UPDATED: France v Scotland: Sean Maitland and Jonny Gray miss out on Paris trip

Seven of the nine players who have been dropped from the squad play for English clubs

Sean Maitland will not be in the Scotland team which takes on France in Paris this Friday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Sean Maitland will not be in the Scotland team which takes on France in Paris this Friday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SEAN MAITLAND has dropped out of the Scotland squad which is preparing for their final match of this year’s Six Nations against France in Paris on Friday night.

It is understood that the one-off agreement between PRL (the umbrella group which represents the top clubs in England) and Six Nations provides for only a limited number of English-based players to be released for this match, which is being played outside the international window.

Head coach Gregor Townsend appears to have taken the view that he has sufficient back-three coverage to live without Maitland this week, with captain Stuart Hogg, centre Chris Harris, scrum-half Scott Steele, and second-rows Sam Skinner and Alex Craig the five English-based players retained in the squad.

Jamie Bhatti of Bath appears to be in the same boat as Maitland, having been left off the updated squad list which was published at noon today having been a replacement the last two weekends.

Jonny Gray has also dropped out of the squad because he hasn’t recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out of Saturday’s victory over Italy.


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The other English-based players to drop out are Sale Sharks hooker Ewan Ashman, Worcester Warriors back-row Cornell du Preez, Harlequins utility-back James Lang, and Saracens centre Duncan Taylor.

The availability of all of these players, plus those English-based players who have been retained in the squad, was up in the air until an eleventh-hour compensation deal for player release was finally brokered on Saturday night.

Saracens were part of that negotiated agreement as shareholders in PRL, despite their relegation from the Premiership last season as a consequence of salary cap breaches.

Edinburgh duo Ally Miller and Damien Hoyland are also not involved this week.

Meanwhile, Adam Hastings, who made his comeback from suspension for Warriors on Sunday, gets an instant recall to the squad.

Grant Stewart of Glasgow Warriors comes in as third hooker in the squad. Fraser Brown, who played his first game after 15 weeks out with a neck injury in Warriors’ defeat to Dragons on Sunday, has not been called up.

Winger Rufus McLean, who scored a wonder try for Warriors on Sunday, is in the squad, having been called up during the build-up to last week’s game.

FORWARDS (16)

  • Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 29 caps
  • David Cherry (Edinburgh) – 3 caps
  • Alex Craig (Gloucester) – 1 cap
  • Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
  • Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 37 caps
  • Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 43 caps
  • Nick Haining (Edinburgh) – 6 caps
  • Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 22 caps
  • Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
  • Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
  • Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
  • Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 11 caps
  • Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
  • Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 14 caps
  • George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps
  • Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 39 caps

BACKS (13)

  • Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
  • Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 17 caps
  • Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 26 caps
  • Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 22 caps
  • Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN – 83 caps
  • Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
  • Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
  • Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
  • Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – 8 caps
  • Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 40 caps
  • Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 54 caps
  • Scott Steele (Harlequins) – 4 caps
  • Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh) – 2 caps

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About David Barnes 2993 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.

40 Comments

  1. What next, Rugby?
    I hope to watch an excellent game from both sides on friday, can’t wait!

  2. it stinks and we’ve been stiffed by the 6N.
    The 6N are paying the compensation I believe, not the SRU. And they would only pay enough for 5 players. Hence we are left to decide which 5.
    Hogg obviously, we need Skinner and Craig as pretty much everyone else is injured. Kebble fit so Bhatti not called in, we have cover for the back 3 although Maitland has been as ever superb

    The blame for this fiasco sits squarely with France and breaking covid protocols (and pretending not to), and with the 6N who decided not to have a default 28-0 if a game called off because of covid, and who now decide how many players Scotland can get released.

    If we do not fulfil this fixture now, we know what the outcome would be. Suddenly provision for a 28-0 is found in the rules, and we get fined. This is why blazers should not be allowed not run rugby

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    • Could I suggest that the fault lies not with the ‘Blazers’ but more with the ‘Suits’ it is all about money and I don’t think the reference to Blazers fits the bill anymore, in any event I am not certain some of the ‘Blazers’ wouldn’t make a better job in some areas.

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      • our Blazers are why Scotland lagged Ireland since the start of professional rugby. Amateurs who were only interested in their free bar, free trips, free tickets and nearly bankrupted the SRU. But that was ok, its was their’s to bankrupt!

        We have been playing catch up while saddled with their debt. And the Blazers staged a second coup when it looked like Scotland might get a few things right, ie started to fill Murrayfield; and that coup was all about Blazer’s freebies and expenses being cut.
        Try a touch of reality George

  3. Stiffed: again, and as has been observed there doesn’t seem to have been much influence available from the usual suspect.

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    • Regardless of anything else its the restriction, why should we have the restriction whether or not it affects the selection, no wonder we get ‘chippy’ at times.

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  4. What, we wonder, might the SRU chairman be doing through his multifarious high-level positions and connections to level the playing field for Scotland?

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    • now that is a fair question. My guess is he is sorting it out the same way he sorted the laws out for World Rugby when chairing that committee. Fills me with confidence. Not

  5. You have to question why 5? Was PRL wanting $xxx per player and as a result did the SRU settle on a total of 5? Surely at $xxx per player the PRL would want Scotland to take as many as possible… Could that be why the SRU is so quiet?

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    • pay per player. Same deal they have with the RFU
      Believe 6N were paying, not us.

      Of course it should be France paying

  6. It is ridiculous Scotland are only allowed 5 English based players to be released in the deal made by 6 Nations and PRL.
    Why should Scotland be penalised for a French covid breach. Definitely favouring the bigger nation as usual.
    The SRU need to be open about this decision and make a formal complaint. The SRU seems to be very quiet.

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    • The SRU is quiet and maybe for the better after the world cup complaint fiasco in Japan!

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  7. This is scandalous. Why are we paying for the players release in the first place? This should be paid for by the french.

    I’d be strongly minded to boycott the game, we’ve been punished because the french were incapable/unwilling to follow their own protocol

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    • Boycott the game as you wish, but Scotland / SRU probably aren’t paying anything. More likely that 6N have agreed a player-release deal with PRL to facilitate conclusion of the tournament.

  8. The players release from english clubs…
    Money is the engine in the pro game unfortunately, it shows the unfortunate state of scottish rugby, with only 2 pro sides, there celtic cousins have four.
    That has been a huge problem from the start of professionnalism.

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  9. Maitland has had to be sacrificed here as there was a cap on the English based players released. Due to the issues at lock Alex Craig and to be included. There is ample front row cover and back 3 cover. Unfortunate, but a decision had to be made which best provided for the team. Not quite what Toony was expecting from the release negotiations so, yes, we still seem to have come.of worst from the France debacle.

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    • Were the Scottish players not released to the English clubs the week the French game was cancelled? So they have had them for an extra game already

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  10. What’s going on? To leave him out altogether is just bizarre. He’s been one of our most reliable and successful players for years and has got his pace and confidence right back. We are definitely a weaker and more vulnerable team without him.
    I mean we have an unprecedented, albeit slim, chance to finish second in the 6N. I smell a rat.

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  11. Alissa or Reid in times says the PRL deal capped the quota of English players at 5 so Maitland missed out as did Bhatti.

    Which really is outrageous that we’re still getting punished for Frances misdemeanour.

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  12. Do we know what the negotiated settlement with the English clubs was? That squad looks a lot like we’re paying per England-based player.

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  13. If not an injury Maitland’s omission is a concern. He is one of the quality players in the Scotland team. Moved to 15 to allow Hogg to have his day at 10. The decision is then to replace Hogg at 10 but he will not be replaced so Maitland is removed having played well out of his normal position? On these assumptions, it is Toony messing about again! Hogg was not as effective at 10 and therefore it was a bad mistake by Toony!
    For me, the jury is still out on Toony. The improvements I feel have come about by replacing some of the coaching staff. Maybe another change would have made a bigger difference?

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  14. Suppose one explanation for Maitland being out is that GT is going for a 9/10+centre on the bench for Friday.

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  15. Is Jaco van der Valt not on 2 caps now? Easy one to remember but makes me question if any other the other caps are wrong.

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  16. Baffled by the Maitland exclusion I think he is one of our most consistent players. I’m equally baffled after the line-out fiascos, as to why Brown has not been called up.

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    • Im starting to be convinced the line-out is a coaching or jumpers issue as opposed to the hooker.

      Mcinally, Brown and Turner have all been regularly been questioned about their throwing, Cherry has not yet but he has only played an Italy side which did not really compete plus two different locks.

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  17. Maitland drop is very bizarre…
    It would be a real shame if there is something more (after his face expression when left the pitch last saturday).
    It will be a real challenge, i hope Scotland can show if they are a good side, all the best

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  18. Surely either Maitland is injured or agreement wasn’t reached with non-Premiership Saracens to release him. He is far too good a player to be omitted for form or tactical reasons.

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  19. I am a bit baffled by Maitland’s exclusion. Along with Hogg, Darcy, Jones, Cherry, Watson & VDM he has been in top form. He didn’t look injured and for my money I would have him in that back row all day long.

    If its an injury fair enough. But is this another “Toony tombola” moment of madness? I hope not.

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    • Seems strange to me as well like most I thought he put in a good shift, perhaps it was his questioning look as he was pulled that has caused a ‘stress fracture’: if you get my drift.

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  20. I’m assuming the deal with PLR as it doesn’t include Saracens probably has something to do with it.

    Re Jaco van der Walt, I think he has 2 caps now. One against Ireland in November and now his second on Sunday as a replacement against Italy.

  21. If it’s not an injury then Maitlands exclusion is very strange as hes been one of Scotlands better players in the comp. Bhatti did well in the past 2 games so I think he can feel hard done by too.

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