U20s 6N: Italy v Scotland: six changes for Treviso trip

Captain Liam McConnell out for 10 to 12 weeks with a foot injury

Hector Patterson will return from injury to start at scrum-half for Scotland Under-20s against Italy on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Hector Patterson will return from injury to start at scrum-half for Scotland Under-20s against Italy on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND Under-20s head coach Kenny Murray has made six personnel changes – five selection based and one injury enforced – to his starting XV for Friday evening’s age-grade Six Nations round four clash against Italy at Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso.

“The competition for places is more than I think we’ve had in the last few years and we’re also looking ahead to the Junior World Trophy so giving guys an opportunity to play international rugby to put their hat in the ring for that,” explained Murray. “Italy are strong all over but the guys we are putting into the team are good players. Winning games and performing well is the big focus for us, but we’ve always got one-eye ahead at the Junior World Trophy, because getting back to the top table [the Junior World Championship] is where we want to be.”

The one forced change is to replace captain Liam McConnell, who will have surgery on Friday on a foot injury sustained against England last time out, meaning he will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks but hopefully back in time for the Junior World Trophy. His absence means Ruaraidh Hart – who will co-captain the side with outside-centre Geordie Gwynn – shifts from the middle-row to blindside flanker, while Ryan Burke is promoted from the bench to team up with Euan McVie in the engine-room.

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The other change in the back-row sees Tom Currie swap in for the benched Jonny Morris at No 8. “Tom made a big impact off the bench [on his first game back from a head injury] last week,” Murray reasoned.

“The back-row is definitely a strength of our team,” he added. “Freddy Douglas got five turnovers against England and is top of the Six Nations turnover chart with eight, which is more than double than any other player, so he’s doing really well.”

In a re-jigged back three, Finlay Doyle of Loughborough University will make his debut in place of the rotated out Kerr Johnston on the right wing, while Jack Hocking is promoted from the bench to start at full-back with Fergus Watson swapping the No 15 for the No 11 jersey and Amena Caqusau is rested.

Findlay Thomson of Watsonians takes over at inside-centre from the also rested Kerr Yule, having made his debut at this level off the bench against Zimbabwe in last year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy.

“Fin had a bit of a bronchial issue that we had to get sorted, every time he returned to training and playing he was struggling a bit, but we’ve managed to get that fixed,” said Murray. “He’s training really well and is as good a player as anybody in this under-20s squad. He’s another Stafford McDowall type player, he’s 6ft 3ins or 6ft 4ins, very physical and is probably one of our best communicating backs.”

Given the ongoing conversation about the male player pathway and the need to have up and coming talent playing at the right level, it is strange that Thomson is still attached to a National One side.

“He was under-19 last year and in and around this group, but he’s had a few injuries which has not allowed him to get a good run of games,” said Murray. “But we’ve had him in training with Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby so they are both now aware of him as well, and they’ve liked what they’ve seen so if he goes well then who knows what will happen.”

Hector Patterson has recovered from a hand injury to start at scrum-half so Murdoch Lock drops to the bench and Eric Davey misses out on the match-day squad.

Luke Coulston of Newcastle Falcons/Newcastle University’s will also hope to make his debut off the bench, with Matthew Urwin also coming in as back replacement.


Scotland U20s (versus Italy U20s at Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Friday 7.15pm): J Hocking (Edinburgh); F Doyle (Loughborough University), G Gwynn (Ealing Trailfinders/Brunel University), F Thomson (Watsonian FC), F Watson (Glasgow Warriors); I Coates (Edinburgh), H Patterson (Edinburgh Rugby; R Deans (Edinburgh), J Blyth-Lafferty (Edinburgh), C  Norrie (Glasgow Warriors), E McVie (Edinburgh), R Burke (Glasgow Warriors), R Hart (Glasgow Warriors), F Douglas (Edinburgh), T Currie (Edinburgh). Replacements: G Parry (Pontypridd), C Smyth (Glasgow Warriors), R Whitefield (Biggar), L Coulston (Newcastle Falcons/Newcastle University), J Morris (Glasgow Warriors), M Lock (Bath Rugby/Bath University), M Urwin (Glasgow Warriors), J  Ventisei (Glasgow Warriors).

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About David Barnes 3908 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.


    • The thumbs down to the comment would suggest that some felt that the second half was in some way acceptable after two years in charge? I’m not going to criticise the lads, that was absolutely devastating for them, but there’s something glaringly wrong… and it’s coming from the top.

  1. If Kenny Murray took out his teeth he would never be a coach. Shame for Scotland but that how it is. Sru do nothing for the club game. Evident at age group level.

  2. Rather a good first half that. All 15 outstanding so far, fingers crossed they keep it up. Well done all.

    • The Scots ‘digging in their thistled heels’ comment, which I’m sure she planned in advance, was outstanding…

  3. Good to see some changes amongst the backs. No tries for the back three that started the previous games, and a good few soft tries conceded, so surely an opportunity for someone to show what they can do.

    As a Glasgow based supporter, very surprised and disappointed to see that Andy McLean isn’t getting a chance at all at 10 by the look of things – a real talent. Eric Davey (9), who I’ve seen having some excellent games in the Prem has hardly been involved… and the winger Ross Darroch, Glasgow Hawks top try scorer in the Prem last season, is nowhere to be seen, while a younger player from Nat 1 has appeared as a starter. (A bizarre one for me, thinking it might be linked to him being dual nationality and having been involved with Russian youth squads previously. The SRU maybe don’t like that.)

  4. Have we just discovered Luke Coulston is SQ? He seems to have jumped ahead of Fraser Wilson, Theo Currie and Archie Clarke who were all included in 6N squad while he wasnt.
    Welcome to the team Luke!

    • Must be good to keep Fraser Wilson out the team been great for Hawick this season if the coaches had come to Mansfield on Saturday against Kelso head and shoulders above the Kelso boys and been great all season keep up the good work Fraser your time will come .


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