Blade Thomson, James Lang and Darcy Graham: who are the rugby players called up for the Scotland vs Wales Six Nations match?

Scotland have been forced to make three changes to their Calcutta Cup winning side ahead of their 2021 Six Nations encounter with Wales
Darcy Graham, James Lang and Blade Thomson have all been called up to Scotland's starting XV to face Wales (Getty Images)Darcy Graham, James Lang and Blade Thomson have all been called up to Scotland's starting XV to face Wales (Getty Images)
Darcy Graham, James Lang and Blade Thomson have all been called up to Scotland's starting XV to face Wales (Getty Images)

A win for Scotland over Wales this weekend would confirm Gregor Townsend’s side as serious contenders at this year’s Six Nations.

Both the home and visiting side will be without key players from their week one victories over England and Ireland respectively, however.

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Scotland have been forced to drop Cameron Redpath, Jamie Ritchie and Sean Maitland due to injury.

Harlequins centre James Lang, Edinburgh winger Darcy Graham and Scarlets flanker Blade Thomson have been drafted in to replace the injured trio.

Darcy Graham has already provided moments of real quality in a navy shirt, but to the casual Scotland fan James Lang and Blade Thomson are relative unknowns with just seven international caps between them.

Who is Blade Thomson?

Gregor Townsend says that Thomson “just missed out” on selection for last week’s fixture with England.

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The New Zealand-born flanker plays his rugby with Llanelli Scarlets and qualifies to play for Scotland through his paternal grandfather, Robert, who came from Wishaw.

He began his career with Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island and was part of the All Blacks under-20 side which won the 2010 junior World Cup, scoring three tries in the process.

From 2013 he joined the senior squad of the Wellington Hurricanes, appearing 45 times for the Super Rugby outfit.

He swapped the southern hemisphere for the northern in 2018 linking up with Wales coach Wayne Pivac at Llanelli.

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Thomson made his Scotland debut prior to the ill-fated 2019 World Cup, turning out against France and Georgia in warm up matches. He would go on to play in all three of Scotland’s World Cup fixtures.

Head injuries would keep him sidelined for much of the 2020 Six Nations campaign though he would make his tournament debut against Wales and return for the Autumn Nations Cup.

Thomson is a powerful runner, ferocious tackler with quality handling skills, honed by his time at the Hurricanes.

Who is James Lang?

Townsend highlighted Lang’s club form for his call up to the squad.

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Lang will put on the number 12 jersey worn by Cam Redpath last weekend, but the Surrey-born back has regularly turned out at fly-half for the Harlequins, a club he has been with since he was a schoolboy.

Now 25, Lang has 73 club caps to his name and will swap West London for Murrayfield when he joins Edinburgh Rugby for the 2021-22 season.

Upon signing for Edinburgh in January he underlined his desire to focus on the inside centre position.

He said: “I’ve played across the backline at Quins and I want to focus on my centre-play, at 12. My aim is to do that and put my best foot forward for Edinburgh, which will hopefully, in turn, help me pursue more international honours as well.”

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Lang played all 80 minutes against Wales at last year’s 6 Nations tournament where Scotland won a close-fought contest 14-10.

He has six caps in total for Scotland.

Who is Darcy Graham?

Darcy Graham has already sealed his place in Scottish rugby folklore.

The winger, who stands at a stout 5 ft 9, scored two tries in Scotland’s legendary 38-all draw with England in 2019. At just 23 years old he has seven tries in 15 appearances for Scotland.

The Hawick-born winger represents Edinburgh Rugby at club level where he has forged a close bond with opposite wing, and Scotland’s match winner against England, Duhan Van Der Merwe.

Speaking ahead of the 1872 Cup in August he said “Me and Dewey are very close. We’re on opposite wings, but we speak a lot and we are very close.”