U20s 6N: Ireland v Scotland: Kenny Murray mixes it up again for Cork trip

Four players to make their first appearances of the campaign

Fergus Watson was a try-scorer during last weekend's loss to Italy but misses out this week with a foot injury. Image: Matteo Ciambelli / Inpho
Fergus Watson was a try-scorer during last weekend's loss to Italy but misses out this week with a foot injury. Image: Matteo Ciambelli / Inpho

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 head coach Kenny Murray has added four players who have not previously featured during this age-grade Six Nations campaign to his match-day squad for Friday night’s final curtain against title-chasing Ireland in Cork.

18-year-old Jack Brown, who came through George Watson’s College and Watsonian FC, will make his debut at this level at full-back, while another potential debutant in Marcus Brogan of Hawick is covering hooker from the bench. Stand-off Andy McLean and winger Finn Douglas, who both represented the under-20s last year but have not previously been selected during this campaign, are both named among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Johnny Ventisei and Jonny Morris have been promoted from the bench after last week’s loss away to Italy to start at outside-centre and blindside flanker, respectively, which co-captains Geordie Gwynn and Ruaraidh Hart shift to the wing and the second-row. Callum Smyth make his first start of the campaign at loosehead prop with Robbie Deans (who is nursing a minor arm injury) moving to the bench. Second-row Archie Clarke and back-row Monroe Job also return to the match-day squad on the bench.


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Missing men from last weekend’s loss in Trviso are second-row Ryan Burke (hand injury), winger Fergus Watson (heel/foot injury), full-back Jack Hocking (concussion), replacement second-row Luke Coulston (also concussion), replacement hooker Gavin Parry, replacement scrum-half Murdoch Lock and replacement inside-back Matthew Urwin (all rested).

Two other notable absentees are centre Kerr Yule and winger Kerr Johnston, who were rested for the Italy game and have not returned this week.

“Kerr Johnston has gone over on his ankle so he’s in a boot at the moment and with Kerr Yule, we’ve also got an under-19 game this week against an under-18 group so we’ve got a few of the under19 group involved in that,” explained Murray.

“To be honest, it’s just an opportunity to see guys. We’ve seen a lot of some players and not enough of others through injuries so we just want to make sure in the build-up to the World Trophy we’re giving guys the opportunity to be seen at international level. It’s important to see how these guys go at this level of rugby.”

Scotland have lost all four matches of this campaign so far and their confidence levels will not be helped by the knowledge that they were hammered 82-7 the last time these two sides met at Scotstoun during last year’s Six Nations. Ireland are unbeaten so far in this campaign, and come into this game off the back of an epic 32-32 draw away to England in round four.

“It was quite frustrating because 49 minutes into the game we were still 14-7 up,” said Murray, of last weekend’s 47-14 loss to Italy in Treviso. “We looked at the last half an hour of the game which was really disappointing from our point of view. There were some poor errors defensively and we probably didn’t work hard enough when we reflected on it, particularly within our 22.

“A couple of things don’t go our way and they get a try which shouldn’t have been a try … but it just wasn’t good enough in that last half an hour. We conceded soft tries and made errors which fuelled their attack and let them back into it.

“We know Ireland is going to be tough on their own patch but we’ve got a strong team on the pitch again this week so we’re going wanting to get a first win of the Six Nations. We want to use it to build for the summer as well.”

“Ireland are a good side,” he added. “They’ve got good players similar to last year. Brian Gleeson [the highly rated No 8] got injured during this campaign so hasn’t been involved in the last few games but they just go to the next one in the ranks. They’re strong and have some good players. Their 12 is a really good player, he looks classy. It’s a good opportunity to go play against a good side and we’re looking forward to it.”

 

 

Murray insisted that his decision to mix-and-match his team in recent weeks should not be taken as a sign that he has written this Six Nations off as a development exercise ahead of this summer’s Junior World Trophy, which is being hosted at the Hive Stadium in Edinburgh and which Scotland must win in order to arrest an alarming descent towards becoming an international rugby backwater.

“Every game, we go out wanting to win. There is nobody in this squad who doesn’t want to win for Scotland – and it is always disappointing when you don’t win – but it is up to us as coaches to make sure you don’t let a loss effect some good performance outcomes.

“The big focus for us is the Junior World Trophy and trying to get ourselves back into that top table of the World Rugby Championship.

“We’ve looked at quite a few players during this under-20s championship, and we’ve got some really exciting under-19s in the squad. Some of the stand-outs for me are Freddie Douglas who has played every game in the back-row as an under-19, Ferg Watson and the half-backs of Hector Patterson and Isaac Coates, who will all be back next year.

“So, yes, we want to win games, but it is about building and developing as part of that as well.”

 

Scotland U20s (versus Ireland U20s at Virgin Media Park in Cork on Friday 7pm): J Brown (Edinburgh); F Doyle (Loughborough University), J Vintisei (Glasgow Warriors), F Thomson (Watsonian FC), G Gwynn (Ealing Trailfinders/Brunel University); I Coates (Edinburgh), H Patterson (Edinburgh Rugby); C Smyth (Glasgow Warriors), J Blyth-Lafferty (Edinburgh), C  Norrie (Glasgow Warriors), E McVie (Edinburgh), R Hart (Glasgow Warriors), J Morris (Glasgow Warriors), F Douglas (Edinburgh), T Currie (Edinburgh). Replacements: M Brogan (Hawick), R Deans (Edinburgh), R Whitefield (Biggar), A Clarke (Durham University), M Job (Southern Knights), E Davey (Stirling Wolves), A McLean (Boroughmuir Bears), F Douglas (Edinburgh Rugby).


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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.

12 Comments

  1. There is nothing to justify Kenny Murray retaining his job beyond this weekend. Results show that no progress has been made during his time in charge. There are also multiple question marks over selections and man-management.

    I really wish the boys well against Ireland. Keeping the gap to fewer than 20 points would be a good achievement.

    Millan Browne to get promotion to the u20’s role. An honest, level headed guy that has a great track record of developing young players and building a functional team.

  2. Of all the fantastic coaches in the Premiership and Nat1 who know great talent, recognise it, develop it and play it week in week out and this clown gets the job of coaching perhaps the most important age group in rugby development, has overseen what can only be described as humping after humping.
    Yet spews the same bilge without taking any responsibility. Can’t wait to see the back of Kenny Murray.
    Rugby’s Ally MacLeod.

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  3. Kenny Murray getting his excuses in early it was a young team we are blooding talent for next year we had a lot of injuries. He was out in charge of transition he has had 2 full 6 nations a failed World Cup relegated then a failed promotion chance. Will anything be done about it will he be removed will he be sacked no one wants to see anyone lose their job but this is professional sport we’re the only thing that matters are results. There is no accountability for failure at the SRU you just get shoved along to the next job and hope no one notices.

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  4. Great to see Jack Brown fit again and included in the team. Big ask though to come straight in at this level after being out injured since the Sprint of Super Series rugby in May/June last year.

    I reckon that is 36 players given game time at this level in the 6 Nations this season. Only 4 who were in the original training sqaud – Jarvie, Kolade, OBL, and Fraser Wilson – have not seen any game time.

    We’ve also not seen anything of Super Series regulars Euan Muirhead, Sam Rockley, Alex Thom, Sam Wallace, or Conor McAlpine, or of two famous sons – Luke Townsend and Ben Weir – who featured for this group at U18 level but haven’t been included at U20 level

    • Famous sons dont necessary make good players and should not be in the team purely because of their dads. Are they better than their teammates in the same position, No.

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  5. I don’t really like the idea of co-captains, but on what basis have we all decided that it doesn’t work for the senior team? Was it the second half collapse v Wales with one captain? The slump then resurgence against France with two? The win from 10-0 down against England with two? Or the capitulations against Italy with two?

  6. Rested ! after 25 minutes, is shocking care, how bad must the lad feel, and his family must be enraged with that phrase, I suppose he’s playing the 18/19 game and he has next year, so will have to play ball. From the outside that’s poor management by anyones standards.

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  7. No Fraser Wilson again can’t believe it Scotlands loss Hawicks gain for big game at Dundee .

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  8. Good to see Andrew Mclean’s name there, I think it’d be better to see him starting, but hopefully he’ll get some meaningful game time. Interesting to see Jack Brown on the team sheet, don’t think he got much game time last season in the SS? I don’t think this U19/U20 mix does anyone any favours, a year is a long time in rugby development at that age. Anyway, good luck on Friday lads, I suspect it’ll be required.

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  9. Can’t they see that co-captains aren’t working for the senior team? Why then introduce them to the U20’s?

  10. Is ‘rested’ the new ‘dropped’? Fear that the team, like their seniors, will travel in hope but will have to play out of their skins to avoid a shellacking.

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    • Not the best weekend to be resting players.
      Big ask for the players coming in for this one🙈🥴👍

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