England A v Scotland A: Blair pieces together side from Covid-ravaged squad

Matt Scott will mark his return to the international scene by captaining the team

Mike Blair has named the Scotland A team to face England A at Welford Road in Leicester tomorrow. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Mike Blair has named the Scotland A team to face England A at Welford Road in Leicester tomorrow. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

MIKE BLAIR has pieced together a Scotland A team from his Covid-ravaged training squad to face England A in Leicester tomorrow afternoon, which includes four players in the match-day 23 – Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) starting, plus George Taylor (Edinburgh Rugby), Ben Vellacott (Wasps) and Callum Hunter-Hill (Saracens) on the bench – who were only called ups few days ago after nine members of the initial group become unavailable due to exposure or potential exposure to the virus.

Matt Scott marks his return to international rugby by captaining the side at his current club ground. He lines up alongside McDowall in the centre, while Ross Thompson is handed the No. 10 jersey after recently being named Glasgow Warriors’ Player of the Season, with Edinburgh Rugby‘s Charlie Shiel selected at scrum-half.

Damian Hoyland is named at full-back with Blair Kinghorn deployed on the wing, alongside Glasgow youngster Rufus McLean.

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Glasgow Warrior Oli Kebble is named at tighthead prop and packs down alongside uncapped duo Ewan Ashman (hooker) of Sale Sharks and Nick Auterac (loosehead prop) in the front-row.

Cameron Henderson – who also returns to his home ground – and Glasgow Warriors’ Kiran McDonald combine in an athletic second-row.

Edinburgh Rugby No. 8 Magnus Bradbury anchors a back-row that sees Glasgow Warriors’ Rory Darge and Bath’s Josh Bayliss – named vice-captain for this ‘A’ fixture – selected at openside and blindside flanker respectively. There is no genuine back-rows on the bench.

Glasgow Warriors’ stand-off Adam Hastings is the only capped player named among the replacements, alongside Adam McBurney (Ulster), Robin Hislop (Doncaster Knights), Javan Sebastian (Scarlets), Jamie Hodgson (Edinburgh), Hunter-Hill (Saracens), Vellacott (Wasps) and Taylor (Edinburgh).

“We’ve clearly had a bit of disruption this week, but the medical team and our playing squad have handled the situation extremely professionally,” said interim head coach Blair.

“It is unfortunately a reminder of the world we’re currently living in and the players are now isolating as per Scottish Government guidelines.

“Despite this, we’ve still had a really good training week, with this young and talented squad maintaining the high standards and levels of enthusiasm that we expect while in Scotland camp.

“As we’ve said all week, we’re treating this ‘A’ game like a Test match, and so the build-up and processes that we go through on a weekly basis have remained the same. We expect our squad to continue that intensity into game day, as this match gives every player an opportunity to prove themselves on the international stage.

“This is a relatively new group of players – especially with Stafford, Callum, Ben and George only just coming in to the squad – however they’ve already shown in a short space of time that they have the ability and attitude to make a statement with their performances.

“The players have put in the hard work and now we look forward to the challenge of taking on a strong England ‘A’ side this Sunday.”


Scotland A (v England A at Welford Road, Leicester, Sunday @ 2pm):

Scotland A: D Hoyland; R McLean, M Scott, S McDowall, B Kinghorn; R Thompson, C Shiel; N Auterac, E Ashman, O Kebble, C Henderson, K McDonald, J Bayliss, R Darge, M Bradbury. Substitutes: A McBurney, R Hislop, J Sebastian, J Hodgson, C Hunter-Hill, B Vellacott, A Hastings, G Taylor.

England A: F Steward; A  Radwan, O Lawrence, D Kelly, M Malins; J Umaga, H Randal; E Genge, C Langdon, J Heyes, H Wells, C Ewels, L Ludlow (C), B Curry, C Chick. Substitutes: J Blamire, B Obano, T Davison, T Hill, L  Ludlam, D Robson, C Furbank, J Cokanasiga.

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About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.


  1. Good to officially capture Auterac, Ashman, Henderson, Bayliss, Hislop, McBurney and Sebastian to increase our player pool :).

  2. Looks as if England will win since (apparently) England are fielding both teams !
    Pity about the Covid disruption which must have made Blair’s selection task more complicated. Pleased that the match is on Channel Four tomorrow.

    • In what world is England supplying both teams? Fourteen of our 23 were born in Scotland. Of the others, Henderson was born in Hong Kong to a Scottish father. McLean was born in the USA to a Scottish father. Ashman was born in Canada to a Scottish father. Sebastian was born in Wales, his father being born in Edinburgh. McBurney was born in Ireland, with a Scottish granny. Kebble was born in South Africa and qualifies under residency rules. Of the three who actually were born in England, Vellacott has a Scottish mother, while Bayliss and Auterac both have Scottish grannies. Therefore all three are of the blood.

    • Excellent point David!

      Clearly your critics have lost the ability to read what is before them (at least until Mr Barnes corrects the misprint in the team lists!) or they are dullards, lacking any sense of humour…

  3. Even despite Covid call-offs, a very interesting mix with some real standouts who will be vying for first team honours before long. Of those I would include Cameron Henderson, who at 21 already looks like the real deal in Leicester colours; Euan Ashman, first team hooker in waiting for when Brown and co reach their terminus; the immensely promising Rory Darge – another Hamish in the making, right down to his Rab C headband; and of course Ross Thompson, that metronome goal-kicker with an accuracy off the tee of over 90%. How far that boy has come in a short space of time. Would like to have seen Hastings starting at 15, especially if the rumours are true that he will convert there when he moves south, or failing that Blair Kinghorn. The Hoyland pick doesn’t make much sense to me given those other options. Josh Bayliss is a welcome steal from the English and runs with a pace that is rare, even for a back row forward. Good to see Marcus Bradbury back and playing at eight. A great opportunity for him to return to the big time reckoning in one of those rare positions where Scotland is not over-blessed with options. He brings great size and strength to the anchor role – and boy can he shift for a big lad. This is a canny selection all round, with few inclusions that do not have strategic significance for the future. Well done Mike Blair for sewing together such a convincing patchwork in challenging circumstances. Go Scotland!


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