Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Wales v Scotland: Six Nations 2020, Match Preview pt II

Wales vs Scotland

With Matt Fagerson the only player not involved last weekend, this selection shows the fewest changes to to the personnel within a 23 of any matchday squad in the Townsend era. Will this consistency allow the side to flourish?

Tale of the tape

Tries   56
   Average weight   95kg
Total caps   228
6N caps   112
Average age   27.0

   Pack weight   899kg
Tries   17
Total caps   186
6N caps   83
Average age   26.6

Tries   16
171   Total caps   180
6N caps   73
Average age   27.1

3 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v France)

  • 2 – McInally for Brown [=]
  • 4 – Skinner for Cummings [=]
  • 8 – Bradbury for Haining [=]


Leigh Halfpenny
George North
Nick Tompkins
Hadleigh Parkes
Liam Williams
Dan Biggar
Rhys Webb

Wyn Jones
Ken Owens
WillGriff John
Cory Hill
Alun Wyn Jones (c)
Ross Moriarty
Justin Tipuric
Josh Navidi

Ryan Elias
Rhys Carre
Leon Brown
Will Rowlands
Taulupe Faletau
Gareth Davies
Jarrod Evans
Johnny McNicholl

ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Wales

ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales

ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Wales
ADV Wales

Stuart Hogg (c)
Sean Maitland
Chris Harris
Sam Johnson
Blair Kinghorn
Adam Hastings
Ali Price

Rory Sutherland
Stuart McInally
Zander Fagerson
Sam Skinner
Grant Gilchrist
Jamie Ritchie
Hamish Watson
Magnus Bradbury

Fraser Brown
Allan Dell
Willem Nel
Scott Cummings
Matt Fagerson
George Horne
Duncan Weir
Kyle Steyn


Backs – advantage Wales

After facing the youngest backline in the tournament last week, Scotland now find themselves up against the oldest. Nick Tompkins apart, there’s a decent chance none of the rest of the Welsh backs will be around for the World Cup in 2023. That’s an issue for the future though – right now the dark blues have to find a way to come out on top against a group packed with experience and who have pretty much seen and done it all.

This won’t be an easy assignment. Wales are the only team in the championship to run for over 3,000m. That’s in part because they’ve thrown more passes and offloads than anyone else and keep changing the point of attack. With a line lead by Chris Harris, Scotland may well continue to focus their defensive work around blocking off options and frustrating the Welsh backline.

Forwards – advantage Scotland

The numbers put the Welsh lineout as the best in the tournament (91.4% success rate on their own throw – compared to 76.8% for Scotland). Their scrum only lags behind the French when it comes to offences committed though (9 in all, with 9 going in their favour whereas Scotland have conceded 5 but won 11 penalties or free kicks from their setpiece).

Scottish packs have frequently found themselves outmuscled and outmanoeuvred in Cardiff. The breakdown is one of the areas where there needs to be more precision this week if that’s to be avoided. So far in the Championship Scotland have lost more ruck ball than anyone (22 in all, 6% of their rucks). Adding Stuart McInally and Sam Skinner to the mix may be partly an attempt to add more energy to provide protection at attacking breakdowns.

Subs – even

Rhys Webb and Taulupe Faletau were both able to contribute to upping the tempo for Wales in their game at Twickenham. While it was ultimately too little too late it’s the kind of impact both coaches will be looking for from their subs. There’s no question George Horne is the most likely candidate to speed things up for Scotland but don’t discount the energy and athleticism available to freshen up the dark blues’ pack from the likes of Scott Cummings and Matt Fagerson.


– Matchday squad splits by club:

  • Wales – Scarlets 8Exiles 7; Dragons 3; Ospreys 3, Cardiff Blues 2.
  • Scotland – Edinburgh 9Glasgow 8Exiles 6.

Sam Skinner is the first forward from outwith Edinburgh and Glasgow to start a match for Scotland in this Six Nations. Prior to the first four rounds of this tournament, there had been at least one Exiles’ forward in 30 of 31 match XVs during the Townsend era.

– At the start of the 2023 World Cup cycle, Wales have 12 players aged 29 or older in their lineup (9 starters and 3 subs) who might be considered unlikely to make it to France in just under 4 years’ time. Scotland have 6 in the 29+ bracket (4 starters and 2 subs).

– Scotland have made a single change to their backline in this season’s Six Nations (Chris Harris replacing Huw Jones at outside centre between Rounds 2 and 3). That compares to 10 changes in the backs during the 2019 tournament and 6 in 2018.

– The Scottish coaching setup has a very Welsh-centric feel to it. Defence coach – Welsh. Forwards coach – Welsh. Lead performance analyst – Welsh. If (and it’s a big if) Scotland can finally come away with a long-awaited win in Cardiff there could be some awkward conversations if these guys visit friends and family over the weekend!

UPDATE: It was announced today that this game has now been postponed in light of similar Coronavirus precautions taken around the country.

58 Responses

  1. Danny Wilson is English, isn’t he? Also, I’d say McInally is better than Owens… Interesting that our starting XV have a better try per cap ratio than Wales’s.

  2. Match cancelled – bit of a mess really, much like the Australian grand prix.
    Leaving it this late to call it off will mean many people have already travelled.

    Not to mention days of “experts” saying there’s no reason to call off outdoor events and that the UK has no plans to cancel sport etc. then a sudden U-turn.

    No issue with the decision – just the execution as usual (maybe someone put Townsend in charge……).

    1. It is a real shame for those in self isolation who have no sport to watch all weekend!

      Like many, I am not surprised about this but I agree that they could have announced at least yesterday to save so many travelling today.

  3. shocking management by WRU, should have been canceled much earlier! Feel so sorry for all the people that have traveled to Wales.

  4. Disappointing that the game’s cancelled, and ridiculous that it’s been cancelled so late, but we’ve finished the 6Ns in 3rd. Not bad! Tomorrow was our best chance of winning in Cardiff in ages. Ah well.

  5. Well thanks to the WRU. They announced at 9.30 this morning (we left Melrose at 7am) that the game was definitely going ahead. We arrived in Cardiff at 1.30pm, game postponed at 2pm. Very convenient that all those in hotels have checked in, so Cardiff businesses will be ok. I wonder if………….

    Absolutely disgraceful calling it off this late.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, 4 of us left yesterday, stopped over in Chester, trip will have cost over £1k, so now we’re off to mingle in the pubs with the other disappointed hordes of peeps already here! Could/should have called it on Tuesday latest

    2. Feel for you MG. Hope you have a good time in Cardiff, as I am sure you will.
      Appalling lack of foresight to have left the Borders so early!

  6. The boys will be pretty pissed off with it too as much as respecting the decision. But when they come together they will remember the new levels of performance that they have achieved as a squad and be chomping at the bit to put the jersey back on. Role on the ‘possible’ summer tour.

  7. Well this is disappointing, Townsend has caught a break most likely now and his sacking will be delayed.

  8. So (Daihard) as I read it the Cymri saw our lot on the captain’s run and shot the craw !

  9. Well, at least our Under 20s are currently crushing Wales. 17-52 with a few minutes to go.

  10. Just wondering if Wales were on for the Grand Slam or in contention the game tomorrow would have been postponed. Guess is no.

    1. I think the WRU tries to out the game on in the face of prevailing opinion to cancel. Eventually they got shamed / pushed into cancelling at the last minute by the sweep of other sporting organisations shutting down their events. They wanted the game on and I’m sure they desperately need the money.

  11. I agree they wanted the game to go ahead, so did we, and we travelled with that expectation following assurances (by WRU) that the game was on. The point is, they should not have pulled it so late when people had already travelled. I am sure the WRU need the money, I know those of us who travelled need the money, and we won’t get that money back. WRU will, and local business has. The game should have been postponed before people travelled. Once people had arrived in Cardiff, and without any change in advice around Covid19 the game should have gone ahead. The fact is we are all congregating in pubs, hotels etc now anyway!.

    1. I agree with you.Finance has clearly had a bearing on the decision.Perhaps we should consider how we intend to make the point.Nilling them to a bonus point win would be a good start but unlikely. Completely boycotting the postponed match would really make the point.They lose out twice particularly if you come home today and do not go back. We have a love of the Welsh which I do not get but I am a sinical sort of bloke.They always seemed brilliant up to kick off and after the game were either bad winners or bad losers.

  12. WRU have pulled the match against the advice of their governments. I believe large gatherings are still permitted. It seems wrong that the governments have yet to ban such. I wouldn’t put it past them either dithering on the situation due to incompetence or prioritising economics over people’s well being. It’s consequently difficult for event organisers to make the call. Logic says cancel but the advice is not too.

    1. Does anyone know if the WRU has stated why they left it this late.Cheltenham Races went ahead however everything went downhill after that meeting got underway.

