Franco Smith says Scotland shouldn’t rush Scott Cummings and Rory Darge back

Glasgow Warriors head coach believes players could do with a few more hit-outs at club level after lengthy injury lay-offs

Rory Darge carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors versus Zebre on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson -
Rory Darge carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors versus Zebre on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson -

FRANCO SMITH is pleased with the progress Rory Darge and Scott Cummings have made since returning to action with Glasgow Warriors after long-term injuries, but the head coach says he wouldn’t recommend rushing the pair straight back into they Scotland match-day squad for next Sunday’s Six Nations round four clash against Ireland at Murrayfield.

Darge was out for four and a half months with an ankle injury before making his Warriors comeback in last weekend’s loss away to the Lions, when he managed 55 minutes, before playing 66 minutes of his club’s 50-8 win over Zebre on Friday night.

Meanwhile, Cummings has now played three matches since recovering from a foot injury suffered in late October.

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We are still waiting for the Six Nations to deliver their verdict from Grant Gilchrist’s disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night following his red-carding against France last weekend. The hold-up appears to be related to clarifying which games will count towards whatever suspension the second-row has been given, with Scotland presumably arguing that Edinburgh’s match against Leinster this weekend is included.

At this stage, it seems highly likely that he won’t be available to play against Ireland, so Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend could be particularly tempted to parachute Cummings straight back into his match-day squad. However, with Richie and Jonny Gray, Sam Skinner and Cameron Henderson all in the selection mix, there are other options.

“I personally think that if I was in that position, I would wait a little bit,” said Smith. “There’s nothing wrong with the players that Gregor is using at the moment.

“So, I would involve them [Darge and Cummings] in the training week, for sure. However, to pick them into the team, that will obviously be his decision, but I think it would be smart to get them another couple of games at club level, and get them ready for whatever is needed going towards the World Cup.

“Rory needs a little bit of time still with the role that he’s played and the specific injury that he’s had,” Smith added. “I think he needs confidence, and today was much better than the week before.

“I think Scotty is in good form. He’s crossed the bridge playing 80 minutes this weekend and that was important.”

There were no new injury concerns for Warriors on Friday night, with Smith explaining that Josh McKay hurt his ankle but is not expected to miss any game time as a consequence.

“We’re trying to empty our medical room – there is only a couple of guys left – so we didn’t want to take any risks,” the coach explained. “So, it was just precautionary. With 10 minutes left, there was no need to force it.”


The Warriors squad will now have a week off before starting the build-up to their next match away to Munster on 26th March.

“I don’t want to call it a holiday – it’s a break which forms part of our prep,” stressed Smith.  “We started way back in August – or even before that – so it is a long season, and the way we want to play we need enthusiasm and creativity, and the only way to get that is if the guys are well rested.”

“So, one of the ingredients for that is that they stay away from Scotstoun for a week, then ome back and have 12 days to get ready for Munster.”

The need to reinvigorate the players was evident in the performance against Zebre, with Warriors achieving a bonus-point win which keeps them on track for a home draw in the URC play-offs through shrewd game management which relied on their dominant pack.

“We saw these three games [during the Six Nations window] as a collective,” said Smith. “It is a block of games which is difficult. Ulster was a difficult game where we were disrupted more than they were, then you go away to the Lions [in Johannesburg] on a short trip in the heat with all that travel, then you come back you expect the guys to fire at 200 kilometres an hour [against Zebre] and it’s just not realistic.

“So, I think the message to the people out there who might lift their eyebrows at the way we won tonight, is that it was all constructed so that we still win the games, but we manage the disruptions well.”

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About David Barnes 4028 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. Id think Cummings must be on the bench at least if not starting with R Gray. He is match fit, playing well and adds line break that the others don’t. It’s a very important match…we don’t have the talent line to give too much comeback time to our best players.
    Darge isn’t at back at his best yet..he needs time….and the back row options are good. I can see Dempsey starting and Bayliss cover for 6,7,8.
    Watson’s best days are behind him imo…and isn’t playing well enough at the moment and really for around 18 months.

  2. Interesting reading about the approach to squad management by Smith. He certainly seems to be doing it differently to previous coaches, and it is working pretty well. Not least because some of the players on the fringes have stepped up a level this year.

    It terms of Scotland, Darge doesn’t look ready yet and I don’t think that GT will be realistically thinking about selecting him. Cummings, however, looks like he has never been away. With his running lines, he’s a point of difference, so I can see him being in the conversation.

  3. great to have the options we have in the scrum and totally agree about playing george, we need a nine who is alive to the scrum. I’vee seen us pushed off our own ball too many times by Ireland while Price is navel gazing

  4. Would tend to agree…. neither Watson or Darge look at it right now. Hendo is starting most weeks for Leicester and Johnny Gray is honestly adding little n may need a break to reset… Hendo to back up Skinner seems right,…but please please start Horne.. .he’s our best 9 he can can cover wing ten n 15 n he’s a really decent kicker….White n Price are none of the above!!

    • I thought Watson was a little better last night for Edinburgh though he’s still nothing like the player of 2/3 years ago.Having said that Crosbie didn’t stand out against a very impressive Leinster back row .so GT will no doubt stick with Hamish

    • You’re not watching the same Jonny Gray as me. He is great in the lineout, never rarely misses a tackle and has started to put more grunt into his carrying. No drop down from Gilchrist. Scott Cummings on the other hand is a force to be reckoned with, maybe Smith is being too precious with his players in the vain hope of Glasgow getting a home play-off.


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