Under-20 team selected for French foray

The Scotland under-20 team to face France this Saturday (7 February, kick-off 8.55pm local) in Gueugnon, has been named by Head Coach Sean Lineen.

Jamie Ritchie will captain Scotland under-20 v France under-20The team contains a mixture of experience at  under-20 level, as well as those making their first start in Scotland's most senior age-grade squad.

Jamie Ritchie, who made his PRO12 debut for Edinburgh Rugby in October last year against Leinster in Dublin, will lead the side when he enters the arena for his fifth capped outing for Scotland under-20.

The 23-man squad only contains a number of changes to the side which defeated the Scotland Club XV, 30-17, in a recent training game as fly-half Rory Hutchinson starts, with Tom Galbraith taking a spot on the bench joining lock Neil Irvine-Hess and back-row Matthew Smith.

Scotland under-20 Head Coach, Sean Lineen, said: "From our first camp in October, the players have had a lot of game time back at their clubs and we're ready to go.


"The last couple of games, against Glasgow Warriors A and Scotland Club XV, have been fantastic for us. We learned a lot about our physicality and the players showed they really wanted it, and displayed a sense of hunger and togetherness.

"We looked at the stats and our defence has been at 90% in those two ties. These guys want to tackle, which is refreshing, and there is a real sense that they want to get on and play rugby.”

France went undefeated in last year's campaign, yet were ran closest by Scotland in a game which finished 13-18 at Netherdale.

Lineen continued:

"First game away to France, nine o'clock on a Saturday night, in the middle of nowhere, it's real character building stuff. We go there knowing that we're underdogs but there's no place we would rather be. This is where we want to test ourselves.

"The French – they're big, they're aggressive, and you can't sit off them.

"We've got to put pressure on them all the time. If we give them a loose ball, or show weakness at set-piece, they'll soon expose us.”

Some 20 of the travelling squad play their rugby in Scotland, in the top tiers of the domestic game, as part of the BT Sport Academy programme or in a fully professional capacity. Lineen believes that the level of opportunity currently available bodes well for the younger players and their development.

"There's a lot more boys involved at the top level which lends itself to the professional mindset and what's expected in the upper reaches of the game,” he continued. 

"They want, and are prepared, to do that extra bit as they understand what it takes to be the best they can.

"It's a pretty well-rounded team but firstly we're physical and confrontational. There's a willingness from these players to put their body on the line.

"We're moulding into a very good team and there's some players here we're really excited about. Our job now is to continue to develop and excite them, and get them winning games – there's nothing more exciting than winning games.”

Scotland under-20 team to play France under-20, Jean Laville Stadium, Gueugnon, 6 Nations Championship, kick-off 8.55pm local (7.55pm GMT)

15. Ruairi Howarth (Edinburgh Rugby/Gala)
14. Harvey Elms (Currie)
13. Archie Russell (Stirling County)
12. Patrick Kelly (Le Parc)
11. Alec Coombes (London Scottish)

10. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
9. George Horne (Glasgow Hawks)

1. Murray McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby)*
2. Ross Graham (Hawick)
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
5. Lewis Carmichael (Melrose)*
6. Lewis Wynne (Stirling County)
7. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby)
8. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby/Boroughmuir)

Replacements
16. Jake Kerr (Edinburgh Rugby/Watsonians)
17. Gary Robertson (Gala)
18. Dan Elkington (Watsonians)
19. Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose)
20. Matthew Smith (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County)
21. Andrew Manson (Stewart's Melville FP)
22. Tom Galbraith (Melrose)
23. Ruaraidh Smith (Currie)

*Scottish Institute of Sport supported player 2014/15