Scotland A will face their English counterparts in the Borders on the eve of next February’s Calcutta Cup clash.
It will be the first time Scotland have faced the team, now branded England Saxons, on home soil since a 6-6 draw in Stirling in 2002 and admission to the match will be FREE, as it is with all Scotland age-grade and representative fixtures announced today.
Scotland A have defeated the Saxons in the interim, Rory Lawson leading the team to a 13-7 success in the Churchill Cup in Canada in 2006.
After the success of the A internationals against the United States Eagles and the Irish Wolfhounds last season, Scotland A will once again be hosted at Gala’s Netherdale ground. The game will take place on Friday 3 February with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Scotland A will have a new coaching team for the fixture. Edinburgh Rugby’s head coach Michael Bradley will take charge succeeding Nick Scrivener who returned to his native Australia at the end of last season.
Bradley will be helped in the role by two assistants, both well known to Borders rugby and Scotland fans. Craig Chalmers is currently head coach at Melrose and is Scotland’s most capped stand-off. He’ll be joined by Stevie Scott, who during his playing days was a favourite at Netherdale and, nearby, at the Greenyards. Scott is a former Scotland hooker and is now forwards coach at Sale Sharks.
Director of Performance Rugby Graham Lowe said, “Michael brings a huge amount of experience to the role and in Stevie and Craig we have two up and coming Scottish coaches who are building experience at higher levels with every game. It’s a great mix to have. We feel they can get the best out of those who are on the fringes of the national side. We are striving to drive up performance at all levels of the game and for those selected for the A squad it’s a real chance to shine and make a name for themselves on the international stage.
"We need coaches who can bring the best out of the talent selected and we believe with Michael, Craig and Stevie, we’ve got the coaches who can do that.”
Craig Chalmers said, "I’m delighted to receive the chance to work with Michael Bradley and Stevie Scott. It is a step up the ladder and a chance for me to show what I can do at this level.
"I'm excited by the prospect of working with the players at Scotland A level and I hope that I can learn a lot from this game and play my part in getting a win against the Saxons."
Stevie Scott said, "I'd like to thank Scottish Rugby and Sale Sharks for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Scotland coaching staff for the game at Netherdale.
"It will be a great experience to work with Michael and Craig and I hope I can bring some of what I've learned at Sale in the English Premiership to the set-up. I don't often get the chance to get back to Scotland so the fact the game is in the Borders is just an extra incentive to do well."
Head Coach Michael Bradley added, “It’s a one off game so that means there’s some pressure to put together a side that can not only compete but win against England Saxons. There are a lot of guys who will be in contention for the squad and many of those will be pushing for a place in the full international set-up. As a coaching team it’s up to us to get the most out of them and bring them together as a unit in a pretty short space of time. It’s a great challenge to have."
Meanwhile, there is continuity with the coaching at the Scotland under-20 and Scotland under-20 A groups. Leading the former will be erstwhile Scotland and British Lions prop Peter Wright, assisted by Simon Cross (Edinburgh Accies) and Bryan Easson (Edinburgh Rugby skills and elite development coach). Phil Smith (Boroughmuir) will again be head coach for the under-20 A side, assisted by Iain Monaghan (Glasgow Warriors’ elite development coach) and John Dalziel (Melrose).
The Scotland Club International side will again have Ally Donaldson (Currie) as head coach. An assistant is to be appointed.
At Scotland under-18 level Eddie Pollock is the new head coach, succeeding Grant McKelvey, who has stood down. The assistant coaches are Alex Duncan (Aberdeen Grammar) and Gordon Henderson (Preston Lodge).
Scotland under-17 will be led by Peter Laverie (Ayr) who will be assisted by Colin Robertson (Strathmore) and, in a developmental role, Dave Butcher, the Scottish Exiles’ Performance Development coach.
Scotland under-16, a new age-group this year, competing at the Wellington Festival in England, will have Davie Wilson (Kelvinside Academy and Dalziel RFC) as head coach with Ben Fisher (Edinburgh and Midlothian Regional Academy Coach) and Jamie Dempsey (Glasgow Hawks) as assistant coaches with Borders and East Lothian Regional Academy Coach Chris Dewsnap attached to the management as part of his development.
The full list of home fixtures for Scotland representative and age-grade teams (admission FREE to all) is as follows:
Scotland A v England Saxons, Friday 3 February, Netherdale, Galashiels, kick-off 7.30pm
Scotland under-20 v England under-20, Friday 3 February, Firhill, Glasgow, kick-off 7.30pm
Scotland Club International v France, Friday 24 February, Millbrae, Ayr, kick-off 7.30pm
Scotland under-20 v France under-20, Friday 24 February, Netherdale, kick-off 7.30pm
Scotland under-18 v Wales under-18, Sunday 11 March, Braidholm, Glasgow, kick-off 2pm
Scotland under-18 v England under-18, Sunday 18 March, Mansfield Park, Hawick, kick-off 2pm
Scotland under-17 v England under-17, Sunday 25 March, Greenyards, Melrose, kick-off 2pm
Lowe added: “We had intended to maintain the link between the Scotland under-20 team and Inverness, given the tremendous support we have enjoyed there during the past two seasons.
“Unfortunately, however, there could be clashes with Scottish Cup ties for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and regrettably we are unable to take a match to Inverness this season.
“We are very aware and grateful to the support all Scotland teams receive from the north of the country but new stipulations on ground and broadcast requirements from the Six Nations Committee, plus travel considerations for our English counterparts, mean that given the unavailability of a suitable stadium we are unable to site a Scotland match in the north this season.
“We will be working to find a solution to this in time for season 2012-2013.”