Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland: two changes for Dublin showdown

Stafford McDowall and Ben White added to starting XV

Stafford McDowall will make his second Scotland appearance and his Six Nations debut against Ireland on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Stafford McDowall will make his second Scotland appearance and his Six Nations debut against Ireland on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -

STAFFORD MCDOWALL and Ben White have been added to Scotland’s backline, replacing Cam Redpath and George Horne at inside-centre and scrum-half respectively, ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations denouement against Ireland in Dublin.

Head coach Gregor Townsend has stuck with the same pack as he sent out against Italy last weekend, but has replaced Alec Hepburn with Rory Sutherland as replacement loose-head prop, and dropped former captain Jamie Ritchie from the bench.

Instead, he has reverted from a six-two to a five-three split between forwards and backs amongst the replacements, with Redpath taking Ritchie’s place, and Horne’s demotion nudging Ali Price out of the match-day squad.

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McDowall thought his career was over towards the end of the 2021-22 season after falling out of favour at Glasgow Warriors and not initially being offered a new contract by then head coach Danny Wilson. However, the last two seasons since Franco Smith‘s arrival at Scotstoun have seen him grow into a key member of the squad. He picked up his first and only, so far, cap in last summer’s World Cup warm-up match against Italy but didn’t make the final cut for France 2023.

White was rested last week and Scotland struggled to control the pace and shape of the game without his influence at scrum-half.

The Ireland team will be named at 2pm.


Scotland (v Ireland at the Aviva stadium, Dublin, Saturday 4.45pm BST): B Kinghorn; K Steyn, H Jones, S McDowall, D van der Merwe; F Russell (co-captain), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, A Christie, R Darge (co-captain), J Dempsey. Replacements: E Ashman, R Sutherland, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, M Fagerson, G Horne, C Redpath, K Rowe.


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About David Barnes 3891 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. Great to McDowall in the team.

    Gives another line out option!

    Seriously though the form centre in the URC in my view

  2. Fist congratulation to Stafford he has been playing well for Glasgow lets hope he does a great job on Saturday. The big question is how do we pick ourselves up after last weekend. One good thing we are back to our favourite position of underdog, no one expects us to win. England showed the way against Ireland just get in their faces and tackle like mad men and be in the position for a drop goal at the end.

  3. In paris for scotland Ireland game.worst 2hours of time watching Scotland play.
    Out numbered, out played but worst of all for me was the arrogant nature of most not all of the Irish supporters from fan Park on the metro and worst of all in and around the ground.
    They seem to taken on England’s mantle.

    • Fair point – actually found myself in a bar on holiday rooting for the Auld Enemy – simply due to the arrogance of the Irish fans in same bar…..

      • Spent the weekend in Galway and didn’t find this at all. Yes, the media were arrogant but not the fans who were very magnanimous in defeat.

  4. We could finish with a credible performance, but they will have to have fixed two problems…

    1) do as they are told … and have the leader to enforce it. …!!!! and
    2) the sweep defender, or Ireland will do exactly as Italy and France and score at will

    Unfortunately I have no faith at the moment

  5. Well on paper it’s hard to think of a better selection. With the exception of Sutherland (and only because we haven’t seen him) and Tuipulotu (injured) these are the form players.
    It’s definitely the team that should have taken on the Italians last week. With Whyte and McDowall we would have kicked more as we did in the previous 3 games and invited the Italians to run from deep and make more mistakes.
    As it is Ireland are the team in the 6N who like to pass more than any other so if we kick aimlessly they will be more than happy to run it back.
    I thought Ritchie when he came on for his cameo last week looked hungry at last whilst M Fag had his poorest half hour but for the past year it has been the other way around so I can’t complain.
    At least the bench with Redpath and Horne coming on will bring dynamism.
    The coaches really need to look at themselves with regard to the propping situation though. We have seen Hepburn , Hurd , Sebastian , Bhatti , Miller-Mills , Nel and Sutherland all hove into view and then be discarded with barely any minutes played and without anyone being injured.

