Darcy Graham to miss start of Six Nations as Finn Russell and Rory Darge named Scotland co-captains

Sevens star Ross McCann called into squad as cover

Darcy Graham will miss the first two rounds of the Six Nations with a quad injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Darcy Graham will miss the first two rounds of the Six Nations with a quad injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

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.


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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.”


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About David Barnes 3821 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.

42 Comments

  1. Not sure why everyone is hyperventilating about the co captain issue.
    Wasn’t it thus back in the day when there was a captain and leader of the pack?
    Seem virtually the same here…

  2. Good luck to both co- captains. Sure we can all agree much better than when we had Mr Hogg who on and off the field was not fit to be a captain.

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  3. Interesting watching Bath v Toulouse at the weekend, FR, BR and BK all involved.

    FR looked pretty good, Bath use alternative kickers depending on range and side …

    BK did nothing wrong ! Made a couple of useful catches and runs …

    BR came on late and looked ok

    • What I also found interesting was the work rate and abilities of Josh Bayliss…looks like a player who should be in the 23 for Scotland …at a good age, versatile, athletic and gets stuck in.

  4. For this 6 nations we will need an answer to a rush defence. South Africa and Ireland showed in the World Cup how easy it is to frustrate Scotland with their rush defence, even with Finn playing we failed to find an answer. The other teams now know to nullify us doesn’t matter which backs we pick the quality is there but the opposition know we play so flat, rush and close Finn down swiftly and we seem bereft of ideas.
    We could maul our way to some scores the Glasgow way but I imagine half the pack will consist of Edinburgh players so the technique won’t be the same.

    • Exactly Gaffer.

      IMO need Hastings at 15, another kicking /ball playing option. At world cup we were frustrated by SA and Ireland simply flooding the space around Finn. No kicking option behind Finn.
      With Hastings there playing heads up rugby and adding his ability and all round game to kick chip pass. Would keep the opposition honest

    • Realistically our best pack is probably Schoemann, Turner, Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Fagerson, Darge and Dempsey. Schoemann is an upgrade to Bhatti anyway. Problem solved!

    • Trouble is that at this level, most teams have some kind of maul defence. I would like to see us play off 9 more, a few more darts around the edge of rucks, chips over the top of the rushing defensive wall. Anything other than constantly shipping the bal to Finn who gets shut down and can’t play his magic. Keep the defence guessing a bit more and the space will develop for Finn to make best use of his talents and those outside him. Think of Laidlaw vs Argentina and that first Calcutta Cup victory with Laidlaw feeding Jones on a great inside line. And then of course THAT pass, mixing things up. So yeah, Horne to start please, keep the opposition on their toes

  5. I feel that Fin Russell would be best left to perform his magic at Number 10. Also to take place kicks. We should not shoulder him with the captaincy as well. He can still contribute to the leadership’s decisions on a one off basis.

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  6. Co-Captain is a nonsense except it gives you the opportunity to have someone from both the backs and the pack able to legitimately talk to the ref. I suspect Finn will make all the big decisions on the pitch. And he will be great with the refs – nothing like saying something with a smile. Losing Darcy is huge and after the red will we be down a lock (not one of our strongest positions)?

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    • With co-captains isn’t it normally agreed that one of them will be the captain on the field on the day as far as the ref is concerned?

  7. The McCann call makes sense, the McConachie role of unlikely to play but helping the squad practice whilst seeing what he brings to the table.

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  8. I can’t see Ritchie making the 23 at the moment…Id put Christie and Bayliss ahead of him.
    Why not just announce Russell as captain and Darge as VC…the co captain thing,imo, sounds contradictory to the point of having a captain.

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    • Christie has been absolutely immense this season. A big dynamic player who gets everywhere at pace and gives an additional lineout option. With Darge not having had any game time for a month – you simply can’t go from zero to test match – and the Mish not selected, heck knows why, I’d give the Sarries lad a spin at least for for the opener and see what he can do for us. Another reason to make Finn captain, for there ain’t no one’s going to contest his place in the team.

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  9. Don’t subscribe to the ‘co-captain’ thing. It is an oxymoron. Give it to Finn and see what happens. Right to take it off Ritchie, for he antagonises rather than influences referees and it will give him the chance to focus on his own game. With Darcy injured surely we shouldn’t be looking beyond Steyn or Rowe as his stand-in. Watched Reed play this afternoon. Not good enough to wear the jersey in my view.

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  10. co captains what a load of nonsense as a captain needs to be the recognised leader of the squad and decision maker on and off the pitch.

    Why can Gregor bloody Townsend never keep anything simple always tinkering and changing direction. No wonder the players often appear to be clueless when whatever gameplan GT has decided (and that is a mute point on its own answers on a postcard please) goes pear shaped and we crumble mentally.

