Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Training Squad Update

Chris Harris
2021 British & Irish Lions Tour To South Africa British & Irish Lions Gym Session and Squad Training, South Africa 1/7/2021 Chris Harris Mandatory credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

A total of 11 new players have been added to the squad for the Autumn by Gregor Townsend, ahead of the opening game against Tonga on 30 October. It brings in the full compliment of British and Irish Lions as well as a number of French and English based players who were previously unavailable.

The original training group was announced last week and came together earlier this week at the Oriam High Performance Centre in Edinburgh.

New additions: Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, Chris Harris, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Rory Sutherland, Huw Jones, Sam Skinner, Matt Scott, Ewan Ashman, Adam Hastings, Josh Bayliss.

Dropping out: James Lang, Matt Currie, Cole Forbes, Jack Blain, Charlie Savala.

There is still no call up for in form Edinburgh scrum half Ben Vellacott, but the overall group now has a settled a powerful look to it and more importantly, some experience has been restored.

Will it be enough to beat the Springboks and the Wallabies, or even Japan? Will we get to see a full strength first XV run out?

Complete Scotland Squad:

Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks
Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby
Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors
Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors
Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby
Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors
Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors
Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors
Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby
Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby
Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors
Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby
Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors
Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors
Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby
Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks
Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby
Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs
Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby
Rory Sutherland – Worcester Warriors
Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby
George Turner – Glasgow Warriors
Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby

Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby
Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby
Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors
Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby
Adam Hastings – Gloucester Rugby
Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs
George Horne – Glasgow Warriors
Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby
Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors
Huw Jones – Harlequins
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby
Duhan van de Merwe – Worcester Warriors
Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors
Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors
Finn Russell – Racing 92
Matt Scott – Leicester Tigers
Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors
Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors
Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors

46 Responses

  1. Scotland squad out – looks strong except at lock where we’re missing Gray and Cummings and only Skinner, Harley, Sykes and Hodgson are included.

    I don’t know a great deal about the latter two but Skinner and Harley aren’t even particularly conventional locks. Hmm

    1. Missed out Gilchrist of course, which makes the picture a bit better. Surprised no call up for Cameron Henderson.

      1. Why surprised at CH ? 8 starts since April 2020 is better than some, granted, but is that a realistic expectation! In my opinion we need a strong front 5 for all 4 tests and it would not surprise me if 250 cap Harley was included in at least one match day 23. He brings more IMO.

      2. Well he was in the summer squad and Rob Harley is not really a test standard lock and isn’t going to the next World Cup. Henderson feasibly could, he’s got a lot of potential. There’s a few selections with clearly one eye on the potential RWC squad so I’d have though CH would be amongst them as we don’t have our best locks available.

        Presumably as he isn’t available for the Tonga game it has counted against him. He’s certainly worth a place in the squad if Hodgson and Sykes are.

      3. In fact just read the offside line interview with Toonie, who explained that CH has picked up an injury.

      4. Fair enough, I don’t rate Sykes BTW. He thinks he is a WUM, he will get out of his depth soon enough. I would sooner see Harley. Lots of experience over plucky youth, that is why Harley is there.

        He is not a natural second row , but I would take a punt that he has played more pro games in second row than Sykes and Hodgson together . Not sure about Skinner, Exeter have played him in both. In short , I disagree with the criticism of Harley, other than Richie Gray, I cannot think of anyone else who could be relied upon to make up the numbers.

        I think you are more ‘disappointed’ than ‘surprised’. I get that, nothing surprises me with Toony any longer.

      5. I thought Skinner looked bigger last season and he’s now listed on Exeter’s site at 116kg (up from 112kg) so I think it’s fair to say he’s transitioning into more of a primary lock though he’s still very athletic so can play blindside. He’ll make a fairly useful starting combination with Gilchrist with the young lads to be blooded from the bench I’d imagine.

        Young, Davidson, Henderson, Gray, Toolis, Cummings and Craig are all injured so not bad depth here really considering that list! Unsure on Hunter-Hill’s status as he’d surely have been in the conversation I’d have thought.

    1. Baffled by his omission- playing well at the weekend according to my Sarries mate. Still best back three cover if not starter.On plus side nice to see SCott in party

      1. Glasgow Playing Thomson at FB this weekend. That might explain the lack of specialist FB cover. I hope it is not a costly experiment.

  2. Still like to see Vellacott on the squad too, his form has deserved it and he’s played at U20’s so familiar with a number of the squad. It’s been mentioned before that we have a good stock of locks and yet with both Gray Jnr and Cummings out, we suddenly look a bit thin. Guessing it will be Gilchrist and Skinner as first choice plus Sykes or Hosgson on the bench; can’t see Harley as international standard these days, particularly not as a second row.
    Good to see Scott back and hope he doesn’t fall into the underutilized/mismanaged centre category which is already too big.
    2 wins is essential this autumn, 3 would be good and a clean sweep would be awesome. Bookies odds now that a few key Boks are ruled out??

