Wright Names 6 Nations Squad

Scotland under-20 head coach Peter Wright today named a 35-man squad for the 6 Nations Championship, and vowed that his team will bring to bear an ambitious, high-energy game throughout the forthcoming tournament.

Wright and fellow coaches Bryan Easson (backs) and Simon Cross (defence) worked hard to instil the principles of this relentless, width-based approach over a recent two-week training camp at Murrayfield which culminated in a 73-18 win over Scottish Universities in a trial match.

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Scotland under-20 head coach Peter Wright today named a 35-man squad for the 6 Nations Championship, and vowed that his team will bring to bear an ambitious, high-energy game throughout the forthcoming tournament.

Wright and fellow coaches Bryan Easson (backs) and Simon Cross (defence) worked hard to instil the principles of this relentless, width-based approach over a recent two-week training camp at Murrayfield which culminated in a 73-18 win over Scottish Universities in a trial match.

The squad confirmed today boasts, in Wright’s words, a “lot of attacking flair” and “players with the intelligence and ability to play the sort of game we want to”.

Scotland’s first tournament fixture sees them face France in Caen, Normandy on Friday 4 February (kick-off 6pm UK time), before a date with Wales at Bridgehaugh on Friday 11 February (kick-off 7.30pm).

Admission to the match at the home of Stirling County RFC is free, as will be the case for the under-20s’ other home games, against Ireland at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness (Friday 25 February, kick-off 7.30pm) and a further Bridgehaugh clash, against Italy, on Friday 18 March (kick-off 7.30pm).

Wright today confirmed his side’s intention to engage the passion of their supporters with a “high-octane, typically Scottish” style of play.

He said: “We’ve had a really physical side in the last couple of years, with guys like Rob Harley, Richie Gray and Stuart McInally all weighing in to good effect.

“It was the right thing to do to play to their strengths and try to take teams on up front, whereas this year’s side is a bit smaller and a bit lighter overall, so we’ll be concentrating on moving the point of contact, not getting caught up in the dogfight and looking to put width on the ball.

“If we manage to do that, and play the game where we want to, we’ve got the players to be competitive in what is an extremely tough tournament. Our back division certainly has the potential to be explosive if we can get the ball to them and give them a decent platform to play off.

“The game we have in mind, moving the opposition about, pressing them and not letting this effort up for 80 minutes, is demanding for our players, and we’re really challenging them both technically and physically. But we’re confident they’re up to the task and that this approach will serve us well.”

Included in the squad are exciting backline talents Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Hawick), Mark Bennett (Ayr), Harry Leonard (Boroughmuir), Craig Jackson (Melrose) and Kerr Gossman, the winger well known to Wright through their combined involvement with Glasgow Hawks.

Another Old Anniesland favourite, tight-head prop George Hunter (who, like Gossman is a Glasgow Warriors Elite Development Player) will lead the side as captain.

A healthy geographical spread is evident in Wright’s selection, with players drawn from Melrose (hooker Richard Ferguson, openside Grant Runciman, and stand-off/centre Jackson) and Stirling County (scrum-half Sean Kennedy and full-back Glen Bryce).

From south of the border comes another number 9, Westcombe Park’s Jamie Stevenson, as well as hooker David Cherry and centre Harry Mountain, who both play for Team Northumbria, prop Alex Allan (Loughborough University), lock Mitchell Todd (Nottingham), loose forward Mitch Eadie (Filton College) and back-rowers Hamish Watson and James Tyas, who are attached to Leicester Tigers and Bath respectively.

Wright continued: “As a coaching team, we’re all really happy with the players we have in the group this year. It’s obvious there is a lot of natural ability in the team, and also a real desire to keep learning and improve. All those things are going to serve us well in the coming weeks, when we know we’ll be up against a number of real quality teams.

“It’s a tough start for us, away to France, but if there’s probably never a good time to get them, there’s certainly a wrong time to get them, and that’s two or three games in when they’ve built up a head of steam.

“We competed really well against them up in Inverness last year, with the match finishing in a [8-8] draw. We should take a lot from that game, and from the fact we should have won, even though we know the French are a different proposition when they’re on their own turf.”

Wright says he will use Gray and Harley, recent under-20 stars now part of the full Scotland squad for the RBS 6 Nations Championship, as examples for this season’s hopefuls to follow.

He confirmed: “You need to dangle carrots in front of players, and an obvious one for me is emphasising how many big names and big personalities have worn the under-20 or under-21 jersey and progressed to do big things for their country down the years.

“Our guys [this season] should take confidence from what the likes of Riche and Rob have achieved, but there’s also a responsibility to make sure they honour that history and that heritage.”

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 SQUAD FOR 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP:

BACKS: Jonny Adams (Edinburgh Accies), Sam Atkin (Edinburgh Accies), Mark Bennett (Ayr), Glen Bryce (Heriot's), Michael Doneghan (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County), Fraser Gillies (Racing Metro 92), Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Hawick), Gregor Hunter (Edinburgh/Heriot’s), Craig Jackson (Melrose), Harris Jones (Boroughmuir), Sean Kennedy (Stirling County), Harry Leonard (Boroughmuir), Harry Mountain (Team Northumbria), Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks), Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park)

FORWARDS: Alex Allan (Loughborough University), David Cherry (Team Northumbria), Mitch Eadie (Filton College), Richard Ferguson (Melrose), Duncan Finnie (Watsonians), Nick Fraser (Boroughmuir), Gary Graham (Gala), Robin Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir), George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks, CAPTAIN), Andy Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks), Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland), Andrew Nagle (Jed Forest), Colin Phillips (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville), Grant Runciman (Melrose), Alex Spence (Heriot’s), Mitchell Todd (Nottingham), George Turner (Stewart’s Melville), James Tyas (Bath), Hamish Watson (Leicester Tigers).

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 FIXTURES, SEASON 2010/11

6 Nations Championship

Friday 4 February, Stade Velodrome de Venoix, Caen, kick-off 7pm (local time): France under-20 v Scotland under-20
Friday 11 February, Bridgehaugh, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Wales under-20
Friday 25 February, Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Ireland under-20
Friday 11 March, Newbury RFC, kick-off 7.45pm: England under-20 v Scotland under-20
Friday 18 March, Bridgehaugh, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Italy under-20

3-27 June, Italy, IRB Junior World Championship