Scotland’s National Rugby Squad
The great annual rugby celebration is approaching! The Six Nations Rugby Championship, that has been taking place in various forms since 1883, and organised under its present title since 2000. Nowadays, the participants of the games are Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy. It began as The Home Nations Championship, and was played by the national teams of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, before later becoming the first international rugby union tournament. The history of the countries participation is quite intricate – for example, the inclusion of Ireland as one nation means that both Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish players take to the field together on the same team, France was once expelled from the tournament, and Italy joined just 15 years ago, which is when we began to call it the Six Nations tournament.
This year’s Scottish squad was announced on January 20th 2015. The information was long awaited, as the first match of the Scottish team is scheduled for February 7th with France – only a couple of weeks from now! The match will take place at the Stade de France, located in Saint-Denis in the northern suburbs of Paris. The match will certainly be an interesting one – we hope it will be a beautiful comeback after last years’ defeat… and all the past defeats – as the Scottish team has managed to win against France only once in our last fifteen games with them!
The other matches for Scotland are scheduled for February 15th (versus Wales), February 28th (versus Italy), March 14th (versus England) and March 21st (versus Ireland). The Scottish team seems to be somehow unlucky during the Championship – the only country we have beaten more than we have lost to is Italy. The situation isn’t dramatic – but there is nothing to be proud of either. During the 120 tournaments Scotland has taken part in so far, our team has won 14 times (England and Wales – both 26 times), had 3 Grand Slams (England – 12), 10 Triple Crowns (England – 24) and… 32 Wooden Spoons (meaning that Scotland was beaten in every single game they played during the tournament). But don’t worry, Ireland has “won” more Wooden Spoons than even us, with a whopping 36!
The statistics are not in Scotland’s favour, but the team seems to be ambitious and determined. The squad, announced January 20th 2015, as quoted by The Guardian, is:
Forwards: Hugh Blake (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Geoff Cross (London Irish), David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Richie Gray (Castres), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Rob Harley (Glasgow), Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Glasgow).
Backs: Mark Bennett (Glasgow), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), Alex Dunbar, (Glasgow) Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow), Peter Horne (Glasgow) Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, captain), Sean Lamont (Glasgow), Sean Maitland (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow), Finn Russell (Glasgow), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh), Tim Visser (Edinburgh).
Scottish Rugby Team LogoThe players like Hidalgo-Clyne, Toolis, Blake and Watson are quite young – all under the age of 25 – but, as the coach has emphasised, are persistent and have a will to fight for the best score possible. It might be a difficult task, as 4 of the opponent teams are higher in the league rankings than Scotland, but in sport the impossible is nothing. The squad might surprise us yet – and Dan Parks (a former Rugby Union player) thinks that the team has a strong chance to be in the top three this year. As some of the usual, experienced players won’t be present on the field, the young blood might be a breath of fresh air and guide the squad to victory. These other players were ruled out because they didn’t have impressive achievements last season or are recovering from injuries and surgeries. As the commentators underline, the young players have done much during last year’s games to be selected to the squad. The omission of certain players, such as Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie, is hard to understand, as they are considered to be reliable and very good on the field, but the coach seems to be betting on youth and determination.
All we should do right now is keep our fingers crossed and support Scotland during the tournament! We wish the players lots of luck and determination, and, of course – the title of champions!