Scotland v France reaction: Sam Skinner a serious doubt for World Cup

Playing Georgia away next week will be one of the toughest challenges Scotland team has faced, says head coach Gregor Townsend

Sam Skinner is helped from the field after injuring his hamstring during Scotland's win over France. Image: © Craig Watson -

GREGOR TOWNSEND has indicated that there is serious cause for concern that Sam Skinner might be ruled out of the World Cup due to a hamstring injury suffered during Scotland’s gritty victory over France at Murrayfield this afternoon.

The 24-year-old is a near certainty to travel to Japan next month if fit, with his versatility as a second-row who can slot seamlessly into the back-row a huge selling point as Townsend tries to get the maximum utility out of his 31-man squad.

Skinner was one of three injury-concerns after this bruising tussle, with winger Tommy Seymour and debuting No 8 Blade Thomson picking up head knocks.

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“It is always disappointing when you see someone getting injured and it may mean that they miss the World Cup,” said Townsend. “Sam Skinner out the three looks to be more of a serious injury. He’ll get scanned tonight and we’ll know more about him later tonight, so fingers crossed for all three players.”

Turning his attention to Thomson, Townsend acknowledged that the fact the New Zealand-born back-row missed a large chunk of last season with a head injury adds extra anxiety.

“He [Thomson] played very well,” said the coach. “He was aggressive in defence. He carried well, made the right decisions – when to set up a ruck and when to try and get in behind the defence – so he was excellent.  I just hope that the HIA [Head Injury Assessment] that he failed means that he doesn’t have to miss any more than the minimum time out the game.

“You look at his history. He obviously had one serious head injury in November and it took him a long time for him to come back before playing two games at the end of the season. He has since trained with us and he hasn’t had any head injuries in that time but since that one kept him out for such a long time it will be taken into account.

“Tommy failed an HIA, too. He got a couple of hits and the second one when was when he started to get symptoms, so he went off the field then and failed his HIA.

“On a wider issue, it will be a real challenge for teams to deal with at a World Cup. Normally when you get a calf injury, a rib injury or a dead leg, you know the time-line for people coming back, but with head injuries you don’t. There is a minimum time but as you know people can be out weeks and months, and we’ve got to give them that time to come back.”

Something to build on

While this was not a vintage performance from Scotland, there was more positives to take out of it than negatives given that the team found a way to win after a disastrous start when they lost a try within two minutes of kick-off. France scored again in the 26th minute to stretch into a 3-14 lead, but Scotland struck back just before the break with a Sean Maitland try, and then snatched the lead which they did not relinquish through a Chris Harris try in the second-half.

“Performance-wise, I wouldn’t know what to rank it,” said Townsend. “I felt in the first 20 minutes we were on our game and that wasn’t getting shown on the scoreboard because a couple of times France scored off our possession. But I just felt that with the bite in the tackles, the speed of ball we were getting and where we were attacking France, it looked like us out there.

“It wasn’t the perfect performance – clearly not – but what I found really satisfying was how the players found a way to win. Against that early scoreboard, against a team that had beaten them comfortably a week ago, against multiple changes in rhythm with a lot of stoppages and the injuries – having to put John Barclay and Ryan Wilson in the second-row, and George Turner at flanker – what the players did today was excellent. But we know that our performance will have to improve a lot over the next few weeks.”

“[But] it certainly helps with momentum fighting and finding a way to win ahead of going onto a very tough challenge next week.”

Georgia on their minds

All eyes now turn to Tbilisi and the third of Scotland’s four warm-up matches against Georgia next Saturday. The final World Cup squad will be named the following Tuesday, before Georgia once again provide the opposition in the final pre-tournament hit-out at Murrayfield on Friday 6th September.

“We’ll look to pick as strong a possible team either next week or the following week, and that will depend on how players recover from this weekend,” said Townsend.

“I would think the two head injuries will not be involved next week because of the risk of not getting through your protocols and getting ready in time when we’ve got a six-hour flight on Wednesday. And I can confidently say that I don’t think Sam Skinner will turn it around in two days – we’ll have to announce our team to the players on Tuesday because we fly first thing on Wednesday. So, those three most probably won’t be involved.

“But the goal is to go to Georgia with a strong side and we’ll have to because going to Georgia will be one of the toughest challenges this team has faced, just in terms of the context of Georgia wanting to get in the Six Nations, being a very good side, playing at home, the travel to get out there, 50,000 people behind them …

“So, it is a tough game for us but one that we relish. We know we’ve got to improve our away record and we’ve got a chance to do that next week.

“It is a great challenge for us to go into as we look ahead to playing Ireland on 22ndSeptember and the host nation Japan in October.”

Scotland v France: fightback produces morale-boosting home win

About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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. I think Skinner would have been better assisted by taller lads helping him off the field to allow him to keep the injured leg clear of the ground or, even better, a buggy.

  2. Sam Skinner is a fine rugby player and he is not over-rated. However, where is Riche Gray, another fine rugby player who is under-rated ??

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