    1. Of course it won’t be Skinner pairing Gilchrist for Tonga match; I get Harley is a player with real dog but I can’t see him as a starting lock. Looks like at least one new cap in that position and perhaps the whole team for Tonga will look a bit experimental given the number of exiles normally in the backs. Looks like Ross Thompson will have an “enforced” debut, with presumably Kinghorn playing at FB and providing FH cover and therefore plenty of scope for an interesting bench selection.

  3. Is Cole Forbes injured? If not, very surprised to see him dropped.
    Also was really hoping Bevan Rodd, not being in the England squad could mean he had been wooed over by us, sadly not to be

  4. Is Alex Craig injured? Not sure why he is’nt in the squad…we look very thin and untested at lock.
    Im surprised at Cole Forbes dropping out …we dont have a plethora of FBs…and he has been playing very well.

    We are loaded at hooker and loosehead….and very thin at tighthead…im guessing some of those LHs might have to play TH backup.

    1. Could have used another full back (Forbes?) and 2nd row (Henderson/Craig/Davidson?) there as looks pretty light in those positions especially for the Tonga match.
      Anyone have an update on how long before Johnny Gray is back?

      1. What has happened to toolis? Not that im saying he should start but has been awol for a while, i presume he is injured. Henderson would be a good shout i think, ive not seen craig listed in teamsheets so far this season, i think. And davidson went off very early a couple weeks back n not played since.

      2. Toolis limped past with the squad on Saturday night after the game – assume he is still in recovery.

    1. You’ve linked to your holiday cottage there mate – might want to remove that before your trolling loses you business.

  5. Still stumped by Vellacott not being in the squad. Having said, here’s hoping we get a Scott/Harris centre pairing at some point :)

  6. A close to first-choice team for Aus/SA (with a few experiments)

    Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Chris Harris – Matt Scott – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Grant Gilchrist – Sam Skinner – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

    Steyn (11/13/14) – Hastings (10/15) – Jamie Dobie – Josh Bayliss – Marshal Sykes – Oli Kebble – Stuart McInally – Rory Sutherland

    Scott to show what he can do at 12… At the moment the depth is Johnson and Redpath who has 1 cap… we need more depth here with the WC in mind and Scott has been playing very well.
    (Harris to cover 12 if Scott gets injured)

  7. I cannot see Toony just letting Vellacott walk in if Price and Horne are fit. I would not be surprised if he is called up to cover during the month. As we know, our squads seem to suffer more injury’s than most.

  8. Thomson had a good game at 15, good under the high ball. Not the easiest side to play against either.

    1. I’d probably go:

      Schoeman, McInally, Fagerson, Sykes, Gilchrist, Ritchie (c), Darge, Fagerson, Horne, Thompson, McLean, Johnson, Tuipulotu, Graham, Kinghorn

      Turner, Bhatti, Kebble, Hodgson, Watson, Price, Steyn, Hoyland

      Would try and keep a bit of stability in the team whilst getting few of the form newcomers in.
      6 on debut but definitely should have enough for Tonga.
      Makes sense to have Kinghorn starting with so much inexperience in the backline even if he hasn’t been playing there recently.

      1. Thanks for that , I look forward to seeing Darge and Schoeman. Is Hoyland really in contention ! Is Richie captain material, I see him as a hothead, but he would lead by example, if that is what we want to see from the side.

      2. No worries!

        The only back that’s available for the Tonga game that I haven’t listed there is Jamie Dobie which shows how thin we are.

        On Ritchie, I think he’s definitely a leader and seems like the kind of guy that could be matured by captaincy. Too early for him probably at the moment but I would expect him to take over from Hogg after the next WC.

      3. Not that many options for the Tonga game in the backs – might be tempted to start with Price to give him some game time with Dobie on the bench as would likely be the best game to give him international experience.
        Agree with starting front five but would have Kebble as replacement LH as don’t think he’s had enough experience at TH to be thrown in there for international game. Would have Cherry and McCallum as replacements. Back row is the only area which could be a bit of a Toony lottery. Assuming Darge is unfit, I would start with Mish, again for game time and then tempted to include Bradbury as a chance for him to finally prove he can deliver with Ritchie at 6. Replacement is either Richardson or Crosbie, not sure which but assume that over 4 weekends of test matches, there will be some kind of rotation so possibly all in the squad could get a cap.
        Lack of exiles and injuries really forces an experimental side so might as well embrace the opportunity, with some experienced heads to provide leadership (Rambo, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Price and Kinghorn). A bit worried that this is a potential banana skin – Tonga did for Andy Robinson when we thought it was a routine win – but think there is now more resilience in the National team and coaching set up. Hope we play smart and use our pace to find gaps and can keep the match from being an arm wrestle.

