Junior World Trophy: Scotland Under-20s steel themselves for final outing versus Samoa

Head coach Kenny Murray reveals that backlash from Uruguay defeat has been tough on players

Dan King will start at full-back for Scotland Under-20s for the fourth match running against Samoa on Sunday. Image: World Rugby
Dan King will start at full-back for Scotland Under-20s for the fourth match running against Samoa on Sunday. Image: World Rugby

SCOTLAND UNDER-20S head coach Kenny Murray has made five changes, three of them enforced, to the starting XV he sent our against Uruguay on Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s Junior World Trophy 3rd/4th place play-off against Samoa on Sunday.

With back-rowers Jonny Morris and Jonny Smith out due to a shoulder injury and a dead-leg respectively, Selkirk’s Monroe Job will make his debut at this level on the openside flank while Sam Derrick is promoted from the bench to start at No 8. Meanwhile, Logan Jarvie also has a shoulder injury so Kerr Johnston starts on the wing.

The two selection changes are Callum Norrie swapping in for Oliver Minnis at tight-head prop and Jake Parkinson taking over from Eddie Erskine in the second-row.

Will Robinson from Caldy RFC, who flew in to Kenya as emergency injury cover last night, has been games on the bench.

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“We have lost Jonny Morris and Jonny Smith so that’s two of our back rows out, Kerr Yule has still not recovered from a shoulder injury so he is not available and Hector Patterson has been ill for the last four days, so [we’ve had] some injury issues along the way. We are down to about 24 fit players at the moment so selection was pretty easy if I am being honest,” said Murray.

Scotland’s shock defeat to Uruguay cost them a place in the tournament final and therefore the chance to earn promotion back into the top-tier Junior World Championship next year. This has been a cause of a great consternation across the rugby landscape, and Murray revealed that he is concerned about how the media and public reaction impacts the players.

“It has been pretty tough, the first two days after the game were really tough,” he explained. “The biggest thing for young players these days is social media, they read social media and they are getting blasted on social media so we try to get them to stay off that sort of stuff and focus on rugby.

“It is difficult for us to control it because the articles that get written by media and the comments that get made are quite tough. At the end of the day, people are allowed to say what they want to say [even if] they don’t understand the context, but from our point of view we just have to make sure that the players are not listening and reading too much because we want them to focus on the task ahead of playing rugby.

“That is the world we live in unfortunately, boys lives are controlled a lot by social media and we just have to control that as much as we can.”

“We had a couple of days recovery because the bodies were a bit battered and bruised. We had three guys in the hospital getting scans the day after the game and those three guys are now out. But we had some good review meetings and then we have started our prep, a training day coming today and then back into it.

“We had a good team activity last night [playing the quiz show ‘Would I Lie to You?’] just to get the boys back on track and there were more smiles on the faces last night than I have seen in the last couple of days.”


Scotland U20s (v Samoa at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday @ 10am BST): D King; K Johnston, B Salmon, F Thomson, F Douglas; A McLean, B Afshar (co-captain); C Davidson, C Tait, O Minnis, R Hart, J Parkinson, L McConnell (co-captain), M Job, S Derrick. Substitutes: F Duraj, R Deans, O Minnis, E Erskine, A Falconer, F Burgess, W Robinson, M Reid.

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About David Barnes 3800 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.


  1. Dunno.
    Murray can only work with the players he’s getting from community youth rugby.
    I’m a coach at that level and I think we really underestimate how much enjoyment players aged 12-16 get from being pushed and challenged.

    Players with elite potential will emerge no matter what environment you put them in, but for my money the biggest bang for our buck would come from moving everyone at youth levels a step or 2 up the skills and fitness level. It would increase the competitiveness of games and give those who could be professional a more competent springboard to work from.

    I understand why there is hesitation. Despite impressions rugby is a 2ndary consideration for most Scots and we’re terrified of a drop off in participation. We want to accommodate everyone.

    Don’t be scared. No need to introduce a win at all costs mentality or prioritise standards over participation, just pushing the players we have a little harder and trying to ensure all fixtures are meaningful versus matched teams would be a good start.

  2. While feeling great sympathy and concern for the young players caught in the middle of this dreadful mess, we can but hope that the situation stimulates the necessary structural, cultural and personnel changes before the overall Scottish player pool at all levels contracts even more.

    Can such hopes carry much conviction though, bearing in mind the astonishing raggle-taggle bunch of disparate non-rugby talking heads on the SRUL & “Custodian” Boards?

  3. Once more a lot of vitriol on here aimed at Kenny Murray. The guy is a good coach with a track record second to none amongst home grown coaches. He dragged Cartha up the leagues in his first spell as coach, got Ayr to make the leap to winning the league and cup when they had failed many times previously and has been on the coaching staff with the warriors when they won the league. He has only been in post with the under 20s for less than a season , our under 20s who have routinely failed to place much better than 10th at anytime. What should he be reasonably expected to achieve and who realistically could do better?
    By all means the system is pants and this must be addressed but I think we are barking up the wrong tree if we think a change of clack is all that’s required.

    • They made 5th in u20 RWC before he was there and he’s had two full 6N campaigns to make the u20s much worse than they were previously. Failing in tier 2 competition is shamefully bad. It was easily seen that Uruguay were much better coached and prepared.

