Scotland switch not a decision to be taken lightly, says Jack Dempsey

27-year-old has been a stand-out performer for Glasgow Warriors since joining the club last summer

Jack Dempsey says that playing for Scotland would be an honour but he needs to make sure it is the right decision for him and for the team. Image: © Craig Watson -
Jack Dempsey is one of five newcomers to be shortlisted for Glasgow's Player of the Season award. Image: © Craig Watson -

JACK DEMPSEY has admitted that he is considering the possibility of becoming a Scotland international but won’t rush into a decision.

The Glasgow Warriors back-rower has 14 caps for his native Australia but could switch allegiances from October under changes in World Rugby’s international player eligibility rules that came into force at the start of this year.

Players who have already been capped at senior level can now switch to a new country once they have completed a three-year cooling off period in which they have not been selected for international duty and also possess “a close and credible link via birthright” to their new country.

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Dempsey qualifies on both fronts having last pulled on a Wallabies shirt in October 2019 at the Rugby World Cup and through his Scottish grandfather, Andrew Prentice.

Dempsey’s mum, Rose, who is half-Scottish, is especially keen to see her son throw his lot in with Gregor Townsend’s squad, while the 27 year-old revealed he had also sought the counsel of Warriors team-mates Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu who were both born in Australia but now play for Scotland.

The player was coy on whether he had spoken directly to Townsend or not about it all but did admit that discussions had taken place with other relevant figures “behind the scenes” about a possible switch.

In an interview with the Australian website Code Sport, Dempsey revealed that he would use the summer break to mull over all his options, given that he would be closing the door on any future Australia appearances should he make the switch to Scotland.

He said: “On paper, the idea of playing Test rugby again appeals, no matter who you’re playing for. But you’ve got to make sure you’re not taking it for granted.

“I’m very close to guys like Sam, Sione and Cole [Forbes] who have all come out for Scotland. Sione came over around the same time as me and has now played for Scotland so I’ve been able to ask him personal questions about his decision and how he came to it.

“He’s got a grandparent from Scotland the same as me. You look at their team and there are so many South Africans, Kiwis and Aussies so nationality is a grey area. And then you see the passion that those guys played with against England and you can tell that they’re clearly invested in what the team and country are trying to do. That appeals so much to me.

“I can’t really comment on [whether he’s spoken to Townsend] but there have been quite a few talks behind the scenes with various people.


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“My mum is pretty keen for me to play for Scotland as it’s her side of the family. All I can do for now is to try to take my rugby to another level so that both countries are competing for me. That would be the best case after two years of not being wanted by the national team.

“I know that once you change nationality you can’t change back plus you’d technically be an international player for an Australian franchise. And that could affect my decision to go home again one day to play. So there are so many different factors.

“I have until October to think about it so I won’t be making any decisions any time soon. I’m going to finish this season with the Warriors, go into my holiday break and review everything with some key people and get their advice.

“Growing up as a kid all I wanted to do was to play for Australia and I was lucky enough to fulfil that dream. So if you’re going to then commit to a whole different country you’ve got to make sure it’s for the right reasons. Not for money, fame or for anything other than a reason that matches your principles as a person. And that’s something that’s important to me.”


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About Graeme Macpherson 44 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.


  1. I also admire his candour here. He’s been superb for Glasgow this season – really puts his body on the line. I’m sure he’d bring the same commitment and aggression to the national side and I’d love to see Jack wearing the thistle.

  2. It’s hard not to have anything but the utmost respect for his honesty and candour – better than the usual trite ” I’ve always dreamed of playing for Scotland ” nonsense that gets wheeled out. Personally I do hope he throws in his lot with Scotland but if not we wish him well.

  3. The key thing for me was his point about ‘growing up dreaming of playing for the Aussies”. I think that’s what international rugby should be about, but I accept that maybe that ship has already sailed

  4. Dempsey has been a great addition to Glasgow this season, he is a really dynamic and skilful ball carrier. I would absolutely welcome his inclusion to the Scotland set up. In fairness though Matt Fagerson has really stood up and performed extremely well for Scotland in the 8 jersey so I don’t imagine Dempsey would waltz straight into the starting XV, which is a great thing for the Scottish set up.

