Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Townsend Announces 2023 World Cup Training Squad

Gregor Townsend - pic © Peter Watt
Gregor Townsend - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports

Scotland Rugby head coach Gregor Townsend today announced his initial World Cup training squad, on the same day that it was revealed he had accepted a contract extension that will see him continue as Scotland coach until April 2026.

For this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, Townsend has announced an initial squad of 41 players, which will later be trimmed down to a 33-player list.

The team will again be captained by Jamie Ritchie, with Rory Darge and Darcy Graham returning to the squad after missing out on the Guinness Six Nations due to injury.

Darge in particular will add some pressure on Ritchie in an already crowded back row unit, but Jonny Gray looks set to miss the tournament after a nasty knee injury.

The squad includes 23 forwards and 18 backs, with only two uncapped players – lock Cameron Henderson and centre Stafford McDowall.

Four players – WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Finn Russell, and Stuart Hogg – aim to represent Scotland at their third Rugby World Cup, having featured in 2015 and 2019. Notable omissions from this squad – which has no hard and fast limit on size unlike the final version that will travel to France – include Rory Hutchinson and the in-form Glasgow hooker Johnny Matthews.

The team will begin preparations with an initial training camp on 29 May, followed by warm-up matches against France, Italy, and Georgia at BT Murrayfield in July and August, and an away warm-up against France in St. Etienne.

Scotland will compete in Pool B of the game’s biggest tournament against South Africa, Ireland, Tonga, and Romania, with their first match against the world champions, South Africa, on 10 September in Marseille.

Scotland training squad for Rugby World Cup 2023

Forwards (23)
Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 7 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps
Andy Christie (Saracens) 4 caps
Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 33 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 58 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 62 caps
Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 73 caps
Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) 47 caps
WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 54 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 41 caps
Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 21 caps
Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) 3 caps 
Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 25 caps
Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 23 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps
Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 57 caps

Backs (18)
Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 33 caps
Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 42 caps
Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) 27 caps
Ben Healy (Munster Rugby) 1 caps
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 100 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 20 caps
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 36 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 43 caps
Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 61 caps
Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 5 caps
Finn Russell (Racing 92) 69 caps
Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps
Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 16 caps
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 28 caps
Ben White (London Irish) 14 caps

45 Responses

  1. Scotland RWC training squad out and it is a borefest! Not a bolter in sight, not a how are they qualified head scratcher. No Toony Tombola to be seen for miles.

    Suppose the biggest omissions are Rory Hutchison, Magnus Bradbury, Ben Vellacott,
    Jonny Matthew’s but all play in positions where there is reasonable depth and the are clearly not at the front of the queue.

    Looks a really solid squad if we can get to the RWC with no catastrophic injuries. Culling 8 from that list won’t be easy. Not sure if we have the quality to worry Ire/SA but it’s a cohesive and consistent squad to pick from.

    1. I am a McInally fan, really rated him, think he got a raw deal somewhere, however wondering if there is a lot of value in him being in the squad over Matthews who is still to reach a peak.

      If I am being really bleak, we have not seen the best of McInally since the last RWC. It felt to me like he was demotivated and never got back to his best.

      Generally I feel a bit flat about the squad announcement. To back up my earlier comment, I feel low as I recall so many really aspiring talents came away from Japan and never quite got their mojo back. It presented like they fell out of love with the the game and the joy of representing Scotland left them.

    2. McInally before Matthews? Also, a 3year extension to Toonie’s contract. Trying to slip that one in under the radar

      1. I think you can take the silence to be complete bewilderment as Tooney gets his contract extended.

        As someone used to corporate decision making take it from me this is the stages we are going through.

        A natural first stage reaction , is that it is a bit of a laugh to consider the possibility, (we have had that stage). There was a few debates and a few attempts to find positives in such a decision.

        Then they do it , they carry out the unthinkable. The silence and shock stage.

        Then the last stage is the anger phase. ( still to come) . That might explain extending the decision till out of season. We are all looking the other way. He must be over the moon.

        I would save the anger, in this case it is not worth it . All you can do is vote with your feet and you wont, what difference does it make anyway , there will be a new, not so deluded soul along to take your seat.

        Would someone please congratulate Gregor on the contract extension ? there must be at least one person out there that is a Tooney fan. Just one . please !

        Oh the way I see it , the press were silent about other offers made to lure him and as others pointed out in recent blogs, what were the options to fill it and given Tooney was culpable in this world cup debacle due to the early exit in the last, perhaps he should be the one to clean up the mess and live with the consequences of this RWC. We must never be unbalanced, if he has a successful RWC he will also reap the benefits for at least three years and his contract will expire a year ahead of the next RWC.

        It looks like we have him for life.

      2. It just feels like we’ve had the same argument so often, that nobody on either side has the energy to do it again.

        I’ll just leave the same question I’ve left a couple of times – which of the four teams who are above us in the rankings, should be below us in terms of players or resources? Your options are France, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa.

        Someone’s got to have a crack at some point. Go on, Bass Rock, have a try.

      3. The anti-Toonie/Dodson/SRU social media milieu reminds me a lot of the paranoid style in American politics if anyone is familiar with American history.

        There is some truth in what is said but it is framed in a sense of ‘heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy’ that evokes paranoia.

        Toonie’s reappointment isn’t very exciting but is probably sensible at this point in time. His record is mixed but the team is presently in a good place on an upward curve and it would be a big risk to disrupt that, with no evidence we’ve been able to attract a truly world class coach as a replacement despite an extensive search.

      4. Ang: No idea what you mean and your question makes no sense to me FF: no idea about American politics. Not paranoid either , in fact just accepting the situation for what it is. We are doing fine as the other 2 home unions are in tatters.

      5. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Let me try again. You seem to think Scotland have underachieved, underachieved to the point where giving the manager an extension is “unthinkable” and only explicable by a delusion.

        I’m asking you – given that we’re fifth in the world, and you believe we should be doing far, far better than that, which of the top four should we be ahead of? Which of them is doing better than Townsend with fewer resources and a smaller talent base?

        Just to recap your options: France. Ireland. New Zealand. South Africa.

        I would have thought you’d be able to follow this. I’ve heard you have experience in corporate decision making.

      6. Angerine: Where did I say Scotland have ‘Underachieved’ . You can accuse me of many things, but I take exception to a that.

        The decision is made and yes , I do think some will feel exactly as I stated, opinions differ , you feel otherwise, just say so, as FF has done.

        I would get your anger if we were consistently 5th, but we are not .Why not turn your question into one for everyone and ask what do we expect from Townsend now ? Can he actually take this side further than 5th? or maybe this is our ceiling and we can or should not expect more. Maybe you would be happy to fall back a bit? I think in the latter you would be in a minority place. Where are you coming from !

      7. So you don’t think he’s underachieved and you’re offended by the insinuation, but you also think extending his contract is “unthinkable”, any supporters of his are “deluded”, and you’re considering boycotting Murrayfield? You seem to be taking exception to yourself.

        This is starting to feel like playing chess with a toddler, but you do ask an interesting question – what would success look like for Townsend in the next three years?

        We’re all dreaming of a six nations title, and it’s by no means impossible. It would be no surprise if Ireland and France carve it up over the next World Cup cycle, but if Scotland can get 3-4 wins per year, every year, that would be a hell of an achievement, given we’re the smallest rugby nation in the tournament.

        I’d also like to see green shoots in the under 20s. I hate the fact we seem to be sending out sacrificial lambs at the moment. Townsend should be providing support for smooth transition to the big team.

        Can we get higher than 5th? Not unless one of the top 4 implodes. Sorry if that upsets anyone. But given we’re 15th in the world for number of registered players, and our average World Rugby Ranking is lower than 8th, it represents a really good place for us. Of course, last year’s exceptional achievement is this year’s baseline expectation, I totally get that. Sport is an emotional thing, and it doesn’t feel emotionally right to say we’re peaking at 5th. But Dodson shouldn’t be making decisions based on emotion.

      8. Angerine: Why the anger: You see there you are , you don’t need to ask, you can answer the questions yourself. Do you think GT had his contract extended as he has met or exceeded his goals ?

        However I never said or implied he underachieved or or overachieved , that is all your words and you are making personal attacks (See CP1).

        I thought we were close to beating both France and Ireland this year so why do you think France or Ireland need to implode for Scotland to improve. We could have done it this year! The blog was full of comments to support that.

