After the gentle evolution of the last 3 years of Vern Cotter’s reign there’s a definite whiff of revolution in the air as head coach Gregor Townsend makes his mark with his second Scotland squad selection. Here’s the On Top Of The Moon summary of who’s in and who’s out since the initial group for the Summer Tests was named on 8th May 2017.
There are also 3 players who were brought into the Summer Tests squad as injury replacements who have not subsequently been retained:
Sean Kennedy [injured] (replaced Sam Hidalgo-Clyne before the tour began)
Rory Hughes [injured] (replaced Sean Maitland before the tour began)
Greig Tonks (also required to replace Sean Maitland before the tour began)
(Richie Gray withdrew before the team left Scotland and Lewis Carmichael, who was already in Australia with the Western Force, joined the squad for a portion of the tour.)
- 10 uncapped players have been selected in the squad of 36.
- Another 9 have been picked who have less than 10 caps each.
- Ross Ford (110) has more caps than the 23 of his squad mates combined.
- John Barclay (63) and Stuart Hogg (53) are the only other players with over a half century of caps
Vern Cotter named his first squad for an Autumn Test series 3 years ago. Of that 33-man selection 11 are involved this time out:
Front row – Ross Ford
Second row – Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson
Back row – Rob Harley
Half back – Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell
Centre – Alex Dunbar
Back 3 – Dougie Fife, Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour
Of the 22 Cotter picks not around on this occasion 9 are injured; 6 have retired; and 7 have not been selected:
Fraser Brown, Alasdair Dickinson, Gordon Reid, Richie Gray, Adam Ashe, Greig Laidlaw, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Sean Maitland
Geoff Cross, Euan Murray, Kieran Low, Al Strokosch, Chris Cusiter, Sean Lamont
Scott Lawson, Johnnie Beattie, Blair Cowan, Chris Fusaro (injured), Tom Heathcote, Duncan Weir (injured), Tim Visser
For Big Vern’s first Autumn squad Ruaridh Jackson, Matt Scott and Ryan Wilson were not considered through injury. It’s possible then that if neither coach had been restricted by the damage picked up by players that there might have been as many as 23 in common between the two selections.
Injuries are simply a fact of life in this day and age though. Toony’s hand may have been forced somewhat but at the mid-point of a RWC cycle that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Consistency of selection meant only 9 debut caps awarded since the last World Cup. Compare and contrast to the 50 players tried out between NZ in 2011 and England in 2015. Necessity can be the mother of invention and hopefully the head coach uncovers some gems to strengthen Scotland’s tilt at the title in Japan in two years time.