Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


6 Nations 2021: Calcutta Cup Team Announcement

England vs Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Cameron Redpath’s capture as a fully-fledged Scotland international will be confirmed on Saturday as he was named in the starting XV for this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations opener against the Auld Enemy.

With Duncan Taylor short of minutes after another injury scare, it came down to a call between another Gallagher Premiership starlet in James Lang, which Redpath won out on.

“Any selection decision takes a lot of discussion and debate and also we had to see how Cam fitted in with the group. He came up for a few days of training last week and played on the Friday night for Bath. Those were all factor in enabling him to have this opportunity. In addition to all that, his skillset and mindset as well; he’s a real competitor. Those were ways of making this an easier decision. He’ll grab this opportunity and learn quickly about training at test level”, said Townsend

“He did play age grade at Under-17s for Scotland but obviously he grew up mainly in England so he played mainly age-group for England. We saw a lot of potential at England Under-20s and when he broke into the Sale team. That potential has been brought into the here and now with the way he’s been playing this and last year.”

As we’re all well too aware, Saturday’s match will be held in front of a largely empty stadium, but Townsend saw pros and cons towards the surreal atmosphere in which Redpath will make his international bow.

“He did play age grade at Under-17s for Scotland but obviously he grew up mainly in England so he played mainly age-group for England. We saw a lot of potential at England Under-20s and when he broke into the Sale team. That potential has been brought into the here and now with the way he’s been playing this and last year.”

The Toony Tombola effect hasn’t really come in to play with the majority of the side as expected. Stuart Hogg captains the side from full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe on the left-wing and veteran Sean Maitland on the right.

Redpath will find support on his outside from now nailed-on outside centre Chris Harris – who makes his eighth start in a row – with the totemic Finn Russell looking to feed the Bath man from the stand-off berth. After the shenanigans of last year, the Racing 92 star will be keen to show the watching world that he is one of the best operators in the game, and he’ll be reunited – and it feels so good – with old bromance partner Ali Price at half-back.

Of Russell, the head coach said: “He’s someone who has trained outstandingly well with us. He has brought energy, been hugely positive and led in a number of areas. Plus his accuracy has been superb. He can’t wait to play. He’s really enjoyed being here and with his team-mates. 

“His brain works very fast – looking at how a defence is shaped, this phase, next phase, and what he might do in five minutes’ time with the same opportunity. 

“He’s bringing all that into skill execution much quicker and much more regularly, and a lot of that has to do with confidence. You might work out where the space is or how to attack a team but Finn has the confidence to go through with it, whether it’s a pass, a kick or a run.”

With hookers going down like… things that go down a lot, George Turner makes his Six Nations debut, and in line to make his international debut as his replacement will be Edinburgh’s Dave Cherry, preferred to Grant Stewart and Ewan Ashman as the replacement darts-man.

The rest of the pack are well acquainted with each other; Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson propping on either side of Turner, Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray continue as the locks, while in the back-row formidable flankers Jamie Ritchie – who is also vice-captain – and Hamish Watson will look to cause breakdown mayhem, with Matt Fagerson at the back of the scrum.

“We feel the blend this week with Matt and Gary (Graham) gives us a lot of carrying power. Matt played well for us in the autumn, he had a really good game against France and likewise over in Dublin. Matt’s a young player and there’s a lot of learning and improvement to do but we feel his work rate and what he did in the autumn gives him the opportunity to start. 

We’ve been really impress with Gary. He hasn’t played many games this year – I think he’s only played one in the last four or five weeks, and only four overall. But the four games he has played, he has played really well. He’s played with aggression, more controlled aggression than maybe two or three years ago.

“He brings aggression. More controlled aggression now than maybe two or three years ago.  

“The fact that he’s played No. 8 gives him a different understanding, a better understanding of the game, and he’s been a leader at Newcastle.”  

Alongside Cherry and Graham on a mainly inexperienced bench will be the familiar face of Richie Gray, poised to make his first appearance in nearly 3 years after a pair of fine performances in the recent 1872 games.

