Scotland under-20 must defeat Japan in Tokyo tomorrow if they are to progress to the ninth position play-offs and retain their place in the top tier tournament – the IRB Junior World Championship next year.
In 2010 the tournament will be reduced from 16 to 12 teams with only the top three qualifiers from each of the four pools guaranteed a place when the competition is held in Argentina. So it’s winner takes all as both Scotland and Japan are without a victory so far in this year’s tournament and while Scotland are third because of a superior points difference in Pool B, a win for either team would drop the loser into the secondary competition for next season – the IRB Junior World Trophy.
Scotland have lost narrowly to Samoa and then were eclipsed 7-30 by England in midweek in spite of enjoying long periods of dominance in territory and possession. For tomorrow’s match at the Chichibu Stadium – at which a crowd of 15,000 is expected – captain Fraser Brown returns to the starting line-up having missed the England game with a shoulder niggle, while Ryan Wilson retains the blindside flanker berth.
Peter Jericevich, Scotland’s try scorer against the English is preferred to Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half, Andy White has recovered from a hamstring injury to start at stand-off and form an all Glasgow Hawks half-back partnership and elsewhere in the back division Ashleah McCulloch and Alex Dunbar swap positions.
It will be the first time Scotland have met Japan at this age-level, though the teams have faced each other in the under-19 arena, most recently in 2006, when Scotland posted a convincing win.
Scotland under-20 head coach Rob Moffat said: “The players are well aware of what is at stake tomorrow. All 26 players were fit for selection and that is good at this stage of the competition.
“Japan have played pretty well so far. They lost only 20-29 to Samoa, three of their tries coming from a really effective driving maul, so there’s no question of us doing anything other than treating them with great respect.”
Moffat is calling on his players to continue to develop and improve but with a number of players within his ranks eligible for next season’s competition he’s also demanding mental toughness to ensure Scotland get the win they need.
Scotland under-20 team v Japan under-20 at the Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo, tomorrow (Saturday 13 June, kick-off 7.05am BST)
15 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
14 Grant Anderson (Ayr)*
13 Alex Dunbar (Selkirk) **
12 Robbie Johnston (Leeds University and Leeds Carnegie)
11 Ashleah McCulloch (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby) **
10 Andrew White (Glasgow Hawks) **
9 Peter Jericevich (Glasgow Hawks) *
1 Dougie Orr (Haddington) **
2 Fraser Brown (Watsonians)* captain
3 David Morton (Bridgwater and Albion)
4 Nick Campbell (Glasgow Hawks) **
5 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
6 Ryan Wilson (London Scottish)
8 Stuart McInally (Watsonians) *
7 Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s) *
16 Finlay Gillies (Heriot’s) **
17 Grant Shiells (Kelso)
18 Robert Harley (West of Scotland) *
19 Struan Dewar (Heriot’s) **
20 Henry Pyrgos (Wimbourne)
21 Robbie McGowan (Stirling County)
22 James Knight (Bedford)
* Denotes a member of the Scottish National Contracted Academy
** Denotes a member of the Scottish Rugby National Academy supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport
Notes to editors:
Scotland under-20 continuing match schedule
Saturday 13 June: Japan v Scotland, Tokyo (kick-off 7.05am BST)
THE FULL SCOTLAND UNDER-20 SQUAD
Peter Jericevich (Glasgow Hawks) *, Henry Pyrgos (Wimbourne), Andrew White (Glasgow Hawks) **, Alex Dunbar (Selkirk) **, Robbie Johnston (Leeds University and Leeds Carnegie), James Knight (Bedford), Ashleah McCulloch (Aberdeen Grammar) **
Steven Aitken (Aberdeen Grammar) **, Grant Anderson (Ayr) *, Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Tom Brown (Edinburgh Accies) *, Robbie McGowan (Stirling County)
Fraser Brown CAPTAIN (Watsonians)*, Finlay Gillies (Heriot’s) **, Gavin Cameron (Stirling County) **, David Morton (Bridgewater and Albion), Douglas Orr (Haddington) **, Grant Shiells (Kelso), Nick Campbell (Glasgow Hawks) **, Grant Gilchrist (Stirling County) *, Richard Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Robert Harley (West of Scotland) **, Struan Dewar (Heriot’s) **, Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s) *, Stuart McInally (Watsonians) *, Ryan Wilson (London Scottish).
Our picture shows scrum-half Peter Jericevich in training.