TEAM UPDATE: Max Evans has not fully recovered from the stinger he picked up last weekend against New Zealand that brought the game to a close. Hotly tipped Saints utility man Joe Ansbro has been brought straight into the side to earn his first cap. His now vacant wing place in the A Team results in giant Jack Cuthbert coming in at full back and Thompson swapping in for Ansbro. Congratulations to Joe and we wish him all the best for Saturday.
Scotland A: 15 Jim Thompson (Edinburgh) 14 Joe Ansbro (Northampton Saints) 13 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh) 12 Alex Grove (Edinburgh) 11 Lee Jones (Edinburgh) 10 David Blair (Edinburgh) 9 Mark McMillan (Bath) 1 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) 2 Scott Lawson (Gloucester) 3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh) 4 Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh) 5 Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors, CAPTAIN) 6 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 7 Roddy Grant (Edinburgh) 8 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie (Doncaster Knights) 17 Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh) 18 Tom Ryder (Saracens) 19 David Denton (Edinburgh) 20 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 21 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 22 Jack Cuthbert (Bath)
Several of these guys should be worth a run against Samoa if they step up and put the USA Eagles away at Netherdale on Friday 19th, 7.30pm, FREE admission. Yes, free. The captain’s run tomorrow (Thurs) is also open to the public.
Chap over on the BBC 606 boards spotted these:
UPDATE: Scotland A have since also lost to Namibia 20-23, and this IRB Cup showing is a stark reminder that with end of season (or otherwise) injuries and so on we are not able to field nearly as strong A touring parties as we perhaps would like. The boys will have to up their game a bit to claim some pride against Argentina in the final game.
…As well as a few old ones. Ally Hogg continues the rehab of his playing career and he will be one of the old heads relied on to guide the younger players through the tournament. I would also look for hooker Fergus Thomson to make a big push here for senior selection in the autumn too, cementing his end of season form for Glasgow, with hulking winger Rob Dewey also on the comeback trail.
Interesting to see the two junior Blair brothers as the only real candidates at 10 in the absence of Ruaridh Jackson, although there are a couple of other fresh(ish) faces in the backs selection like former Watsonian Bryan Rennie and Bath youngster Jack Cuthbert.
Scotland A squad
Forwards: G Cross (Edinburgh), J Eddie (Glasgow), C Forrester (Glasgow), C Fusaro (Heriot’s), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant (Edinburgh), A Hogg (Edinburgh), A Kelly (Edinburgh), S MacLeod (Edinburgh), F Thomson (Glasgow), K Traynor (Edinburgh), S Turnbull (Edinburgh), R Vernon (Glasgow), J Welsh (Glasgow)
Backs: A Blair (Edinburgh), D Blair (Edinburgh), B Cairns (Edinburgh), J Cuthbert (Bath), R Dewey (Glasgow), J Houston (Edinburgh), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M McMillan (Glasgow), B Rennie (Exeter), M Robertson (Edinburgh), C Shaw (Scotland 7s and Glasgow), N Walker (Ospreys)
Thom Evans has returned to Scotland. Apparently he was even up and moving about last week. What a trooper.
Moray Low is out for the rest of the 6N as he requires knee surgery. Get well soon Moray!
Here’s the Scotland A team for the weekend too:
Scotland A: Colin Gregor (Glasgow Warriors), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), John Houston (Edinburgh), Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh, capt), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh), James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh), Mark McMillan (Glasgow Warriors), David Blair (Edinburgh), Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors).
Good to see Colin Gregor at full back. Not sure about the rumours of Jim Thompson moving west, I’d like to see him stay and compete with Mossy for the Edinburgh 15 shirt – he’s sure to get a chance as soon as the league resumes anyway and it would be a shame to nail down a place then move. I’d also like to see Gregor given more of a shot at 15, yes he is wee but so is Ben Foden and Peter Horne has looked good at 15 on the few occasions I have seen him too.
Also good luck to the boys playing in the British and Irish Cup this weekend. I’ve got some stuff on this weekend so I’m not even sure if I’ll see the Italy game (gulp), but one of the other guys will chip in with their thoughts I am sure. Thanks for all your feedback on the blog (2 articles down from here), keep it coming!
Head coach Andy Robinson has today announced a 36-strong squad as Scotland and Scotland A begin their preparations for next weekend’s matches against their Italian counterparts.
The squad will gather at Murrayfield on Sunday (21 February) ahead of both Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Italy at the Stadio Flaminio, Rome, on Saturday 27 February; and Scotland A’s match against Italy A in Biella on Friday 26 February.
Additional players will be called in for Scotland A duty next week but the enlarged squad will train together on Monday and Tuesday.
Both lock Nathan Hines (Leinster) and flanker Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester) who missed last weekend’s game in Cardiff through injury, are expected to be fit to take an active part in training.
Squad: Backs – Mike Blair, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison, Dan Parks (both Glasgow Warriors), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Nikki Walker (Ospreys)
Forwards – John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford, Roddy Grant (both Edinburgh), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (both Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald (both Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).
Unavailable to train through injury: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh).
Invited to attend squad training: Simon Webster (Edinburgh).
Scotland’s cap centurion Chris Paterson is returning home from Cardiff today as medics are satisfied that he has recovered sufficiently from the kidney damage he sustained in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Wales last week.