    2. For Saturday you say? Well if i may indulge myself…

      Hoyland – Graham – Steyn – Johnson – McLean – Kinghorn – Price – Fagerson – Watson – Haining – Gilchrist – Sykes – Fagerson – Turner – Schoeman

      Tuipolotu – Thompson – Horne – Crosbie – Bradbury – Kebble – McInally – Bhatti

      Slightly different to what some would pick i guess, A balance of experience and new caps.

      Price/Watson/Fagerson/Haining/Fagerson are all starting as i feel they really need more game-time building up to Australia and South Africa.

      Darge left out due to being in a moonboot all weekend, why rush it and cause injury? I would start him against Japan, Crosbie is deserving of a cap anyway.

      Steyn to start at 13 and switch to wing, Kinghorn to start 10 and switch 15. Simply due to the inexperience of the backline, i would start two players who know the set-up (Steyn and Kinghorn would both prefer to be playing 13 and 10). Give them 40 minutes each.

      Kebble to be tested only as a tighthead this series for me.

      1. Few comments. I think Tuipolotu will start at 12 with Steyn at 23. He covers more from the bench. Its silly to shuffle backlines just because, that should be a necessity, not a luxury. Kinghorn will start at 10 but will probably come off for Thompson, not move to FB for the same reason.
        Ritchie will be the captain this weekend so will start, especially since he missed out on captaining the side in the summer. Watson hasn’t played for Edinburgh yet, why would he start this one? Crosbie to start with Mish on the bench or Ritchie starts at 7 and your 6 & 8 remain as you said.

      2. Few comments. I think Tuipolotu will start at 13 with Steyn at 23. He covers more from the bench. Its silly to shuffle backlines just because, that should be a necessity, not a luxury. Kinghorn will start at 10 but will probably come off for Thompson, not move to FB for the same reason.
        Ritchie will be the captain this weekend so will start, especially since he missed out on captaining the side in the summer. Watson hasn’t played for Edinburgh yet, why would he start this one? Crosbie to start with Mish on the bench or Ritchie starts at 7 and your 6 & 8 remain as you said.

      3. For all Toonie’s chat about Kinghorn at 10, I just can’t see it happening.

        He was weak there at the weekend and just doesn’t have any of the game management required even at club level (against Zebre…).

        Thompson will start especially since it’s already going to be a Glasgow-heavy backline and Blairhorn will be available to slot in if necessary.

        I didn’t know Darge was injured at the weekend, that’s annoying. Probably the standout player for either pro team at the start of the URC.

        Crosbie has been on the fringes for a while though and is also in line for a cap so don’t have any issues with him starting. Watson should definitely be on the bench. He needs a bit of game time but we also don’t want to risk him with SA and Aus next up.

    1. Pretty sure that with Bennett now out there are only 11 fit home based backs so given 3 are scrum halves all of them (ie apart from one of the scrum halves) have to be in the 23 for Tonga unless we do a 6:2 bench split.
      In which case FB will be either Kinghorn or Hoyland-and so if Kinghorn is at fly half Hoyland surely has to start at FB.
      Pretty thin resources in the backs until the cavalry come in next week from the Premiership plus Finn.

  9. He is my team, the selection is just based on who i want to see play, not what i think is the smart selections or the best.

    I just want power in the pack to destroy Tonga.

    Schoeman, Turner, Fagerson, Sykes, Gilchrist, Bradbury, Watson, Fagerson, Dobie, Thompson, Steyn, Johnson, Tuipolotu, McLean, Graham

    McInally, Kebble, Mccallum, Hodgson, Ritchie, Price, Kinghorn, Hoyland

  10. Players by number of caps

    Stuart Hogg – 85
    Finn Russell – 55
    Grant Gilchrist – 45
    Ali Price – 42
    Hamish Watson – 41
    Stuart McInally – 40
    Matt Scott – 39
    Zander Fagerson – 38
    Huw Jones – 31
    Chris Harris – 28
    Jamie Ritchie – 27
    Blair Kinghorn – 25
    Adam Hastings – 23
    Rob Harley – 22
    Darcy Graham – 19
    Sam Johnson – 18
    Jamie Bhatti – 18
    George Turner – 17
    Rory Sutherland – 16
    Magnus Bradbury – 14
    George Horne – 14
    Matt Fagerson – 13
    Sam Skinner – 12
    Duhan Van Der Merwe – 10
    Nick Haining – 8
    Oli Kebble – 8
    Dave Cherry – 5
    Daminan Hoyland – 4
    Murray Mcallum – 3
    Kyle Steyn – 1

    12 Uncapped
    Ewan Ashman
    Josh Bayliss
    Luke Crosbie
    Rory Darge
    Jamie Hodgson
    Dylan Richardson
    Pierre Schoeman
    Marshall Sykes
    Jamie Dobie
    Rufus McLean
    Ross Thompson
    Sione Tuipolotu

    1. It’s traditional to include Lions tests in total caps, although I’m being picky (but they are important).

      1. That would add 3 for Price and 3 for DVDM, 2 for Hogg and 1 for Finn. Is that what you are saying?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion