Andy Christie and Ben White surprise call-ups to Scotland’s Six Nations training squad

Head coach Gregor Townsend has named five new caps in the 39-man group which will meet at Oriam on Monday

Gregor Townsend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Gregor Townsend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

FIVE uncapped players feature in Gregor Townsend’s 39-man Six Nations training squad, including surprise call-ups Andy Christie (a Saracens back-rower) and Ben White (a London Irish scrum-half).

Glasgow Warriors flanker Rory Darge, Edinburgh scrum-half Ben Vellacott and London Irish winger Kyle Rowe are also in the frame for international debuts in Scotland’s first game of the championship on Saturday 5th February against England.

Christie represented Scotland at youth level, playing for the Under-16s, and the 22-year-old has played with Saracens since 2018.

White, aged 23, who captained England at Under-20s level and played for the senior England side in a non-cap match against the Barbarians in 2019, signed for London Irish last year from Leicester Tigers and featured in their victory over Edinburgh Rugby last weekend.


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Rowe has also impressed for London Irish in the Premiership this season, notably scoring a hat-trick against Saracens and was previously a member of the Scotland 7s and U20s teams.

Following his memorable debut against England last year, Cameron Redpath made his comeback for Bath last weekend after eight months out with a knee injury and will once again be in contention ahead of the Six Nations opener.

Autumn debutants Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian, Pierre Schoeman, Rufus McLean and Sione Tuipulotu all received their first Scotland caps and are included once again.

Elsewhere there are call-ups for Edinburgh pair back-row Magnus Bradbury and prop WP Nel who missed out on selection for the Autumn Nations, while fit again Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray and Worcester Warriors prop Rory Sutherland also return.

Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson also earns a squad selection having not featured for Scotland in 2021. Stuart Hogg once again captains his country.

However, there is no room for experienced hooker Fraser Brown, who made his comeback for Glasgow Warriors after three months out with a knee injury a fortnight ago. Gloucester stand-off Adam Hastings, Glasgow Warriors prop Oli Kebble, Glasgow Warriors scrum-halves George Horne and Jamie Dobie, Edinburgh centre James Lang and Saracens wing Sean Maitland also miss out.

The squad will meet up at Oriam on this Monday for a training camp before reconvening the following week ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash.

“When you look through the squad this is the most competitive I’ve seen it in so many areas and that’s testament to the strength and depth we have,” said Townsend.

“We are able to call-up several new players into the squad such as Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White. We have been aware of all of the uncapped players for a while now and recently they have all experienced a breakthrough in terms of their performances at club level.

“A key part of the squad selection was rewarding form and that definitely applies to Ben Vellacott and Rory Darge who have been excellent for their clubs this season.

“We’re delighted to be able to include Cameron Redpath in the squad after missing the last few months with injury. He managed to get a game under his belt prior to the squad selection so we’ll see how he performs for Bath and in our training over the next couple of weeks.”

Scotland Six Nations Squad –

Forwards –

  • Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks – 2 caps
  • Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby – 2 caps
  • Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
  • Magnus Bradbury – Edinburgh Rugby – 14 caps
  • Andy Christie – Saracens – uncapped
  • Scott Cummings – Glasgow Warriors – 21 caps
  • Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
  • Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
  • Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 48 caps
  • Jonny Gray – Exeter Chiefs – 64 caps
  • Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 10 caps
  • Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – 3 caps
  • Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 43 caps
  • WP Nel – Edinburgh Rugby – 43 caps
  • Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 31 caps
  • Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
  • Javan Sebastian – Scarlets – 1 cap
  • Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 15 caps
  • Rory Sutherland – Worcester Warriors – 16 caps
  • George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 20 caps
  • Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps

Backs –

  • Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
  • Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
  • Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – 31 caps
  • Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs – 88 caps – Captain
  • Rory Hutchinson – Northampton Saints – 5 caps
  • Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 21 caps
  • Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 28 caps
  • Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – 2 caps
  • Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 46 caps
  • Cameron Redpath – Bath Rugby – 1 cap
  • Kyle Rowe – London Irish – uncapped
  • Finn Russell – Racing 92 – 58 caps
  • Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
  • Sione Tuipulotu- Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
  • Duhan van der Merwe – Worcester Warriors – 13 caps
  • Ben Vellacott – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Ben White – London Irish – uncapped

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About David Barnes 2917 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

35 Comments

  1. Watched a good review by 2 cents on YouTube reviewing the Scotland squad depth. Yes there are some new guys but the team for England is written barring injuries.
    Sutherland , Turner , Fagerson , Gray ,Skinner, Ritchie , Watson , Fagerson , Price , Finn , DVM , Johnson , Harris , Graham and Hogg. The replacements will be interesting since it looks like Vellacott could be on the bench,and maybe even Darge. Good to see Hutchinson and Redpath back and Tuipulotu in there along with Darge The omissions are also interesting Horne yes he has been poor this year , Maitland interesting he is still a major guy for Saracens and still scores tries, finally Hastings is he a worse option than Kinghorn well I suppose Gregor thinks so i’ll leave it there.

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    • Sutherland has had next to no recent game time. So Schoemann will likely start at LH instead. Skinner wont start ahead of Cummings at Lock either.

      While Matt F has been a consistent feature at Eight. It’s possible Maggie will play there in the CCup. He’s done so before, and has looked strong recently. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

      Hutchinson looks as weak in defence as he ever did. His is a strange recall. Until proven otherwise, Hastings remains a better test match level Ten than Kinghorn.

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  2. Difficult selection choices are a good problem to have and reflect the undeniable progress made in developing squad depth. Interesting to note the breakdown of player base – Glasgow 11, Edinburgh 13, Exiles 15. Pity a third pro-team is only a pipe-dream!

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    • “good problem to have and reflect the undeniable progress made in developing squad depth”
      Indeed, however, it is time to have a regular strong XV to gel!

  3. Those going big on how Hastings should be in the squad obviously haven’t seen much of Gloucester as he’s been a pretty peripheral figure this season (his own form and Gloucesters game plan to blame). Don’t think the Shed have really taken to him (yet) and they’re not bad judges. Good news for Scotland that we have a number of high profile omissions. Not so long ago such players would be in regardless.

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    • Peripheral? He’s been the starting Ten almost every game he’s been available.

      I’ve watched virtually all of them. He’s only had one openly poor performance, and that was against Quins in the rain. Marcus Smith was fairly shocking that day too.

      The rest of the time he’s been their starting Flyhalf. So much so it’s pushed their previous starting Ten out to Fifteen this season. His goal kicking has been a very strong factor in some of their most important results this season too.

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  4. Hastings has been subbed off early in some recent Gloucester games. There is a suggestion he doesn’t control the game when necessary or give the back division go forward ball.

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  5. Mark Bennett..? There are better quality centres omitted from this squad , not sure what Rory Hutchinson has to do to get a spot in the squad , Matt Scott playing regularly for Leicester and has never let Scotland down, Adam Hastings can also cover centre … I do wish they would explain reasoning for omissions are some just don’t make sense…..
    George Horne over Vellacott / White for me as well, brings something different…

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    • What’s wrong with bennet, has been great last few games he has played. George Horne?!? All he brings are rash ‘do it all yersel n grab the glory’ decisions that almost always result in turnovers. Has been very poor for about two seasons now

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  6. Opinion is split on the success or otherwise of Kinghorn at 10 for Edinburgh (I am very much on the sceptical yet hopeful side of that debate at the moment).

    But surely nobody believes he is ready to play 10 in a 6Ns match? He has plenty of good moments but he has yet to show that he is capable of controlling a URC game never mind an international championship match.

    For me, he should be well behind Hastings and Thomson in the Scotland pecking order at present.

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  7. Good to see Townsend picking on form on the whole which is definitely the way forward. However, We look very light at prop again. I’d personally start WP and try and get 50/55 mins out of him. He doesn’t offer much around the park but is still one of the top scrummaging THs in Europe for me. Kebble seems to have regressed badly at warriors, used to be a very aggressive scrummaging losehead but his form has dropped off a cliff. Sebastian can’t get much game time for a poor scarlets side which means we need to keep our fingers crossed WP and Z stay fit.

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  8. Some expected surprises and some surprising surprises, so to speak, in both the inclusions and the omissions. We should expect that. So no surprises, then.
    Sorry to see some classy regulars missing. Is that it for Sean Maitland now? Don’t think he’s been considered since the Paris selection fiasco.

  9. Interesting squad selections with some surprises as others have said.. Agree we look short at Prop and No 10 especially the latter and having seen Hastings on the box for Gloucester not sure why he is omitted. However I also think we are short at lock and at Full Back where only Kingholm has real experience and he is the cover at No 10. On the lock front I wonder why Craig and Henderson aren’t in the mix. Pleased that Vellacott and the other uncapped players are still ncluded and that Hutchinson, Bradbury and Redpath are back.

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    • Craig and Henderson are both injured or on the comeback from injury. I’ve yet to see either listed in a match day squad yet this season

      • Hastings omission funny, he covers 10 15 very well. Nothing wrong with Russell’s kicking but if he goes off for any reason…………
        I see Redpath started at 10 for Bath last week.

    • We are very short at Lock. We’ve dodged that bullet for some time. But recently saw the impact it can have when both Gray and Cummings were out injured.

      Dropping Sykes when he’s only just started to bed in at test level seems imprudent. As does the continued lack of game time for the likes of Hunter-Hill.

