42-man squad announced
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend today named a 42-man training squad in preparation for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan this September.
A further two spaces in the squad remain unfulfilled (one forward and one back) with Townsend keeping the door open for those operating at the business end of the season to play their way into the group.
Just under half (14) of those named today featured in the 31-man squad that reached the quarter-final of the 2015 tournament in England and have been given the chance to surpass their efforts this autumn.
Edinburgh back-row John Barclay (2007 and 2011) is the only player competing for a third outing, while – at the opposite end of the international experience spectrum – there are three uncapped players.
Former Scotland U18 and U20 centre Rory Hutchinson is rewarded for an impressive season with English Premiership side Northampton Saints, while previous squad members Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) and Blade Thomson (Scarlets) earn a recall, the latter having recently returned to club duty, having missed this season’s Autumn Tests and Guinness Six Nations with a head injury.
Guinness PRO14 title-chasing Glasgow Warriors contribute the most players to the training squad with 17, while Edinburgh provide 13 and clubs outwith Scotland offer 12.
“Today’s selection is a good indication of the depth and level of competition we currently have in Scotland. Head Coach Gregor Townsend
“We made a conscious decision to keep squad numbers low, which enables us to do more work with those most likely to be on the plane to Japan. We’re really excited to work with this group of players who will now compete hard for a place in the final 31-man group going to the world cup.
“There are of course a number of very good players who have missed out – players who have been unlucky with injuries this year or haven’t hit form at the right time – while others are unlucky to lose out on some very close decisions."
The first block of Scotland’s preparations will see the squad divided into smaller skills and strength and conditioning groups to accommodate post-season breaks for those in the knockout stages of domestic or European Cup competition.
The majority of players will then be given three weeks off and will return from mid-June to intensify pre-season preparations at Oriam, Scotland's National Sports Performance Centre, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
The pre-season campaign will be punctuated by three residential camps in Scotland and a hot weather camp in Portugal, before four home-and-away Summer Test matches against Georgia and France begin in August to complete the squad’s pre-departure preparations.
Townsend added: “Our goal is to deliver our best rugby on September 22nd [when Scotland face Ireland in the opening Pool round] and throughout the following few weeks, so there will be a big conditioning element driving us towards that.
“We’ve got to be ready to play with energy, huge effort and be fitter than every team we come up against. That will enable us to attack and defend at a high level and put pressure on the opposition.
“There are a number of challenges that await us in the tournament, starting with facing some quality teams in our pool as well as adapting to the Japan’s unique environment.
"As it’s likely to be hot and humid during the tournament, our warm-weather training camps in Portugal and Nagasaki, as well two Test matches in the heat of Nice and Tbilisi, should be invaluable.
“We look forward to building closer relationships with each other and improving as a squad during our training camps, while this opportunity to be together for longer means we can add a couple of things to our game to help us get closer to reaching our potential.”
SCOTLAND TRAINING SQUAD
John Barclay (Edinburgh) – 71 caps; Rugby World Cup 2007 and 2011
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 19 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 42 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 19 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 33 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) – 2 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 51 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 27 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 29 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 34 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 5 caps
Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) – 22 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – uncapped
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 8 caps
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 11 caps
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 67 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 41 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) – uncapped
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 11 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) – 71 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 40 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 8 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh) – 27 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 44 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps; Rugby World Cup 2015
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 21 caps
SUMMER TESTS (times are local)
Saturday 17 August – France v Scotland; Allianz Stadium (kick-off 9pm)
Saturday 24 August – Scotland v France; BT Murrayfield (kick-off TBC)
Saturday 31 August – Georgia v Scotland; Dinamo Arena (kick-off TBC)
Friday 6 September – Scotland v Georgia; BT Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off TBC)
SCOTLAND RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 POOL A FIXTURES (times are local)
Sunday 22 September – Ireland v Scotland; International Stadium, Yokohama (kick-off 4.45pm)
Monday 30 September – Scotland v Samoa; Kobe Misaki Stadium (kick-off 7.15pm)
Wednesday 9 October – Scotland v Russia; Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa (4.15pm)
Sunday 13 October – Japan v Scotland; International Stadium Yokohama (7.45pm)