Backs: 15. Stuart Hogg 14. Sean Maitland 13. Chris Harris
12. Cameron Redpath 11. Duhan van der Merwe 10. Finn Russell 9. Ali Price

Forwards: 1. Rory Sutherland 2. George Turner 3. Zander Fagerson 4. Scott Cummings 5. Jonny Gray 6. Jamie Ritchie 7. Hamish Watson 8. Matt Fagerson

Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry 17. Oli Kebble 18. WP Nel 19. Richie Gray 20. Gary Graham 21. Scott Steele 22. Jaco van der Walt 23. Huw Jones

28 Responses

  1. If we need to chase the game in the second half then I’m looking forward toJones coming on in place of Harris. At least if will be exciting.

    The replacement front row and R Gray will be keen to make an impact as well.

    Good luck to the team! Here’s hoping for the bounce of the ball to goes our way!

  2. Pretty much the team I think most would pick. I think Jones starting outside Redpath could be the more exciting option longterm, maybe something to try against Italy. He has more Finn like intuition too. Harris is a bigger safer bet though. But I worry at the lack of pace. Forwards need to bring their most accurate and aggressive games to deal with the likes of Genge. Looking forward to this, high hopes for Ritchie as VC.

  3. Love the team, really pleased with the selection.
    If we can secure our own lineout ball reliably I think we will be in the game.
    I do, however think Itoje and Hill will look to compete heavily in the air and pressure Turners throw. There must have been some temptation to throw Ritchie in for this reason.

  4. A selection well capable of making this competitive.
    Get stuck in and who knows?
    Go for it boys, we’ll all be rooting for you.

  5. Unsurprising selection. Would have thought Graham starting with Fagerson off the bench a better option out of that 23.
    A fit R Gray is a far better player than Gilchrist.
    Will be good to see how Redpath does and how England deal with DVDM also.
    If we click we stand as good a chance as anyone ..if we turn up like 1st half a few years ago …we are in for a long sad 80mins.

  6. A selection which will please almost everyone.
    The “keep selection consistent” brigade will be happy. It’s a reasonably settled side, considering injuries, but bringing the in-form players in. The Toony Tombola has stopped turning, it seems.
    The “play the form players” division will be happy with the inclusion of Redpath, Graham and Jones in the squad.
    With experience and form both playing their part, I’m not sure I’d have picked a different 23.
    Has Toony been reading the blog, do we think?

    1. He is improving , that 23 has a lot of common sense, someone must have clamped him down. But he did not satisfy the Harris bashers , did he ! No he didn’t but if that is it, I will live with it and get behind the team.

      On reflection with Richie Gray coming on we will get better last 20 with both Grays in the boiler house. In fact that will lift not just Jonny but the pack. Toony really is listening and I think this lot mean business. Keep Hogg away from the press.

  7. Really interesting game coming up. Of course, England go in favorites but then again they did for the last 3 meetings as well. We saw a thrashing (by Scottish Standards) in 2018, the mother of all comebacks draws in 2019, followed by a terrible game of rugby – in terrible conditions – where England squeaked it against a Finn-less Scotland side in 2020.

    If our pack can front up and give that backline decent ball, we have every chance & wouldn’t it be so Scottish to break the hoodoo with no fans there to see it?

    Finn to run the show, VDM try, Scotland by 3/5.

  8. An important stat is that we are unbeaten against England at Twickenham in just under 4 years….so we have a ton of momentum behind us on that stat alone!!!

  9. Since the Twickenham 2017 disaster our head to heads with England have been pretty evenly matched.

    It’s a good 23 and I’m hoping for a good performance. No probs for me with Turner as starting hooker. Total baptism of fire for Cherry if/when he gets onto the pitch. Good luck to him.

    If Richie Gray gets some reasonable game time it will be interesting to see how he gets on after, what, three years out of the side?

    Is Darcy Graham injured or a bit off-form recently? I no longer have Premier Sports so can’t follow our two clubs as closely as I used to.

    1. Sir, Cherry is a solid citizen/player, he won’t let anyone down.
      Richie Gray should be starting.
      Darcy Graham simply very unlucky

      1. I dont see D Graham as unlucky.
        He is a very talented rugby player when fully fit….but he is a player that is suited to playing some sides and matchups and not others. I cant see him being a stick on starter at any point in his test career.
        Maitland is simply a better and proven test player. He has an overall very good game…Darcy is exceptional on the move with the ball but when attacked his positional sense and lack of size let him down and leave the team exposed.
        DVDM has all the attributes to be an exceptional modern wing.

