Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


6 Nations 2021: Scotland v Wales Teams

Scotland vs Wales
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Gregor Townsend will be without top performers Jamie Ritchie, Sean Maitland and Cameron Redpath for the visit of Wales this weekend. The injured men have been replaced by Blade Thomson, Darcy Graham and James Lang respectively.

Townsend said of the injured trio: “We don’t think they’ll be out too long, Jamie and Sean we believe they’ll be back for the French game.

“Jamie had a tightening in his hamstring so it’s a 1-2 week injury. Sean had a knee problem which affected his achilles, so he had to leave the field. At a push he could’ve made this weekend but given the physical nature of the game, the training that we need, and also the fact he’s hardly played any rugby these last few weeks, we felt it not right to put in the team this weekend.

“Cam Redpath presented with a neck issue the day after the game. It hasn’t improved and we’ve been liaising with his club after a scan. He’ll probably miss the next few weeks but we never know how quickly these neck issues resolve. We’re optimistic he’ll be back involved later in the championship.”

Otherwise the team and bench that defeated England remain unchanged, which gives unusual continuity in most areas, rather than promoting from the bench and plugging the gaps there. Is this the end of the Tombola era?

Scotland seem considerably better off than injury-stricken Wales who see a number of changes following a punishing opening fixture against Ireland. It does see the return of Liam Williams to the back three who should be expected to pose a stronger aerial challenge than England did, but Townsend is still wary of the threat Wales could pose.

“We’ll wait and see what Wales bring and we’ll react to that but the important thing for us is to build on that performance we delivered last weekend.

“Wales are an improved team since the autumn. They did really well last week, they’ve got some experienced players back in the mix for them and they’ve got the confidence of an opening weekend win. I’m sure they’ll be determined to reverse the result from a few months ago.

“We expect them to perform and their game now looks to have added physicality from what we saw in autumn.”

Although Scotland are at home, Townsend considered that an eerily quiet BT Murrayfield would not bring the usual home comforts. Had Ireland kept 15-men on the park last week and won, it would have made for an unprecedented hat-trick of away wins during round one of the tournament.

“That’s a threat for us this weekend. We’ve really fed off the energy of our crowd the last 2-3 years.

“We’ve been away from home four times since no crowds were involved in the Six Nations – Rome, Llanelli, Twickenham and Dublin – and you do feel it’s more of a neutral venue than ever before.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t let Wales make the most of that opportunity. We’ve got to create our own energy, impose our game without 60,000 supporters cheering us on, so that’s an extra challenge for us being at home this weekend.”

Will Scotland stick with the tactics that have worked so far or will they need to adjust?

“We’re hoping for better weather this week. That was a huge positive from the performance last week, was that we were able to be accurate and play with width at times even though the conditions were poor. It’s going to be very cold but we’re hoping at a dry ball this week so that we can add even more to our game.”

Victory over Wales would mean the first time since 1996 – ye olde 5 Nations, of which we are the reigning champs – that Scotland have won their opening two matches of the tournament. After the glorious shock of last week, dare we dream to think of another long-standing gorilla on our back being removed?

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Duhan Van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Blade Thomson, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Oli Kebble, Willem Nel, Richie Gray, Gary Graham, Scott Steele, Jaco Van der Walt, Huw Jones.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, James Botham, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Willis Halaholo.

Part II of Kevin’s Scotland v Wales in-depth preview will appear soon. You can read Part I here.

63 Responses

  1. Just seen the team. Richie, Redpath and Maitland injured!! The warm fuzzy feeling from last weekend has gone and this is going to be a right battle on Saturday.

    1. Yeah, got the fear now. Lang not a patch on Redpath, Graham is great but not nearly as defensively reliable as Maitland and Thompson is just underwhelming. So our attack and defence is looking more vulnerable. Concerned if it comes down to kicking accuracy we’ll lose.

      It’s a must win match so I’d be happy with a 1pt win.

