THE SCOTLAND CLUB XV to play Ireland at Netherdale tomorrow afternoon has been unveiled by head coach Rob Chrystie. The 23 man squad includes eight Heriot’s players (two starting and six on bench) and six from Ayr (all starting), plus two each from Currie Chieftains and Melrose, and one each from Boroughmuir, Glasgow Hawks, Hawick, Stirling County and Watsonians. Edinburgh Accies are the only Premiership club not represented.
With the recent freezing temperatures rendering Myreside unplayable, the match has now been switched to Netherdale in Galashiels, where there is undersoil heating, and it will now kick-off at the earlier time of 3.30pm so as not to clash with the Scotland Under-20s match versus Italy at the same venue later that evening, which is a shame because it is bound to impact the number of people able to make it along to watch one of club rugby’s showcase occasions.
Ayr number eight Pete McCallum will captain the side, having fulfilled the same role two seasons ago. Melrose’s Fraser Thomson, who led the side last season, is unavailable due to injury, and is replaced at full-back by Paddy Dewhirst, who has been in fine form for Ayr in the Tennent’s Premiership in recent weeks, scoring five tries in the team’s last six outings including a hat-trick against Glasgow Hawks last weekend.
17 member of the squad were involved in the team’s narrow victory over Scotland Under-20s in last week’s warm-up match at Oriam. The other players, alongside Dewhirst, who were not involved in that game are Currie Chieftains centre Robbie Nelson, Ayr winger Kyle Rowe, Ayr second-row Tommy Spinks, reserve props Gary Strain and Struan Cessford of Glasgow Hawks and Heriot’s respectively, and reserve utility-back Patrick Anderson of Melrose.
“We’ve picked a squad who have been performing week in week out in the Tennent’s Premiership,” said Chrystie. “The squad have trained really well, and despite a few injuries, there are only two players who haven’t been involved from the start of our training schedule, so we’re in a good place. The coaching and support staff have been working non-stop to get the team in a position to go out Friday and put in a performance.
“It’s a great opportunity for these players to play at the highest standard possible and a represent not just themselves but also their clubs.”
This is the first instalment of this season’s Dalriada Cup double-header against Ireland, with the return leg being played in Dublin next Friday night. Scotland are the current holders of the trophy after securing a better aggregate score over the two matches last season.
- Tickets to Scotland U20 v Italy U20 at Netherdale on Friday 1 February (7.35pm) will also allow you access to Scotland Club XV v Ireland Club XV at 3.30pm in Netherdale. Likewise, tickets to the Club XV fixture will also allow you access to Scotland U20 v Italy U20.
- If you have bought a Scotland Club XV ticket and wish to receive a refund, please contact the Scottish Rugby Ticket Centre by calling 0131 346 5160.
- Tickets to Scotland Club XV v Ireland Club XV will only be available to purchase at the turnstiles from 2.30pm.
Scotland Club XV (v Ireland at Netherdale on Friday at 3.30pm): Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr); Craig Gossman (Boroughmuir), Rob Kay (Heriot’s), Robbie Nelson (Currie Chieftains), Kyle Rowe (Ayr); Gregor Hunter (Currie Chieftains), Murdo McAndrew (Melrose); Shawn Muir (Hawick), Ross Graham (Watsonians), Steven Longwell (Ayr), Hamilton Burr (Stirling County), Tommy Spinks (Ayr), Blair Macpherson (Ayr), Jack McLean (Heriot’s), Pete McCallum (Ayr). Subs: Gary Strain (Glasgow Hawks), Michael Liness (Heriot’s), Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), Ruaridh Leishman (Heriot’s), Iain Wilson (Heriot’s), Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s), Stuart Edwards (Heriot’s), Patrick Anderson (Melrose).