Match preview: Scotland u20 v France u20

So when is all this happening then?

Friday at 8.00 (don’t believe the SRU website or you’ll miss the first half) at Broadwood Stadium, near Hollywood…I mean Cumbernauld. You should get yourself along – free entry for Scotland season pass holders, under 18s and senior citizens and £10 for everyone else. You can make it a double header with Scotland Women whose game kicks off at 6.00.

I don’t like the cold – any TV coverage available?

Ever heard of thermals? It will be streamed live on scottishrugby.org

Who’s playing for Scotland?

An experienced group with 142 previous appearances at this level behind them. The return of Zander Fagerson should help shore up the scrum – the only area that hasn’t functioned well as the forwards have overpowered their opponents everywhere else on the pitch.

15 Ruairi Howarth (9 caps, 1T)
14 Ben Robbins (7 caps, 2T)
13 Rory Hutchinson (17 caps, 10C, 3P)
12 Tom Galbraith (12 caps, 2C)
11 Darcy Graham (3 caps)
10 Adam Hastings (1 cap)
9 Hugh Fraser (3 caps, 1C)

1 Murray McCallum (12 caps, 4T)
2 Jake Kerr (4 caps)
3 Zander Fagerson (10 caps, 1T)
4 Callum Hunter-Hill (3 caps)
5 Scott Cummings (c) (13 caps, 1T)
6 Andrew Davidson (10 caps)
7 Matt Smith (4 caps, 3T)
8 Ally Miller (11 caps)

16 Lewis Anderson (2 caps)
17 George Thornton (1 cap)
18 Callum Sheldon (5 caps)
19 Stephen Ainslie (2 caps)
20 Scott Burnside (3 caps)
21 Ruaridh Dawson (uncapped)
22 George Taylor (3 caps)
23 Robbie Nairn (7 caps, 2T)

Looks decent. How have the 2 sides been getting on in the tournament so far?

Both have won 2 and lost 1 through the first 3 rounds. A narrow defeat against the table-topping Welsh side may have left Scotland with little chance of taking the title this year but there is still an opportunity for improving on their best ever finish of 3rd place (achieved by the class of 2015).

What’s our history against the French like?

Erm…not fantastic. Scotland haven’t won against France since the u20s 6 Nations was inaugurated in 2008. Mind you it was the same story against England until this season so the current squad know how to tear up the record book…

2015:   France U20s 47 – 6 Scotland U20s (Gueugnon)
2014:   Scotland U20s 13 – 18 France U20s (Galashiels)
2013:   France U20s 13 – 10 Scotland U20s (Brive)
2012:   Scotland U20s 21 – 30 France U20s (Galashiels)
2011:   France U20s 49 – 5 Scotland U20s (Normandy)
2010:   Scotland U20s 8 – 8 France U20s (Inverness)
2009:   France U20s 30 – 3 Scotland U20s (Chalon)
2008:   Scotland U20s 6 – 12 France U20s (Falkirk)

Will home advantage make a difference?

Well Scotland do have a 100% winning record in the 6 Nations at Broadwood.

Is that not just because they’ve only played there once?

Possibly…Slightly more impressively the Junior Jocks have emerged victorious in their last 4 Championship matches in Scotland, accounting for Wales, Italy, Ireland and England and they only need to add France for a complete set and a (entirely made-up) ‘Home Slam’.

How are France on the road?

In typically Gallic fashion the French u20s have a much better record on their own turf – 12 wins out of 17 excluding Italy – than when they travel – 6 wins out of 16 excluding Italy. Unfortunately 3 of those 6 wins have come against Scotland, but this could be the best chance for a number of years for Scotland to put one over on the other half of the Auld Alliance.

So who should I be keeping an eye out for?

There are plenty of forwards that could be considered given that the pack have made most of the running for the u20s so far this campaign. In fact Murray McCallum and Matt Smith have both picked up tries in each round as the young Scots have taken advantage of a dominant maul to put the opposition on the back foot. Then there’s skipper Scott Cummings, breakdown beast Andrew Davidson…

But if you had to pick just one player?

If you twisted my arm I’d have to nominate the ‘Official’ OTOTM One to Watch this time out as one of the key men in the backline, stand-off Adam Hastings.

Son of Gavin? Nephew of Scott?

Very much so. Hopefully one day Big Gav will just be known as Adam’s dad. Hastings (Jr.) was a central figure in the win over England on his debut for the u20s but missed the Wales and Italy games after he was given the chance to make his full debut for Bath.

Pro debut already – that’s promising.

Yep. Although imagine the conversation between AH and Mike Ford…”Adam, we want you to start against Worcester” “Great boss” “Yep we think it will be good experience for you. I should probably mention…Nikoisstartingat9bye!” Jump cut to AH looking like Macauley Culkin in Home Alone. Seriously – how much more challenging could you make it for a young player in his first start at 10 than to pair him with the world’s most unpredictable scrum half?!?

What does he bring to the table then?

Adam looks to have all the skills to progress to the next level and demonstrated some of that inherited Hastings’ physicality – particularly in defence – as the Scots stifled the English midfield in his u20s debut. Like fellow sometime stand offs Blair Kinghorn and Rory Hutchinson his best position is not yet set in stone but a strong performance against France will go some way to nailing down the u20s number 10 jersey for the rest of this tournament and this summer’s World Rugby u20 Championship in Manchester.

All aboard the hype train then!

Indeed. Although Adam is just one of at least a dozen players in this season’s Scotland u20s squad who look like they have the potential to make it into the pro ranks or even farther. All the more reason to get down to Broadwood on Friday night to see the future of Scottish rugby…

I’ll dig out the long johns.

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