    2. Darcy Graham’s been left out due to personal reasons which Toony and SRU media head didn’t wish to divulge as it’s non-rugby related.

      He’s a superb wee player but rugby has to take a back-seat at this moment in his life. I’ve heard from a few different sources what the personal issue is, but again it’s not my place to say.

  10. Now, i hope i’m wrong but I do think we’ve maybe missed a chance to potentially disrupt their line-out from the outset (Richie Gray), to get stuck right intae them (Gary Graham) & to run past their centres (Huw Jones).

    1. I guess the plan is to have a sustained challenge/real impact off the bench. R Gray has only just reached the level of fitness required and a bench spot seems logical.
      I do think playing Fagerson from the start instead of Graham is a missed opportunity to take the forward battle to them…but then it could work out the other way …when key forwards tire for both sides…we’ll see who actually has strength in depth…something England get a lot of plaudits for.

      1. Very happy with this team but I would also have Graham to start for that bit extra ‘dog’ and go-forward. The English back row are very physical but if our front row can match them in the scrums then we will never have a better opportunity. Finn can be the difference and looking forward to seeing him launch DVDM into space. C’mon gerr intae them….

  11. R.Gray was by far the best lock in the recent 1872 derbies.

    Gary Graham was/is playing very well for a resurgent Newcastle.

    IMO we need to front up from the start or risk being 20 points behind after 20mins

    1. I think Fagerson gives a better line out option than Graham, which we need. Once Gray snr comes on, its a different story and Graham can add his skills

      1. That is a good point. I am a bit worried about our lineout and Itoje will be heaping the pressure on Turner.

  12. Good to see some optimism and support for the selection in our posts today, which as many have said before me, was fairly predictable. I too would have gone with Graham. Townsend puts a lot of faith in young Fagerson, it’s time he repaid it.
    The Russell/Redpath axis is undoubtedly threatening and much more creative than Farrell/Lawrence. It’s all about how much quality ball we get to them and which side of the referee we end up on. We have the better jacklers, but will he let them compete for it?
    Also,rarely mentioned, I am delighted to see Sean Maitland in this team. Undoubtedly one of our most consistent performers for several years now, and rarely gets the acknowledgment. Maybe our smartest player. We’ll realise what we had when he’s gone.
    So, a true ambush opportunity awaits, but will we give ourselves the chance this time round? Leadership will be a huge factor-so step forward Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Price, Russell & Hogg.

    1. That’s a good point about Maitland. An outstanding footballer and a consistent first pick for a top European club. Great positional awareness and a tough defender. Perhaps lost a yard or two of pace in the last year or so but still no slouch at Test level (I remember him back in 17 at Murrayfield chasing fully 60 metres and stopping an Ireland breakaway that would have led to a try).
      A good man to have in your side in a Calcutta Cup match away from home.

  13. I would have liked to see Graham & R Gray start and try and give us parity in the grunt work. Then bring on the young explosive guys in Cummings and Fagerson for the last 20. Otherwise that’s about what I expected.

    Darcy really unlucky ,but horses for courses!

    1. I think their experience and power may be better for later in the game when we maybe need to improve our game management. To turn Jones’s phrase back on him, they can be our finishers

    2. So in response to the decision with Gray and Graham coming off the bench both players will show pure aggression and impact. Emotionally for both to they will be fused and determined to show their worth. More importantly putting their hands up for a starting position for the next game.

  14. Lots of stuff posted about the backs. But particularly with a wet ball and inevitable handling errors, this is the game for Zander and Rory Sutherland to put their hands up for the Lions at scrum time.

  15. Easy just. Time for all the forwards to show their not to be messed around with. It’s about time the forwards showed the aggression we expect. Go do it for us boys as a nation of supporters we’ve missed the fire that has been lacking for far too long. Go knock them’ of their perch boys their not expecting it!

  16. Forecast isn’t great, going to be cold and wet. How wet we’ll wait and see. But not conditions we’re likely to see exhibition rugby in, so expect it to be a forward dominated affair with the home side kicking a lot.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion