Scots in England: The Run Down

The Premiership returns on Friday as Harlequins take on Sale Sharks in the first of seven fixtures this weekend which are all live to watch on BT Sport. The league is very much marmite for the average Scottish Rugby fan but there’s no doubt that a certain Mr Townsend will be watching the Scottish qualified players in the league closely and if you want to impress your mates in the pub (at a distance of course) with your knowledge of who’s who in English rugby when you are discussing bolters for the upcoming Scotland squad here’s a rundown of pretty much all* of them.

*Not legally binding.

Exeter Chiefs

Three out of the four Scots (Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner) playing at Sandy Park are guaranteed regular game time I’d imagine and equally are all certainties in any Scotland squad. The odd one out is Sam Hidalgo Clyne who joined the club in February after a series of short term deals with Harlequins, Racing 92 and Lyon. There’s no doubt he has potential  to be back in Scotland colours if he makes a go of this move,  but even with the departure of Nic White, who was the regular scrum half starter, there are 7 scrum halves at Exeter who will all fancy stepping up.

Sale Sharks

Sharks are a bit light on Scots. In the main squad there is Byron McGuigan who will be hoping to continue to be selected in the  international squad  but his job has probably got just a little harder with the surely soon to be capped Duhan Van Der Merwe becoming Scots qualified right about now. In his favour Sean Maitland is soon to be playing 2nd division rugby with Saracens and Tommy Seymour has retired from International rugby.

Ewan Ashman is highly rated and was a standout for Scotland under 20’s as a hooker with a keen eye for a try. He is currently in Sale’s academy.

Scrum half Gus Warr is also on Sales’ books and represented Scotland at U18 but has gone on to represent England at U20’s level.

Bristol Bears

Mitch Eadie is Bristol’s only SQ player with the departure of Nathan Chamberlain to Edinburgh and Luke Hamilton to Agen.

The former Scotland U20 flanker is now 28 and is starting a second spell at the Bears following a period at Northampton Saints. With the seeming embarrassment of riches in the back row that Scotland have available it’s unlikely he’ll be called on but Nick Haining was older when he made his Scotland debut so never say never.

Northampton Saints

Gordon Reid came and went at Franklins Gardens amongst much fanfare but Covid put paid to any chance of him actually playing for the club leaving centre Rory Hutchinson as the sole Scot at Northampton and despite missing out on World Cup selection and being sparingly used in Scotland’s Six Nations campaign thus far he’s bound to make the next selection and we will hopefully see a bit more of him in dark blue.

Wasps

Wasps scrum half Ben Vellacott is one of those ‘will he/won’t he’ Scotland selections and it’s starting to look like it’s more a case of missing the boat as Scotland are well served by Ali Price, George Horne, Henry Pyrgos and a raft of up and coming scrummies like Jamie Dobie and Charlie Shiel not to mention that other potentially reluctant Scot, Finlay Christie, in New Zealand.

Former Scotland U20’s tighthead Jack Owlett is also on Wasps roster but rarely makes the match day squad.

There are three SQ players in Wasps academy, full back Cameron Anderson, loosehead Alex Pleasants and tighthead Ben Onyeama Christie.

Bath

Bath have no senior squad Scots. They have one lonely SQ player in their academy in the form of back rower Oli Cattell.

Harlequins

Inside centre James Lang is probably Harlequins best known Scot and back in 2018 picked up two caps for Scotland on the tour to Canada but he flits in and out of their match day squads and in the season to date second row Glen Young has been the more regular Saltire waving representative in the starting line-up.

Former Scotland U20’s and London Irish scrum half, Scott Steele, joined Harlequins in July and will no doubt be vying with Danny Care for the starting 9 berth.

London Irish

Allan Dell is more of a regular for Scotland than he has been for Irish and frequently has to settle for a spot on the bench for his club. His Scotland place could very well be in jeopardy in the near future with Rory Sutherland coming to the fore and Oli Kebble and now Pierre Schoeman becoming Scots qualified.

Blair Cowan is 34 now and his Scotland days are behind him but he is still doing the business for his club having played in 12 of their 13 games before lockdown.

