Team Named For France Opener

Scotland under-20 coach Peter Wright today named his team for the opening 6 Nations Championship game against France in Caen on Friday night (kick-off 7pm local time, 6pm UK time).

The side have been training together at Murrayfield this week ahead of a Thursday departure for Normandy, with Wright declaring himself enthused by the form and attitude his men have shown during their preparations.

Scotland under-20 coach Peter Wright today named his team for the opening 6 Nations Championship game against France in Caen on Friday night (kick-off 7pm local time, 6pm UK time).

The side have been training together at Murrayfield this week ahead of a Thursday departure for Normandy, with Wright declaring himself enthused by the form and attitude his men have shown during their preparations.

The one-time Scotland and British and Irish Lions prop has selected a side featuring the cream of the young talent currently operating in the Scottish club game, supplemented by several members of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors Elite Development squads and a number of quality exiles.

As confirmed by Wright last week, the team will be captained by tight-head prop George Hunter, who will have Robin Hislop of Edinburgh and Boroughmuir and Melrose hooker Richard Ferguson for company in the front row.

Another Greenyards favourite, No.8 Grant Runciman, lines up in a back row where Hamish Watson of Leicester Tigers and Bath’s James Tyas also feature.

Behind the scrum, Wright can call upon a promising mix of pace, intelligence and invention. Stuart Hogg, the talented Glasgow Warriors and Hawick man, lines up at full-back, with Mike Doneghan and Kerr Gossman completing an enviable back three.

Mark Bennett, the highly-rated Ayr midfielder, will form a centre partnership with Harry Leonard of Boroughmuir, while Craig Jackson (Melrose) and Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park) team up at half-back.

Wright commented: “We’ve said to the players from the outset that we want to play an ambitious, high-tempo game, and the team we’ve selected for the France game is more than capable of delivering that.

“There’s a really good blend of skills and influences in the side, with guys coming from across the club game, others that are linked to the professional teams and a further few from south of the border.

“We’ll look to exploit the mix of ideas these guys bring to the table and play in such a way that puts pressure on our opponents.

“It’s obviously a challenging fixture to start off our campaign, but we go there with confidence in our own ability and ready to front up.”

The Scots will pay a pre-match visit to the site of one of the most memorable Scottish involvements in the D-Day landings. On 6 June 1944, Scots servicemen were among the first to land on Sword Beach, their objective being to clear a way through the town of Ouistreham while the 51st Highland division and the 15th Scottish Division were involved in the prolonged, but successful, fight to take the town of Caen.

The Scotland under-20s will visit Pegasus Bridge, the structure that connected Ouistreham and Caen, and hear the story of Bill Millin, a personal piper for Lord Lovat when the 1st Commando Brigade landed on Sword Beach, who was hailed a hero by British troops after playing a non-stop rendition of ‘Highland Laddie’ as battle raged around him.

Originally from Glasgow, Millin’s fearlessness was immortalised in the film The Longest Day.

Wright confirmed: “As a coaching group, we feel it will be really instructive to show these young men the sacrifices made by people of their age in years gone by.

“We wouldn’t be going to France to play rugby if it wasn’t for the bravery they displayed, and it’s only right and proper that we go there to remember them. I hope the players find the experience inspirational.”

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 TEAM TO PLAY FRANCE UNDER-20, 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP, STADE VELODROME DE VENOIX, CAEN, NORMANDY ON FRIDAY 4 FEBRUARY (KICK-OFF 7PM LOCAL TIME, 6PM UK TIME)

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Hawick)

14 Mike Doneghan (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County)
13 Mark Bennett (Ayr)
12 Harry Leonard (Boroughmuir)
11 Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)

10 Craig Jackson (Melrose)
9 Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park)

1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir)
2 Richard Ferguson (Melrose)
3 George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks, CAPTAIN)
4 Mitchell Todd (Nottingham)
5 Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland)
6 James Tyas (Bath)
8 Grant Runciman (Melrose)
7 Hamish Watson (Leicester Tigers)

SUBSTITUTES

16 David Cherry (Team Northumbria)
17 Colin Phillips (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville)
18 Andy Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks)
19 Alex Spence (Heriot’s)
20 Sean Kennedy (Stirling County)
21 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)
22 Glen Bryce (Heriot's)

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