Scotland summer tour: Mike Blair names host of uncapped players in 37-man squad

Mike Blair
Mike Blair will take charge of Scotland's summer tour. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

INTERIM head coach Mike Blair has named 17 uncapped players in his Scotland squad of 37 for the summer series. All will be available for the A fixture against England on 27 June, while a smaller squad will go on to the full internationals against Romania (10 July) and Georgia (17 July). Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie has been named as captain.

Among the backs, new Glasgow signing Sione Tuipulotu is one of those hoping to make his debut, while his Warriors team-mates Jamie Dobie, Cole Forbes, Rufus McLean and Ross Thompson are also in line to win their first caps. Edinburgh duo Jack Blain and Charlie Shiel are the other potential debutants behind the scrum.

The uncapped members of the forward contingent include prop Nick Auterac of Northampton, Cameron Henderson of Leicester and Doncaster’s Robin Hislop, who will join Wasps next season. Perhaps most significantly, the squad also includes uncapped Sale prop Ewan Ashman, who has been a target for England but is now definitely committed to Scotland, according to Blair.

“Ewan has been with us for a couple of training camps and he’s very passionate about playing for Scotland,” the interim head coach said. “He’s made us aware of that and we’re looking forward to getting him some games.”

While playing for Scotland A is enough to capture a player, it remains to be seen how many of the 17 will go on to play in a full international against either Romania or Georgia. The bottom line for Blair, however, is that this is a group with immense promise who deserve to be given the chance to show what they can do at this level.

“We spent a lot of time as coaches since the Six Nations – and prior to that – assessing the players who are available to us to play [for] the national team,” he continued. “The balance we’ve got here is one I’m really excited by. We’ve got some young players coming through who have had some recent opportunities for their pro teams, some guys who are coming back who haven’t been involved with the squad before, and some young up-and-coming players who have experienced Test-match rugby and we want them to push on to the next level as well. 

“So a really exciting group. We’ve looked into it for a fair bit, and it’s taken a fair bit of time. As new interim head coach I’m starting to realise the amount of work that Gregor [Townsend] does, so it’s been a great process and I’m really happy with the squad we’ve managed to put together.”

In addition to the eight Scots who will tour South Africa with the British & Irish Lions, Darcy Graham and Huw Jones are  recovering from shoulder and foot surgery respectively, while other senior  players have been omitted either to give them a rest at the end of a lengthy and arduous season, or simply to give younger men the chance to prove themselves.

Those left out for one reason or another include hookers Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally, locks Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis, and backs Jonny Gray and Rory Hutchinson.


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Scotland Squad for 2021 summer series

Forwards:

Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) uncapped

Nick Auterac (Northampton Saints) uncapped

Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) uncapped

Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) 31 caps

Jamie Bhatti (Bath) 18 caps

Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) 14 caps

David Cherry (Edinburgh) 5 caps

Alex Craig (Gloucester) 2 caps

Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh) uncapped

Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 20 caps

Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 13 caps

Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped

Robin Hislop (Doncaster Knights) uncapped

Jamie Hodgson (Edinburgh Rugby) uncapped

Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps

Kiran McDonald (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) captain, 27 caps

Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) uncapped

Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) 12 caps

Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps

George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps

Backs

Jack Blain (Edinburgh) uncapped

Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Cole Forbes (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps

George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps

Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh) 4 caps

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 25 caps

James Lang (Harlequins) 6 caps

Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Matt Scott (Leicester Tigers) 39 caps

Charlie Shiel (Edinburgh Rugby)  uncapped

Scott Steele (Harlequins) 4 caps

Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap

Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped.


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About Stuart Bathgate 968 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

43 Comments

  1. Hutchison again today (6 June) lit up the game against Exeter with a brace of tries but doesn’t even get on this list. Wish someone from SRU would explain why?

  2. I am surprised not to see Beven Rodds not included. He looks legit.and seems to be getting lots of game time. Maybe more to this can anyone spread some light.

  3. Can someone explain why Hutchinson – constant rave reviews in England – is obviously on an SRU blacklist.

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  4. For the most interesting selections are at centre and prop. The prop selections show it is not “just enough” to play for Glasgow or Edinburgh – it looks like Rae, McCallum and Nicol have not progressed as hoped, and each of them has slipped down the rankings and will need to work their way back up. At centre, I expected to see George Taylor, Stafford McDowall and Rory Hutchinson. The fact that none of them have been chosen suggests they are looking for specific qualities in the centre and these guys have not yet achieved them via their “work-ons”.
    The one other mystery for me is why Callum Hunter Hill had dropped off the radar? Shipped out of Edinburgh, and now overtaken by both Hodgson and Henderson as next lock of the rank.

