England cap Ruaridh McConnochie surprise call-up to Scotland’s Six Nations training squad

Ben Healy, Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson the other uncapped players selected by head coach Gregor Townsend

Ruaridh McConnochie has been named in Scotland's Six Nations training squad. Image: © Craig Watson -www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ruaridh McConnochie has been named in Scotland's Six Nations training squad. Image: © Craig Watson -www.craigwatson.co.uk

RUARIDH MCCONNOCHIE, who was capped twice by England in 201i9, has been named in Scotland’s Six Nations training squad. The 31-year-old winger who plays club rugby for Bath qualifies to wear the thistle through World Rugby’s controversial new eligibility law which allows a player to switch allegiance if they complete a three-year stand-down period and have a close and credible link to the country they have moved to via birthright.

“My mum and dad are both Scottish through and through,” said McConnochie in a 2016 newspaper interview, soon after he committed to playing sevens for England. “‘They’ve had a good joke about it all. They’ve not disowned me yet.”

Ben Healy, the Edinburgh-bound Munster stand-off, has also been named in the 40-strong group. He previously represented Ireland at under-20s level but qualifies for Scotland through his maternal grandparents.


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Second-row Cameron Henderson, who joined Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2020-21 season having previously been a part of both the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy, is also in the squad. He was selected for the ultimately cancelled 2021 summer squad for matches with England A, Romania and Georgia.

The fourth uncapped played is Stafford McDowall, the centre whohas been in dine form for Glasgow Warriors this season and recently captained the club for their away win against Perpignan in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Meanwhile, there is a return for the experienced players such as Saracens’ Sean Maitland, who has 15 tries from his 53 caps, and centre Huw Jones, who re-joined Glasgow Warriors ahead of the current season and will hope to add to his 31 Scotland appearances, and 12 tries.

Scotland squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations

Forwards:

  • Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 6 caps
  • Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 3 caps
  • Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
  • Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
  • Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
  • Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps
  • Andy Christie (Saracens) 4 caps
  • Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
  • Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
  • Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
  • Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 54 caps
  • Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 59 caps
  • Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
  • Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
  • Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped
  • WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
  • Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 36 caps
  • Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
  • Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) 3 caps
  • Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
  • Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 22 caps
  • George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 29 caps
  • Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 54 caps

Backs

  • Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps
  • Ben Healy (Munster Rugby) uncapped
  • Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps
  • George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
  • Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
  • Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
  • Sean Maitland (Saracens) 53 caps
  • Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby) uncapped by Scotland, 2 caps for England
  • Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
  • Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 58 caps
  • Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 4 caps
  • Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
  • Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
  • Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
  • Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
  • Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

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About David Barnes 3182 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.

64 Comments

  1. Turns out McLean is suspended by Glasgow and has a disciplinary meeting on Thursday to decide his future after pleading guilty to abusive behaviour towards his partner over two years. Seems unlikely we’ll see him in a Scotland shirt anytime soon, if ever again

  2. Just seen that Daly’s red card has been overturned….. World Rugby need to get a grip on consistency if they want to be taken seriously in improving the game. It just begs questions re bias and abuse of the system which of course would never happen?

  3. Wouldn’t it be bittersweet if we finally won the title this year and as a result had to suffer through another 4 years of Townsends rule. Unlikely though I suspect – 4th place finish and dismal world cup to follow far more probable.

    However in fairness this is about as strong a squad as we had available, which is a good start.

    Given the lack of depth in Scotland it’s a real shame Fin Smith has chosen the red rose but good luck to him. Suspect his decision was known a month ago and played a part in Healy’s recruitment. We shall just have to wait and see which one of them becomes the better out half long term. I assume Tom Roebuck and Zach Mercer will also have been on Townsend’s radar but given neither are named I suspect that they told him to shove it in favour of potential world cup place with England.

    Annoyingly we haven’t had too much luck persuading eng/sco dual qualified talent to commit our way since Redpath. Rodd, Arundell and Dingwall have been used sparingly by England so far but would have been very useful additions for us.

    • Zach Mercer isn’t qualified for Scotland, he’s capped by England and has his Scottish qualification was based in residency he couldn’t switch to Scotland even if he wanted to.

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    • Agree – I really like Vellacott but he always seems to get overlooked by GT. I don’t have anything against White (decent player) but I just don’t think he’s that much (or at all) better than Vellacott – who had a superb game at the weekend. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter much as pedestrian Price will start, White might get 5 minutes off the bench and the form Scottish 9 (Horne) won’t even get onto the subs list. 🙁

      • The main thing Townsend wants from his 9 is good box kicks, and organisation of the pack. I think Horne/Vellacott dont fit his boring game plan.

  4. Agreed McConnachie is a strange choice even if he’d never played for England. If he was mid 20’s perhaps, but at 31?? But with Maitland, Steyn, Kinghorn, Smith once GT trims the squad before the first game he’ll be first on the bus home. Rest of the squad makes sense given the injuries. Just think D’Arcy Rae worth another look ahead of Sebastian. I don’t subscribe to the predictions of the profits of doom. I have a sneaking feeling that we’ll go well. With a well selected 15(23) I think we have the ability on our day to give somebody a proper thumping. If that happens early in the tournament (England?) the confidence will flow and maybe we can look forward to the World Cup with a bit less trepidation. At least, regardless of our opinion of GT, Dodson etc, let’s back the players. They’re entitled to a bit of support. The SRU’s failings are not their doing. I look forward to this year with (cautious) optimism.

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  5. Why 31 year old instead of McLean who is a lot younger and I would venture a lot faster.
    A much better bet for the future,

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    • I reckon McLean is a better player also from what we have seen in the past, just struggling to get past the captain on one wing and the arguably form winger of the URC now Darcy is injured in Cancelliere.

    • McLean’s form has been pretty poor this year no? Can’t get in the Glasgow side, so can’t expect a call up to Scotland squad.

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      • Why? Healy was a third choice player at his club and is parachuted straight into the squad….if there’s one thing that’s infuriatingly consistent about the Scotland squad it’s how inconsistent selection criteria can be. Centres play brilliantly get overlooked while some always get picked no matter how badly they play….wingers score a hat trick…. dropped from entire squad. Hooker that can’t throw and props who can’t scrummage are locked into squad. Scrum halves that keep ruck speed under three seconds and have slick service overlooked for guys who either leave the ball in the ruck / maul to be turned over or aimlessly kick ball away. This isn’t a GT issue either previous coaches have done the same. Cotter was the only person who didn’t rate Barclay or Kelly Brown.

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  6. McConnachie such a poor selection for so many reasons. If a player has been capped at full level for another country they should not be able to switch allegiance for any reason. I don’t care if it’s permissible and that other countries will take advantage of this ruling, it’s simply wrong and does nothing to promote opportunities for home grown players. He is 31 years old , what again does this selection say to our home grown and developed players? This is a selection by a coach who no longer cares about development of players , this is a selection purely based on winning a game at all costs and preserving a coaching win percentage. As he has been selected in this way I would fully expect him to start otherwise there is absolutely no point in picking him in the first place – it clearly is not for development.. I for one cannot support a selection like this , I would rather see us blood Scottish youngsters , desperate to wear the jersey and lose rather than go along with this sham
    Townsend’s treatment of some players is truly awful , quite how he can continue to ignore Hutchison and Dingwall is baffling , at the very least they deserve to be involved in the squad. The Toonie tombola certainly does appear to exist…

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    • Dingwall has had many approaches and turned them down. But he hasn’t been capped yet. Hutchison blows hot and cold (I say that as a big admirer of him), but which of the centres selected would you leave out for him? Remembering Bennett and Johnson also omitted

  7. With 11 players with more than 50 caps, and 10 British & Irish Lions in the squad, has there ever been a more experienced squad named for a 6 nations?

    • How many with experience of winning URC, European Cup, 6N, grand slam, triple crown ??? Picking the same guys who are used to losing isn’t what the Irish would be doing. From a young age the Irish players have to scrap and battle for a jersey so by the time they hit seniors they have a winning mentality. Compare what theyve done in last twenty years to us and it’s night and day. One nation prioritises youth development and throws resources at it giving a fiercely competitive battle for the national jersey & silverware and the other throws it’s resources at other nations rejects who are happy with mediocrity and finishing in bottom 2 of 6n.

