RWC23: Scotland v Tonga: four changes to Scots side for Sunday’s clash

Kyle Steyn, Chris Harris, Scott Cummings and Rory Sutherland added to starting line-up

Scott Cummings is one of four players added to Scotland's starting XV to face Tonga in Nice on Sunday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scott Cummings is one of four players added to Scotland's starting XV to face Tonga in Nice on Sunday. Image: © Craig Watson -

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his starting fifteen for Sunday’s World Cup pool clash against Tonga at Stade de Nice, with second-row Scott Cummings promoted from the bench, while winger Kyle Steyn, centre Chris Harris and and loose-head prop Rory Sutherland will make their first appearances of the campaign having missed out on the tournament opener against South Africa a fortnight ago.

Darcy Graham, Huw Jones and Pierre Schoeman drop to the bench, while Grant Gilchrist drops out of the match-day squad.

Hooker Ewan Ashman, second-row Sam Skinner and scrum-half George Horne are added to the bench.

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That leaves Javan Sebastian, Hamish Watson, Luke Crosbie, Ben Healey and recent call-up Stuart McInally as the only players yet to feature in this World Cup.


Scotland (versus Tonga on Sunday @ Stade de Nice, kick-off 4.45pm GMT): B Kinghorn; K Steyn, C Harris, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell, B White; R Sutherland, G Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, S Cummings, J Ritchie, R Darge, J Dempsey.  Substitutes: E Ashman, P Schoeman, W Nel, S Skinner, M Fagerson, G Horne, H Jones, D Graham.

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About David Barnes 4031 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. Townsend simply can’t cope against big teams. His starting lineup this week is just him reverting to type. During the SA game he shuffled everything about in the second half and lost the game. His selections have cost Scotland more than once and he needs to stop thinking he’s playing football manager at home and actually pick the team based on their strengths and not pick it based on a dream he had.

  2. Can’t wait for kick off tomorrow. Our team have had two weeks quality preparation and now play Tonga then build on that momentum through Romania to a colossal game against Ireland. Three wins and an injury wracked French side in the quarterfinals. This group can make Scottish rugby history. Let’s do it for ourselves.

  3. Considering every point opportunity will matter…seems strange to me to not have Healy on the bench should Russell go down. Kinghorns kicking is erratic at best.

    Id guess the bench players are best bet to inject front row power and backs pace when Tonga tire.

    I think the Ireland game was always going to be our best chance….and not a good chance at that.. considering our and GTs record against them. That said…our chances could also be over before then.

    • With only 1 kicking option on the field for Scotland it sort of puts all the onus on Russell, the option of using Redpath as a 2nd 5/8 and/or Healy/Hastings as a kicking option from Full Back (50-22 one of the best attacking options available).
      We all knew what game SA would play and the game Ireland will play, however given recent results and the personell chosen it appears no lessons learned / alternative options attempted.
      Maybe we’d lose irrespective of what we tried but at least give it as good a lash as we possibly could (both physically and tactically)

    • Have to remember this Tonga team have been leathered by Ireland, Samoa and Fiji and beaten by Japan and over last few weeks

  4. Never mind the other game, these guys can get the five points needed and move on to the next game. If the teams chosen by the coach produce in the eighty minutes we can qualify in our own right. Let’s go you “flooers”.

  5. I think GT has boxed himself into a corner and is rolling the dice. If Ritchie were not captain I think he might not be in the 15 and would have been inclined to keep Huipolotu as the pressure against big Tongans will be good prep for Ireland. Steyn and Sutherland deserve their chance. There is no doubt the bench will inject pace( would have liked Healy on bench) and attacking threat and I just hope we get enough good ball to let the backs go.The forwards must raise game as they seriously messed up v SA, particularly line out and ruck.I thought the ref definitely favoured Boks at scrum time.
    The permutations are too difficult for me but an Irish win with SA getting two bonus points is the dreaded result

    • It SA were to get even one losing bonus point it goes close to ending our chances. Means we would need a winning BP against Ireland to match it.

  6. MMMMM interesting , Harris and Sutherland interesting , not sure if it’s good but it’s interesting, Steyn I assume because he is bigger , Nell struggled against the SA’s maybe his day has gone, why not give big Javan a go of the bench, agree about Finn to a degree but we need 5 points here.
    The big question is who wins in SA vs Ireland , and will the winner make it a 5 pointer or will it be even more ideal for us a low score draw , then it comes down to the Ireland game for us. First task win on Sunday and get 5 points.

    • Selecting Harris simply indicates GT is worried about the Tongan attack. I’ve never got the Harris is a defensive master thing, he is a wholehearted very solid defensive centre and a GT favourite, I’ve long thought he gets in the way on attacking ball.
      Again it’s get the ball to Finn and 🫰. (And pray Finn stays on the pitch until the game is won)
      The permutations bemuse me. Maximum points required.

    • RouterAl, Best outcome on Saturday night for Scotland will be a big SA win with no bonus points for Ireland. Then its straight knockout between Sco v Ire to play France in the QF. And we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…..

  7. Don’t get this at all. In a match where we are looking to make sure of the bonus point Chris Harris has been brought in at centre to break up the Tuipo-Jones axis. Considering what happened to Dupont last night I am also surprised that Finn has not been rested against the hard-hitting Tongans and Healy given some game time. The boy wonder could then sharpen up against the Romanians pre-Ireland. Clearly Townsend still sees Kinghorn as a potential stand-in 10 – Jones presumably coming on at full back – which fills me with dismay. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player – but at full back, for international stand-off he is not. I thought we’d established this and moved on to deploy him where his talents can be best used, but oh no. Given his heroics, Steyn deserves his run-out, while ex-Lion Sutherland needs the opportunity to show that he is once more a natch-day 23 player.

  8. I’m not sure many of the supporters would have picked that starting line-up. Looks like a great bench for a flourish in the second half.

    Should we read anything into Graham being benched after failing to convert the best attacking opportunity against the Boks or is Steyn being rewarded for good form and a good history against the Tongans or is this just a horses for courses call by Townsend?

    Is Gilchrist getting the blame for the lineout performance?

  9. Looks like GT is very concerned about their attack and has chosen a team with a defending back line with the attack players due to come on when the game (hopefully!!??) opens up and they get tired (maybe?). The problem is we pose less threat in attack which may give them confidence. This ia a Banana skin of a game for us – very little upside and a big downside.

  10. Well back to the tombola…… are we worrying too much about the opposition and not concentrating on our strengths?
    Good bench.
    Win and score 4 tries then it’s a good selection.
    Don’t and its………….

    • Aye, you can tell Toony’s feeling the pressure as the tombola back! Disagree that Nel struggled in the scrums vs SA. Thought he did fine and would have been rewarded by a competent ref!


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