Meanwhile, Scotland wing Thom Evans has undergone a second operation on his neck at University Hospital in Cardiff and surgeons are pleased with his progress.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson visited both players in Cardiff yesterday. He said: “It was uplifting to speak to both players and hear first-hand that they’re both feeling better. Once again, on behalf of the Scotland team, I want to thank our own medical team, the Welsh Rugby Union medical personnel at the Millennium Stadium and all the staff at the University Hospital in Cardiff for the quite magnificent care they have delivered.”
Scotland team doctor James Robson said today: “Mossy (Chris Paterson) was discharged from hospital in Cardiff on Tuesday night. He has rested for a couple of days further in Cardiff and is now well enough to travel home with his wife Claire, which is excellent news.
“Thom, after discussion with his family and the surgeons who performed his initial operation, elected to undergo a second procedure to enhance his recovery.
“This surgery has now taken place. Thom is in good spirits and the surgeons are delighted with his progress.
“Thom has asked me to pass on his heart-felt thanks to the thousands of people who have expressed their support.
“At this stage I would expect that, if Thom’s recovery continues in the same vein, he will be able to return home next week.”
Look, no BA jokes!
Scotland A Team to face Ireland A: Jim Thompson, Nikki Walker, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Simon Danielli, Ruaridh Jackson, Mike Blair (Captain), Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Euan Murray, Scott MacLeod, Jim Hamilton, James Eddie, Scott Gray, Roddy Grant
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Craig Hamilton, Fraser McKenzie, Greig Laidlaw, Rob Dewey, John Houston
At Ravenhill, Belfast, Friday 5th, 7.30pm
That’s probably more of a humping than we expected. Listening to the radio commentary it sounds like the Hugo experiment worked pretty well and Thom Evans didn’t seem to get much ball. Listening to Peter Wright is always fun too. Ben Cairns had a stormer, which really puts pressure on Grove for tomorrow so I hope he responds. Great to see 3 attacking 13s developing in the Scotland back line, makes a change from recent years… good luck to the boys for tomorrow against Australia!
Southwell at fly-half? Never saw that one coming, though apparently he has been featuring at first receiver during play for Stade. Decent enough defence and a solid left boot (some days). Could be very interesting, damn shame its not on the telly. Still if you are in the Borders and have nothing better to do on a Friday night, entry is free and kick-off is at 7.30pm, Netherdale. Someone tell us how it goes – with a bunch of full caps this team should really be able to beat the Tongans.
Scotland A Team: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), John Houston (Edinburgh), Nikki Walker (Ospreys), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Rory Lawson (captain, Gloucester), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh)
Replacements: Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh), Colin Gregor (Glasgow Warriors), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh).
UPDATE: Mike Blair’s ankle injury has kept him off the bench for the full international, so Rory Lawson steps up to replace him (whether he will also assume co-captaincy remains to be seen), Greg Laidlaw moves up to start tonight and Mark McMillan comes into the vacant bench spot.
Some good games at the weekend there including a solid result for Andy Robinson’s A Team which saw the Scots win their first piece of silverware in years. Rumours of Ruaridh Jackson’s kicking game going AWOL were put to rest with his kicking from tee easing the Scots into a solid lead before some sloppy play at the breakdown let the French back in. Eventually though a nifty wee offload from Ben Cairns put Richie Vernon over the line to seal the victory, and the trophy. Some of the players (like captain Chris Cusiter) will have done their chances of a return to full national honours no harm. Congratulations to the whole squad and coaching staff.
Next up for Robinson is Fiji in the autumn, and his job truly begins. But for now, most of Scotland’s players find their seasons at an end – time for a holiday.
Apart, of course from the doughty Scots holding up the tail end of the Lions squad, who may yet have a role to play. A great – if wildly inconsistent test match on Saturday saw the Lions blown off the park in the first half, only to run back on and do the same to the Springboks for most of the second half. What a difference a scrum makes, and Euan Murray must consider himself very unlucky to pick up an injury at the exact moment his services are required. The bulk of Hines could also be used in the second row. Mike Phillips did little wrong apart from going the same way too often but Blair could be lucky and see the bench in the remaining Test matches. The Lions could definitely have won that test match, but can they win the next one? The challenge will only increase as the Boks aim to plug the holes in their defence left by our centres and will probably leave their front-line troops on the pitch until the game is definitely won, rather than until they think it is won.
Young Glasgow flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson has been handed the 10 shirt for Scotland A’s crunch decider against France A in Romania. Victory would see the Scots take home the IRB Nations Cup and add a first piece of silverware to Andy Robinson’s shelf at SRU HQ. Two of Robbo’s new “finds” Joe Ansbros start, with Ansbro moved to the wing to allow Ben Cairns to continue his partnership with in-form Alex Grove – keeping the likes of Rob Dewey and Nick De Luca out of this crunch encounter.
Scotland A Team to face France A: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), John Houston (Edinburgh), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors) , Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan) CAPTAIN, Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)
Replacements: Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), Calum Forrester (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), David Blair (Edinburgh), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
Looks like Captain Chris Cusiter is being saved for the possibly decisive France A match later in the week. Alongside promising Saints centre Joe Ansbro, John Houston and Calum Forrester will get their first A grade international caps. Ansbro forms an exciting centre partnership with Nick De Luca, and they will be looking to improve on the play of Alex Grove and Ben Cairns who seemed to have a good time of it against Russia.
Scotland A team to play Uruguay:
Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), John Houston (Edinburgh), Joe Ansbro (Northampton Saints), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Simon Webster (Edinburgh), David Blair (Edinburgh), Rory Lawson (capt, Gloucester), Stuart Corsar (Doncaster), Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Calum Forrester (Glasgow Warriors), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Rob Dewey (Ulster).