Six Nations: Scotland v France: three changes in home pack

Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey and Grant Gilchrist added to starting XV

Rory Darge returns to the Scotland team to face France on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rory Darge returns to the Scotland team to face France on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

CO-CAPTAIN Rory Darge, fellow back-rower Jack Dempsey and second-row Grant Gilchrist have been added to the Scotland pack for Saturday’s Six Nations round two clash against France at Murrayfield, as Gregor Townsend’s side look to back-up last weekend’s roller-coaster win over Wales.

That triumvirate take the place of injured pair Luke Crosbie and Richie Gray, while former captain Jamie Ritchie drops out of the match-day squad.

Gilchrist was unavailable for the Wales match due to suspension, while that game came just a few days too early for Darge as he returned from a knee injury. Dempsey was a replacement at the Principality Stadium and his place on the bench is taken by the in-form Andy Christie of Saracens.


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Scotland Under-20s make two changes for Friday-night France clash


 

Townsend has opted for same again across his backline, as Scotland look to build on last weekend’s victory with close to an 80 minute performance against a France side who suffered a heavy opening weekend defeat to Ireland in Marseille.

More to follow …

 

Scotland (versus France at Murrayfield Stadium, Saturday, 2.15pm): K Rowe; K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell (c), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey Substitutes: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, A Christie, G Horne, B Healy, C Redpath.

France: T Ramos; D Penaud, G Fickou, J Danty, L Bielle-Biarrey; M Jalibert, M Lucu; C Baille, P Mauvaka, U Antonio, C Woki, P Gabrillagues, F Cros, C Ollivon, G Alldritt. Substitutes: J Marchand, S Taofifenua, D Aldegheri, P Tuilagi, A Roumat, P Boudehent, N Le Garrec, Y Moefana.

 

Referee: Nic Berry (Aus)


Scotland Under-20s make two changes for Friday-night France clash

About David Barnes 3817 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.

45 Comments

  1. Just half expecting the Darge selection to crash and burn…Sounds like he has an ongoing knee ligament issue. They never ‘just go away’…Thrown into a test against such a powerful forward pack is nuts to me. We had other options.
    For example ..why not play Christie at 7 (which he often does for Saracens)…and Young at 6 (which he has for Edinburgh)
    Its a matter of time before Toonie is shown the door without Dodson to keep him as HC.

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  2. Not sure why M Fagerson performance has been questioned by some on this chat, 18 tackles.. by far one of the better forwards on the day!

  3. Has there been an indication of when Kinghorn is back from injury? Rowe has done well so far but Kinghorn’s flexibility as a back allows us the option of a 6:2 split. Useful for this game but probably even more important against Ireland later in the tourney. Not that I think we are capable of winning that game mind you!

    Going to stay optimistic for now though, this is a good Scottish lineup that can rattle a clearly already rattled French team. Our back row will take it to them; though disappointed we lost the aggro of Crosbie mixing it with the opposition. Good old fashioned mongrel back rower!

    I am worried about how good they are out wide if given the opportunity. Bielle-Barre a star for now and the future and Penaud is amazing. Hoping Galthie (who comes across like an arrogant idiot in the Netflix doc) has burned a few bridges with the French team that leads to their implosion! Bad to wish these things on the opposition, but would prefer a French implosion to a Scottish one! Come on boys!

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    • Kinghorns flexibility extends to either wing or FB….he is simply not test level at 10….and not even at club level. I don’t think he offers the chance to go 6-2 at all…..thats just GT belief.

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  4. match fitness is an interesting one. One which I used to worry about a lot. I think it varies from player to player but I am a lot less concerned these days – I’ve seen so many come back after a long spell out and play as if they have never been away. Darge has already proved he can do that once

  5. Said it before Ashman is a waste of a jersey, runs like his laces have been tied together, can’t hit his jumpers, has no dog in him. I would’ve risked Mathews as he at least has pace and knows where the try line is.
    I haven’t seen Christie play but pleased he’s in as you can’t ignore form players and he’s been tearing it up of late.
    A just returning Darge will be an improvement on a fading Ritchie at jackal time but we will miss his Kgs other times.
    Dempsey is class but in his own words ‘isn’t there for the grunt work’ so who is?
    Fagerson had his worst game in ages last week but usually gives his industrious best, he deserves another bite.
    Front row, locks and backs – well we could swap a few in and out but I wouldn’t expect anything better.
    I might have been tempted to play Skinner at 6 to start just for the heft.
    It’s all going to depend on who dictates play.
    If the French get most of the possession it’s going to be a long day full of lineout and maul, if we can keep a hold we have enough talent there to give them a fright.