  2. Some names not involved.

    Rory Hutchinson – Tom Roebuck – Mark Bennett – Sam Johnson – Sean Maitland – Ross Thompson – Ben Vellacott – Josh Bayliss – Thomas Gordon – Magnus Bradbury – Jonny Gray – Kiran McDonald – Simon Berghan – Fraser Brown – Nathan McBeth

    Matt Scott – Jaco Van Der Valt – Gus Warr – Dylan Richardson – Marshall Sykes – Darcy Rae – Oli Kebble – Johnny Matthews

  3. Just seen the players Glasgow have let go off.

    I’d be signing up Berghan, Bean, Johnson and potentially even Wilson and Forbes up for the next season. All should be available throughout the whole season in what is going to be a very busy International period.

    Edinburgh in particular have been crying out for a class centre, i’d make Johnson top of the list.

    Wilson/Forbes just 1 year contracts, they can do a job when we lose out on 8 international back-three/backrow players for most of season.

    1. Bean has a gig in France and the word on the street is that Warriors wanted to keep Forbes but he wants to go home.

  4. I am happy, if not fully convinced, by this contract extension TBH.

    If he really has put the bust up with Finn behind him and stopped the constant tombola then it is a sensible way to go. He needs good coaches behind him though and seems to have them at the moment.

    I can’t help but think that the emergence of the Huwipulotu dynamic has saved his skin somewhat.

  5. As an aside, I see zero Scots have been named in the RWC officials list (including TMO). Congrats to Joy Neville who is going as a TMO

  6. Silly time to extend the contract. Be good if he proves that wrong.

    Happy with the squad. Been crying out for Jones in the centres since the last World Cup.

    Comes down to who starts, reliable lineout, and whether there is appetite for revenge against South Africa or Ireland…

  7. Interesting wee chat FF Bass Rock Angerine.
    TBH I’m a bit fed up with the SRU.
    GT should never have got an extension and here’s my rationale
    2019 RWC – disastrous tournament for Scotland, poor initial squad selections then as bad tactically as could’ve been v Ireland and then Japan, the ramifications of the debacle still being suffered (pool of death)
    GT did learn from it but went too far the other way, given a peak Hogg and a peak(ish) Russell we should’ve done more. His mule headed insistence on playing the solid Harris at 13 a terrible mistake.
    Fast forward to teeth grating bad after match interviews, the 38-38 game, Finn R being 4th choice, the BK10 nonsense and nearly losing to Italy.
    England and Wales being all over the place helped our world ranking no end.
    I wonder what we have achieved with a good coach

    1. John, I get that fed up with the SRU emotion, who doesn’t, this was an opportunity to refuel and we went with no change. This stuff is old hat, but the reality is the time it has taken to get to a year like 2023 that has irritated fans. They expected more when we ousted Cotter and replaced him with pro 12 winner GT.
      We finally got more this year , 3 wins and two near misses (mind you cotter got three wins including Ireland) so really unhappy fans will bemoan that. The 2015 world cup will , in history books, look better than the 2019 with Toony and the 2023 cup looks ominous. So should fans feel disheartened? It depends on perspective and how long you have been waiting for something better. If you expected consistently more than we got from Cotter, (what other reason was there to let him go :when you boil down all the reasons , and I have read them all in here) – that has to have been a decision made on the expectation Toony would give consistent and sustainable 6 Nations performance. So if you , like me , expected us to be mid table and challenging the leaders, then it feels like we got less for much too long.
      But this year has been the kind of year we expected about three years into his term IMO. Now all those (well documented in this blog) factors/reasons/excuses that are out of our control worked in our favour in 2023. What is more I can see it being some time before Wales remedy the mess (if they can) and England are in a mess, the premiership is two sides short and others in financial difficulties, we could go on and have another great two to three 6 N seasons. Finally, the opposition step back as we step forward. Could we actually cement 3rd or 2nd rather than 3rd /4th. I think we look like 3rd best side in the 6 N and I think France and Ireland can be beaten in the 6N (we were almost there this year)
      But the concern is how long it took to fulfil our potential , which makes me wonder If there any new tricks left in Toony to go that step further and convert the near misses to wins. My opinion is not , he has a bag of burned out tricks such as superrugby, the motivation killing tombola, I can see more of the same. I suspect an injection of energy and ideas of a new coach would have worked but perhaps they were just not what was needed,
      Maybe the SRU decided to stay with the slow burn of continuity this time, over the quick hit of a new coach in the style that Franco brought to Glasgow and that initial energy both Cockerill and Blair brought to Edinburgh, and to be fair Cotter brought on his arrival. These changes can have short term benefits however , I honestly feel it was time for a change all things considered , however I have no real idea what the alternatives offered and We cannot Blame the SRU for learning from the past. We will never know all the facts . That then brings me to the term , 3 years, I suspect (World cup aside) we will have a good 3 years and the dilemma about changing a coach before another world cup will distort decision making. Three years feels like the SRU see 23/24 as a year of disruption with the RWC and he has 2 thereafter to nail the 6N IMO.
      In my opinion we need to just ignore what happens in the RWC, we will not be the only side that will have a bad RWC and see how the 6N goes. I honestly think it has its place as a spectacle , but for us , the top tournament in rugby is played annually and it is the 6N.

      1. If GT goes after this 3 year contract extension then that leaves only 1 year for a new coach to bed in before next WC.

      2. Yes like I say that will ‘distort decision making’. Who takes a risk a year before the RWC. England have made a mess of it so have Wales albeit there are other factors. I ended my comment of 10th May , saying ‘it looks like we will have him for life’, for that very reason.

        I recall Finn Russell saying when he finally spoke about his banishment and that he had very few discussions with Toony! Eh?Really!

        We had this opportunity and did not do it.

      3. Just omitted to say there must be reasons , maybe it will leak in time. I think there is no good time to replace a coach, you just need to make a decision and live with it and on that basis , no bad time either. Will he last three years ? I suspect he will as some of the opposition has it’s eyes on fixing domestic matters .

  8. I for one am quietly relieved that a) Toonie got an extension and b) he has gone for consistency in squad selection.
    Maybe three years is too long, but we don’t know the details about performance targets or break clauses. And in any case a new coach will still have almost 18 months before RWC 2027, with a Summer tour, full Autumn series and 6N before he has to pick a squad. So potential to put his mark on the team.
    The only “bolter” I might have picked is Jonny Matthews, but Toonie still has to drop one of Ashman, Cherry, McInally and Turner before the tournament and has already left Fraser Brown out of the squad. Matthews will get his chance if he carries on like he has.

    I can see Bass Rock’s point – why have we had to wait so long for Toonie to get us in a position to compete for top honours? Trying to get selection and tactics right for every game cannot be easy, despite all us armchair managers thinking we can do better. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a competition for those coaches.
    Still, we’re finally in a decent place, and although I’m not expecting us to get to the knock-out stages, I am expecting us to compete with the best two sides in the world and who knows, maybe pull off a stunning result?

    1. I think the wider coaching team also has a big influence. Scotland looked instantly more dangerous after replacing AB Zondagh. I hope Brad Moar is contracted for the next few years as him and Pete Horne seemed to produce the goods this year.

      It’s hugely to his credit that we are approaching a RWC with a consistent and experienced squad. Shame we are in a group with two of the tournament favourites but not out of the question we spring a surprise.

  9. I think that there is an excellent chance that we will beat South Africa or Ireland !

    And lose to Tonga !

  10. Neils Official World Cup 33 man squad

    LH: Bhatti. Schoeman. Sutherland.
    H: Ashman. Cherry. Turner.
    TH: Fagerson. Nel. Walker.
    L: Cummings. Gilchrist. Gray. Henderson. Skinner.
    BR: Crosbie. Darge. Dempsey. Fagerson. Ritchie. Watson.
    SH: Dobie. Price. White.
    FH: Hasting. Russell.
    C: Jones. Redpath. Tuipolotu.
    BT: Graham. Hogg. Kinghorn. Steyn. Van Der Merwe

    1. Very interesting Neil,
      No Horne?
      Walker a risk IMO
      I’d have Healy in and be using Hastings as a 15, we need to be thinking “how do we go about beating South Africa &/or Ireland at the World Cup” I reckon a kicking option at 15 is a prerequisite- 50 22 – to get us playing where we want to be playing

    2. I was able to whittle it down to 34 with exactly that list plus Harris – while I’m glad it looks like his time as a starter is over having someone with his defensive capabilities available would be a plus. I’d also say going for only 3 centres as well as only 5 back 3 players is a risk.

      I think one of those locks, or potentially Crosbie (with Skinner covering 6) has to go. Problem is other than Gray there’s not much to choose between them.

      I think Skinner is the best carrier, and I’m surprised he’s never had more of a run as a starter. Cummings has never lived up to the potential he showed initially to be very impactful in the loose but in Jonny’s absence is probably the best candidate as a workhorse. Henderson has done really well at Leicester and as a lineout leader is the most obvious long term replacement for R. Gray, and I hope he gets a proper shot in the warm ups.

      Which leaves me getting rid of Gilchrist, which tbh I’m fine with as I just don’t get what he brings.

    3. Yeah there’s no way Harris isn’t going. Him and Redpath is quite a nice balance for the 2nd team.

      Horne over Dobie. Horne stuttered at the end of the season but was playing really well beforehand and offers a genuine different option to the other two.

      Will admit I haven’t watched enough of Henderson to comment on him. Who is he most similar to style-wise?

      Really hope Toonie learnt from the warm-ups at the last world cup. We went in with our first xv having not played together at all and wasted game time on players who, it turned out, had no chance of making the squad.

      In comparison, England / Wales / France / Ireland etc all knew their squad early on and arrived looking far more comfortable.

      1. The problem with saying he will have learned from 2019 is that he wont, because he will believe he was right IMO. He obviously was, he is still here. I expect more experiments and permutations: It is the group of death.

      2. What a bizarre and confusing take.

        He won’t have learnt anything because he will be believe that he was right because he’s still here?

        We crashed out embarrassingly at the group stages at the last world cup and a major factor of that was that he didn’t his first team or how he wanted to play going into it. He was lucky to keep his job because there weren’t any other viable options available and will have been reminded of that.
        The majority of his recent selections have also demonstrated a desire for consistency (particularly during the 6 nations).

        Genuinely no idea what you’re on about here.

      3. You know exactly what I am on about. Toony is known for his self confidence and thrives on change. His natural style is the tombola. Consistency was a rare moment , but he will see resilience as necessary for this RWC, I expect to see more permutations tried out. He favours utility players for that reason. Case in point = Harris. Some have never seen his value , but Toony does.

      4. I hope that’s what he does. To be fair, through this years 6N there was good consistency in the starting teams, generally changes were only made where forced so maybe that gives a clue as to his plans. Its the age old argument and there isn’t really a right or a wrong, do you pick what you think is your best 23 every single game regardless to give them game time together at the expense of risk to fatigue / injury? I think the general standard across world rugby is better now, we should be expecting to put away Romania and Tonga comfortably but the days of the games being “gimmies” are over.

        I have never been a fan of picking a squad based on your opposition, to me it automatically brings a negative mindset of mitigation against their game, you should be going there to play your game the way you play it.

      5. I think the Toonie Tombola is well out of date. It’s been years since his selection has appeared erratic or prone to springing surprises.

        I think the Tombola emerged because he was identifying and testing talent to build a squad that could be competitive. We have a competitive and settled squad now which is hard to break into. There are few positions without ok depth and some positions where very good players can’t get a look in. Isn’t this successful squad building?

      6. ‘well out if date’ when ?2023 has been consistent. You are a bit subjective.

        I do not see consistency in the warm ups. You might be right, but I might be right. My money is on changes. Tonga will target us , so he needs two first teams, I can see it all unfolding. I don’t think he can afford to lose to Tonga full of former all blacks. We will see but be prepared, I will be back to remind you.

      7. Kefu gave an interview published in rugbypass saying they were targeting the Ireland game and putting ‘all their eggs’ in that basket whatever that means. It is their first game up so they are aiming to spring a surprise. As they are targeting progression I think they feel Ireland is winnable and SA isn’t so beating Ireland is bigger priority as otherwise a win over Scotland would be a consolation only.

        The fixture list works out for us. We have two weeks between SA and Tonga and then Romania sandwiched between Tonga and Ireland. So there is nothing to stop us going fully loaded against SA, Tonga and Ireland and a second team vs Romania.

        Ireland might rest players against Tonga, anticipating two further bruising matches in the following two weeks against SA and is before anticipating a QF, with memories fresh of previous crash outs after being injury depleted at group stages. So makes sense for Tonga to think Ireland could be somewhat vulnerable to a Brighton miracle event.