  6. Very little to say when it comes to this fixture these days tbh. We seem to collapse against Ireland get nowhere near to our best levels against them, keep clinging on to the hope that a big performance has to be around the corner against Ireland but it never materialises. I going into this with zero expectations and if Scotland surprise us then great but fear it will be pasting.

  7. Happy overall and delighted for Stafford, he has been great this season.
    I would have dropped Kinghorn to then bench, he isn’t good under the high ball, which I think Ireland will target and he was really poor against Italy.
    Really want a good 80 mins performance even if it’s a defeat, would be gutted with yet another 2nd half collapse. Good luck lads!

    • Agree with that. Honestly I think we should have either given Rowe another shot at 15 and put Kinghorn on the bench, or dropped Duhan and put Rowe on the wing. Defensively, Kinghorn and Duhan are a nightmare, and leave far too much space in the backfield.

  8. Happy with that selection -but proof will be in the eating.Akhiis on fire at the moment and Macdowall looks rather more able to deal with his huge physicalty.

  9. Delighted McDowall has a chance to make his mark but some match to have your competition debut! Hindsight is the perfect science but wondering if this selection might have been better against Italy, when 5-3 split might have been more appropriate and then going 6-2 this week, Redpath or Rowe giving way to Bradbury who should have another shot given his form and the need for some hard ball-carrying this weekend. Not expecting anything more than a decent competitive performance – a draw or even a desperate win would be a bonus. Game plan, discipline and accuracy have to be spot on and for the full 80+ minutes please.

  10. So that’s the squad selection to play against Ireland on Saturday. Now all we can do is trust the coaches have done their job and the players fulfil our hopes . No need to question the selectors. No need to wish that this or that personal favourite had been picked. These are the guys we’ll be cheering on in “oor hoose “. From 4 years old to 72 years old, all eleven of us will be singing the same song. Outdoing the much vaunted ( on this platform ) Italian team.
    Come on you floo’ers, the Triple Crown can still be yours.

  11. I’m happy with that. White works well with Russell, McDowall’s been on great form and is perhaps better equipped to deal with Aki, whilst Sutherland has nothing to prove. The bench looks pretty useful.

    It’s going to be a bruising encounter, as both sides have something to prove.

  12. I think I called McDowell versus Aki as soon it was public that Tuipoluto was injured. Should be a great match-up between these two. The key thing for me is how quickly McDowell and Russell can get on the same wavelength. He’s been thrown in the deep end but I believe he’ll more than keep his head above water!

  13. Well done Stafford a thoroughly deserved cap after some great club performances. It shouldn’t be viewed that Redoath is carrying the can for last week just that Staff deserves a chance with a slightly different skill set. Whilst I’m a big fan of Horne I think it’s right that White returns. Let’s hope they make a difference and let’s hope for great performance on Saturday.

  14. Delighted for Big Stafford, although Redpath may feel narked to have been singled out as the fall guy. The flip-flopping at scrum half sees Ben White back, who was dropped for no apparent reason and it was with dismay that I saw Ali Price on the bench, now arguably second choice at his club and with at least two better nines down the motorway. Round and round it goes. Hopefully the boys can give us a decent 80-minute performance to see out the tournament, for we haven’t seen one so far. Winning might be a tall order, but its how they stand up for themselves that matters most. Grant Gilchrist has blamed the players for not following orders, although they seem perfectly capable of doing so at club level. Funny that.

    • We’re not privy to how White was affected in training after having to travel and turnout for his club, but I expect he needed the break.

    • Edinburgh regularly fade from thier game plan. Fad so far from it it sometimes looks a sif they donlt have one. I’ve seen Glasgow do the same.
      There are a couple in the team who are very fortunate to be retained. Both are unique talents and terrific on form and on fire, but both are so prone to lapses in concentration. We all know who they are.

  15. Hope the continuing lack of an actual “captain” doesn’t point towards more headless play in the second half. Also hope someone has spoken to Kinghorn and Duhan about defensive positioning because I suspect they’ll get plenty opportunities in this match. Good luck to the lads, I’d take a win over Ire rather than Eng these days.


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