  13. Not relevant to the post but well done to the U20’s who pumped Wales!

    The last time we finished an u20’s 6N with a positive points difference was 2016. This was a year that produced Ritchie, Hastings, Fagerson, Cummings, Hutchinson etc so this bodes really well.

    If anyone knows a way to get/find a match replay that would be much appreciated!

  14. Would be good if someone could do a look at the under 20s feature they’ve had a mixed bag this year. The games I will seem ashman looks like he could be class

    1. I only managed to watch the France n Wales matches, standouts to me were ashman, Chamberlin, the number 5, forget his name and Ollie smith at fullback. Agree with above comment that this could be a similar crop to the 2016 lot

      1. Cameron Henderson is the #5.

        Ashman, Lambert, Sykes, Henderson, Boyle, Darge, Chamberlain, McCallum, McLean and Smith all look strong prospects.

      2. The boy Henderson looks a prospect. Strong with ball in hand, tackles well and likes his offloads! One to watch….

  15. Correct.Right decision,wrong timing and the consequences are Bourne by travelling fans.We can not have that , can we !!!!

  16. Looks to me as if Wales were scared of us! No, not really. Would have been a great game to watch. Wrong decision in my view. Just as many People can now go and infect each other in the pub…

    1. No we would not have been in all likelihood, we would however have possibly be in the hunt for a new coach.

      I saw glimpses of what Townsend was trying to do but tbh i’m not impressed.

      Another Six Nations gone another title opportunity missed… sigh.

  17. Neil, as I have previously intimated, please wake up, smell the coffee and put up or shut up. Just wondering did you travel to Wales or is it wind and ………

    Guess wind and ……

    Goodnight from the real supporters

  18. Since the Six Nations is over i have been considering the upcoming summer tour (assuming it goes ahead) and have decided to break the touring team into 2 rough squads, the first of which being the same contingent that finished 6 nations to continue Townsends consistency. These are the current incumbents (1st choice) and will play opening game vs SA and final game against New Zealand

    Sutherland – Brown – Fagerson – Cummings – Gilchrist – Ritchie – Watson – Haining – Price – Hastings – Kinghorn – Johnson – Harris – Maitland – Hogg (C)

    Dell – Mcinally – Nel – Skinner – Bradbury – Horne – Weir – Steyn

    The second squad will be required to rest the first squad in the middle week and will be an opportunity to blood new players/combos and bring in returnees. They will also fight for starting/bench spots if impressive enough for the Nz game. This side will be given time to train with each other consistently.

    Kebble – Mcinally – Nel – J.Gray – Skinner – Bradbury – Crosbie – Fagerson – Horne – Russell – Duhan VDM – Scott – Jones – Graham – Hogg (C)

    Turner – Sutherland – Berghan – Toolis – Gordon – Price – Hutchison – Kinghorn

    1. I haven’t looked in detail at the tour programmes, but will there actually be any midweek games to speak of?

      Couple of points on your selections.

      If Darcy Graham is judged fully fit, I’d put him ahead of Blair Kinghorn.

      Jonny Gray has been pretty much a first pick lock for something like four seasons now. He’s had bad luck with injury this 6N. Yet it has given other lock combinations a chance, and it’s worked pretty much ok for us, lineouts excepted. I think he’s in a battle now to be picked as a starter.

      1. We used to call Jonny Gray ‘ Stat Boy’ around here and for good reason.You may be right , but I doubt it, Townsend 2.0 now appears to favor defenders over attackers , a man with Jonny Gray’s pedigree has to be first on his pick card. Or do we think Townsend is still not clear on what right looks like yet!

      2. Hi John,
        Midweek game i refer to is the international match against SA on the 11th July here is the schedule:
        4th – SA
        11th- SA
        18th – NZ

        I agree that the 1st squad planned to play against SA in week 1 will have some tweaks to it by the New Zealand game when a few players from Squad 2 have forced there way in.

        By no means would i say each player in the 1st game against South Africa is the best in there position – it is more a continuity thing building from France.

        Here is what i could see the squad ending up as our best players start to join together as continuity grows

        Sutherland – Brown – Fagerson – Gray – Skinner – Ritchie – Watson – Haining – Price – Hastings – Graham – Johnson – Jones – Maitland – Hogg

        Mcinally – Kebble – Nel – Gilchrist – Bradbury – Horne – Russell – Duhan VDM

        A powerful bench. I could quite easily see us hanging on with 25 minutes to go against the Abs & bringing on Horne, Russell and VDM at once.

        Russell unlock the defence with a flat pass to Duhan who races through 2-3 defenders before offloading to Horne on one of his classic supporting lines to give us the winning try (In my fantasy)

    2. Sorry, Leaks. I misread your first post. I was confusing mid-programme with the midweek matches that often feature on tours.
      My bad, as I believe the kids on the street say?

  19. Academic now but word from the camp was that Sam J was struggling with a calf problem and Matt Scott was going to start if he didn’t pass the fitness test……no luck for him then!

    1. How unusual is that ! Matt Scott has been ignored all season, Hutchinson has been the replacement of this BLOG’s choice, Steyn picked in this game, both overlooked at the 11th hour for a man still assigned to his club side.

      You know what Journeyman, I don’t believe that. I cannot believe Toony would revert to the Tombola again so soon.

      1. Scott warmed up with the 23 ahead of the France game at Murrayfield (along with Pyrgos and Tagive covering the backs). If a stand off or centre had gone down just before kick off he would have been in the 23.

  20. I know there are more important things in life but there seems to be a feeling that the 6N will be completed later in the year perhaps at the expense of some November internationals. If that’s the case then we could see big Duhan lining up at the Millenium.

  21. U20 : Easy to watch and the Welsh were still in it till late in second half. I liked our Full Back. Good positional sense, good boot and great tackler. He dropped them like trees.

    1. Didn’t manage to watch any of the u20 6n this year other than the highlights but its pleasing to hear that the guys getting the biggest hype are all in positions we desperately need more depth i.e. flyhalf, back 3 and hooker.

      Was thinking about it as well that it might not be such a bad thing that they’re in the trophy this year. If they get promoted then it gets them a valuable bit of winning mentality.

  22. For those struggling , go to the I-player , then use the schedule function , scroll back to friday , and down to S4c and find it there.

    Decent performance , not sure what the pathway back into the u 20 championship might be , and will that run in June / July anyhoo

    Ach, the world has gone mad

    1. Finally caught up the other night, fantastic performance – Connor Boyle’s try was a thing of beauty, so great offloads by the forwards. Hopefully bodes well for talent coming through & just maybe Cockerill was a bit pessimistic when saying no Scottish qualified 10 showed sufficient promise for a signing.
      Obviously a massive shame that an unprecedented international crisis will curtail their progress this season & possibly even into next.
      Also wanted to add that as someone working in the NHS, please do follow government guidance on hand hygiene, self isolation etc. Yes, it’s going to be crap for who knows how long but it’s so vital we protect our families, friends & everyone else. We can hopefully enjoy our passion for the Scottish sport all the more when it finally resumes.
      It’s important that we keep blogs like this going to keep our sanity intact (!!), must be loads to discuss. Stay safe everyone.

  23. happy triple crown grand slam 5 nations winners to you all day! Still the greatest day in Scottish rugby and still the greatest ever day some 30 years ago. Nothing beats that feeling you felt back then something very special with out a doubt.

  24. Just had a thought – Scotland finally get a game against in NZ in NZ and it will almost certainly be cancelled.

  25. So.. how many Scotland players make a lions wider touring squad based on what we have seen so far ? i would pick


    1. If only that were the question… We have contenders at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. We’ll get Hogg and a token other, though. Some will advocate Mako for his handling, or Genge for his aggression, ignoring that Sutherland is better that either of them. Others will say we need a good thrower, then suggest Owens with a straight face. Then you’ll get people saying Fagerson hasn’t the temperament whilst advocating Sinckler. Or that Cummings isn’t dynamic enough, while advocating Jones. Or that Ritchie isn’t good enough, but a rubbish back rower playing for Dragons is. Or that Watson isn’t the best 7 in the world. Or that there’s a decent 8 in GB&I… Aldritt is our best bet… Then they’ll say that Finn’s too flaky even though Farrell and Biggar are at least as flaky. Of course Henshaw and JD2 will be centres, even though they’ve barely played. And the chicken and Adams will be the wingers. To be fair, Watson and Williams are excellent FBs…

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Jonny and Iain to look forward to Glasgow's huge URC final in Pretoria, after the win against Munster and skirt around the latest news of the week.
Craig is joined by Jonny and Rory to look back at the disappointing end to Edinburgh's season and Glasgow's march towards the semi finals.
Gregor Townsend has named a largely experimental squad for the summer tour of the Americas. It's not a question of who misses out, but rather who is actually going, writes Rory.
Iain is joined by Jonny and John to discuss the penultimate round of URC fixtures as well as the recent Scottish Rugby Writers' Awards

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion