Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


1872 Cup: Winners and Losers

Jamie Ritchie on the charge - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports
Jamie Ritchie on the charge - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports

As befits a final match in which one side won the silverware but the other side won the actual game of rugby, here’s a look at the ups and downs over two legs of the 1872 Cup.

Several players improved their chances of a place in Gregor Townsend’s upcoming Scotland squad (or perhaps even the matchday 23), and some may have gone down the pecking order a rung or two. The squad is due to be announced this week.


Duhan and Darcy – questions were starting to rumble during Scotland’s unimpressive World Cup about whether one or other of them might no longer be the first choice on their respective wings, and maybe we need to freshen things up a bit. The Graham turnover and breakout followed by Duhan’s length of the field try capped two fine performances in front of a huge crowd and probably did just about enough to put those thoughts behind us, at least ahead of the Six Nations opening fixture against Wales.

Kyle Steyn’s injury makes the depth behind the top two look very thin though, which is why Townsend has been nibbling around the edges on Premiership wingers like Sale’s Tom Roebuck (born in Inverness) and Arron Reed. He’s also believed to have shown interest in Sale scrum-half Gus Warr and Northampton’s Fin Smith.

Blair Kinghorn – with Ollie Smith out for the rest of the season and playing no part over either leg due to the knee injury he suffered against Bayonne, the newly-minted man of Toulouse is likewise now a certainty for the fullback shirt if he’s fit.

Scott Cummings – there are still question marks at the lineout, and while Richie Gray may be getting on a bit now he’s still probably first lock on the team sheet given the continued absence of brother Jonny. Cummings put in livelier performances than Grant Gilchrist over the 1872 and given Glasgow’s lineout success versus Edinburgh’s woes, keeping the Warriors unit together makes sense.

The Exiles: Ben Healy didn’t outshine Finn Russell‘s form at Bath, and neither Ali Price nor George Horne did much to suggest they’re in better nick than Toulon’s Ben White. All three pro-team men will most likely compete for backup slots, with Healy perhaps unlucky that his additional caps – for now – may well be at the mercy of how many forwards Gregor Townsend wants on the bench.

Without a Scottish-qualified Number 8 in either matchday side for the final leg, and with Glasgow’s Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey only just back in training, players like Magnus Bradbury (Bristol) or Andy Christie (Saracens) probably saw their chances of a squad place improve greatly. Ally Miller has impressed for Glasgow in the Josh Bayliss (also injured) mode and may swoop into a role. He could shine in if there is a lack of competition for places and he’s given a chance, but if Townsend sticks with the tried and tested it could be Jamie Ritchie or Luke Crosbie packing down at the back of the scrum.

Dave Cherry: The housewife’s favourite (if possibly not Toony’s) is almost the last hooker standing (Fraser Brown is injured, Stuart McInally has retired) and could see himself parachuted back into the squad after an ignominious World Cup exit. Dylan Richardson, currently playing at hooker for the injury-hit Sharks but capped for Scotland on the flank, underwent surgery following the round 5 loss at home to Connacht so is another Toony can cross off his list.


Let’s not say losers, let’s say “The Guys Who Didn’t Do Quite As Well”.

Huw Jones stuck out on the wing did little to stake his place as a man in form, certainly a winger. He will almost certainly be called up, but will have to put in the work all over again to prove “Huwipulotu” should reappear in the Scotland midfield. Given how Bath are going at the moment, a Russell/Cam Redpath/Sione Tuipulotu combination looks like a more likely midfield. Stafford Macdowall has done his chances no harm in recent months either. Having proven his versatility, Jones may end up fulfilling a utility back role on any 6-2 benches that come along but would far rather start at 13, I imagine.

Johnny Matthews would have undoubtedly been added in the “Winners” enclosure but as it was he limped off in the second half, only to be forced to return when his replacement George Turner went off. By that point there looked like a serious argument to start either man for Scotland alongside a pair of Glasgow locks. Now it could be neither. A potential saving grace is that neither man was mentioned in Glasgow’s squad injury update issued earlier in the week. Maybe we need an “in-between” category…

Speaking of which, Rory Darge will be “sidelined for the club’s upcoming fixtures” after sustaining a knee injury in the first leg. This apparently doesn’t mean the same as “won’t be called up by Scotland” and is not as serious as it first appeared. The openside flanker has begun his rehabilitation process with the club’s medical team at Scotstoun. Townsend will be gutted if he loses Darge, though it might be enough to give Hamish Watson a last stab at glory.

Ewan Ashman had a real chance to lay down a marker but Matthews scoring tries almost at will, along with the former Sale man giving away a couple of silly penalties, it looks like both Glasgow hookers are front runners for 2/16 shirts, especially given how much better the lineout was. Ashman should still be the third hooker in the squad and will undoubtedly earn more chances in a Scotland shirt.

The Team

Potential Scotland XV: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Sione Tuipulotu, Cam Redpath, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ben White; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Jamie Ritchie (capt), Hamish Watson, Andy Christie.
Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Luke Crosbie, Ali Price, Ben Healy, Huw Jones.

10 Responses

  1. Fergus Burke (Crusaders)
    Tom Roebuck (Sale)
    Arron Reid (Sale)
    Gus Warr (Sale)

    All reportedly considering a call up.

    Fin Smith apparently has turned us down, again.

    Ben Vellacott and Magnus Bradbury are two I’d love to see in the squad

    1. Announced this week that Darge, Dempsey and M Fagerson and Sam Skinner should all be fit too. Which makes the picture (in theory) a bit rosier. Smith wanted to know he’d be in the matchday 23, reportedly.

  2. Unless a player is likely to add something we don’t have then I’m not sure why we are chasing them. Healey has proven to be a good solid 10, along with Hastings, as a foil for Finn so why are we chasing Fin Smith?

    Ben White has been playing well (and starting) for Toulon, so starts for me. Not sure about Gus Warr either, unless he is better than the other options.

    We need a good line out caller and locking lock, which is where Grant might come into the conversation (although I don’t know the role that Scott plays TBH).

    The one interesting one could be Arundel who won’t be playing for England for a couple of years now he’s at Racing so could he come into contention when he qualifies for Scotland again?

  3. Cornell Du Preez playing very well for Toulon could earn a recall, big abrasive call carrier and has that partnership with White now.

  4. Well watching the saints. Would love to see smith opt for Scotland

    But honestly what has Hutchison to do to make the squad?

    1. Saints no 8 Graham is Scottish qualified too isn’t he?

      Could be in the mix with Bradbury, Christie, Du Preez et al if Fagerson & Dempsey aren’t fit for the squad

  5. Arron Reed confirmed to be named in the squad tomorrow apparently.

    Thats 1 new face at least. Roebuck hopefully will be added to that too

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion