DARCY GRAHAM will miss at least the first two rounds of the 2024 Six Nations with a quad injury he picked up playing for Edinburgh against Gloucester two weekends ago.
Scotland and Team GB 7s star Ross McCann has replaced the winger in national head coach Gregor Townsend‘s 39 strong training squad for the championship. The 26-year-old started on the right wing for Edinburgh in their victories against Dragons and the Lions earlier this season.
Meanwhile, Finn Russell and Rory Darge have been named co-captains of the Six Nations squad, replacing Jamie Ritchie, who led the team throughout the 2022-23 season and at the recent Rugby World Cup in France.
Both Russell and Darge have captained Scotland already during the last year, with Darge leading Scotland to victory over Italy in the summer and Russell taking on the mantle against France at Murrayfield the following week.
Darge made his debut for Scotland in 2022 against Wales and has gone on to make 15 appearances for his country. He has been out of action since the end of December with a knee injury with Townsend stating last Tuesday that: “Friday will be the three-week mark from his injury and there will be a series of tests which get conducted then. So, we’ll have a clearer picture this weekend on whether he is a chance for the opening weekend, or the opening two weekends. Let’s hope that is the case.” No medical update has been issued since then.
Russell made his debut 10 years ago and has since established himself as one of the top rated players in world rugby, although he has endured a choppy relationship with Townsend at times, most notably with a bust-up which led to the playmaker missing the pre-Covid section of the 2020 Six Nations.
Townsend also dropped Russell for the final game of the 2o21 Six Nations after he was one of six senior players to apparently break team protocols by going for a drink at Edinburgh bar following the team’s victory over Italy a week earlier.
He then left Russell out of his initial squad for the 2022 Six Nations – citing the player’s form at club level with Racing 92 as an improbable excuse – before recalling the stand-off for the third of four matches against New Zealand, with the Russell delivering a maestro performance in an agonising loss to the All Blacks.
“Appointing co-captains for this year’s Guinness Six Nations allows us to further grow and develop the leadership within the squad,” said Townsend.
“Rory and Finn captained Scotland last summer and bring different strengths and styles of leadership to the table.
“Both are highly respected within our squad and have been part of our leadership group for some time. I’m sure they will thrive with this responsibility and lean on our other leaders to drive certain aspects of our preparation, mindset and performance.
“Jamie has done an excellent job as our captain since October 2022 and he will continue to be one of the key leaders in our group. He now has the opportunity to focus more on his game and deliver his best rugby over the next few weeks.”
Darge said: “I enjoyed captaining the team last summer and immediately felt proud when Gregor told me the news.
“To co-captain your country is a tremendous honour and to do it alongside a guy like Finn who is respected across the game and such a talented player will be great for me.
“Everyone in our leadership group plays a vital role and we all have strengths that will take the team forward.
“This year’s Guinness Six Nations represents a chance for us to continue to progress as a group and everyone is looking forward to that first game against Wales”
Russell: “Playing for Scotland is a huge honour and to co-captain the side is a privilege and something I am proud of.
“We have such a talented squad and to lead them alongside Rory represents a massive opportunity. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s championship.
“Rory has been a key player for us since he made his debut and leads by example during matches and in training. We’ll both have different leadership styles which will complement each other and ultimately benefit the team as we go into the tournament.”