      1. Welsh midfield is just as ropey to be fair. Outside backs may as well bring a cup of hot cocoa and a tartan blanket. Galling if Biggar/halfpenny puts in a tactical and kicking masterclass to put us away.

      1. Redpath has a neck issue likely to be out the next few weeks,

        Maitland knee and Achilles niggles should face France

        Ritchie tight hamstring – should face France.

        Players being 6 Nationed during a grueling slog of a 6 Nations, let alone this season when most are under cooked.

  2. Going into a game against a side with an injury crisis and ending up with a more injured 15 than the team you are playing is so Scotland.

    The team though is still very, very comparable to the one which won in Wales, albeit Wales look stronger than they did then.

      1. Wales injury crisis is that bad they can name a stronger starting 15 than they had last weekend…it was a comment on general luck, it’s Rugby injuries happen….

  3. After Saturdays performance I cant see the enforced changes being anything other than a negative. Sure Darcy has dancing feet but Maitland offers so much more all round. Redpath on first cap in arguably the hardest place to go and play has demonstrated more ability than Laing has. Thomson has shown very little in his international outings so far too. Wales will be buoyed by these changes.

    1. Hopefully they feel as buoyed as they were when Graham, BT and Lang started against them the last 6 Nations game they played against each other…

    1. Why all the negativity???? Sure the changes aren’t as strong but it’s only 3, injuries and replacements are part of the course.

      1. I think a lot of people are terrified of Scotland getting the ‘favourites’ tag. Wales have always been our rugby team boogeyman, although without Gatland I don’t think they will have the same edge. I watched the 2017 match last night on youtube; despite knowing the result I still got anxious when Pyrgos fed the ball into that scrum and Visser of all players rescued us from another business-as-usual valiant defeat (think that was the best he ever played for Scotland).

        Personally I am cautiously optimistic, but don’t want to get complacent. I think the players and coaches deserve our confidence but I do get why people are on edge.

        Scotland look to be in a better place than Wales at the moment, though Wales did ultimately win their last game. I think they are going to click fairly soon (but for what its worth I think that will be against England).

  4. I’m surprised not to see Gary Graham or Ritchie Gray (with Cummings to 6) replace Ritchie. Townsend must be developing a “finishers” mentality along the lines of Eddie Jones. Or it could be that he’s expecting a faster, more open game and thinks Blade will be better at the start with those two coming on to tired legs later in the game.

    Shame for Redpath not to be able to follow up his good showing against England, let’s hope it’s nothing serious and he’s back for France. Hopefully Graham and Lang will step up and give Townsend a massive selection headache deciding who to pick.

    It’s going to be tough against a rejuvenated Wales team so I hope the players are focused from the start!

    1. Townshend said Redpath will be out for a few weeks, prognosis not yet clear, but he hoped he’d play ‘some part’ in the remaining 6N.

      To me that sounds like France is v unlikely, which is a huge blow.

  5. Look at the knicker wetters out in force.
    Pretty much the team which beat Wales better than the scoreline suggested in October.

    1. Stops us getting ahead of ourselves and thinking we are world beaters after just one (albeit great) game.

      1. To be fair, if we go just by Six Nations fixtures we’ve won the last four on the bounce. Whatever the squad is doing it seems to be working. I really hope Gatland is not physically present at Murrayfield.

      2. I think it’s almost guaranteed he will be after last week’s performance and can he really see much live at the England game that he couldn’t see re-watching what will be at least a 50 points win… He’ll be there and it might be what the players need to do what they can do and not do what they sometimes do and forget to do what their talent and brain knows they can do…

      3. Agree referendum. It’s not often Wales put in such a good performance 😉. WG will need to see more just to make sure his picks are justified.

        Tbf if you offered me a scratchy win over 14 man Ireland I’d take it in a heartbeat.

