RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: Ali Price named in starting XV for Pool B decider

Jamie Ritchie returns from concussion to lead the side from blindside flanker with Luke Crosbie added to the bench

Ali Price will start at scrum-half for Scotland against Ireland on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Ali Price will start at scrum-half for Scotland against Ireland on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -

ALI PRICE has been named in the Scotland starting XV for Saturday night’s do-or-die World Cup Pool B clash against Ireland in Paris, with George Horne on the bench, meaning Ben White – who has been first choice scrum-half throughout this calendar year – dropping out of the squad altogether.

There are no other changes to the starting XV from the opening weekend defeat to South Africa, while head coach Gregor Townsend has gone with a six-two split on the bench, naming Luke Crosbie rather than Hamish Watson as an extra back-row replacement

Meanwhile, Jamie Ritchie has recovered from concussion to captain the side from blindside flanker and Blair Kinghorn will win his 50th cap at full-back.

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Premiership Team-of-the-Week for Round Five

If Scotland beat Ireland by eight points or more on Saturday they will qualify for the knock-out stages as pool runners-up behind South Africa. Additionally, if Scotland earn a try bonus point in a win over Ireland, that margin of victory only has to be by five points.

However, the idiosyncratic system for ranking teams in the event of a three-way tie on match points means that if Scotland were to record a victory by 21 points or more with four tries scored, and Ireland get a four-try bonus point, then Scotland would finish top of the pool on points differential, and it would come down to the head-to-head result between South Africa and Ireland for the Pool B runner-up spot, meaning Ireland would progress at the expense of the Springboks.


Scotland (versus Ireland on Sunday @ Stade de France, kick-off 8pm GMT): B Kinghorn; D Graham, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, R Darge, J Dempsey.  Substitutes: E Ashman, R Sutherland, W Nel, S Cummings, M Fagerson, L Crosbie, G Horne, O Smith.

RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: two changes to Irish XV for do-or-die clash

About David Barnes 4012 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. There’s not been much coming out of camp on injuries on injuries. Steyn hurt an ankle during the last game but played on and may not have been fully fit even for the bench this week.

    The selection has been made and we just need to get behind it and wish them well.

  2. In terms of selection, I think we can all agree White has not looked as potent in recent weeks as he did earlier in the year. Price looks hungry and he looks pretty sharp, he also has played Lions tests with some of these Irish lads so maybe Townsend feels he is the man for this weekend. I am really surprised with a 6/2 split that Watson still could not get into the 23 but Crosbie has been very decent any time he has played for Scotland and maybe Townsend feels his form and big physical attributes can be more effectively deployed in the second half. Harsh on Steyn that he doesnt get in the 23 either, he has been excellent when called upon for Scotland, but I think in Smith he has opted for a natural 15 to command the backfield in the final quarter.

    The Irish team and coaching staff will be 100% laser focused on Scotland and wont be complacent. The noise outside of their camp though pretty much already has Ireland in a QF against New Zealand and Scotland have already largely been written off. So from a Scottish perspective it is a shot to nothing, they have nothing to lose. Ireland are a better side and have had an indian sign over us for years, but Scotland have not put in a big performance against Ireland for years and it has to come sometime very soon. The 8 wins in a row is being talk is being trotted out constantly but all winning streaks have to come to an end, it might be in the next couple of years but who is to say it wont be this weekend. Scotland need to front up physically first and foremost, they need to also execute properly which they have failed to do so against Ireland in every match since 2017. All the indications say Ireland are playing too well right now and have too much of a ruthless edge for Scotland, but to think this Scotland team are incapable of beating Ireland would be folly- they are but alot of things have to go their way for it to happen.

  3. GT has learnt / grown as a coach since 2019, given the last couple of years performances and taking everything into consideration we are just about in the best place we could be going into this game.
    Yes, Redpath, Healy were definitely I the selection talks but personal prefences apart no real arguments.
    We are in with a chance, make us proud Scotland

  4. The main thing I’m surprised about with the selection is the lack of Steyn at No 23 – Ollie Smith is great, but still learning and surely nowhere near as versatile given the full back cover we already have on the pitch (Huw / Darcy)? And Steyn’s form has been excellent.

    Ali Price is a bit of a punt, but then Ben White hasn’t been quite at the same level since coming back from injury, so will trust the coaches on that one. I take it George Horne is simply not allowed to start any games for Scotland, ever? he must have the highest ratio of caps/as sub in the history of our game. It’s almost bizarre.

    Otherwise the selection looks strong. Someone said above that Crosbie is a lineout option, which is why I’m sure he got the nod ahead of Mish, who could also have justified disappointment at missing out if his mullet is really firing again.

    • I agree on all of this BryzzoWan78. Think that Mish could have offered something different off the bench and can be disappointed not to get into the mix somewhere in a 6/2 split. Likewise Kyle can cover centre and wing and would have been my cover preference to come in later. I just don’t get the Horne thing though – he’s clear no.1 for his club, who obviously don’t think he’s just a ‘finisher’ after Ali. Against the Irish blitz defence, his speed around the ruck and quick hands would give Finn more time to get the attack fizzing and he should be starting.
      But let’s hope Ali has been practicing working at pace and getting back to the link play groove he and Finn got into so often to devastating effect at Warriors. If we can get that fired up (and our front row are sufficiently motivated by being told that they are no hopers and that Ireland have already qualified…) then who knows. C’mon lads!

  5. Since the draw was made the general consensus was that we would go out at this stage so what have we got to lose!
    They might be the No1 team on the world but as far as I know they all put their pants on one leg at a time so they are human and therefore beatable!
    As long as Scotland remember that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog!
    Come on Scotland!

  6. I’m so glad social media didn’t exist when I played. If I had read what I read here I wouldn’t have even bothered turning up. 😂🐻

    • Aye Iain, we have the usual nonsense from the usual collection of international coaches on here. International coaches who don’t understand that Price kicks cos its the gameplan; don’t get that Horne doesn’t control as well from the off as he does off the bench (part of the gameplan). Or that we kick less than most teams, part of the gameplan.who would find fault whatever team was selected.

      I’m glad I’m not an international coach like that.

      • Cool let’s all just nod and agree and therefore we’ll just turn comments off as a concept then? Get over yourselves we’re all here to express an opinion. Sorry you don’t agree but respect your opinion.

      • The total irony Bryzzowan78 is someone using social media to criticise other posters using social media to criticise others!

        Is there anything more laughable than an arrogant hypocritical dinosaur?

    • Maybe you should take that advice here then bearing in mind your continual arrogance and refusal to accept any opinion that is different to yours.

  7. Phew, what to make of that team?. Price is a shock, unless White is injured. Nel nope for me it has to should have been Javid. Ashman sorry no, Mathews is a better pick he works a maul way better. Sorry for Steyn and Watson but it’s good to have depth all over the park.
    That’s an impressive Irish team coming at us, lets hope it’s we acquit ourselves well we can ask no more, it was always going to be tough with the draw not even close to reflecting the current world rankings.
    If I may quote the Scottish play
    “When the hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won” see you all on Sunday for comments.

  8. A predictable and somewhat disappointing selection. I hope GT has prepared them well and they start the game before half time. He has a habit of allowing his players to fail in key games and hopefully Saturday will be different ……

    • I think something has to give in a 6/2 , which is the wise selection balance. Also perhaps because they only play 7 and 12 respectively is a factor.

      Redpaths time will come..perhaps likely in the 6N. Watsons is pretty much gone at test level he hasn’t reached the levels he was at 2017…he is a decent injury back up. Playing well for 15 mins against a poor Romania side doesnt justify elevation into a game of this magnitude..imo..I think his performance v Romania has been bizarrely exaggerated by many.

      • Redpath is normally a 12, but I would be surprised if he hasn’t at some point played 13 and could provide emergency cover there (or shift Tuipulotu to 13). What worries me is that we don’t seem to have midfield cover; none of the back 3 have ever really played there and don’t think Smith has either so no obvious replacement for either Tuipulotu or Jones if either is crocked. Graham and Jones could do a job at FB, Kinghorn is the cover for FH, in which case Smith would naturally come on as a replacement 15 – nothing for 12 or 13 and given that Redpath has done pretty well during his time on the pitch this RWC, I find the selection of Smith on the bench puzzling. Fingers crossed no serious injuries and the ref is watching for what now seems like the usual poor headshot to a Scottish player (surprised not more noise around the bunker decisions in the Romania game)

      • Warks Scot….In the instance where 12 or 13 goes down ..maybe GT sees Russell going to 12 and Kinghorn to 10 …Smith to FB.