  5. He is way better than any other Scotland qualified 8 and it is a problem position for scotland. I do like his honesty and the fact that if he does switch it will be for more than money so we will see total commitment to the cause. I wish him well in making a very complex decision for him and his family.

    • Not sure I agree there.
      Matt Fagerson has been excellent in that 8 jersey and regularly punches above his weight at test level for me

  6. It’s a no from me. If he had one or two caps then maybe but he has 14 caps and has the prospect of more. This new eligibility rule is a nonsense. If you’ve committed to an international team in a professional sport and have been capped then you shouldn’t be allowed to switch allegiance.

    My solution would be to allow it from tier 1 to tier 2 nations, but not between tier 1 nations. Tier one nations do very nicely in terms of recruiting players and hoovering up talent from beyond their shores as it is, without having to rope in out of favour internationalists from other countries.

    • you are entitled to criticise the rule, I wasn’t wholly convinced by it myself. But its there, so we are perfectly withing our rights to use it. As would others if the situation arose

  7. Good piece Graeme. You might get to like covering rugby.

    Now we’ve got two St Mirren fans covering the game, with you and Mr Ferguson.

    • Did you read the article and take on board what he said? He clearly didn’t say he needs time to decide if he’s Scottish, he Kearny says he needs time to decide whether to switch his national rugby eligibility, under the new rules, to Scotland. Will he get picked by Scotland more than a couple of times? Will Dave Rennie come calling and tell him he gas a chance of getting back in the Wallaby side? How will it affect his ability to go back to Australia and finish his career there? Would he want to?

      One of his reasons for moving north was that Rennie told him he needed to add a few new skills to his game and he felt he could do that by moving to NH rugby (I have not seen a definitive on why he opted for Glasgow, so can’t comment on that). Will he have shown Rennie he’s done that in one season and be ready to return to Australia with a chance of more caps?

      It’s a huge decision for him and his family and they need to weigh up all the factors before he decides either way. It’s not about whether he’s Scottish or not, he knows he partly is ……and, hence, eligible.

      The last paragraph sums it up for me, and good luck to him whichever way he chooses.

    • no. He doesn’t know how long he will be needed or wanted here. If he gets capped by Scotland, he would be a “foreign” player in an Aussie franchise, not many of those get deals.
      He is simply and smartly considering all angles and how they impact on him, his family and his employment prospects, not just today or next year, but for the next many years
      Professional rugby is a job. With a short earning period

      • In my book he is either Scottish or he isn’t. What the future brings is totally irrelevant.

        I did read the article and my response is thanks but no thanks. We have plenty of Scottish lads who want to play for Scotland.

      • James, it isn’t about making money playing for Scotland. It is about having a job as a professional rugby player if, for any one of numerous reasons, he returns to Australia
        Its professional rugby, like it or not, been that way for quite a while now and it ain’t going back.
        Like anyone else, players look at their employability. Its naive to think otherwise

      • That’s your opinion S+9 but not mine.

        I’d rather be naive than sell my nationality for a few quid. Maybe we should replace all national anthems with Abba’s Money Money Money?

  8. Interesting. I think Dempsey is right to take his time about whether to switch to Scotland. As outlined there are a number of issues for him to consider and a quick decision hastily made might be regretted. However at 27 he still has several years of potentially playing top class or international rugby ahead of him. He could play for Scotland in two World Cups both next year and 4 years later. No 8 is a problem position for Scotland and none of the current candidates quite have the same attributes as Dempsey. Fagerson has talent but lacks the physicality the position needs and others are better suited to different back row positions.

  9. Depmsey is a good lad and seems to have fitted in well with Glasgow. I’m sure he’ll do what is right for him and those around him. Matt Fagerson has been going pretty well and improving at 8 though for Scotland and I dont think that its guaranteed that Dempsey would start ahead of him.


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