    2. Johnny B…agree fully….from triumph to disaster with three injuries…and the bench unchanged….shame Johnson not available yet offers bit more than Lang so far….and Weir out for season with shoulder injury….shame for him

      1. Chin up guys.
        If we’re gonna win anything we can’t go to pieces anytime a few favoured players pick up knocks. This is rugby and there will be injuries.

        James Lang is a tough hombre and quite skillful. Not much will get past him and he won’t be phased.
        We’re losing less than you think with him stepping in for Cameron Redpath.

        Blade Thompson is a good 8 who knows the Welsh players inside out.

        We’ll be fine.

  6. Our changes are all downgrades while most of Wales’ ones are upgrades. Wainwright is a lump and so our backrow suddenly seems to lack physicality with Blade in there. Think I would have preferred Skinner. Lang is just uninspiring. Looks like we are going defensive with the hope of a spark from Hogg, Finn or Darcy.

      1. No Skinner missed the covid bubble as did SHC. Not sure if it was a club commit as Hogg and Gray made it .

    1. Have to agree unfortunately. Centre balance looks too predictable. With little creativity we run the risk of people inside/outside having to over compensate and force things. Ritchie brings authority. Maitland an all round game. Still let’s see.
      Do feel less confident though.

      1. Isn’t Taylor in the squad. Can’t see what Lang offers above Taylor apart from an alleged kicking game?

  7. Wales look stronger with L.Williams among others back. And our changes don’t help, Lang…..Thompson, his waist is still incredibly thin…he just can’t have much clout. I’d sign on the dotted line for a losing bonus point right now.

  8. not sure what message the selection sends to Gary Graham or Huw Jones either. Both were deemed best reserve players out of the training squad in their positions. Now still dont go straight in

    1. If that’s what you think the replacements are. Maybe they’re selected as “most likely to make an impact from the bench in one of a few different positions”?

  9. Is Taylor still unfit? I suspect quite a few aerial bombs for Liam W to chase out to the flanks for the Edinburgh wingers. No Skinner is still a surprise.

    1. Believe Skinner was omitted from the squad because of the likelihood he’d be getting shuttled back to Exeter every weekend, same with SHC. In short was a Covid bubble not rugby decision on a number of exiles.

  10. Yeah we have injuries, but look at Wales, they are missing.

    Rhys Carre, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, Lydiate, Navidi, Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Anscombe, Johnny Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams.

    Still can see people blaming injuries if we lose though…

    1. Exactly.

      Wales are missing considerably more players than us, and form over the last 18 months suggests that we have a better squad than them to start with.

      Townsend’s selections are consistent and sensible.

      While there’s no crowd, we’re at home on a pitch the players are comfortable playing on.

      Hopefully the players mood doesn’t match the defeatist attitude showing on here.

    2. We are missing:

      Stuart Mcinally, Fraser Brown, Sam Skinner, Jamie Ritchie, George Horne/SHC, Adam Hastings, Cameron Redpath,
      Sean Maitland, Blair Kinghorn

      Duncan Taylor still struggling to return to fitness after latest injury also despite being in squad.

      The injury list is somewhat comparable in reality.

      1. This list is standard for a side within the six nations and is nowhere near where we have been before… It’s a little larger than at the start of the tournament but if you look at the list there are a lot of multiples for a position and really not losing much in that the folks in the team are very much comparable. The drop off is nowhere near what it was even say 1-2 years ago we have huge depth now…. and some have gone from no credit to how can we replace them in one match…meaning Redpath.

        Losing those SHs and Hookers in the past would be a disaster but not as much now. I like Fraser Brown and he talks very well on radio etc but knowing that he won’t thrown in the at least 1 needless pen throughout has helped massively.

        The discipline was outstanding and it really only takes 2-3 players to give 2-3 pens away and you’re in trouble. Vunipola, Itoje, Johnny May (knock ons were equivalent to pens really) my case in point.

        We’ll be fine and yes we’ll need to play well but Wales weren’t that impressive Sun if you look at it in the cold light of day.

  11. Assume Thomson’s selection over Graham is giving a better 3rd lineout option as he’s approx 6’5. A Graham, Watson & Fagerson back row is stocky/powerful but all 3 are not particularly tall. Feel Lang & Thomson won’t do a lot wrong, just equally won’t do anything special which is downgrade v last week.

  12. Not worried about back row, Watson, Fagerson, Thomson is strong. Especially alongside those locks. Thomson seems to be respected by the Welsh.

    Darcy may not be Maitland. But he’s a wonderful player and brings dynamism.

    Centres are less inspiring but Harris is not there for that and Lang hasn’t done much wrong even if he hasn’t done much (less running but another distributor with kicking game). Would have liked to see Jones come in. But, at least the Lions, Price, Russell, Duhan and Hogg are all there to cause mayhem.

    I’m back to trusting GT after last week’s performance, so it’s a shame for Redpath, but the bulk of the big performers and leaders are all still there.

    Time to check out Wales online.

  13. Wales’ line out was very poor last week which I’m sure is why Thompson got the nod over Graham. I’ve no doubt the latter will come on for the final 30 and wreak some havoc though.

    Their starting XV is hugely experienced and high quality so I don’t think this is by any means an easy fixture for us. I do think our bench is more powerful though so would like to think we’ll edge in in the final 20.

    Real shame about Redpath but hopefully he’ll be back before the end of the tournament.

    Toony obviously looking for that second playmaker at 12 which is why Taylor hasn’t had a look in. I don’t hugely rate Lang as an international player but I do think he’ll allow Finn and Hogg more freedom which is why he’s straight in.

  14. I wish the Scotland team all the best for Saturday. We have injuries
    however at least the replacements have international experience. Lang has been playing really well for Harlequins
    so let’s be positive about him. Blade Thomson in my opinion is under rated. And Graham is a pocket dynamo.

    1. Lang will be fired up just like Thomson and Graham. They know it’s their chance to be in with a chance to take the starting spots v France. But they also need to prove them selves
      – massively. There for that reason there is expectation. There’s a buzz within the squad and a confidence but most importantly a reason to deliver. It’s not just for victory itself but victory for you and all of us. COME ON SCOTLAND!

  15. Team selection is’nt that surprising considering injuries. Still …was disappointed that those 3 had to drop out…as it makes consistency tougher. Thompson and Lang have done nothing in a Scotland shirt…and so this is there chance to show something better than what we’ve seen.
    Surprised Ritchie wasn’t replaced with Graham..but he’ll play at some point Im sure…and he can play 6,7,8 all very well. Thompson I guess offers an athletic lineout option.
    Wales will definitely see a better chance there for the taking with those players out and have selected as good and as experienced a side as they could have.
    Looking much tougher than it did yesterday….

    1. One thought on Lang is that he’s not had much time playing outside Finn yet, something that makes many a back look better!

      1. Exactly what I was thinking. Lang is a good player, but all our 12’s looked average over the last year outside 10’s that didn’t get the backline firing at all.
        There’s a decent chance he will look a lot better on Saturday.

        Still a shame about Redpath though.

        Still a game we should and have to win to prove last week wasn’t a complete one-off.

  16. Duhan has been scoring tries for fun (like Huw Jones before him). I’m apprehensive that he is going to get heavily marked. On the plus side he always draws in a lot of defenders, reckon that could create that bit of extra space for Darcy Graham to nip through.

    1. I’d love to see the wingers linking on some moves. Doesn’t happen much but would be dynamic and some cover required. Or link with Hogg on line breaks.

    2. I dont think that will decide the outcome …the breakdown will. Both teams have wingers who will score given the chance.
      Wales have picked a strong back row that has a tone of experience..and how Watson comes out of it against Tipuric will have a big say. To me we look a bit lightweight at the breakdown.
      Thompson and Lang will have to play much much better than they have thus far.. for us to win.

  17. The outstanding feature of the Twickenham game was the cohesive nature of the performance, the fact the everyone from 1-15 understood the game plan and executed it perfectly plus some stellar individual performances. I don’t feel that the loss of the three players will have such a disatrous effect as some are phrophesising and indeed I suspect that Blade Thomson will prove to be a canny pick.

    More things will go wrong this week-there’s no chance that this game will be as flawless as the last one-its how the team reacts to setbacks that will count.

    This Wales team are no mugs and will provide a serious test but I hope and expect us to win. Otherwise its back to boom and bust and this season I think we’ve got a massive chance to go beyond that and achieve something great.

    1. This is the most measured and positive outlook I’ve seen. Last week Scotland kept their heads under pressure and managed the set pieces well. Wales did neither.

      In years gone by I used to think of Gatland in his box as being a bit like a Sith Lord; Scotland always seemed to implode when he was present as coach.

      We have a very good chance against Wales this Saturday, provided Scotland give another cohesive performance. Something probably will go wrong (we lost first and second choice flyhalves last time we played Wales) but the squad kept going.

    2. There was something about the attitude, energy and power at Twickenham from kick off that suggested the whole training squad, not just the 23 for Twickenham, have found another level.

      So much so that I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan watching the first 15 or so minutes and thinking, WTF?, we’re better than them and can win this.

      When was the last time that we’ve bossed a Test against England on their home ground?

      Can whatever it is that has been rediscovered in the Scotland squad help overcome Wales on Saturday despite the loss of three important players? I think it can, though I won’t curse us by saying that it will.

      Mon, Scotland!

    3. Good post…but we weren’t flawless on Saturday. We put in some real belters of stupidity at times but we didn’t compound it and England helped massively….
      You don’t need the 80 mins performance you need a decent shift, decent discipline, a bit of luck (we really did at times early on, on Saturday)…the whole game shifted on the sealing off after the charge down of Ali’s kick…we may not have recovered from that try.

      We completed the game plan and were magnificent mostly but we weren’t perfect… whoever wins on Saturday is huge for the country who does…I think it’ll be Scotland fairly comfortably even if we do go behind early. Wouldn’t have said that on Sat against England. Wales showed very little on Sun at all to worry…maybe they’ll be better but they may even be worse…

    4. The last match definitely was not flawless. There were mistakes.
      They can play better. Just because they beat England at Twiks doesn’t mean they cant play much better.
      We need to be much more clinical when we are dominating possession and territory.

  18. Come on Scotland! Prove these doom n gloom merchants that we can beat Wales and they can start believing in HOPE again.

  19. We have just won our opening game in a six nations. Usually the tournament is all over 10 minutes after KO in the opening match. Lets just enjoy the show, if we keep the head and avoid getting wound up by the like of Biggar and Williams we will win. The team will do and the bench is strong.

  20. Injuries happen, we are missing a load of players anyway. I will be delighted if we walk away this weekend with only 3 comparatively minor injuries. We always seem to get a load of players crocked against Wales. I blame their dirty aerial game, every time they take a high ball they are running into it knees / boots out, they’ve gotten away with it for years. It’s a clear tactic and it works but I don’t understand how they get away with it. With all the (rightful) focus on penalising for taking a player out in the air nowadays surely the rules apply to the guy who gets the ball too? Just because you catch the ball it shouldn’t mean you are free to drop kick a guy in the chest in the process of doing so? Alternatively are we just characteristically naive and need to start playing them at their own dirty game?

    1. Never said it but I’ve felt the same for years. Byrne used to be especially bad but got away with it. Also don’t like the way AW Jones gets away with loitering at the wrong side of a ruck after a tackle. Refs seem almost scared to penalise him. If he were reffed like others and told to shut up instead of incessant chatter folk would see he’s not as good as made out. On a different note I expect us to win tomorrow as long as we continue with the same attributes of recent matches. Show Wales proper respect (they’re still dangerous), and everyone undertake their tasks as before. We should win by 8-15 margin.

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