Gregor Townsend names 41-strong World Cup training squad

Fraser Brown a notable absentee with Jonny Gray also missing through injury

41 players will start preparing for Scotland's World Cup campaign at the end of this month. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
41 players will start preparing for Scotland's World Cup campaign at the end of this month. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has named an extended 41-player training squad which will begin preparation at the end of this month for this Autumn’s  Rugby World Cup in France.

The group will be led by captain Jamie Ritchie and will be trimmed to the requisite 33-player list ahead of the tournament itself, which gets underway in September.

Of the 23 forwards selected by Townsend, flanker Rory Darge returns to the international set-up having missed the Guinness Six Nations through injury, with winger Darcy Graham also returning as one of 18 backs named, again having been unavailable through injury since the turn of the year.


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Jonny Gray, who dislocated his kneecap playing for Exeter Chiefs two weekends ago, is not in the group, with uncapped Cameron Henderson one of five recognised second-rows in the squad alongside Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, Richie Gray and Cameron Henderson.

Veteran Fraser Brown is not one of the four hookers named, missing out to George Turner, Ewan Ashman, Dave Cherry and Stuart McInally.

The other uncapped played in the squad is Glasgow Warriors centre Stafford McDowall, who will compete against club mates Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones, as well as Cam Redpath and Chris Harris, to make the plane to France. That means Mark Bennett and Sam Johnson have missed out.

Four players – WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Finn Russell and recent cap centurion Stuart Hogg – are aiming to represent Scotland at a third Rugby World Cup (all featured in 2015 and 2019).

Overall, there are 17 players from Glasgow Warriors, 15 from Edinburgh Rugby and nine who ply their trade outside of Scotland.

The 41-player group will gather for an initial training camp on 29th May to begin preparations for warm-up matches against France, Italy and Georgia at BT Murrayfield in July and August. Scotland also play France in an away warm-up in St. Etienne in August.

The Rugby World Cup itself will see Scotland compete in Pool B alongside South Africa, Ireland, Tonga and Romania, with a first fixture against the world champion Springboks on Sunday 10 September in Marseille.

Scotland training squad for Rugby World Cup 2023:

Forwards (23)

Loosehead props 

  • Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
  • Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 21 caps
  • Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 23 caps

Hookers

  • Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 7 caps
  • Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps
  • Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) 47 caps
  • George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps

Tighthead props

  • Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 58 caps
  • WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 54 caps
  • Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) 3 caps
  • Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps

Second-row

  • Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
  • Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 62 caps
  • Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 73 caps
  • Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped
  • Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 25 caps

Back-row

  • Andy Christie (Saracens) 4 caps
  • Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps
  • Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
  • Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps
  • Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 33 caps
  • Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 41 caps
  • Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 57 caps

Backs (18)

Scrum-halves

  • Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
  • George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 20 caps
  • Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 61 caps
  • Ben White (London Irish) 14 caps

Stand-offs

  • Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) 27 caps
  • Ben Healy (Munster Rugby) 1 cap
  • Finn Russell (Racing 92) 69 caps

Centres

  • Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 42 caps
  • Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 36 caps
  • Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
  • Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 5 caps
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 16 caps

Wingers

  • Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 33 caps
  • Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps
  • Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 28 caps

Full-back

  • Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 100 caps
  • Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 43 caps
  • Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend agrees contract extension

About David Barnes 4026 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.

37 Comments

  1. Bit concerned by including retiring and on the slippery slope players….Hogg, Watson, McInally, Nel…maybe their last hoorah though and they play much better than they have recently…hopefully not another RWC2019 Barclay and Taylor episode though.

  2. Strange some of he comments regarding Ritchie. When he was named captain last year it was met with universal approval. Most felt the captain should be a forward and one guaranteed 1st choice in his position = Ritchie.
    Now Fagerson is being touted for the 6 spot despite most proclaiming previously that he is too light for an international back row and Ritchie should be jettisoned.
    I think Fagerson is a fine player , an incredible athlete and think it’s him as the squad number 8 but only as back up to Dempsey who has it all.
    Ritchie is as good as anyone in the squad at 6 but like almost every Scottish captain with the exception of David Sole, the role of captain has eroded his effectiveness and put the shirt on a ‘shoogly peg’. He will come good but I wouldnt be surprised if Gregor goes for a duo of captains. The squad rotation and passing on the armband seems to be working at Glasgow.

  3. With some games still to go to close out the season, a couple of months of intensive training and 3 summer internationals there is still plenty of opportunity for players to pick up injuries before the world cup. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few names are added before the final selection is made.

  4. Well, the glaring omission for me is on form Johnny Mathews, have I missed some strategic imbalance to the pack if he was included? I cannot see how Stuart McInally warrants a place in front of Mathews?
    Can I someone please enlighten me, I clearly have no idea on my ruggers, Mathews or McInally?

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  5. Nothing earth-shattering but there are arguments for Matthews ahead of McInally, Rae ahead of Walker, Hunter-hill ahead of Henderson, Bradbury ahead of Watson (based on most recent form and match fitness). However, these are probably the places most likely to be trimmed so not complaining. Really think McDowall should go to RWC, offers more than Harris now and would be good for building so vital World Cup experience for when a number of the squad retire soon. Very noticeable the lack of quality 10s playing in Scotland right now (& accepted that Healy will be at Edinburgh next season) & while Kinghorn’s versatility virtually guarantees him a place to France, I really hope it’s as a FB/winger, not back up 10.

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  6. Good squad and no real surprises for me other than seeing Rambo in the squad given he’s fallen out of form a bit in the past couple of years. I think though that McDowall will be the world cup bolter who will make a good name for himself should he make the cut

  7. I have not heard any news on Kyle Rowe. Has he recovered from ACL surgery. Keep looking for his name with London Irish. He must be about ready to play again. He really impressed last season.

  8. No real surprises. We’ll be on the plane back after 4 matches anyway.We’re not good enough to beat SA or Ireland.

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  9. I hope GT has pushed hard for Fin Smith from Northampton and also considered Roebuck from Sale who is SQ and had a good season for Sale. Not sure what Hutchison from Northampton has to do to get a chance. Squad certainly in need of a freshening up. Hope he gives some of the more peripheral players like Horne a good run in August.

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    • Smith and Roebuck are two English men who want to play for England and have both recently been in England training sqauds so i doubt GT would be able to do anything to convince them to wear blue. As for Hutchison he needs to be able to defend at club level nevermind Internatinoal level.

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  10. Interesting to see some of the comments on who has not made the squad. With this just the initial squad then there simply isn’t room for anyone else and its probably only hooker, centre and scrum half where we have excess talent. There will be 8 players shed before the final 33. I imagine this will be 1 prop, 1 hooker, 1 2nd row, a couple of back rows, 1 scrum half and a couple more backs. Thats some tough calls to make before we get to RWC.

  11. TH Prop Murphy Walker is that a joke Gregor?? The boy is getting mullered in the super 6 and has hardly played a senior game. Must be a pet project or more likely because he is Lineens nephew. We have the likes of McCallum albeit who has not played much through no fault of his and Rae who has played something like 45 out of 50 odd games for Bath in the premiership and Europe. Berghan plays in front of Walker at Glasgow and ok they say he can play both sides of the scrum and is mobile but surely he is no where near ready enough.

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    • I’m sure he will be one of the 8 shed before the final 33 is announced so perhaps no more than some squad exposure but I agree with McCallum and Rae being ahead of him.

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  12. One or two players I am surprised are not included such as Bennett and Bradbury. Would have thought Matthews was ahead of Cherry. Would have liked to have seen another winger in the mix – Maitland still performing well for Saracens and with Graham injury prone we look short of resource there. I know Kinghorn can play on the wing but he may be needed at FB as Hogg suddenly seems to be past his best and is not having the impact he used to. No wonder Hogg is retiring in November (I think).

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  13. Not sure what Javan or Murphy have done to justify their selection, especially walker who is only there because of his uncle Sean.

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  14. who are the 15 from Edinburgh?

    And if there are 15, how the hell did that shambles get to provide 15 players?

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    • But isn’t that the whole point? All good players for Scotland but Edinburgh just can’t seem to get them to gel. Hopefully the new Edinburgh coach (once he arrives) can get them to play to the sum of their parts,if not more!