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      • the Irish adopted pro rugby right away, basing their teams on existing provinces. We spent a decade with arguments about whether it should be pro franchises or existing clubs (there was never the talent or finance to run 10 or 12 professional teams)
        We fell behind, in debt as blazers galavanted, and have been playing catch up ever since

  8. Simply don’t see the point in selecting McConnachie…… What message does that give to our committed home based youngsters such as Rufus McLean – surely it’s not just about size, ‘cos wee Darcy would have something to say about that.

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  9. Is Mark Bennett injured?
    Surely to god McDowall is not in there ahead of him in the centres if he isnt…that would be an abomination of a selection call

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      • Not injured. Toony said that this is “the strongest we’ve been at Centre. Johnson and Bennett are fit, but not able to make the squad”.

        I also don’t understand Toony’s reluctance re Bennett, as well as McDowall is playing – Bennett is better and has been better over a much longer period of time.

    • I bow to nobody in my admiration for Mark Bennett – he’d be my 13. However, in comparing STafford McDowall to him, you are overlooking the fact, Staff is primarily a 12, Marko is a 13, The way we are set up, two different skill sets required.

    • McDowell is unlikely to feature, like Henderson. Both are there for experience

      Anyway Bennett is an out and out outside centre, McDowell despite filling in at 13 for Warriors last match really a 12

  10. It would be remiss of me not to comment upon the permitted inclusion of Owen Farrell in the England squad. In the past, we have seen “convenient” interpretations by the disciplinary panel benefitting the “big hitters” (no pun intended) in the major nations’ squads. Scotland doesn’t seem to have had many of such beneficial interpretations and I believe that Jonny Gray was a fairly recent victim of stricter judgements when his disciplinary record was good. I don’t think that he had “previous” like some, but he did not benefit.
    My major point is that the disciplinary panels need to apply fair and consistent treatment to players of large and small nations.

    Farrell’s sentence was the equivalent of Hannibal Lecter being allowed to continue as normal provided he first took a cookery course in vegetarianism.

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    • It was particularly stupid of the disciplinary panel not to rule in a manner that either made it clear he could play, or clear he could not.

    • The RFU have long been an embarrassment to rugby. The fact that the man who orchestrated seven seasons of cheating at Saracens has never been charged with any offence and is still deemed a fit and proper person to be involved with rugby says it all.

  11. What’s going on here……I’m not furious and asking for Townsend to be sacked???????
    McConnochie is a surprise but no very much choice and he’s an experienced big laddie, I don’t know much about him.

    • I also don’t understand how commenters cannot understand that he’s probably British, ie delighted to play for either England or Scotland … ??

      Hope we don’t have so many injuries that he gets a shot, but if he does, good luck to him.

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  12. I appreciate all the interest in the backs (and I agree it’s such a shame Hutchison, Bennett and Johnson can’t all be in) but it’s the prop situation that could be a serious problem.
    Borthwick’s England is unlikely to miss that kind of vulnerability. I hope our prep is spot on because winning at a packed Twickenham if the pack is being driven back at a rate of knots is going to be a big ask, no matter how good our backline (be back row) undoubtedly are.
    Big season for Ritchie to really assert himself as a Captain too.

  13. On a matter of principle I wouldn’t select McConnochie but there again my principles are those of the amateur days. The only ‘slack’ you could cut him is the possible fact that he made a ‘professional’ decision, that said as others have commented at 31 years why? Surely there must be an emerging talent out there that could benefit from being in the squad.

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    • If you look back into amateur Scotland International squads you will see a number of examples of players representing more than one nation like this. It happened from the very start of International rugby and has always been something Scotland rugby teams have benefitted from. You could argue that professional rugby is the era where there has been less movement.

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      • Well Stevo McH I plead ignorance to the knowledge that you appear to have, so perhaps you would be good enough to quote examples.

      • George, off the top of my head…….
        Steve Bachop, Inga the winger (Tuigamala), Pat Lam (just about), nearer to home John Allan (Tommy’s father)
        There are loads more down the decades

      • been fewer players playing for 2 nations in the pro era because WR rules were changed to prevent it. In amateur days don’t think there was much of any restriction. Only happening now because of the recent change.
        Intended to help Pacific Islanders of course but like most things WR do it has perhaps unintended consequences, which we are taking advantage of

    • Well said George. Unfortunately in the professional era the national team is almost a mercenary foreign legion, disguising the failures of the SRU to develop the game in Scotland.

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    • I have always said you should play for your country and not someone else’s. Every individual knows which is his/her country even if they have allegiances to others.

  14. Where does Healy sit in the Munster never mind Ireland pecking order? I know with both Hastings and Thompson injured we are desperate but.. Also will Fagerson be fit? With Nel as the only quality back up this seems to be one of our weakest positions. Also, when is Darcy likely to be back? Intime for the final 6N games? Great to see Maitland back

  15. Don’t think anyone saw McConnachie being picked – no mention in the preview article. Not sure of the point – he’s hardly a superstar for Bath. With Maitland returning were not exactly rich with wingers in Darcys absence. There will be the usual debate over which of our many centres have been picked but you cant have them all and Jones and Tuipuloto look the form players.

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  16. No real surprises bar McConnochie, who it would be wrong to say is uncapped. He has two, both for England, plus a career as an England Sevens player. It doesn’t sit right with me and at 31 he has no future in the Scotland set-up. Why on Earth bring him in, for both Steyn and Maitland cover the interim gap. Another Toony development opportunity? Cameron Henderson became a Leicester regular at a very early age but appears to have lost favour at the club of late. Hopefully his career will re-ignite and this inclusion will give him encouragement. Dingwall is out in the cold with both England and Scotland. Must surely be rueing his decision to nail his colours to the English mast prematurely by declaring himself no longer wishing to be considered for the dark blue. He must be just about the best British three-quarter not to be in anyone’s squad, except of course for his team mate Hutchinson.

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  17. First the problems I have not seen Hogg play for Exeter for some time due to injury and is Zander fit yet?, never even noticed McConnochie as an option, who he. Glad Maitland is back ,I assume as Darcy is not fit, hence he is back, but he is playing well for Saracens. I see other posters are unhappy over Hutchinson , but he is not a starting regular with Northampton so given our depth of center talent perhaps understandable. Well warranted return for both Gray bros. Just wondering where he is going to put Kinghorn at 10, 15 or on the wing or as a versatile utility player. That said that’s about what I expected for the 6N.

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    • Hutchinson is VERY much the regular starting centre for Northampton? He’s been in great form for over a year. Or have I missed some injury / rotation last couple of weeks that you’re referring to?

  18. I hope to see form decide the starting XV, with Richie Gray and Skinner in the second row and Horne starting at 9. I’m not familiar with Healy, but he sounds solid enough to be cover for Russell, which Kinghorn isn’t. It’s a pity Graham isn’t fit, as he was immense before his injury, but Maitland’s not a bad replacement.

    I hope Watson’s fit, as he wasn’t having the impact he used to for a while, but presume it’ll be Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson at the back of the scrum. The biggest conundrum is who plays at centre and my choice would be Tuipulotu and Jones, but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s neither.

    It’s a good squad and, as ever, there’s hope.

  19. That’s a bit less uneventful than usual!! Good squad, with a few notable injury omissions. Rory Hutchinson will no doubt be counting down the days to a new coach.

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    • Too many centres in excellent form so no way Hutchison was going to make it (with Bennett and San Johnson also missing out).They can’t all be picked!

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  20. Why are we calling up a 31-year old washed up winger who would rather play for England than the country of his birth? Terrible message to homegrown players desperate for the jersey. There is videos on youtube of this guy celebrating in Scottish players faces after beating them in the sevens years back.

    Apart from that reasonably happy with the squad. Good to see Fagerson included.

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    • McConnachie has been injured rather than washed up.
      His country of birth is England (parents are Scots)
      He celebrated when he won. Whatever next.
      He accepted caps from England when offered. He should have turned them down?
      He has now accepted a call up from us. I don’t see the problem. We have a few injured wings) Graham, Duhan, Rowe so we look at extra depth in case we get more.

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      • Thanks for the information on Pat Lam et al, that was thoughtful. I may have heard something about some of the Antipodean players swapping the Jersey but obviously it went in one ear and out the other. However regardless of that as I said it isn’t something that sits easy, but at least in both cases they have familial connections.
        As you mentioned WR not for the first time have introduced changes without the thought of the unintended, if they had precluded swaps in Tier 1 Nations the result they attempted to get would have been achieved, now it will just be a free for all.

    • McConnachie is English-born – in Lambeth. His Scottish qualification is through both his Scottish-born parents.

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