    • Agree Hunter – Hill is a surprise omission – regulary starts for Saracens. Shows again the depth we have at Lock with Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist resting it will be good to see Henderson and Craig playing with of course Skinner and Cummings also in the squad thats a big pool of Locks. Don’t get Hutchinson – always looks dangerous when I see him – perhaps too flamboyant for Gregor. Again a lot of choice at centre with most of our top centres being rested.

  5. So instead of having two pro teams (Glasgow and Edinburgh) playing in pro competitions we would have one (Scottish Thistles)? Im not sure how this will improve the national team, there would be less players getting meaningful game time. Its hard enough to build depth for the national team with only two teams, let alone one.

    Where would these Scottish Thistles play their home games? Murrayfield? undoing the good work thats happened to promote rugby in Glasgow? or would the move around grounds which has failed in most sports teams as fans only get to watch a couple of games a season.

  6. You completely misunderstand the concept, which has been posted elsewhere (on TOL) – check it out! Impossible to do any of that stuff in isolation… Districts proposal alluded to above is for a fully integrated, joined-up system for competition & develop at all levels, managed / controlled by clubs (in conjunction with the SRU – funded by the SRU) retaining close connections throughout the clubs base. Your error is to regard Districts as the top professional level beneath full international – that to be embodied by a Scotland “A” playing as “Scottish Thistles” in professional competitions. The very top stars away in England & France – that, dear friend, is part of the plan…. aiding personal & rugby development, benefiting SRU finances…

  7. There’s a few I’m disappointed to see miss out such as Stafford mcdowall and Hutchinson but all in all its a decent squad and a development tour is what we need this summer. I’ll be interested to see big Henderson play, he’s going to be a top quality lock in years to come.

  8. so when exactly does Pierre Schoeman qualify? Has this tour come too soon? I find this selection a bit baffling. is Hutchinson injured? At least if Javan works out he can add some much needed depth a tighthead but Auterac and Hislop seem strange choices given their age profile and the fact we have a good crop of looseheads, Lambert? Rodd? presumably the latter has gone to England.
    In the centers where is Sam Johnson or George Taylor if you’re looking to blood youngsters? Tom Gordon?

    • Can someone explain why Hutchinson – constant rave reviews in England – is obviously on an SRU blacklist.

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  9. Seems a slightly unbalanced squad eg o ly 3 centres although Steyn can play there. Surprised Hutchinson not included. 4 scrum halves but only 2 fly halves. See Hildargo Clyde not selected.
    See report says Ashman is a Prop which will be news to the player since I thought he was a Hooker.
    Think squad will struggle against England A and Georgia.

  10. I had no idea Sebastian or Auterac were Scottish qualified. Its a pretty decent squad considering the Lions and senior Scots I assume being rested. Good to see many of the up and coming players getting a game. Cant remember a time when the depth of the international squad was as good as it is now.

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  11. A strong squad, with exciting youngsters like Thompson and McLean breaking through. Ritchie was always a Scotland captain in the making and can’t have been far from Lions selection. We may well lose him if the casualties mount up in South Africa. Bayliss looks like a useful player, so get him capped. Hoped to see Dingwall’s name on the sheet, but give it time – we’ll get him back eventually. Like others, I look at the likes of Bennett, H Jones, Johnson, Hutchinson, Maitland, Taylor, McGuigan, the Grays, Toolis, Gilchrist, Brown, McInally et al and think how much stronger the party could have been. But as stated this is a chance to blood new players and Toonie will be casting his net wider to give those on the periphery a chance. It is always a good thing to expand your choices, but that said I would love to know how many of the missing are considered in the categories of ‘already proven’, ‘resting’, ‘over the hill’ or indeed just plain ‘crocked’. And if Jonny Gray is being rested, would he say no to a Lions jersey?

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  12. Sure, I’ve thought about it, it sounds crap, dated and would drag the sport to this country to depths before it “saved” it, Tim, Tam and his dug turning up to watch a watered down product, watered down coaching – game would go backwards, player would have a low pitch of talent and be found seriously wanting playing better sides who didn’t run an amateur sport.

    The national team would get spanked, crowds would drop, money would drop – grand job

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  13. Apart from the omissions mentioned, what about Hew Jones, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Darcy Graham? Are some of these guys hopeful of a Lions callup therefore not included?

  14. Sure, it sounds crap, would be followed by next to no one and players talent level would be capped at a pretty low level as the general completion would be pretty poor and the coaching watered down, no danger are Scotland producing Lions in a system like that.

    It would quicker kill Rugby in this country than it would grow it.

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  15. Looks good! An expanded programme of “A” (or “Scottish Thistles”) fixtures – hopefully in place of the two cash-guzzling, unviable, under-performing current professional teams, on top of a revived fully-integrated District set-up for competition and joined-up development at all levels – is to be welcomed with open arms, going forward…..

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    • Not sure you’d have quite as long a list of exciting new talent if it wasn’t for the Pro Teams Ron.

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      • Thank you for your thoughts, but that’s utterly risible, Keith – and after a moment of quiet reflection in a darkened room you’ll know it too (admitting you aren’t “sure”, clearly stuck in the rut of what we have now). Have you ever considered “thinking out of the box”, e.g. contemplating how much more effective, efficient and productive would be a properly integrated District-based system for competition and player development at all levels – with ancillary benefit of re-connecting Scottish rugby across its currently fragmented, failing spectrum of activity?

        Those players in the list to which you refer that haven’t emerged from the hard-pressed ranks of Scottish club rugby are quite simply products of an almost out-of-control Scottish professional rugby chequebook underwritten by substantial trading losses, a SG bailout and CVC windfall monies (that are currently under investigation by the Competitions & Markets Authority).

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    • Sounds pish to be honest, in this day and age Scotland would be left behind very quickly if they went down that route

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    • If im honest i dont really get the concept.

      We go back to the interdistrict games, where each team played each other once, so players get a grand total of three games? Even expanding that to home and away fixtures is only 6 games per season.

      Where do the players play for the rest of the time? the premiership clubs, where they are playing with/against semi-pro’s and amateurs? Playing against the pro teams from Irish and Welsh pro teams allows our players to develop and improve, without this they would go backwards at a rate of knots. How would European rugby work?

      Surely any ambitious players would be off to England or France in a heartbeat if this was implemented.

      As for them being under-performing. in the last ten seasons Glasgow have won it once, made the final a further two times and been semi-finalists a further 4 times. Only Leinster have a better record.

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      • And i’m the one trolling apparently.. btw there is a mistake in the last paragraph, you mention Jonny Gray the second time as a back.

        Looking forward to seeing this group in action, never heard of Javan Sebastian, is he getting regular game-time at Scarlets?

      • But this comment isn’t trolling. That’s why it is still visible. Well done, keep it up!

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      • From I’ve seen/heard Sebastien is a bit of an old school prop. Big and solid at scrum time but won’t offer much in the loose. Auterac is a loosehead, as is Hislop.

        Suspect Kebble will be playing as a tighthead on the tour.

        And agree Ron must be trolling to be spouting such ‘ronsense’.

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      • Just asked my girlfriend’s father about Sebastian as he’s a Llanelli boy – response was “well respected and the kind of guy you want in the pack of things get a bit rough”

        It’ll be good to see Matt Scott back in a Scotland shirt – hope he can kick on and make a claim to that 12 shirt. Redpath probably number one choice but Scott would be my backup.

      • You completely misunderstand the concept, which has been posted elsewhere (on TOL) – check it out! Impossible to do any of that stuff in isolation… Districts proposal alluded to above is for a fully integrated, joined-up system for competition & develop at all levels, managed / controlled by clubs (in conjunction with the SRU – funded by the SRU) retaining close connections throughout the clubs base. Your error is to regard Districts as the top professional level beneath full international – that to be embodied by a Scotland “A” playing as “Scottish Thistles” in professional competitions. The very top stars away in England & France – that, dear friend, is part of the plan…. aiding personal & rugby development, benefiting SRU finances…

      • Scrummo gives a perfect example of calling some a troll because they post an opinion he disagrees with. Shame really.

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      • So instead of having two pro teams (Glasgow and Edinburgh) playing in pro competitions we would have one (Scottish Thistles)? Im not sure how this will improve the national team, there would be less players getting meaningful game time. Its hard enough to build depth for the national team with only two teams, let alone one.

        Where would these Scottish Thistles play their home games? Murrayfield? undoing the good work thats happened to promote rugby in Glasgow? or would the move around grounds which has failed in most sports teams as fans only get to watch a couple of games a season.

      • You need to consider (and understand) the entire plan, covering structure, staffing, finance, competition, development and the rest. Clearly, a lot to grasp in all of that….

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