      • I suppose moving Finn to 12 is an option but then having Kinghorn at 10 and Finn at 12 is a real desperate situation, significantly weakening both positions and ripe to be exploited by Ireland. On balance, Redpath has done more to impress this RWC IMO and deserves the bench spot while also ensuring we don’t run the risk of having to make-do in the 10/12 axis should one of the starting pair get injured. Steyn would have been another bench option, covering both 13 and wing and has done really well this RWC. Smith has the makings of being a great player but just don’t think he’s quite ready for this match when the likes of Redpath and Steyn are in good form. BTW, already looks like you’ve been having sleepless nights worrying about tomorrow’s match!

  9. Where does the 5-point margin come into it? If Scotland get a winning bonus point and Ireland get a losing one, all 3 teams are tied on 15 group points. H2H is even as everyone beat one other team, and Scotland would go out as the team with the lowest points difference, right?

    Personally I’ll just try to enjoy the game, but I hope the coaches and captains understand the maths.

    • Ok, to answer my own question:
      For clarification, in the case of a tie between three or more Teams at the end of the pool phase, once the highest ranked Team has been determined following the above criteria, to determine the next higher ranked Team the process would repeat, starting at criterion 1.

      So a 5 point win (with 1 BP each) would push Ireland below SA on points diff then we’d beat Ireland on the H2H.

      We live in hope!

      • re: 5 pts

        Unlikely though, given we’d need to score 4 tries and for Ireland to be only 5 behind, quite likely would also have scored 4 tries. Their losing bonus point would put us out in that scenario.

  10. Bizarre, the only players getting the nod for their performance last week are Price and Crosbie. Personally I thought Watson and Sebastian were the standouts.
    Can’t Argue, white has not hit the heights of ‘22 so an experienced hand like Price should be a plus, as long as he doesn’t return to his kicking possession away norm. Horne will get a chance to rip it up on 50.
    I believe the 6-2 split is the way to go but Ritchie has not shown any form for me this year, Finn has shown he can do the captaincy thing so I’d have had Watson and Skinner appearing in the lineup somewhere in his place.
    And we have learned nothing from the SA -Ire game, we need a reliable kicker as back up when the Irish crock Finn.

  11. Selection is made and although is a winner takes all game it would not be my call on the starting XV or the bench it is now up to the 23 to deliver. I will be there.

  12. Not sure what cover we have at centre – I would have had Redpath on the bench and Jones could cover FB and at a push, wing or use Horne. I agree with the 6-2 split and looks like we have some grunt on the bench if needed, especially for the back row, to counter the inevitable power play from Ireland. Maybe GT has been building for this with the Blairswitch project, just hope it all clicks on Saturday

  13. Really no idea what Townsend has against Horne….Price will either aimlessly kick the ball back to Sexton or the back three,who will return it with interest until we are run ragged or he will wait so long to let Finn get the ball that the Irish back row will be right in his face…Farrell will be laughing himself silly. Qualification was always a long shot but GT has killed it stone dead. Worse we will be a pot 3 side next time around and will likely end up with another horrible draw. He simply won’t change. Crazy his contract was renewed.

    • I hope you’re wrong and Price has worked on his weaknesses, but I fear you will be right!

  14. If the forwards can come close to matching Ireland we have a chance. Just give Finn the odd bit of front foot ball and the backs can do serious damage. My worry with the backs is that Ireland will blitz the defence with high balls that are contestable and that’s certainly not the strength of our back 3. However given just a little space they are unbelievably dangerous.. c’mon Scotland time to surprise the world!

    • Agree….thats a very frustrating thing that Price does..launches aimless punts back into the opposition hands it does little to nothing to help our backs get into the game. We need to retain the ball as much as we can. We should only kick if it gains large territory or turns the opposition defense line putting them under pressure.

  15. Genuinely shocked that Price has got the nod. He’s got it in him, but we haven’t seen it for a while – hopefully he’s been on fire in training this last week.