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      • No the point is that is a historic Edinburgh problem. Get picked for Scotland no matter what rubbish you turn out for Edinburgh. What’s happening at Glasgow is play for your place. Makes you a keener hungrier better player for club and country

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    • I’m guessing that it’s 12 from EDI plus incomers Ashman, Sebastian, and Healy?? Surprised at both McInally and Cherry making it over Mathews. Not surprised at Brown but otherwise no real surprises.

      Good to see Christie and Crosbie in there for that physical presence, but Ritchie needs to step up as he doesn’t make my starting back row at the moment….

      Just hope that Hogg and McInally aren’t holding others back from being there and that GT will still make the tough decision that form merits and not on dwindling reputations.

      • Pete
        Agree with you re Ritchie. Would have Fagerson ahead of him at 6. Darge likely to be starting 7 and Hamish on the bench for his carrying impact and his turnover work.
        That’s the problem when you give the captaincy to a player who isn’t a nailed on starter. I suspect Toonie will always choose Ritchie,if match fit, for the big games against Ireland and the Boks.

      • If that were the case then Hogg wouldn’t be in the 41 never mind in the starting XV.

        He barely plays rugby these days.

        If Townsend has any sense…and uses his head over heart…Kinghorn will be the starting full back in the world Cup, not Hogg.

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  15. I’d have liked to have seen Nathan McBeth in there.
    I’m a great fan but I’m having serious reservations about Hogg travelling, he’s made the correct decision but mentally is he already on his new Hawick farm??
    No surprises in the squad. I’d have Harris nowhere near the squad and be trying Hastings at FB (50-22 should be getting well practised)

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    • With you re McBeth as I am beginning to prefer him to Bhakti for Glasgow.

  16. Good squad. let’s hope they will get into great shape and spring a surprise in France. Surprised that Matthews and Brown have missed out to McInally and Cherry. Also looks like Rory Hutchinson will be the forgotten man until at least 2926.

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    • He might be passed his best by 2926. :0)

      I did wonder if Townsend’s abandonment of Hutchinson might have discouraged Fin Smith from Scottish involvement, but I have no idea if it was ever realistic to hope he might have considered it anyway.

    • Agree Brown offers more power than all the other 2s and playing SA and Ireland we will need that.

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  17. No surprises at all – which is a shame, for the absence of bolters indicates the lack of talent breaking through. Cammy Henderson deserves his first cap and should be given a chance to show what he can do in one of the warm-up games. Pleased also to see Jamie Dobie included and he too should get a run-out at some point. No Fraser Brown, which is surprising but not at all disappointing. I’d have given Johnny Mathews a shot ahead of Rambo, who is on his way out. Given half a chance I would also have the centre pairing of Hutchinson and Dingwall in there somewhere and it will be interesting to see how they go in the English Premiership semi-finals this weekend. And indeed whether Dingwall gets selected for the England squad, for he is the best player in the British Isles not to have played for either of his eligible countries. Must also be disappointing for Bennett, because this would be his last shot at a World Cup. Such however is the competition. Depth at tight head looks sparse as ever beyond the usual two outstanding suspects – Sebastian is a gamble and Murphy Walker even more so given his lack of game time this season. It was interesting to note that none of Edinburgh’s ten props this season were born in Scotland. A development situation to be addressed.

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    • Lack of talent breaking through, 15 players with 10 or less caps! Murray McCallum born in Edin but I take your point. I’m afraid we’re not a nation of props.

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  18. No shocks there. Fingers crossed injuries are minimised in the warm-up games.

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  19. I see that you have listed Blair Kinghorn as a Full-back. That may be wishful thinking, as the SRU website simply has a simple split of Forwards and Backs.

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    • He won’t get a game at 10 ahead of Russell, Healy and even Hastings. Suspect full back is where his future lies – given Hogg’s premature retirement – and he will probably fight it out with Smith for the jersey. It has always been the issue with Kinghorn – bags of talent, but where to play him? A welcome conundrum for Edinburgh next year.

      • Why “even” Hastings? He’s much more accomplished and experienced than Healy. There shouldn’t be any question on whether he should be considered our deputy stand off.

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      • I suspect the answer will be on the bench – the reality is he’s very good option if injury strikes Wing / FB or FH …..

  20. Seems an OK squad. Unfortunately Scotland are in such a strong group that it’s difficult to see how they will progress as opposed to England who are in a very straightforward group. Random I suppose!

    dom I suppose.

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