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      • agree Turner and Ashman are classic Townsend type of forwards, mobile and skillful but cannot be guarranteed first and foremost to do their jobs for the team.

        Matthews and Cherry have proven week in and week out that they can do their jobs for their teams consistently well and anything else is a bonus.

        Both especially Matthews contribution in the loose is very underated and cherry (having a brawl with his australian team mates) sorry falling down the stairs means we will not see him again.

  6. Fortunately we have a good selection of other options in the back row. What concerns me is when you have players like Jamie Ritchie and Bradbury who fall off form who is employed to really coach (not rugby skills as such) these players to look after their wellbeing, improve their confidence, motivation, focus etc. We can’t afford to lose the capabilities of these young men. It’s something Scottish Rugby has failed to do is invest in the inner beings of players of age grade and all national representative levels…

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    • That is a fair point. Townsend has a very unenviable record of just discarding ‘some’very talented players at the merest drop of performance or paying lip service to their involvement at squad level, whilst others who do not necessarily have the same levels of talent continually appear on the park irrespective of form.

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    • Totally agree and more and more is coming out about the mental health and wellbeing issues within professional rugby as players like Fraser Brown and Matt Smith have openly discussed. Then we have the tragic death of Cattigan as the report into her death stated she could no longer live with the pain in her head and Siobhan succumbed to an irrational thought and impulsive action. The continual rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows takes its toll and the SRU as an employer have certainly not been complying with their legal duty of care for their employees. They may be professional sports men and women but first and foremost they are all contracted employees of the SRU.

  7. As good a team as could realistically be named. Much as I think Turner should be dropped, can Ashman be any more trusted than Turner to start? I’m not convinced so I think there’s pragmatism from Toony there.

    Ritchie being dropped; he wasn’t up to it last weekend, and I felt he looked a bit fed up and not playing with his usual fire. Maybe still not fully fit either? Either way he didn’t deserve a place this week so here’s hoping the ones coming in can do the job required.

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  8. Darge is not match-fit – fact – but Townsend made him ‘co-captain’ and so won’t back down. Christie was the obvious choice – a stratospherically hot form player – and an unnecessary risk has been taken that defies common sense. The Glasgow lad would have been far better suited coming off the bench on this particular occasion. Ritchie was a passenger last week and deserved to be dropped, for there is no room for sentiment in international rugby. That said, I still don’t understand the Mish’s complete omission and Toony continues to move in mysterious ways. Johnny Matthews would have been my pick at two. He knows how to drive the bus, pops up everywhere and most importantly can throw the ball in accurately. Turner should have got the shepherd’s crook to give his mouth a rest and his inclusion teaches the team absolutely nothing about discipline. One day my first choice team will be the same as the coach’s but it has never once happened in seven years of trying.

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    • Dempsey played 1st game since World Cup for Glasgow 2 weeks ago and looked like he’d never missed a game, so I assume Darge will put in a formidable shift for an hour or for the whole game.
      Genuinely 50/50 game, I think it may be great fun for neutral (not sure my heart feels the same)

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    • “Darge is not match-fit – fact – but Townsend made him ‘co-captain’ and so won’t back down.”

      Abject nonsense – fact.

  9. Darge is not match-fit – fact – but Townsend made him ‘co-captain’ and so won’t back down. Christie was the obvious choice – a stratospherically hot form player – and an unnecessary risk has been taken that defies common sense. The Glasgow lad would have been far better suited coming off the bench on this particular occasion. Ritchie was a passenger last week and deserved to be dropped, for there is no room for sentiment in international rugby. That said, I still don’t understand the Mish’s complete omission and Toony continues to move in mysterious ways. Johnny Matthews would have been my pick at two. He knows how to drive the bus, pops up everywhere and most importantly can throw the ball in accurately. Turner should have got the shepherd’s crook to give his mouth a rest and his inclusion teaches the team absolutely nothing about discipline. One day my first choice team will be the same as the coach’s but it has never once happened in seven years of trying.

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    • Totally agree with you Sonsie and I wonder why Townsend bothers with having a coaching team because:

      a) Townsend never listens to them as he believes that he is always right

      or

      b) the coaches dont dare challenge him because they fear for their jobs.

      Answers or alternative suggestions on a postcard please

  10. Three questions for me:
    Has the riot act been read over last weeks discipline including listening to the Ref, the coaches and the captain.
    Maul defence was shocking and the lineout wasnt great so have they fixed it? The French will have analysed last weekend and I’m sure they will also review some of the Glasgow tapes for inspiration.
    Is this back row the right blend for the French and is Darge match fit?

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  11. Just hope Darge is truly physically fit and match fit to start on Saturday. I would have him on the bench and Christie starting but we’ll find out on Saturday, hopefully not the hard way, how good his recovery is. Matthews on the bench would seem a sensible choice but again left out for Ashman.
    Worried about our set pieces, line out really has to function well otherwise we’ll get mullered, both attacking and defending them. Will need to be at our best from 1 to 23, especially the pack who on the whole didn’t show up for 35 minutes last weekend.

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  12. Given Kinghorn Graham Hastings out not a lot of choice in backs, can make cases for Hutchinson and Redpath starting but…….
    Again in forwards Crosbies injury puts into focus the lack of options available. Pity Muncasters career has stalled.

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  13. Really surprised Turner has kept his place after his antics last week. Does Townsend have no concept of accountability?

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  14. It will be a tough battle for the forwards…
    Louis Bielle-Barrey is so elusive and fast, and Penaud a magnet to the try line, it will be hard to defend on the wings.
    Hope to watch a famous and electric game.

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    • I think, the way the French team play, we’ll have lots of ball. We just need to be sharp and disciplined at the breakdown and be clinical when the chances come.
      Come on you floo’ers.

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  15. Just have a feeling the starting front row and substitute front row names went on the team sheet last Saturday evening. Don’t know if that encourages real competition for a starting jersey.

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    • Feels a bit unrealistic comment here – you think Ireland don’t pencil in Furlong / Sheehan / Porter for all their big games in a similar manner? France with Baile & Antonio? Not saying we don’t have depth, but don’t get your point – most international teams have clear front runners for each position.

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      • Of course I realise that there are first choices for positions but , after Saturdays game, did you have George Turner as first choice and Ewan Ashman as backup. Does it have to be the same old or would a shakeup achieve something long term.

    • What makes you think that? Shoeman and Fagerson are the firmly settled first choice props, and if Nel and Sebastian aren’t fit to play then really the only question mark was over the bench choice between Hepburn and Bhatti.

  16. Expected to see a 6:2 split on the bench, due to size of the challenge, with Young on bench. As much stock as Richie has in the bank, he ain’t playing well at the moment, so it was the right call – only surprise is that Toonie actually made that call. I can understand why Turner is still in the 23, but simply don’t get why Matthews (or Young for that matter) is not getting their chance….

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    • Kinghorn’s presence in the match day 23 would normally permit us to go 6-2 on the bench as he can cover FH at a push and also the wing but as he’s currently injured, we don’t have anyone who is starting that could realistically cover FH role. If you put Healy plus scrum half on the bench, that would mean Finn having to move to inside centre, which doesn’t suit him.

  17. Cant really grumble about that selection under the circumstances with the various injuries. Seems to meet most peoples wishes after the Wales game post mortem perhaps with the exception of Mathews who has a lot of support. Christie will get a chance at some point and let’s hope the rest can keep their focus for the full 80 minutes.

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  18. No surprise that there are no surprises. Middle of the road decisions from a middle of the road coaching and selection team.

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  19. Richie dropped not a surprise bet his stats not good in second half of Welsh game . What I do not understand is why 5 forwards on bench not 6 . Young or Richie should have been there if only to redeem himself . We will need all the fresh forward power we can get in second half . Plenty of cover and flexibility in backs no need for Redpath although he did play well when he came on .

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  20. Glad Ritchie is out, sorry Ashman is still in, glad Christie is at least on the bench, sorry no Mathews. Hope Christie, Horne and Redpath get a decent run may be from 55 minutes or so. I thought our use of subs in Wales was poor lets hope we get it right this week, since the subs are becoming more vital in the international game now adays.

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  21. Matthews’s omission baffling. Ashman’s throwing is a lottery and Turner is prone to inaccuracy.
    I worry about lack of physicality at lock too.

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  22. Why Ashman over Mathews?…I don’t get it.
    Christie should be ahead of either Fagerson(form) or Darge (match fitness).
    Gilchrist…..urgh!!

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  23. Don’t think I’ve ever been more deflated after a team announcement. Back row seriously under-cooked and light weight. Will be happy to be proved wrong but I fear annihilation.

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  24. That’s a big surprise Jamie Ritchie being dropped from the squad. Unexpected from Gregor, though Christie has been a standout for Sarries.

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