Gloucester

Chris Harris is the senior Scot at Gloucester and a regular since his move from Newcastle. It’s hard to imagine Townsend not selecting him going forward despite the brickbats pointed at him by sections of the Scotland faithful.

Second row Alex Craig was selected for his first senior Scotland squad at the start of this year’s Six Nations and was playing regularly for the club so will be hoping that progression continues.

Age grade Scotland players,  Lock Harry Butler and scrum half Charlie Chapman are in the Gloucester academy but have a few first team appearances between them in the last season.

Worcester Warriors

What can we say about Duncan Weir? Just when we thought it was all over up he pops for a two minute cameo against France in March.  With Finn to return and Hastings accelerated by his absence that may be it now but who’d bet against him. One things guaranteed though he’ll be proving us all wrong week in week out in Worcester colours.

Cornell Du Preez was back in the Scotland squad at the start of this year following a two year absence which was in part enforced due to the horrific injury he sustained to his larynx in 2018.  I’m unsure he will feature too much going forward however as there may just be better options at 8 now.

Hooker Isaac Miller who represented Scotland U20’s in 2014 is also a Worcester player but has only a handful of first team appearance to his name. It’s a similar story for flanker Tom Dodd whose U20’s time was in in 2017.

Leicester Tigers

It’s been a tumultuous time for Leicester Tigers. Saved from probable relegation by the Saracens scandal and then at the centre of a pay dispute that saw several high profile players quit the club. It’s been equally tumultuous for Matt Scott who having been curiously denied a new contract at Edinburgh found himself unemployed until Tigers came calling. It looks like he will be a starter so may be able to drag himself back into Scotland reckoning.

Jake Kerr gained a solitary Scotland cap in 2019 amidst a hooker injury crisis but is regular at Leicester albeit former England and British and Irish Lions England hooker Tom Youngs is unsurprisingly first choice. Scotland’s first three hookers pretty much pick themselves as it stands so it may need another crisis for Kerr to return to the fold.

Second row Cameron Henderson is in the Welford Rd development squad.

Saracens

As we all know Saracens are exiting the premiership due to financial irregularities (to use a popular euphemism) and some of their big name players have negotiated transfers or season long loans in expectation of a quick return. One of the beneficiaries of those departures is former Edinburgh lock Callum Hunter-Hill whose loan at Saracens was made permanent.

All of a sudden there seems like a significant number of promising Scotland locks on the go but I’d still anticipate Hunter-Hill’s exposure to the positive side of his Saracens sojourn to bring benefits in the long run.

A more unlikely recipient is former Glasgow lock Tim Swinson who has aborted his announced retirement from the game to play a season in the Championship with Saracens.

Long standing Allianz Park residents Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor will remain at the club and it will be interesting to see what winning by a cricket score on a regular basis does for their competitiveness and Scotland prospects.

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Edinburgh supporter and former tighthead whose clubs include Edinburgh Wanderers, Corstorphine, Lothian & Borders Police and The Co-optimists. I’m a much better player now than I ever was when I actually took to the field.
Follow Sandy on twitter @theburghwatch

23 comments on “Scots in England: The Run Down

  1. Alex on

    I think Cameron Redpath is at Bath and as he never played a test for England despite being called up a couple only years ago he’s still SQ. Also at Harlequins don’t discount Martin Landajo as opposition to Scott Steele at scrum half. Hope I’m wrong but that’s some quite stiff competition!

    • Alex on

      In fact on that note Landajo is starting for Harlequins against a Sale tomorrow with Steele on the bench. Lang also starting for Harlequins and he was in great form before Harlequins cursed all their centres and they all got injured. Mcguigan starting for Sale. Pace and guile of Harlequins vs brute force of Sale…

  2. Sandy Smith on

    Alex, I hadn’t forgotten about Redpath and you’re right but i’m sure hes made it very clear his future is with England so I left him off the list. if anything he’s even further away from Scotland now, geographically anyway.

    • Alex on

      Fair enough-I thought I read an interview with Bryan Redpath that he was hopeful that Cameron may still change his mind. He’s still pretty young so plenty of time for either side to cap him, but I did wonder whether it was a bit of a Graham situation with Eddie Jones taking a couple of SQ players in England squads to thumb the nose. If I think of the English centres then Farrell, Tuilagi, Slade, Daly, Marchant, Devoto, Francis and Joseph are all ahead of him and perhaps Fraser Dingwall. Also not sure whether Zach Mercer has a senior cap? Thanks for the piece though; there were several names in here I hadn’t known about!

      • Scotty on

        Yeah Zach Mercer is capped by England. SRU really dropped the ball with that one, he’s a very good player and could’ve been Scotland’s 8 for years to come.

      • Campbell B on

        I would just like to see us try and improve what we already have. Like many, I was frustrated by Toony’s consistent tinkering and I truly believe we paid for that in the RWC. Ok it wasnt the only contributory factor, I am not saying that.

        Find solutions to the positions we have depth problems by all means. Picking exiles as a defense against them going over to the dark side, makes no sense to me. Surely we are not that immature! That is sending the wrong message to our existing lads and compromising the player in question. No need for it IMO.

    • septic 9 on

      no, he hasn’t. (Redpath that is)

      If called he will play. he has been reluctant to jeopardise a contract by declaring for Scotland. Just like Vellacott

      • Bass Rock on

        Oh and no cronyism either , if Redpath is good enough he is in, but we are not short of centres, then again, we seem to burn them out.

        Once again it is just my opinion but Ali Price is Pro 14 level now. George Horn is exciting , but will we ever consider him a starter, he is shaping up as the nearly man. I think we need to make a tough decision at Scrum Half.

        I cannot blame Vallacott for valuing his time in the Premiership over the Scotland camp. Recent events have not represented us in the best light.

    • Sandy Smith on

      I made a point of only dealing with the teams in the Prem now so didn’t look at Newcastle. If there’s someone you want to highlight go for it.

  3. TheSmidge on

    There’s been several articles previewing the resumption of the season that have made quite a bit of noise about SHC joining Exeter, almost all on the basis that he could be one of those modest signings that turns out to be a star. I have my doubts, based on the nomadic nature of his career in the last two years, but would be pleased to be proved wrong.

    • DesT on

      I get the concern about the nomadic nature, but he’s trained and played for Scarlets, Quins and Racing 92 in that time which is a great learning opportunity.

    • Samuel Laycock on

      I’m a huge SHC fan, He has everything in his game he’s fast and physical, great kicking game, great running game, good distribution but you wonder if there is something unseen as to why numerous coaches seem to go cold on him. I really hope he can put it all together with consistency. I’ve always said letting him go was Cockers biggest mistake.

  4. Scrummo on

    Good write up Sandy! Just missing an exile XV at the end!

    Dell
    Kerr
    Owlett
    Gray
    Craig
    Skinner
    Cowan
    Du Preez
    Steele
    Weir
    McGuigan
    Scott
    Harris
    Maitland
    Hogg

    Nae bad.

  5. Rory Baldwin on

    Great piece Sandy. I watched the Exeter v Leicester game and thought that all the Scots on display acquitted themselves well, although Jake Kerr and Sam Skinner didn’t get that much to do. J Gray will fit right in and should only kick on in terms of the other areas of his game (because if he doesn’t Skinner will replace him!). Matt Scott and Hidalgo-Clyne both looked sharp, although Scott did get wrong-footed by a great dummy run in the build up to Hogg’s (lovely) try he rallied nicely. With Tuilagi away from Leicester it’s a great chance for Matt to hold down a spot in a tough position, but Edinburgh should never have let him go with the form he was in.

    • Rob on

      Thought that JG looked like a good journeyman during the game. Commentators thought the same but they hope he improves like Courtney Lawes did.

      • Merlot on

        Loved the quote about Jonny Gray from one of the commentators: “More people have walked on the moon than Jonny has missed tackles in his 8 years at Glasgow”.
        Think he’s more than a journeyman. An exceptional defensive lock.

    • Warks Scot on

      Any idea what the injury is and how bad? I read the BBC report which was a bit thin on detail. Just hope it isn’t too bad.

    • Bass Rock on

      He has played just about every match , no SRU rotation protocol at Exeter. He will miss the play offs as well. Bummer.

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