U20s 6N: Kenny Murray challenges young Scots to be ruthless against England

Head coach challenges team to heed the lessons of Wales and France defeats

Murdoch Lock, who was a try-scorer against France last time out, starts again in the No 9 jersey. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Murdoch Lock, who was a try-scorer against France last time out, starts again in the No 9 jersey. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND UNDER-20S head coach Kenny Murray believes his side can cause an upset against England at Hive Stadium on Friday night if they can combine their first half performance away to Wales in round one of this age-grade Six Nations campaign and their second half performance at home to France in round two.

However, he also stressed that Scotland will only be able to see out the win if they are clinical and ruthless against an England team who currently top of the Six Nations table after two bonus-point wins over Italy and Wales.

Murray has made just two changes to his starting XV, both in the pack, where experienced Jerry Blyth-Lafferty replaces Elliot Young (who has dislocated his shoulder) at hooker, and Euan McVie returns from a head injury suffered against Wales to link-up with recent Glasgow Warriors debutant Ruaraidh Hart in the second-row.

U20s 6N: selection continuity key as Scotland target English scalp against the odds

“I might have a little run-out for Hawick next season and see how that goes,” says Stuart Hogg

Scotland hopeful that Darcy Graham will be back for final two rounds of Six Nations

“We’ve got to get a balance,” said Murray. “We need continuity there and we’ve shown that is some of our selection, but at the same time trying to give guys opportunities so Johnny Ventisei comes onto the bench this week to show what he can do after training really well.”

Hector Patterson [replacement scrum-half last week] would have been more involved this week but he picked up a hand injury in training,” he added.

A new face in the squad is Gavin Parry, who takes over the hooker replacement slot created by Blyth-Lafferty moving up into the starting XV.

“Gav is a guy we are aware of through Peter Walton and the SQ [Scottish Qualified] programme, so he’s been up training the last three weeks with us,” explained Murray.

“He’s played a few games for Pontypridd and as we know it is a tough level down there so I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes against England when he comes on.

“He wasn’t involved in our under-18s or under-19s programmes, but he’s a guy who has come onto our radar this year and we’ve been tracking him for a wee bit. Now he’s had the opportunity to come up and train with us and he’s done well. He has Scottish family up here.

“We’ll wait and see how Elliot is and whether he’s back for the Junior World Trophy. He’s still waiting for that assessment on his shoulder.”

“Jerry was obviously involved last year and we have watched a few clips this week of the game versus England down at the Stoop when he made a line break and got caught short just before the try line,” Murray continued. “He is a really powerful ball carrier, he has a good attitude, he gives us a real structure to our maul and he is a good scrummaging hooker, so he brings a lot to the team.

“Euan did well against Wales and he is a big, big man. He is about 118kgs and he takes a bit of stopping when he gets on the move, so we will need that bit more bulk against England in the second-row.

“He came through Trinity Academy and BATS [youth rugby programme] in Edinburgh. He has probably not played as much rugby as some of the other guys and he has had a few injuries unfortunately, but he is getting better and better and he is back on track. He has great potential, he is an exciting and powerful young player.

“He is one of our highest scorers when it comes to physical tests and he is a really exciting player for Scotland U20s, Edinburgh Rugby and Scotland in the future, I am looking forward to seeing him and Jerry playing.”



Turning attention to the overall performance required, Murray added: “It is about getting that 80-minute performance. In the Wales game, I thought we did some good stuff in the first half and in the game against France I thought we did some good stuff in the second half, so if we can put those two first and second half performances together then I think we’ll be in a good place.

“When we look back in that France second half, and we got ourselves back to 26-14, we were right in the game. But it is small margins in international rugby and if you don’t capitalise on your possession, if you make any errors at all, you get punished.

“We got ourselves in a position in that game to get within a score but we didn’t do it – we weren’t clinical enough – and that’s what punished us in the second half against them.

“We had a joint training with the Scotland team last Friday and Gregor spoke to the players and for everybody, the Scotland versus England game is one of the biggest games of the Six Nations championship, so there is no motivation needed there.

“For us, we’ve talked a lot this week about being brave and starting fast, so we want to get ourselves in a decent position where we are not chasing the game because we’ve conceded a few tries early on.

“The boys are looking forward to it. There were a lot of positives from that game against France and we’ve just got to build on them for this week.”

Colin Campbell Sport/Macron Hub Edinburgh has offered four complimentary tickets to the Six Nations U20s clash between Scotland and England at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on Friday night. All you need to do is correct answer the following question – Who is head coach of the 2024 Scotland Under-20s team?

Please email your answer to: commercial@theoffsideline.com

Calcutta Cup: Scotland ready to go “head-to-head and toe-to-toe” with England at scrum-time

About David Barnes 3911 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. This should be a good match. The lads have played their parts well but again you have to question the need to have SQ players in the national teams.Think England will win by small margin but hope I’m wrong.


Comments are closed.