker the four remaining are nailed on to go.

      1. Swinson’s definitely the next best and one of Scottish rugby’s key leaders, but he’s unlikely to travel to Japan (FWIW I’d pick Gray, Skinner (now Toolis) and Gilchrist with Thomson also covering the second row, but Cummings will probably travel too in all likelihood). So why not bring Lewis Carmichael in there if it’s just for training? He’s probably better than Swinson is at #6 if we’re talking about a hybrid role.

        Maybe it’s because there might be another injury.

  5. I’m sure Townsend has spoken to Richie Gray to explain that he’s looking for a 5/6. If not that is atrocious man management and doesn’t bode well.

  6. Gutted for Sam Skinner, it must be terrible for any sportsman to miss out on a World Cup due to injury this late in the day.

    Did Tim Swinson not retire from international rugby or am I just making that up? Just how bad is Richie Gray at the moment? Did he piss in Toonies cornflakes or something?

  7. He’s just been called up to the training squad to make up numbers in training, not going to be considered for the World Cup (barring more injuries).

    Perfectly sensible to call up someone local for this rather than haul in Gray from France (especially considering new child).

    Even if Gray hadn’t been asked, seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  8. Skinner is a big loss but he is only 24 so he will be in his prime with bags of caps by the time the next World Cup comes round.

    I was underwhelmed by Gray in the ECC semi final versus Leinster. Not enough carrying or big hits.

    1. He was still returning from injury at the point to be fair, to make the squad is an achievement in itself for him.

      I really think we have missed a trick leaving him out, imagine what a full pre-season and some warm up games might of done for him.

  9. So looks like we can all ditch our tin foil hats as there’s no great conspiracy behind big Richie’s omission….or is that what they want us to think!?!?!?

  10. I was as baffled as anyone by Richie Gray’s ommission, but a link to an interview with Danny Wilson has been posted in which he explains that Gray didn’t want to be part of the squad because his wife had just had a baby. It’s incredible that after that people are still blaming Townsend for a ‘strange selection’ when it’s been explained that Gray didn’t want to travel!

    Not wanting to give up your off season to leave your wife alone with an infant for months of training camp and a tournament 6,000 miles away is totally understandable and I hope Richie Gray is part of the squad in the future.

    And commenters should read the articles and links before commenting.

      1. This is a bit one sided comment and ‘blaming’ is too strong, in my opinion. Some posters have stated, since the announcement of the squad, that Richie Gray has just had a new arrival and the timing for him was not good.

        The context is Danny’s understanding of conversations, so it is not the strongest statement (some vague words) to draw a line under the matter.

        Not easy for either party and he will be missed.

        Tim Swinson will bring a lot of experience to the squad , it is time to back him now.

  11. Richie definitely ruled himself out. See article on Offside line. Toonie would clearly have liked to have him. Hints he could be in the mix later. Six Nations? Big apologies due to Gregor, who has apparently been in regular touch with Richie.

    1. One thing I do believe , is Richie Gray made the decision, the big question is when was he offered the opportunity. To quote Danny :

      ‘I think recently he made the decision that he couldn’t commit to the World Cup’.

      1. This would indicate that he wasn’t asked before and only been asked now …. Ritchie, please come and fill up the numbers space but not come to Japan?

  12. I’m just going to say what everyone else is thinking – which is that the Danny Wilson interview sounds, as quoted, like a complete second hand fudge. He can barely bring himself to give a straight answer. I’d love to hear what role was offered to RG when he ‘Couldn’t commit’. Also can’t quite bring himself to say he’ll be back involved in the future, so clearly more going on there. Why couldn’t GT address the issue himself. Suspect RG too much of a pro to contradict in public. But there’s a distinct whiff of bull.

    1. You’ve just been told that Richie Gray asked not to be involved.

      Given his injury history, family circumstances and contract situation with Toulouse it makes perfect sense.

      1. What makes perfect sense that he couldn’t commit to playing at the pinnacle of his professional sport alongside his brother at probably his last chance for World Cup glory in the best Scottish side in generations. A once in a lifetime opportunity you might say. What is this contractual situation btw – does it stipulate he cannot play? Doubtful.

      2. Perhaps he chose money over caps like many players have done?

        His moves to Sale and Castres were more about his bank balance than silverware.

  13. Why send out the monkey to explain the Richie Gray situation while the organ grinder keeps silent!!

    1. Because the monkey can be forgiven for misinterpreting / misunderstanding the situation should a challenge arise. There is no chronology, subjective opinions all leading to what we already know.

      Too little too late to be credible , IMO.

  14. Slightly off topic, sorry guys, but just signed up for another year of superbru. So glad new season is around the corner. Cheers Rory

  15. Johnny B : Why do you believe commenters have not read the articles and links before posting ?

  16. Not the whole story I am sure. If he had decommitted before the squad was announced (or even said , not ready yet ,) I am sure the SRU or Richie would have made a statement . I think those words ‘recently’ and could not commit tell you what we want to know.

    Others can believe what they want , I respect that, but it is the oldest trick in the book. All Danny did was light a few smoke pots and when the smoke blows away, nothing behind.

    For what it is worth , I do not see Richie Gray coming back but he has made the right decision. Regaedless of the reasons, Richie has been shoehorned into ‘not committing’ rightly or wrongly , it matters not

    He has said no and Scottish Rugby will be less colourful and will have a Richie Gray shaped hole for the rest of Toonies tenure as coach.

    I do feel GT must perform this world cup.

  17. Townsend has now said outright that R.Gray was declined joining the initial squad back in May, as well as after Skinner’s injury.

    So can we please put the conspiracy theories to rest?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion