With 18 Tests played since the 2019 World Cup and, most likely, 19 or 20 still to play before the 2023 tournament kicks off, Scotland will reach the mid-point of their RWC cycle during this year’s Six Nations. Gregor Townsend is balancing the competing priorities of putting out a side to compete right now but also developing a group that can travel with confidence to France in a little over 18 months’ time.
There are 11 players in and 14 out from the initial selection for the Autumn Nations’ Series. Those brought in are a mix of prospects (including 4 uncapped players) and senior squad members returning after missing some or all of the matches in November.
- Forwards Nick Auterac, Dave Cherry and Robin Hislop were also late callups in the Autumn but have not been retained in the current selection.
- 5 uncapped players have been selected in the squad of 39 [Autumn Nations Series squad – 12 out of 42].
- Forwards – Rory Darge and Andy Christie.
- Backs – Kyle Rowe, Ben Vellacott and Ben White.
- Since Gregor Townsend became head coach following the 2017 Six Nations there have been 47 Test debuts for the men’s national side.
- 12 players in the squad made their Scotland debuts prior to Toony taking over – 9 under Vern Cotter, 2 under Scott Johnson and 1 under Andy Robinson.
- Another 10 men have been picked who have won fewer than 10 caps each [Autumn Nations Series squad – 5].
- There are 3 players in the squad with more than 50 caps to their name – Stuart Hogg (88 + 2 for the Lions); Jonny Gray (64); Finn Russell (58 + 1 for the Lions) [Autumn Nations Series squad – 3].
- Grant Gilchrist (48 caps); Ali Price (46) and Hamish Watson (45) could also bring up their half centuries during the current Six Nations.
Player numbers and game time
- Three brand new faces (Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White) bring the total included in Scotland men’s Test squads during the Townsend era to 123.
- The coaches have picked 15 Exiles, 13 players from Edinburgh and 11 Glasgow Warriors [Autumn Nations Series squad – 17 Glasgow, 12 Edinburgh, 12 Exiles].
- Ali Price is the only man who has played some part in each of the previous series in during Gregor Townsend’s time in charge (Price was unavailable for selection in the 2021 Summer Tour squad but, ultimately, no games went ahead).
- 96 different players have seen game time in Scotland’s 49 Tests since Summer 2017.
- No one has featured in every Test since the start of the Townsend era. Ali Price (41 games) has made the most appearances – 6 more than any other player.
- The average age of the squad is 26.9 [Autumn Nations Series squad – 26.8].
- The backs’ average age is 26.5 while for the forwards it is 27.2 [Autumn Nations Series squad – 26.6 for backs and 26.9 for forwards].
- There are 6 players over the age of 30 with WP Nel the eldest at 35.7. The other ‘veterans’ are Stuart McInally (31.5), Grant Gilchrist (31.5), Nick Haining (31.4), Chris Harris (31.1) and Hamish Watson (30.3) [Autumn Nations Series squad – 8 over 30s].
- There are 14 players who will be 30 or younger when the 2027 Rugby World Cup kicks off, including 3 players born in the 2000s – Ewan Ashman, Rory Darge and Rufus McLean. Ashman is the youngest in the squad (21.8).
- The squad have combined for 96 Test tries.
- 37 have been scored by forwards, 59 by the backs.
- Stuart McInally is the top scorer in the Townsend era with 11 tries.
- Darcy Graham (10) has the most tries among the backs.
There are new faces aplenty and club form to weigh against who held which Test jersey in the Autumn. Taking all that into account here is OTOTM’s best guess (with the emphasis on the guess!) at how the Depth Chart for the current squad stands ahead of this season’s Six Nations action kicking off: