Scott James Cummings
Position – Lock (+ occasional number 8)
Age – 21 (born 3/12/96)
Height – 6’6″ (1.98m)
Weight – 18st 4lbs (116kg)
Minutes played for Glasgow:
2016/17 – 469 (5 starts)
2015/16 – 389 (5 starts)
By rights 2016/17 really ought to have been Scott Cummings’ breakthrough season. The big lad had been pressed into service while still in the Scottish Rugby Academy in 2015 with all 4 of Glasgow’s front line locks away at the Rugby World Cup. He made a great fist of his 5 starts during that period, picking up a try in just his 2nd match against Connacht. With the likes of Gray and Nakarawa returning after the first couple of months of the season it was onto the protein shakes and extra gym work for Scott as he built up his conditioning for the pro game.
It was no surprise when he was moved up to a full-time contract, commencing in the 2016/17 season. Unfortunately injury struck during a preseason game against Gloucester which ultimately lead to shoulder surgery in October of that year. In all that put Scott out of action for 5 months. On his return he was ever present through the Six Nations window and got to finally start a match alongside Jonny Gray in the last game of the campaign against Edinburgh – a partnership that has the potential to be a very effective one for Glasgow (if they can hang on to both players) and maybe even Scotland in the not too distant future.
Leading from the front
Even at just 21 years of age it’s important to for Glasgow that Scott continues to develop the leadership role that he has regularly filled in age grade rugby. He captained Scotland u20s throughout 2016, leading the side to what was, at the time, their best tournament finish in the World Rugby u20s Championship (since overtaken by the 2017 squad).
Compared to being the skipper for a group of young lads of similar age and experience taking control of a dressing room filled with older pros with hundreds of games under their belt will be a very different challenge if he has to face it. The basic concepts are the same though – communicate effectively with the officials; know when to praise / cajole / berate the team to get the right mental state and focus; and make good decisions in those moments where there are options to be taken.
The early part of his Warriors’ career has already seen him demonstrating great maturity in his play, leading by example and taking on responsibilities like calling the lineout. He certainly looks like has the potential to be a future club captain. Even if he doesn’t reach that level there is no harm to the Warriors having more leaders on the pitch to set the tone and help the whole team maximise their abilities.
Scott’s volume of work is very solid, averaging more than 10 carries per 80 minutes, and he consistently gets over the gain line – an attribute he demonstrated from the very first games he played for Glasgow.
For his first score for the club he takes the ball behind the 5 metre line but turns what should be a regulation carry in a very congested area into a big gain and a try. His footwork is good, just sliding him slightly outside a poor tackle attempt from the Connacht forward. He keeps his legs pumping forward, driving through the exposed weaker defenders. With front foot ball at a premium that ability to get through the initial contact area will be of huge benefit to Glasgow.
In his second season he was definitely looking for the ball more (upping his carries by 58%) and should now be in a position where he feels comfortable starting matches, no matter who he’s playing alongside or against.
He’s also developing his distributing game – an important consideration for a modern lock who will often find himself as a decision-maker with the option to truck the ball up or release the ball out the back to a supporting runner. He’s not quite at the Jonny Gray level yet but he’s not far off – Jonny passes around 1/3 of the time and carries the other 2/3 whereas Scott is around 1/4 passing to 3/4 running. A couple of seasons around a squad that contained Leone Nakarawa have also encouraged him to try things like this:
The lineout is his domain though. He’s not so cumbersome that he can’t be lifted and is athletic in the air with good hands. As mentioned earlier he’s also a lineout caller, a duty that requires a dedication to analysis, a strong memory and a little bit of low cunning to bamboozle the opposition just for good measure.
Scott Cummings is a classic second row in many ways. He’s a strong carrier with a high workrate in defence and a primary lineout option as well. His ability to learn and add to his game allied to his undoubted leadership credentials will make him a very valuable asset for head coach, Dave Rennie, in the coming seasons.