Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Darge and Gilchrist Return for France

Rory Darge and Finn Russell - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports
Rory Darge and Finn Russell watch at training - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports


2024 Guinness Six NationsSat 10th Feb 2024Murrayfield, EdinburghKick-off: 2:15 pm (UK)16-20


Referee: Nic Berry (RA)| TV: BBC Sport

Rory Darge and Grant Gilchrist return to international duty on Saturday, as Scotland host France in the second round of the 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations.

Darge will lead the team alongside co-captain Finn Russell, in what will probably be one leading by example and one trying to sweet-talk referee Nic Berry.

The backline is largely unchanged but there is a fair bit of shuffling in the back five of the pack. Gilchrist partners Scott Cummings in the second row, with Matt Fagerson shifting to blindside flanker and Jack Dempsey at number 8 to complete a back row completed by openside flanker Darge. Saracens’ in-form Andy Christie comes onto the bench with Jamie Ritchie omitted from the 23 altogether.

Christie is poised for his first Guinness Men’s Six Nations action since facing the same opposition in 2022.

Gregor Townsend Pre-Match Press Conference

Scotland are bidding for back-to-back opening wins for a second year in a row, having never previously achieved it in the Six Nations. France have rarely lost two in a row, and something will have to give on Saturday afternoon.

Scotland: Kyle Rowe, Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell (capt), Ben White; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge (capt), Jack Dempsey
Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Alec Hepburn, Elliot Millar-Mills, Sam Skinner, Andy Christie, George Horne, Ben Healy, Cameron Redpath.

France: Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Matthieu Jalibert, Maxime Lucu; Cyril Baille, Mauvaka, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Paul Gabrillagues, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: Julien Marchand, Sebastien Taofifenua, Dorian Aldegheri, Posolo Tuilagi, Alexandre Roumat, Paul Boudehent, Nolann Le Garrec, Yoram Moefana.

25 Responses

  1. I can’t believe Ashman is still in the 23, a case of picking a favourite instead of form. I thought Christie should have started instead of Fagerson. So much for picking form players.

  2. Weak second row with little grunt in open play. I’m OK with rest of the team. Not sure why Matthews hasn’t been considered though

  3. I think that team is pretty much what everyone expected – not necessarily what everyone wanted.

    Christie is really unlucky not to start, but glad he has at least made the bench, and I did wonder if we might have seen Jones shuffled to fullback with Redpath coming in at centre.

    Thought Rowe looked good when we were bossing Wales around the pitch, but very shaky when momentum swung against us.

    We’re so low on front row quality. Matthews should at least be on the bench – but probably starting.

    Really hoping Darge is properly fit and hasn’t been rushed back. And that Gilchrist can keep his discipline – he’s one of the senior pros in the squad after all.

    1. Not to worry – it’s just the latest episode of the hit show, “You’ve been Toonied”.

      In this week’s instalment, Toony…

      Picks a lad at full back who’s seldom played there at senior level. But, hey, it’s just France we’re playing;

      Leaves the form hooker out of the 23 again and goes with the duo who, in their own respective ways, didn’t cover themselves in glory last time out. But, hey, etc.;

      Picks a flanker who’s just back from injury to start against a back row who resemble walking brick, er, outhouses. But, hey, you know the rest; and

      Fails to grasp the opportunity to play Scotland’s most rounded inside centre and thereby take some of the load off Finn Russell. But, hey…

      Ah well, it is what it is.

      Good luck on Saturday, lads.

  4. Another spineless forward selection by Townsend. How much longer do we have to endure this. Selecting his favourites Turner and Fagerson who eere woeful last week( for different reasons) in front of Matthews and Christie.

  5. I look forward to seeing what Christie can do for us. I like this new conservative Toony, not saying all my favourites are there , but I appreciate the concept of building a team and the benefits of continuity.

  6. I’m hoping that Darge is truly Test match fit. He’s a very good player and up against that France back row we can’t afford him to be less than 100% effective.

    Gilchrist gets a lot of criticism on here. Yes, he could carry more and more often but he’s the next best to Richie Gray in the lineout – if the darts are accurate- and brings a lot of Test match experience and grunt into the match.

    Matt Fagerson is another who divides opinion on here. For me, his coming of age as it were was the ‘Covid’ Calcutta Cup in 2021, when he was outstanding. A good selection imho.

    France are going to be desperate to make up for their gubbing in Marseille last week. I expect them to be really going for it, especially up front, in the first few minutes after kick off.
    Their backs are no better or worse than ours, so as is usual these days in 6N games it’ll all be about who wins up front.

    Should be a good match, viewed once again by me from behind a couch.

