Hadden Encourages Players To Seize 'Last' Chance

Coach Frank Hadden has included 16 capped players in his final Scotland A squad for the Barclays Churchill Cup, which opens later this month. He views the competition as a "last opportunity" for a number of players to push for selection for this autumn's Rugby World Cup.

Coach Frank Hadden has included 16 capped players in his final Scotland A squad for the Barclays Churchill Cup, which opens later this month.

He views the competition as a "last opportunity" for a number of players to push for selection for this autumn's Rugby World Cup.

Scotland A entered the event for the first time last year when it was staged in North America and posted victories over England Saxons and Canada en route to the final where they lost to New Zealand Maori. In this World Cup year the tournament is being played in England.

Hadden said: "We go into this tournament with the intention of picking up some notable scalps. Our squad is a mix of youth and experience and the tournament also represents an important stepping stone back to full match fitness for a number of players whose seasons have been affected by injuries, such as Simon Webster, Craig Smith, Scott Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson, Craig Hamilton and Graeme Morrison.

"I also felt it was important to reflect on some of the very encouraging displays I've seen in the Magners League from some of our younger players, including John Barclay, Steve Swindall and Moray Low, all of whom are challenging for involvement in our World Cup squad.

"The Barclays Churchill Cup is the last opportunity for a number of players to put their hands up and impress for selection for the World Cup squad,” he added.

"While some players will still be fighting for places for the World Cup in our Bank of Scotland August Tests against Ireland and South Africa at Murrayfield, others could secure a berth by delivering an outstanding performance for Scotland A over the next few weeks."

Hadden has not chosen a squad captain. Instead he will select on a game-by-game basis from the 29-strong squad, who convene at Murrayfield on Thursday with the exceptions of Andrew Hall and Mark McMillan who are both still involved in Heineken Cup club matches this weekend.

Scotland A will face the USA at Henley RFC on Wednesday 23 May (kick-off 6pm) and England Saxons at Twickenham on Monday 28 May (kick-off 3pm) in their pool games. Finals day of the Barclays Churchill Cup is Saturday 2 June at Twickenham.

Scotland A squad

Backs

Robert Chrystie (Border Reivers), Simon Danielli (Border Reivers), Nick De Luca (Border Reivers), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh Rugby), Robbie Kydd (Northampton Saints), Rory Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lawson (Gloucester)*, Calum MacRae (Border Reivers)*, Mark McMillan (London Wasps), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Gordon Ross (Castres), Simon Webster (Edinburgh Rugby)

Forwards

John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)*, Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)*, Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby)*, Bruce Douglas (Border Reivers), Iain Fullarton (Saracens), Andrew Hall (Newport Gwent Dragons), Craig Hamilton (Border Reivers), Ed Kalman (Border Reivers), Scott Lawson (Glasgow Warriors)*, Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Donnie Macfadyen (Glasgow Warriors), Mark Rennie (Bourgoin), Craig Smith (Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Strokosch (Edinburgh Rugby)*, Steve Swindall (Glasgow Warriors), Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors)*


* = Member of Scottish Institute of Sport

The Barclays Churchill Cup heralds the start of Scotland's Summer of Rugby "an action-packed countdown to the sporting highlight of the year, Rugby World Cup. Scotland's Summer of Rugby begins with the Emirates Edinburgh 7s at Murrayfield on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 June; and continues with the Bank of Scotland Corporate August Tests at Murrayfield against Ireland on Saturday 11 August and South Africa on Saturday 25 August. Tickets for all these matches are on sale from the Scottish Rugby Ticket Centre NOW. Tel: 0131 346 5100 or via our website www.scottishrugby.org

Meanwhile Ben MacDougall, the twice-capped Scotland centre, is poised to return to rugby league, but is still keen to remain available for the national squad for this autumn's Rugby World Cup.

MacDougall, 30 next week, who qualifies for Scotland through a paternal grandfather from Glasgow, has been troubled by injury this season and his contract at the disbanded Border Reivers expires at the end of this month.

MacDougall told the Scottish Rugby website today: "Although I've had some interest within rugby the most attractive offers I'm getting are from rugby league clubs. It's been a really difficult decision but I fully understand that Frank Hadden (the Scotland coach) cannot give me any guarantee of involvement in the World Cup and, just now, it's coming down to livelihood.

"I'm looking to take up a contract with rugby league until the end of the season (September) but, ideally, I'd like to leave the door open to play again for Scotland.

"I've spent three years playing rugby union, a sport that I hadn’t really played since I was at school in Australia and I feel I’ve got to the point where if I was to stay in union for another year then the best would be to come.”

Hadden said: “I wish Ben well. Obviously his immediate plans mean he could not be considered for selection for the Churchill Cup but I'm pleased at Ben's desire to play union again and at his leaving the door open for a possible Scotland return.”


Ben MacDougall (Border Reivers)

Centre. Born: 25.5.77 in Sydney, Australia. Height: 6ft, Weight: 14st 8lbs.

Ben MacDougall made his Scotland debut in the second match of the 2006 RBS Nations at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. He was first named in a Scotland training squad for the 2005 RBS 6 Nations championship. He joined Edinburgh Rugby from rugby league side Melbourne Storm in 2004.

He has played for four NRL clubs in Australian rugby league and qualifies for Scotland through a paternal grandfather from Glasgow. He moved from Edinburgh Rugby to join the Border Reivers in the summer of 2005.

International record: 2 caps. 2006 - W SA2 (rep)