      We are building depth in lots of areas. So much so we don’t know who our best combinations are.

      But at TH, and at Lock, we don’t have enough proven depth to compete with the bigger teams. If we’re in a competition and lose Zander, Jonny Gray, and/or Scott Cummings, we will be in trouble.

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  10. Also surprised at Hastings as Ive seen him a few times at Gloucester and looks good. Didn’t even realise that Christie was Scottish but glad to have him as he plays a fair bit for Sarries which means he must be good. Didn’t think Ben White was also a contender but shows some depth at scrum half. Whilst we have a lot of centres i have no idea what the best combination is and thats without Matt Scott. The one area we are not so hot is at prop. I don’t quite get how Bhatti is now ahead of Kebble at Glasgow and at tight head WP must be on his last legs. Sebastian is surely no more than a journeyman and the fact he about 3rd choice at Scarlets is worrying.

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    • anyone watching Glasgow can see why Bhatti is ahead of Kebble. Miles ahead at the moment. Kebble being moved from Loose head to tight head and back again hasn’t done him any favours. Much like it ruined McCallum when at Edinburgh

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  11. Generally pleased with the squad, but I worry about the lack of a quality place kicker. Russell is OK on his day but has too many off days for me. Kinghorn, despite showing terrific form for Edinburgh,couldn’t hit a barn door much of the time. Ross Thompson, I agree, isn’t yet the playmaker some claim but he doesn’t miss many and for that reason alone, I thought he might have made it.

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    • ah the old myth about Russell’s goal kicking. The issue, and there is one, isn’t that he has lots of off days. Playing for Glasgow, he was among th top % success goal kickers in the league. THE top one season IIRC. You don’t manage that with too many off days

      Issue is since moving to France, Racing always give kicks at goal to the scrum half, Machenaud, Iribaren, even the young lad who had been playing loads until injured a few weeks back. Its a bit of a theme on France. All of which means Russell isn’t kicking regularly in high pressure games, that is the concern. That said, Racing took the ball off Machenaud last week as it was too far out. Gave it to Russell who nailed it

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      • Never in his entire career has Russell ever had the consistency from the tee that Laidlaw or Halfpenny brought. Great player but on kicking alone, he’ll never be ranked with top echelon. And that’s a fact.

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      • @shug55

        well, nice straw man. Laidlaw and Halfpenny have/had better records. Of course Laidlaw also had limited range, but from wide out was excellent. So what?
        Russell has been a top level kicker, the records show that. And that is a fact.
        And is the best available to Scotland, unless just maybe we start Thomson. Russell is well ahead of Hastings, Kinghorn, Hogg, so while we can worry lest worry on facts rather than myth. Or slate him if he misses a couple, because A N Onimous would have been better, or because he isn’t Mr Greig

  12. Astonished not to see Hastings here – Townsend has put a massive hole in his own boat and I fear he will regret it deeply. Young Adam must be spitting tacks – since throwing that match-winning pass in Paris last year he hasn’t put a foot wrong. Otherwise an exciting selection. Darge, Vellacott, Bennett and Hutchinson have rightly been rewarded for their outstanding form and I hope all four will play their part at some stage in the campaign.

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  13. Some expected surprises and some surprising surprises, so to speak, in both the inclusions and the omissions. We should expect that. So no surprises, then.
    Sorry to see some classy regulars missing. Is that it for Sean Maitland now? Don’t think he’s been considered since the Paris selection fiasco.

  14. Hastings is the biggy for me, nice to Hutchinson back in, he can sensational. No Kebble is interesting but a suppose with Nel Fagerson a a Schoeman Sutherland we are pretty well covered. Christie over Crosbie???

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    • Go to Saracens a lot and Christie is an absolute athlete and will surprise many. He has evolved to start every week – keeping Billy Vunipola or Ben Earl out the 15 should not be underappreciated

  15. Squad looks good. Really surprised to see Adam Hastings and Oli Kebble miss out. We do look light at 10. Pleased to see Rory Hutchinson included. Lots of competition in midfield.

  16. Really surprised that Hastings not been included and only Kinghorn as back-up to Russell. It’s going to be a big step up and big risk asking Kinghorn to manage a game at international level.

    Notes a small slip up in the article – Nick Haining has been named in the squad.

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    • Totally agree Hastings to me would be the better option to cover Russel&Hogg,Kinghorn far to inconsistent average at best. Pity Huw Jones fallen out of favour often our best attacking midfield player.

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      • Is there any evidence that Huw Jones is our best attacking midfield player? He couldn’t keep a spot at centre in Glasgow and also can’t get a start at Quinns – and when he does play, hardly contributes.

        He was good years ago, but is a way off starting for his own club, let alone playing for country.

        Plus no point being good in attack if you’re a revolving door in defence.

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