9 of the Scots and 8 of the Welshman who started last season’s fixture at Murrayfield are back in the respective XVs for this clash at the Principality Stadium. Elsewhere there has been pretty major surgery on both squads with 21 players involved who didn’t feature in 2021.
The dark blues will feel their changes have broadly strengthened their lineup while their hosts have been denuded of some of their most important players. Scotland have to deal with the weight of history being against them however, having lost 15 of their last 18 games against Wales in the Six Nations, including all 8 fixtures played at the Principality Stadium in that spell…
Tale of the tape
60 Tries 59
91kg Average weight 95kg
306 Total caps 266
127 6N caps 131
4 B&I Lions 5
29.5 Average age 27.9
887kg Pack weight 910kg
13 Tries 26
226 Total caps 287
83 6N caps 124
4 B&I Lions 1
28.2 Average age 29.4
34 Tries 20
263 Total caps 126
99 6N caps 56
2 B&I Lions 2
29.0 Average age 25.5
5 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v England)
- 12 – Tuipulotu for Johnson [=]
- 1 – Schoeman for Sutherland [=]
- 2 – McInally for Turner [–]
- 3 – Nel for Fagerson [–]
- 6 – Skinner for Ritchie [–]
Dan Biggar (c)
Stuart Hogg (c)
D van der Merwe
Backs – advantage Scotland
There are certainly plenty of Lions on show from both sides, although Alex Cuthbert’s credentials come from an earlier generation. The veteran Welsh wing has been around a while and bagged his very first Test try against Scotland. That was a decade ago – 12 February 2012 – in the very same game that Stuart Hogg made his international debut in.
Both sides have seen a change in midfield. Owen Watkins’s inclusion for the home side provides a more natural fit than Josh Adams at outside centre and should take some defensive pressure off Nick Tompkins. If Scotland can hang on to possession in early phases a bit better than they did against England then Sione Tuipulotu at 12 gives them a power carrying option – but one with more than decent distribution and offloading as well.
Forwards – advantage Scotland
Wales are missing 5 forwards who were part of the most recent Lions’ tour. Although if all 5 were able to play the average age of the Welsh pack would be over 31 years old – there’s surely a better chance of Saturday’s group making it to the 2023 RWC, in which case experience now could be vital.
Advantages in both size and experience for Scotland’s eight have been rare indeed when tackling the Welsh. The visitors have frequently found themselves being beaten up in the forwards battle at the Principality, leaving talented backlines with precious little decent ball to attack with. This year’s selection up front has to take the battle to Wales at the breakdown and setpiece if an away victory is to be secured.
Subs – advantage Scotland
Gregor Townsend seems to be taking some inspiration from world champions, South Africa, and he’ll be hoping Scotland’s very own Bam Squad can deliver from the bench.
– Stuart Hogg makes his 89th start for the national side, moving him past the tally of Ross Ford and meaning only Chris Paterson (96) and Sean Lamont (93) remain ahead of him.
– Alun Wyn Jones hasn’t missed a fixture between these two sides since 2012, when Scotland’s locks were Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton (with Al Kellock on the bench).
– Scotland are looking for a 5th consecutive away win in the Six Nations. The only time they have achieved that feat in either the Five or Six Nations was a sequence of victories between 1925 and 1927.
– The last time Rory Sutherland made an appearance from the bench for Scotland was in June 2016.
– 2 players coming into the 23 matches the fewest number of changes made to a squad for any game during the Townsend era. This is just the 2nd time in the last 41 matches that no players have come into the Scottish starting XV from outside the 23 for the previous Test match.
– Jamie Ritchie had only missed one other game for Scotland since the 2019 RWC. Coincidentally this was also against Wales – in the 2021 Six Nations.
– This will be Ali Price’s 20th consecutive appearance for the dark blues (19 starts, 1 sub).