Heading into the World Rugby u20 Championship Scotland coach John Dalziel has largely gone with the group of players that finished 4th in this season’s Six Nations. There are just a handful of changes from those who played in February and March – as noted below:
Three of those who miss out were injury replacements in the spring. Dan Elkington and Lewis Wynne both featured in last season’s World Championship but missed the Six Nations through injuries. Matt McPhillips and Cameron Gray will be the only players not previously capped at this level as Scotland send their most experienced group ever to the tournament.
- The current squad boast 214 caps for the under 20s, averaging 9 previous appearances each in the forwards and 6 in the backs.
- 13 players have previously played in an u20s World Championship (9 forwards and 4 backs), more than any past Scotland squad.
- Rory Hutchinson, Zander Fagerson and Jamie Ritchie will be competing in the tournament for the third successive year – a feat only previously achieved by 2 young Scots (Mark Bennett and Jamie Farndale).
- 5 of the Scots have already made their professional debut in one of Europe’s top leagues – the most of any squad the national u20 side has taken to the tournament.
- Zander Fagerson is the only man to play in the u20 World Championship having already earned a full Scotland cap.
Five to follow
As mentioned above a number of the young Scots in the squad have already made their professional debut in the Pro 12 or Aviva Premiership. These players, and the experience they bring to the group, will be crucial to the success (or otherwise) of the under 20s in this tournament.
Position – lock (and squad captain)
Previous caps – 14
Club – Glasgow Warriors (9 appearances)
Key strength – An excellent lineout technician
Useless trivia – Scott managed to play over 350 minutes for Glasgow before conceding his first penalty. He’s either very big on the concept of fair play or has some kind of Richie McCaw-esque cloak of invisibility!
He’s like a young…Scott Murray. There was a period when the elder Scott was arguably the pre-eminent lineout forward in the world. Hopefully his younger namesake might one day achieve this kind of status.
Position – Tighthead prop
Previous caps – 15 (plus 1 for the full Scotland side)
Club – Glasgow Warriors (33 appearances)
Key strength – A prop with the open field workrate of a back row.
Useless trivia – Zander featured in more matches (25) for the Warriors than any other player in the 2015/16 season.
He’s like a young…David Sole. Wrong side of the scrum but there are definite similarities in terms of being a powerful scrummager who is heavily involved around the pitch.
Position – blindside flanker
Previous caps – 14
Club – Edinburgh (16 appearances)
Key strength – an absolute bloody nuisance at the breakdown.
Useless trivia – Jamie is the top scorer in the current u20s squad with 5 tries to his name.
He’s like a young…Finlay Calder. In common with Fin there is every chance he will wind the opposition up something chronic.
Position – fly half
Previous caps – 3
Club – Bath (2 appearances)
Key strength – a deceptive runner who will look to attack the line.
Useless trivia – Adam is not the same Adam Hastings who ‘does’ John Lennon in tribute band the Bootleg Beatles. Scotland would settle for a reasonable pastiche of John Rutherford…
He’s like a young…Gavin Hastings obviously. Although a similar fighting weight to his dad doesn’t carry the same impact as it did 20+ years ago and he is more reliant on beating a man than smashing them out of the way!
Position – full back / fly half
Previous caps – 6
Club – Edinburgh (17 appearances)
Key strength – he can do it all but the highlight is seeing him take the ball on in full flight.
Useless trivia – he’s the only player in the squad to share a name with a town in Fife.
He’s like a young…Andy Irvine. Similar to the legendary Scottish full back he has an all-round skill set that could allow him to play almost anywhere in the back line. Unlike Andy it’s possible that his long-term future may lie at 10 rather than 15.
Check out the On Top Of The Moon tournament preview for the essentials on the World Rugby u20 Championships.