        Tonga do look like they’ve tooled up. Although the back three will catch the most attention I think beefing up their pack is where they’ll gain the edge. We cannot take them for granted.

    1. Thanks for that Sam. Look I am not saying FF is wrong but maybe it depends on you definition of Tombola. The full on dropped for no apparent good reason Tombola has been muted but Toonie does like change, it is not inaccurate, even at Glasgow he frustrated us with his version of the Hokey Kokey. ‘This 6 nations we saw changes that raised eyebrows and were pacified by the usual undeniable comment like ‘I suppose Toony works with them daily’ .

      Crosbie while playing well, lost his place this 6N and his replacement for France :Hamish Watson for all his extensive experience never looked anything like himself and was less impressive than Crosbie. So it wasnt entirely consistent either was it? You might argue he needed Watson to get a match to maintain a squad, however he never reached peak while Crosbie had been ripping up trees. At least we could say he was loyal to Watson , which was no bad thing. I will say, I like the new consistent Toony, much better.

  11. I definitely don’t think the tombola is dead. Huw Jones was quite a tombola choice for the England game this 6N.
    But they seem to have hit on a balance they like and i really don’t expect any big surprises in the WC squad. For me the biggest call is Hastings, Healy or both. otherwise maybe third choice tighthead still a question and which hooker to miss out. and then it’s just a question of how many in each position. I think Hastings, Cherry and Smith could miss out.

    Schoeman, Sutherland, Bhatti
    Turner, McInally, Ashman
    Fagerson, Nel, Sebastian
    Gray, Skinner, Gilchrist, Cummings
    Dempsey, Darge, Fagerson, Watson, Ritchie

    Price, Horne, White
    Russell, Healy, Kinghorn
    Tuipulotu, Jones, Redpath, Harris
    DVDM, Graham, Steyn, Hogg

    and that’s 32, The last place is probably be one of; Crosbie, Hastings or Smith depending on where they think they need most cover, personally i’d go for Crosbie.

    1. Huw Jones us been in good form since he was playing for Harlequins, on the fringes of the 23, had moved to Glasgow and formed a good partnership with his Scotland team mate. Meanwhile Harris form had dipped. This is just a form selection of another player who was a long-standing squad member. If that is the best example of the Tombola it is definitely dead!

      Agree it is Healy or Hastings and I hope he takes both of for nothing other than post-Finn planning. Otherwise I think Healy has the edge at the moment given Hastings injury issues have prevented him stringing together a run of games.

      1. I agree, Jones starting against England was a suprise only because of how consistently Harris had been selected beforehand. Harris had been off the boil for a little while and had a bit of a stinker in the previous game against Argentina. It was a logical and form pick rather than a tombola one.

        I do think it was a little harsh to drop Crosbie and Horne after Wales and not the call I would have made. Hardly a tombola pick though as he was bringing in two B&I Lions in Watson and Price for the biggest games of the 6 Nations (Fra and Ire).

        I think Hastings will go over Healy personally. Hastings may have been injured but he’s been in the camp for longer and stepped in done a good job when Finn’s been out before. With Kinghorn likely to be on the bench or in the back 3, he seems the logical choice to me.

    2. Largely agree Sam, however Harris and Watson out altogether with Steyn covering 13.
      Crosbie definitely in, his attitude, physicality and height much needed.
      Hastings and Healy both go, Hastings is a interesting option at 15.
      Personally I’m torn whether Hogg travels or not, to me it appears that the magnificent explosiveness from a standing start has gone. In the 6N Kinghorn looked better.

  12. yeah that’s one way of looking at it. A more accurate way would be to say he’d had two and a bit games for Glasgow at 12. he’d just recovered from 5 months injured. he’d played two full seasons almost exclusively as a full back and he’d started one game for Scotland in the last 4 years. if Scotland had gone badly it would’ve been hard to justify. or cast your mind back to Finn gate and Blair Switch saga.
    Now I agree the during 6N there was a switch to prioritise consistency far more than we’ve seen previously and it does appear that this is a learning for Toonie and Tandy from 2019 and I’m confident this will continue through to the end of WC. but I have no doubt that Townsend still retains the potential to go full Tombola. I’d say it’s on hold. Not dead.

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