    He was marmite as a player as he was shuffled about positions because we had to have such a “talent” in the team but he had many more poor performances than good for every “toony flip” there were missed tackles, poor kicks and passes which was of course because the other players were not on the same page as him. His coaching record is very similar some really bright moments followed by abject failure dispite that backing to the near financial ruin of the SRU by Dobson.

    I wonder how much the SRU which is meant to be the union, guardian and custodian of all things rugby in Scotland spent in pounds and pence on our global talent network and imported players. Kebble is one of the highest paid players at Glasgow is not deemed good enough and we have now selected ex England prop Hepburn.

    Yes we got to 5th in the world but that is a completely false picture as we are rapidly in terms of infrastructure and player numbers becoming a 2nd tier nation. The growth of the womans game has been one of the success stories and deserves more investment and support but grass roots rugby in all its other forms is in intensive care.

    Dobson and Townsend’s strategy has been success at any cost fill Murrayfield with the day out brigade who have hardly ever attended a club game, and have a seat at the top table of world rugby. At least with co-captains there will be two people for GT to blame and why on earth and call me old fashioned by why is it deemed appropriate for our head coach to announce the 6N squad in jeans and trainers. Is there no standards anymore in Scottish rugby?

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    • Couldn’t agree more and, as for your last point, he can’t even be bothered to get the cat to lick the fluff off his chin. A tie is what must be played rather than worn.

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    • How on earth in your 5th paragraph you suggest that the Women’s game is a success, when the truth of the matter is that it is elevated to a level way beyond its actual merit. It could not exist unless a disproportionate financial support from the SRU Coffers was in place. The survival of Scottish rugby is not the women’s game, it is the men’s game and the grassroots game, it is the pathway from School to Club to District to the Jersey, that is what will save the game or at least keep it afloat.
      IF there is a desire for women to play rughy, excellent, but let it develop as the men’s game has done, organically, and not because one or two other Unions that are richer than the SRU ‘buy success’ it’s as moronic in my opinion as telling everybody in the UK the only way to save the world is we all have to drive electric cars and like Lemmings head for Net Zero.

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  11. co captains what a load of nonsense as a captain needs to be the recognised leader of the squad and decision maker on and off the pitch.

    Why can Gregor bloody Townsend never keep anything simple always tinkering and changing direction. No wonder the players often appear to be clueless when whatever gameplan GT has decided (and that is a mute point on its own answers on a postcard please) goes pear shaped and we crumble mentally.

    He was marmite as a player as he was shuffled about positions because we had to have such a “talent” in the team but he had many more poor performances than good for every “toony flip” there were missed tackles, poor kicks and passes which was of course because the other players were not on the same page as him. His coaching record is very similar some really bright moments followed by abject failure dispite that backing to the near financial ruin of the SRU by Dobson.

    I wonder how much the SRU which is meant to be the union, guardian and custodian of all things rugby in Scotland spent in pounds and pence on our global talent network and imported players. Kebble is one of the highest paid players at Glasgow is not deemed good enough and we have now selected ex England prop Hepburn.

    Yes we got to 5th in the world but that is a completely false picture as we are rapidly in terms of infrastructure and player numbers becoming a 2nd tier nation. The growth of the womans game has been one of the success stories and deserves more investment and support but grass roots rugby in all its other forms is in intensive care.

    Dobson and Townsend’s strategy has been success at any cost fill Murrayfield with the day out brigade who have hardly ever attended a club game, and have a seat at the top table of world rugby. At least with co-captains there will be two people for GT to blame and why on earth and call me old fashioned by why is it deemed appropriate for our head coach to announce the 6N squad in jeans and trainers. Is there no standards anymore in Scottish rugby?

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      • It’s the system: it told me that I had been ‘to quick’ to post, perhaps that is because my spelling is so desperate that I cut and paste the comments and if as they usually are with me, over long, the ‘recipient entity’ doesn’t like it.

    • How on earth can you support the ‘growth of women’s rugby’ and say it deserves the financial support and then say the grassroots are in trouble.
      It will not be Scotland versus England women that save the financial status of the RFU, not as long as you have a …. well I suggest you make up the remainder of my thoughts yourself, no point in moderation ‘spiking’ the comment.

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      • George female rugby is a recent development and as Sun Tzu says you should always reinforce success. By supporting the female game you will help support the grassroot clubs by increasing support and interest within the communities that our rugby clubs are part of. We all know that our biggest and greatest issue is youth rugby and the lack of rugby being played within state schools.

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      • Sorry Mr Mann I just don’t see it as the priority you offer it. As ever of course, other views.