  7. So who would you play at fullback? The obvious choice would be jones and have redpath inside tui. But I’m all for consistency when playing France at home, especially when we’ve just beaten Wales away for the first time in ages.
    Think Ritchie has been harshly treated and would have picked him on the bench to say perform in the last 20 to redeem yourself for the last 20 against Wales. But Darge must be OK. They are pros, after all.
    Think you could be a bit more positive about the selections. But hey… just saying.

  8. Praying to the lineout gods – front, front,
    front, front, middle, front, front, front, front, middle, front, front, front. Just get a tall guy up front and time the throw to him each time. Pls keep it simple, clear and accurate. Please.

    1. I think this is the problem in a nutshell. There’s a Squidge Rugby video on the Ireland France game. Shows Ireland with a nice simple throw to the front of the line out, doing basic simple stuff very, very well and getting a try. Scotland are the sort of team to go for a Hail Mary throw to the back of the lineout whilst 5 metres from their own try line. We have a profound lack of leadership in the forwards.

  9. I am sorry but despite him scoring tries as a benefit of, often being well placed off mauls Johnny Matthews isn’t very good.

    He is a perfectly competent club level player, more so during International windows but he’s not a Scotland player, those advocating his start would be left disappointed if they had to watch him play for Scotland.

    Gilchrist is most likely always going to be selected when fit and until someone comes along who can genuinely remove him from the team and Skinner hasn’t shown himself to be that. He (Gilchrist) is the lineout caller which has rarely been quite as bad as narrative when it comes to statistics.

    A case for Christie or Redpath starting aside it’s not that shocking a team to me, Redpath is probably just about the better bench option than Jones though so can see a sense of logic in that

      1. I didn’t say he has.

        You’ve not disappointed in a Scotland shirt either far as I’m aware, it doesn’t mean I’d want to see you feature v France!

  10. Well we will never find out if he is never given a chance. There are a raft of club superstars who never cut it at international level and equally guys who were good players at club level who were able to take that leap into international sport in their stride. One of the many problems with Townsend is he gives some players very little opportunity to stake a claim whilst sticking like glue to others who regularly put in humdrum performances

    1. There is domestic Rugby, I can’t think of many players who didn’t perform incredibly well at domestic level only to perform at International level it tends not to happen given its a step up in quality

      Townsend does nothing like give players little chance, he’s patently been desperate for depth and quality given Scotland have so little of it as a Rugby nation rather than that being a Townsend caused issue.

  11. You are missing the point. He gives lots of players cameo roles and then they disappear to hang around the periphery or resigned to the scrap heap ala Bradbury / Hutchison/ Christie/Crosbie last year but faithfully returns to his favourites who often fail to deliver with no consequences

  12. Watching the under 20s now. All I can’t take from it is the ‘Les blooooeeeeys’ doing my head in. Our boys are trying but I worry about the next few years.

  13. Matthews has wheels and incredible scoring statistics over seasons – it’s not just benefiting from rolling mauls, but from his speed and nouse.

    He also seems to have the right temperament, maturity, even runs support lines and has handling skills.

    Genuine question, which part of his game is not good-enough? Bearing in mind, all we are really after in a hooker at this point is someone who can reliably throw accurate darts in big moments?

    Feels like he might be one of those players slightly overlooked in his career. This happens. Give him a chance, he’s young enough for hooker (for an entire cycle) and a late developer from a different pathway.

    Also there is the idea of the test match animal – those that step up a level beyond their club performances: I’ve heard others say that about Huw Jones as one example (disagree as think he is brilliant for his clubs too), half the Welsh boys etc. I remember when the Irish were saying POM was only ever a decent club player.

    Yes, he might disappoint, but he didn’t against Romania. And the incumbents have all disappointed at times.

  14. “all we are really after in a hooker at this point is someone who can reliably throw accurate darts in big moments?”

    How could anyone post this and expect a thing they say to be taken seriously, that’s hilarious

    1. Lol who took the jam out your doughnuts.

      Are you a Walter Mitty that expects to be taken seriously?

      Also you forgot to respond in your post.

    2. I would include JM in a heartbeat. Glasgow fans know when, he comes on , they are in for something special. Is that not the problem , “when he comes on”, he rarely starts at Glasgow!

      I have no concerns with the experienced Turner or Ashman.

      1)It is great to have choices. (JM Will get picked)
      2) We are a mature side while others are in change.

      Very different concerns to yesteryear. What is not to like.

  15. Harry Paterson starts at fullback, Rowe to right wing after Steyn drops out. I hope Townsend hasn’t lost the plot, big ask for the boy.

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