Scotland v France: Rory Darge to make his first international start at blindside flanker

Zander Fagerson and Magnus Bradbury also come into the starting pack, while backline unchanged

Rory Darge will make his first Scotland start against France on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Rory Darge will make his first Scotland start against France on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -

RORY DARGE will make his first start for Scotland, having debuted off the bench against Wales a fortnight ago, in Saturday’s Six Nations round three clash against Grand Slam chasing France at Murrayfield.

His selection is one of three personnel changes in the pack, with Magnus Bradbury starting at No 8 in place of the injured Matt Fagerson, and Zander Fagerson coming in at tight-head prop in place of WP Nel, who drops to the bench. There is also a positional alteration with Sam Skinner switching from blindside flanker to second-row in place of the injured Jonny Gray.

There are no changes to the backline, while prop Oli Kebble, second-row Jamie Hodgson, back-row Nick Haining and centre Mark Bennett (in place of injured Cam Redpath) are added to the bench.

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Meanwhile, as predicted by TOL yesterday, France have shifted Yoram Moefana from inside-centre to the left wing in place of the injured Gabin Villiere, with Jonathan Danty returning from injury to take over the No 12 jersey. The rest of the visiting starting XV is unchanged to the side which head coach Fabien Galthié sent out against Ireland in round two.


Scotland (v France at Murrayfield on Saturday @ 2.15pm): S Hogg©; D Graham, C Harris, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell (VC), A Price; P Schoeman, S McInally, Z Fagerson, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (VC), R Darge, H Watson, M bradbury.

Replacements: G Turner, O Kebble, W Nel, J Hodgson, N Haining, B White, B Kinghorn, M Bennett.


France: M Jaminet; D Penaud, G Fickou, J Danty, Y Moefana; R Ntamack, A Dupont; C Baille, J Marchand, U Atonio, C Woki, P Willense, F Cros, A Jelonch, G Alldritt.

Replacements: P Mauvaka, J Gros, D Bamba, R Taofifenua, T  Flament, D Cretin, M Lucu, T Ramos.

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About David Barnes 4004 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. Watson is a tremendous player but I reckon his absence doesn’t really weaken Scotland tomorrow, Haining is an excellent 8 and brings physicality to the party.

  2. first up I could not be more delighted for Darge. The 2 7s is a sort of needs must, but Darge has been in excellent form -I’d go as far as to say that this season a far more influential player than Watson (who was anonymous for ages after his return from the Lions, better last week TBF) and against better opposition.
    I hope not too much expectation is heaped on him. Every time a player steps up a level, they need to adjust. Adjust to the pace – speed of thought, not just the obvious – the fact that the big guys can all play a bit and more, the experience the opposition have at the higher level. Some players take a few games to do this, some never do, And some take to it at every step up like a duck to water.
    So far in his career Darge has looked very much like the latter type. I think he is going to be a long term Scotland fixture.

    So no pressure Mr Darge. Go get ’em!

  3. Actually i think this could be the strongest team we’ve put out so far. I think skinner is a much better 5 than a 6. I like the look of Darge and Watson working in tandem and Bradbury has been immense for Edinburgh since Christmas. But still worried that Kinghorn might get on the pitch, don’t know what misdemeanour Hastings has committed but no one that has watched Edinburgh play will tell you that Kinghorn is a competent 10.

    • Hastings and Kinghorn pretty much offer the same things tactically from the bench… that being unless there is an injury they won’t be getting much game time. At least Kinghorn being on the bench gives you full backline cover with a centre also on the bench.

      Hastings is a better 10. Kinghorn is slightly better in every other position.

      • I reckon Hastings is a better 10 12 13 15 than Kinghorn, Kinghorn is a better wing, Steyn covers wing centre better than the 2 of them.
        However on occasion this season Kinghorn has been very impressive at 10.
        Hastings played very well at 10 v France in Paris when he came on and is an very able deputy to Finn IMO

  4. Tough gig considering the injuries. Delighted to see Darge get his chance (first time glimpsed by me without the Rab C headband) and Bennett returning to the fold. He is pure quality and Scotland have missed him. Tupiolotu put in a good shift last time out, but I still wonder what the versatile Hutchinson could do for us at 12 – and why he has never been given the opportunity. Absolutely baffling. Apart from that, give me Hastings and Gary Senior on the bench and I’m a reasonably happy boy. Sort of.

  5. Will be interesting to see how this pack goes vs their French behemoth counterparts. I do worry that the back row may be a bit lightweight in the tight in the first half. But given a dry track and an open game it could be exciting to see Darge and Watson marauding together.

    Good also to see Bennett getting his opportunity – well deserved. But I’d still like to see Velacott and Hastings on the bench for White and Kinghorn (sorry, a bit ‘broken record’ I know).

  6. Massive shift from the front five for eighty minutes needed for this mobile backrow to get rewards.Would have liked Styen given bench spot Hogg can cover flyhalf.

  7. Interesting to see Bennett back, well deserved been playing well for a spot of the bench. It will be interesting to see how Darge goes against a top notch huge work rate French back row. Guys are going to have to be on their top game to come out in front , come on guys go for it.

  8. France are a different beast away than they are at home, they can be rattled and still capable of beautiful bampottery….Ritchie is a big miss IMO, he has a bit of everything but Darge has been superb and deserves a shot.
    We need to get in amongst them and get space for Finn to feed VDM and Hogg.
    I reckon could be a very entertaining match.

    • You are right John,
      “France are a different beast away than they are at home”
      However, I think the french team has matured a lot.
      Can’t wait, I just hope for a tight score…

  9. I don’t mind 2 7s. We’re really missing Ritchie and Fagerson so at least we get to see some other combinations. We need to win some ball at the breakdown so we’ve something to play off. My slight concern is they might be blown off the ball by the big boys in the French pack. But then Watson and Darge would run through walls all day for the cause.

  10. I wonder if the choice of two 7s is just an acknowledgement that we simply don’t have the forwards to go toe-to-toe with France. I am more than a little worried about Saturday!

    • lack of a like for like for Richie drives this. Richie is a 6 and a half, his all round breakdown work better than Watson’s.
      Toonie and co have the confidence in Darge to start him at 6 rather than his normal position, rather then move the vastly experience Watson over. That says quite a lot about him

  11. I guess I’m biased but Dickson appeared to me to favour La Rochelle in almost all 50/50 decisions versus Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun a few weeks ago. Doesn’t seem to be one of the new wave of English refs who enjoy a dialogue with players. Ironically, being a former player, he favours a more dictatorial approach. His performance in Glasgow gives me cause for concern.

  12. Looking for turnover ball. 2 x 7s looks good on paper but can be under powered – Haining on bench is good option. Early turnover ball would put the cat amongst the pigeons…..

    Interesting that Bennett on bench, he’s been in fine form for Edinburgh and looks like GT looking for at least having a different option to Harris to call on.

    Exciting line up

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