  12. Don’t understand the call to bring Ross McCann in as a replacement ?
    McCann is a 7’s specialist who has played little or no 15’s this year. The difference between 7’s and 15’s nowadays is huge particularly from tbe perspective of the increasing popularity of the “kicking game” where wingers are so important.
    No doubt McCann can play with ball in hand but surely there must have been other candidates within the 15 a side game that would have been better options ? Really left field decision for me ….
    Would bringing a quality operator like Harris back in not have been a better call , there is enough versatility in the Scotland squad to have allowed for a bit of flexibility.
    Still a bit in disbelief at Harris omission , a quality operator who has never let Scotland down and is still a quality centre.
    I am all for ruthlessness when justified but not impressed with Townsend call on the decision to omit Harris , up there with the stupidity of omitting Finn Russell last year ….
    At time it really looks like Townsend gets the dartboard out ….

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    • Harris has always been a liability in attack so yeah he’s consistently let us down. He’s 32 and nowhere near the other centre options – Jones Redpath Tuipilotu McDowell Bennett Scott Currie to name just a few are all quicker and more skillful and more dangerous. As for his supposed defensive skills we conceded more tries with him on the park than without him last season. His lack of pace is consistently exposed and at top level players are smart enough to not just run right at him. Should never have been in squad and no reason to bring him back now. Trying to compare this to omitting Finn is just laughable. World class possibly best 10 n planet v utter journeyman who was never good enough for tier 1 international rugby. Back 3 is a strength for us and I’d rather see like of Patterson n McCann being integrated (actual young Scottish players who we desperately need to blood in there) rather than an old slow non entity.

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      • I’m sorry but to say Harris is nowhere near McDowall, Bennett, Scott and Currie is nonsense. Hes a proven international and Lion, the others are good club players.

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    • Harris isn’t the future. Even if called in now he wouldn’t be and wouldn’t play. McCann won’t play either, but might be the future so we have a look at him in camp. He also has the pace to test our own lot in practice, something Harris does not.

      Who are the better options who play wing professionally?

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      • Septic 9 – There are loads of back 3 options / combinations , some of whom certainly won’t play , you have an experienced campaigner like Harris who is renowned as one of the best defensive organisers in 6 nations rugby so make use of his experience even if it is just utilising his expertise in the squad. If McCann was viewed as the “future “ he should have been playing much more 15’s rugby than he has this season , two Edinburgh games hardly suggests he has been on the national 15’s radar … like I say a big jump between 7’s and two 15’s games and the international 15’s arena…
        Harris has also always been a pretty decent impact player when he has come on and certainly deserves to be treated better than he has been , still playing very well in the Premiership.

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      • sorry GRob, I appreciate you are a Harris fan, but WHO are these loads of back 3 options? The cupboard is bare

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  13. excellent decisions

    I wanted Richie to be captain but it clearly hasn’t worked for him or Scotland, and he really isn’t guaranteed a place in the match day 23 in a very competitive back row.

    Russell looked to the manor born when he captained Scotland, while Darge is a natural leader and the future

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    • Totally agree septic+9. It looked and felt natural when Russell was leading the side for that wee stint. He has the gravitas and the charisma too to ensure we remain on the right side of referees. Ritchie I must say has looked a bit more like his old self for Edinburgh of late – i.e. a nuisance par excellence for the opposition – but he’s not quite back to his former levels as yet and this is without the burden of captaincy for his club.
      Getting the back-row balance is going to be critical: Darge is shaping up in the Hooper mould as a jackler so ideally you’d want a carrier (likely Dempsey) and a wrecking-ball type in there which, for me, would be Crosbie. The all-rounder back row style Mish, Ritchie and M Fagerson present have their place but it’s not all at once in the same team. IMO anyway 🙂 M Fagerson for me looks better at flanker.

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      • Backrow selection has been an area of weakness especially against the more powerful nations. Our lightweight combinations just dont cut it. I would like to see Christie, Crosbie and Bradbury get a run out. Clearly not gonna happen under the current coach.

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  14. No problem with Russel being named captain, he did a fine job back in the warm up game in the summer and his form didn’t suffer. He is playing well at Bath and cites one of the reasons in Spencer taking responsibility for some of the kicking duties. With Scotland we don’t have that luxury, i only hope the combined pressure of captaincy, playmaker and kicker isn’t too draining.
    Gotta feel for Ritchie though, It’s never good to have the captaincy taken away but his form did suffer as a result and he often found himself on the wron side of the ref.

      • Horne is a very accurate kicker, but as we saw (again) on Fri night, has no great range, less than Mossie did. In any case Russell has been an excellent goal kicker for Scotland, not an issue

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    • Yes fully agree – I think Finn is a fine captain, but he already has enough on his plate as our single most important player, fly-half, creator and goal-kicker. I just don’t know that giving him captaincy other than the odd occasion, is needed – is Townsend secretly trying to break him as part of their long-running cold-war!! (I’m joking, but the thought did occur). I also believe in it being a forward – I’d probably have kept Ritchie (but do agree that he hasn’t been the best with Refs so far) to see if he could grow into the role – Ritchie on form is a proper test match animal and our best victories have come with him at the fore – I don’t know how useful it is to us to “embarrass” him like this by taking it off him so soon….but it’s a borderline decision so we’ll see.

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