Vern Cotter names ‘double squad’ for Scotland tour

Scotland coach Vern Cotter. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Scotland coach Vern Cotter. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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Scottish rugby will break new ground on tour this summer and not just because it will be incoming coach Vern Cotter’s first assignment.

With a rigorous schedule that involves weekly matches against USA, Canada, Argentina and South Africa, the Scots have taken the innovatory move of splitting the excursion in two and naming a double party featuring 43 players.

A total of six uncapped players are listed including Edinburgh Rugby scrum half Grayson Hart though, remarkably, if he is to cut his teeth in international rugby, it will be on the seemingly tougher part of the trip in Argentina and South Africa.

Similarly, Dougie Fife is listed for the second part having won his only cap so far at the end of the Six Nations Championship in Wales whereas Tim Visser, injured for much of the season but able to rediscover some form in the latter part of the league campaign, is due to return home after facing USA and Canada.

Other apparent anomalies see Geoff Cross – released by Edinburgh – included for the entire trip while another Capital prop, Alex Allan, transferred to Glasgow, gets a first opportunity at this level.

The first match is scheduled for June 7 – a week after Glasgow contest the Pro 12 final in Dublin. Nevertheless, ten players who can realistically expect to figure in that match are scheduled to travel to the USA.

Astonishingly, Glasgow skipper Al Kellock is among the notable absentees who is not listed as unavailable due to injury.

Others include Edinburgh pair Greig Tonks and Roddy Grant while the experience of Commonwealth Games-bound Nick De Luca could have been extremely valuable.

Coach Cotter put the emphasis on World Cup build-up. In a statement issued by the SRU, he said: “We begin our 16 match countdown.”

It is understood, though, that the heavy nature of the trip with the South African fixture falling outwith the Test window when some English-bound signings such as Chris Cusiter and Greig Laidlaw as well as others playing abroad cannot be considered is down to a re-organising of the international tour schedule.

When that was done Scotland were deemed insufficient standard to tackle tier one nations as part of a series.

On appeal the Scots were added on an ad hoc basis with the onus on hosts to fit them into their schedules. Hence the journey from the Americas to South Africa at the end of the tour with exiles notable by their absence.

Scotland’s matches are v USA in Houston on Saturday, June 7; Canada in Toronto on Saturday, June 14; Argentina in Cordoba on Friday, June 20; South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, June 28.

Scotland squad for the Test matches v USA and Canada

Forwards: Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) Age 22 uncapped; Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) Age 28 Caps 30; Kelly Brown (Saracens) Age 31 Caps 63; Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25 uncapped; Blair Cowan Age 28 uncapped; Geoff Cross (both London Irish) Age 31 Caps 28; Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 4; Richie Gray (Castres) Age 24 Caps 37; Jim Hamilton (Montpellier) Age 31 Caps 55; Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) Age 32 Caps 43; Kieran Low (London Irish) Age 23 Cap 1; Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) Age 29 Caps 26; Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) Age 27 Caps 4; Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) Age 27 uncapped; Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) Age 31 Caps 38; Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby) Age 28 Caps 4.

Backs: Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks) Age 31 Caps 68; Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 8; Max Evans (Castres) Age 30 Caps 42; Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) Age 22 Caps 3; Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) Age 21 Caps 20; Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) Age 28 Caps 29; Sean Lamont Age 33 Caps 86; Sean Maitland Age 25 Caps 9; Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors) Age 21 uncapped; Duncan Taylor (Saracens) Age 24 Caps 10 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 26 Caps 12.

Scotland squad for Test matches v Argentina and South Africa

Forwards: Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25, uncapped; Geoff Cross (London Irish) Age 31, Caps 28; David Denton Age 24 Caps 22; Alasdair Dickinson Age 30 Caps 34; Ross Ford Age 30 Caps 75 (all Edinburgh Rugby); Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 2; Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 4; Jonny Gray Age 20 Caps 3; Rob Harley Age 24 Caps 4 (both Glasgow Warriors); Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) Age 29 Caps 26; Pat MacArthur Age 27 Caps 4, Gordon Reid Age 27 uncapped (both Glasgow Warriors); Tim Swinson Age 27 Caps 7; and Jon Welsh Age 27 Caps 2 (both Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 8; Dougie Fife Age 23 Cap 1; Grayson Hart Age 25 uncapped (both Edinburgh Rugby); Stuart Hogg Age 21 Caps 20, Peter Horne Age 24 Caps 2 (both Glasgow Warriors); Ruaridh Jackson (London Wasps) Age 26 Caps 23, Sean Maitland Age 25 Caps 9; Peter Murchie Age 28 Caps 2; Henry Pyrgos Age 24 Caps 10; Tommy Seymour Age 25 Caps 8; Duncan Weir Age 23 Caps 13 (all Glasgow Warriors).