  4. Actually looking at some team sheets, some of the club players pulled out of pre season with zero prep or notice are playing as low down as Nat 2!! This cannot be safe. We were told that S6 players could not play club rugby due to physical mis matches but suddenly there’s no issue about player safety when the priority is to avoid the embarrassment of S6 games being called off??!!

  5. Pretty desperate state of affairs. The system is at fault. SRU is an echo chamber, coaches identified as worthy simply through having found their way into the system. I remember the glaikit looks in the coaches’ box during the Ireland shellacking. Lots of lip chewing, like they were thinking ‘jeez we’ve been found out.’ Lack of personality, clarity, inspiration. National side succeeds because of tapping into the Scottish diaspora, not through any coaching in Scottish system

  6. Murray learns no lessons , repeatedly Scotland have been exposed in their lack of any depth yet repeatedly Murray plays the same players week in , week out and never develops the wider pool. The game versus Samoa is a dead rubber so start some of the wider squad players and see how they step up. Must be totally demoralising for players to watch their coaches persistently picking the same starting players and with many only getting limited exposure from the bench or indeed not at all. Over and over again we have seen examples of this practice and how it limits options. Stand off is case in point , young McLean has started each game but did not figure at any point in the 6 nations at stand off because of Murray’s decisions to play Simpson whenever fit and pull in Townsend from pretty much nowhere. Rutherford was probably the only other 10 that was getting meaningful game time for club etc and he was never picked to start or on the bench for the 20’s then totally discarded for Kenya tournament.
    None of the strategies , either Murray’s or SRU overall , make any sense , all they succeed in doing is making an already small pool of players even smaller which is essentially what the Academy does as well.
    It’s not the players fault , they are operating in an extremely poor system that just simply does not promote a process that in any way lends itself toward player depth or quality. Too many journeymen coaches in comfortable SRU positions throughout the Academy groups who look to prioritise their results and personal progress over development of a good quality player pool.
    The same thing happens in the Fosroc Academies , so many players disillusioned and lost to bizarre selections and poor player management. Scotland will continue to decline until they understand the value of growing the game again. Schools rugby is a non entity and the Conference system is not a quality product with too many one sided games. Scottish Rugby will never flourish if they only prioritise the public schools which is the case just now.
    Personally I think the position is too far gone already , I cannot see any means of retrieving Scottish rugby back to what it used to be. The player pool is too small , rugby too often asks for too much without the necessary rewards for the commitment – 3hrs training on a Tues and Thursday , gym twice a week and 5 hours for the game on a Saturday afternoon …. for what …… too often a bit part 20 min sub appearance , it’s just not an attractive proposition any more. The fun has gone out of it for so many players …
    The most disappointing thing is that those responsible for decision making never learn lessons and repeat the same errors over and over again. Listening to the same rhetoric from Murray is so disheartening , he has had his opportunity , been found wanting and should now move on to the next SRU manufactured position by Mr. Mallinder who has also been in post for some time and changed pretty much nothing.

  7. All appear to have sympathy for the lads for being unlucky enough to be part of a shambolisystem that doesn’t work, with coaches that aren’t getting the best out of them. The selection process has also been criticised, which might be taken as criticism of the players themselves, but again that’s actually down to the system and selectors. The boys don’t pick or coach themselves.

  8. What a dogs breakfast Scottish Ruby is in now. Super7 players playing for multiple clubs,Under 20’s falling over like flies and depressed by being put under enormous pressure to win after having being,
    Put through a failed system. Some had played in 3 systems in one season. Premier league, Super 6 and Scotland camps. Their brains must be scrambled having to remember 3 sets of codes. Not to mention stick it up your shirt rugby with no plan B when it goes wrong.
    Root and branch review of whole system urgently needed by people who understand the game from bottom to top

    • Don’t forget the young club players who have been dragged out of pre season to ensure S6 can actually complete it’s fixtures. Sincerely hope none of them are injured in this farce.

  9. Shocking comments from Murray. This is on him and SRU planning. BUT… Having an U20 Super 6 side and seeing U18 players from schools and clubs jumping to senior reserve will make a HUGE impact. But bottom line Scottish Rugby coaching generally (Franco aside) lacks personality/creativity.

  10. I can’t find any any article or social media any critics of the players at all
    Murray feeling the heat and deflecting


  11. At no point anywhere have I seen or heard anyone besmirching the players, they are giving their best… what we saw V Uruguay was a better coached team carrying out rugby at a very good pace. We were ponderous and uninventive… that always says to me that players have not bought into the coaching they are receiving and that is purely down to the coaches… so no mater how much clever deflection is spouted. Murray should be carrying the can for this, and certainly not attempting to push the limelight away from himself. There’s no joy in these games, I’d say pressure is being heaped onto young shoulders…. The best managers coaches allow their charges to play they take the pressure and flack for their charges… with Murray you get the feeling it’s not his can to carry 😢

  12. Pretty poor of Murray to claim that players are being blasted. Certainly everything that I’ve seen has been about the coaches management and governance. There maybe the odd client on some social media who knows nothing about the game having a pop at players but generally I’ve only seen sympathy for them. None of the coaches or managers seem capable to taking responsibility for their own shortcomings which tbf marks them out as SRU material.

    • Murray’s comments show he is as unfit for office as his boss Dodson. Both are totally deluded and more interested in themselves than Scottish rugby.

      God help youngsters in their charge.


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