Gregor Townsend names 14 uncapped players in Autumn training squad

Home-based group will convene at Oriam on Sunday to begin preparation for the team's first Test match against Tonga on 30th October

Dylan Richardson has been confirmed as a call-up to Scotland's Autumn Test series training squad. Image: Craig Watson
Dylan Richardson has been confirmed as a call-up to Scotland's Autumn Test series training squad. Image: Craig Watson

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has named 14 uncapped players in his 36-man  Autumn Test Series training squad which will convene at Oriam High Performance centre on the western outskirts of Edinburgh on Sunday to begin preparation for the team’s match against Tonga at Murrayfield on 30th October.

This includes four players who have not been involved in the squad before, who are Pierre Schoeman (loose-head prop), Marshall Sykes (second-row) and Charlie Savala (stand-off) of Edinburgh, plus Dylan Richardson of Cell-C Sharks (who can play back-row and hooker but is described as a flanker in today’s press release). Richardson qualifies to play for Scotland through his father.

The three home-based Scots on this summer’s Lions tour – Zander Fagerson, Ali Price and Hamish Watson – are all involved, but English/French-based Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe, Chris Harris, Finn Russell and Rory Sutherland are missing for this first game which has been scheduled outside the international Test window.

Scotland’s non-homebased contingent will be added to the squad next Wednesday.


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Notable absentees include uncapped scrum-half Ben Vellacott, who has been in fine form since joining Edinburgh this summer, tight-head prop Simon Berghan (who has missed Glasgow’s last two games with an Achilles injury), Warriors second-row duo Scott Cummings (injured) and Richie Gray, Warriors stand-off Duncan Weir, his Edinburgh counterpart Jaco van der Walt and Edinburgh hooker Dave Cherry.

There is a return to the international fold for tight-head Murray McCallum, who picked-up a short-term contract with Glasgow Warriors during the summer until the end of the year after being released by Edinburgh.

20-year-old FOSROC Academy member Matt Currie impressed when he got his chance with Edinburgh playing three matches at the tail-end of last season before picking up a shoulder injury. He played his first match of the current season for Watsonians in Super6 last Sunday, registering a man-of-the-match display in a big win over Ayrshire Bulls, and his huge potential is recognised with a call-up to this squad.

 

“It has been great to see both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors make positive starts to their URC campaigns driven by some standout performances from both young and established players,” said Townsend.

“With four tough Test matches ahead of us in this year’s Autumn Nations Series it is important we bring players together early, connect with them as coaches and enable them to grow as a group before the campaign gets underway against Tonga at BT Murrayfield. We’ll then move on to the challenge of facing in-form Australia, World Champions South Africa and a very dangerous Japan team.

“We are pleased with the depth we are able to call upon to make up this training squad and it provides a genuine opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection to the full Autumn Nations Series squad.”

Scotland’s Autumn Nations Training Squad:

Forwards:

  • Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
  • Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
  • Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps
  • Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks – uncapped
  • Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
  • Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps
  • Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
  • Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
  • Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
  • Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
  • George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
  • Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps
  • Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
  • Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps

Backs:

  • Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
  • Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
  • Cole Forbes – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
  • Matt Currie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
  • James Lang – Edinburgh Rugby – 6 caps
  • Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
  • Jack Blain – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
  • Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
  • Charlie Savala – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
  • Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
  • George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 14 caps
  • Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped

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About David Barnes 2616 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.

24 Comments

  1. A team not selected in that squad.

    Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Matt Scott – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ben Vellacott – Josh Bayliss – Thomas Gordon – Magnus Bradbury – Jonny Gray – Scott Cummings – Simon Berghan – Dave Cherry – Rory Sutherland

    Huw Jones – Adam Hastings – Sam Hidalgo Clyne – Blade Thomson – Sam Skinner – Willem Nel – Jake Kerr – Robin Hislop

    • Interesting selection and to the players you name one could add Steele, Redpath (currently injured), Ashman and McGuigan both of Sale, Graham (Newcastle) and Craig (Gloucester)

  2. Looking at the Bulls squad unless Gregor is very kind with player releases, this Saturday could be very very tough for Edinburgh. They are huge and putting academy players in could really see them and their futures suffer. And with potentially more than a whole team missing Glasgow won’t find Zebre an easy trip…Is playing Tonga really important enough to make Champions cup rugby harder to achieve for the 2 pro teams?

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  3. Does anyone know if Dylan Richardson (dad born in Edinburgh) is part of the Edinburgh accies clan that produced Charlie and Jeremy in one generation and Buchan and Finlay in the next or is a completely different Richardson clan?

  4. This is an interesting test team, old hands inked in 1st choices and some new faces getting a chance. Interesting to see Bennett back in the fold. Interesting to see how Thompson goes assuming he gets the nod ,as 3rd choice 10. Also think we have 3 no9’s with Price and Horne 1st and 2nd choice so maybe Vellacott has not gotten into view yet.

  5. I agree with Ian – Vellacott should be starting as hes been excellent for Edinburgh this.
    Only other omission that got me thinking was no VDW….however I reckon Thompson is clearly 1st choice. Matt Currie did look excellent at the end of last season and given no English /French boys I think it makes good sense to have a look at him. Something like
    Forbes Steyn Bennett Johnson Graham Thompson Price Hanning Darge Ritchie Gilchrist Sykes Z.Fagerson Brown Kebble

  6. I expect that Edinburgh will be mucked up again by Townsend’s selection of Edinburgh players for the squad and not necessarily playing or releasing them. The new league is hard enough especially with Edinburgh’s iffy start. Cockers was similarly disadvantaged so it’s only fair that Blair is too. It will be interesting to see how he and the team rise to the challenge.

    • both teams are always disadvantaged by international matches. So to a greater or lesser extent are other teams in the League.
      This season the league has been structured to try to avoid such conflicts, and there is a bit less. The extra game against Tonga is there to try to recoup some of the cash lost during the pandemic and should be a one off

      The real solution is a total realignment of the season. It isn’t about Townsend or Cotter or any other coach doing their job

  7. Having watched Vellacot in all his games I would have had him straight in the team never mind the squad . Just shows how little I know having played, refereed and coached – all at senior level- over a 40 year period .

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  8. Agree re Vellacott he has been a stand out player – Ross Thompson has to start vs Tonga – but surprised VDW not included, at least for tonga, since being freed up from the previous game-plan at Edinburgh he is starting to look a much more gifted player. Once the International contingent are back it looks good except for one position – No 8 – Glasgow had to resort to an Aussie who is looking really good and Edinburgh a Fijian. Is there anyone coming through the ranks? Lots of really good flankers but none who have put their hand up as an 8.

    • I think Matt Fagerson is the starting 8 for Scotland and is improving all the time. Fagerson is just returbing from injury, so when he is back, i think Dempsey will swicth to 6 for Glasgow.

      • Haining was outstanding in Paris and is the man in possession of the shirt at the moment. He’d be my first choice no. 8 on present test form

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    • For me Mata is best No 8 in playing in Scotland Dempsey is no 2 and the rest are just not ball carriers able to get over the gainline.. Its the one major weakness in the team

      • Yeah he looks the real deal but will need time to develop. Has a properly belligerent attitude to ball carrying that will serve him well.

  9. Agree, Vellacott has been a stand out for Edinburgh. Matt Scott is another who has looked good for Leicester. (Yesterday’s man? Tell that to Rob Harley – still a menace for any opposition)
    Interesting picture for Second row – 3 to pick from 4 – and Stand off – only two named? May be a very mixed up selection for Tonga with a few positional experiments – but then they are struggling a bit and shipped 100+ in NZ recently, so low risk. (Unless they’re stronger with some Euro based players back in fold)
    A bit concerned for Edinburgh’s away trip to Zebre, unless GT gets uncharacteristically generous in releasing players back

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    • Scott is ruled out as a Prem player. It remains to be seen whether his Tigers form will lead to a recall.

      He was quite rightly named for the Summer fixtures that were later cancelled. His form suggests he would make for a great addition. But Toonie is a huge fan of Sam Johnson, while Harris has the 13 jersey nailed down, and despite riding the bench at Quins, Huw Jones is still pushing him hard.

      So I imagine if Scott is going to be recalled it will be for the number 12 jersey.

      • Thanks, you’re right, he wouldn’t feature in this squad.
        Still worth a spot once everyone is there. He probably left the biggest gap of any of Edinburgh’s recent departures – one they are still working hard to fill.

    • I just wonder if Vellacott has committed to Scotland ? I hope he has. Based on his current form I would start him ahead of Price – a close call.

      • he has. He will not be picked for Engnad while playing outside of it. He only had not committed earlier to keep a job in Engerland. Tough life when you want to make living as a professional rugby player

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