    Gutted for Mish – a 6/2 split and he doesn’t even make the bench – less surprising but still.

  16. Its a good team selection….
    Wise to go 6-2….as there is plenty versatility in our backs. Horne and Smith both in very good form. Crosbie is versatile, abrasive and a lineout option.

    Concerns for me …
    Who kicks if Russell goes down?
    Nel…has looked past it and I think Sebastian would have been better choice…but Nel does have more experience.
    Ashmans lineout throws have been poor.
    Nic Berry…..I always feel he just doesnt like us. Gives a lot of penalties against us in big games…and seems to have a bad relationship with J Ritchie.

    Can’t see us winning this one….there just isn’t anything historical to back up a win. We have done the ‘Scottish’ thing and left ourselves with too much to do before we start. Behind on points and behinds on points differential.

    Winning the match would be progress….probably too much to hope for actually progressing from the group.

    • The only other reliable placekicker in the 23 is Horne, but if Finn goes off and Price is having a good game then where do you put Horne? Move Kinghorn to 10, Darcy to 15 and play Horne on the wing? Just keep Smith as emergency cover? I hope Kinghorn has been practicing his kicking, but I think it’s pretty shocking the coaches haven’t been getting someone else to practice (ie Price, Darcy, Smith or Tuipulotu) as another option.

    • If Russell goes down we have no chance anyway. Without him having the game of his life, we ain’t beating Ireland by eight.

  17. Scotland are due dishing out an “upset”. The team playing on Saturday are heads and shoulders above the team from 4 years ago and i must say, am shocked at the amount of negativity there is among Scotland fans before what is an enormous game. Support the boys, support the dream that we might just do it, support Finn and his bag of tricks, support Dazzling Darcy, support rampaging Duhan – Support Scotland.

    Take the brutal real world pretend pundit hat off for 80 mins, put the mindless optimistic one on, it has bells on it and suits you better.

    Come on Scotland !!

    • Ireland’s winning run…..

      W 23-12 v New Zealand (A) 2022 Summer Tour
      W 32-22 v New Zealand (A) 2022 Summer Tour
      W 19-16 v South Africa (H) 2022 Autumn Nations Series
      W 35-17 v Fiji (H) 2022 Autumn Nations Series
      W 13-10 v Australia (H) 2022 Autumn Nations Series
      W 34-10 v Wales (A) 2023 Six Nations
      W 32-19 v France (H) 2023 Six Nations
      W 34-20 v Italy (A) 2023 Six Nations
      W 22-7 v Scotland (A) 2023 Six Nations
      W 29-16 v England (H) 2023 Six Nations
      W 33-17 v Italy (H) 2023 World Cup warm-up match
      W 29-10 v England (H) 2023 World Cup warm-up match
      W 17-13 v Samoa (N) 2023 World Cup warm-up match
      W 82-8 v Romania (N) 2023 World Cup pool match
      W 59-16 v Tonga (N) 2023 World Cup pool match
      W 13-8 v South Africa (N) 2023 World Cup pool match

      Points difference: +285

      • “Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.” – Dalai Lama.

        Stranger things have happened in the world of sport. get a beer and support your team.

      • Notable that for our much vaunted attack, Scotland scored the least points of any of those losing teams.

        I’m afraid the team selection suggests we are just going to try the same thing yet again – try and get the ball to Finn and it will all just happen.

        And it would against most teams but it hasn’t remotely worked against Ireland or SA recently.

        The implication of the team selection is that the reason we didn’t fire any shots against SA is because White was playing instead of Price. Nobody with any sense actually thinks that.

        I was really hoping to see something that suggested we might have learned from the game against SA but I’m not sure it does. I think the only hope is that we are in with a shout when Horne comes on and that might then open up a bit of space as the defence will have to cover Horne’s options as well as Russell’s.

    • Support Scotland Teej you are having a laugh half the squad arent Scottish. Our jersey is a flag of convenience and we are a standing joke amongst other tier 1 nations remember Montoya asking Ritchie if he preferred if he spoke in Afrikaans

  18. If Ali plays like he did for the Lions then we have a chance. If not, then are heading for a very long day at the office 🙁


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