The Rugby World Cup dream is over for five Edinburgh players after they were cut from Scotland’s extended squad.
Allan Dell (prop), Dougie Fife (wing), Damien Hoyland (wing), Ben Toolis (lock) and Hamish Watson (back-row) will all return to the Capital club after failing to win a place in Vern Cotter’s squad.
Glasgow Warriors pair Mike Cusack (prop) and Rory Hughes (wing) have returned to Scotstoun having won their first caps, both starting against Italy in Saturday’s 16-12 win in Turin, where Hoyland and Watson also featured.
Glasgow hooker Kevin Bryce, who had been brought into the squad as cover, also returns to his club. Following a 28-22 loss in Dublin and Saturday’s first win of the year against the Italians, those remaining in the 40-strong pool will have a final chance to press for a place in the 31-man squad, due to be announced on September 1, in this weekend’s third warm-up Test, when the Azzurri come to BT Murrayfield.
Cotter said: “I’d like to thank the players for all their hard work throughout what has been a very tough pre-season campaign. Their commitment to improving as individuals and to our collective endeavour has been exceptional, and has made this a very tough decision. They are understandably disappointed to miss out at this stage, however they have done themselves proud with their performances in training and the two Test matches.”
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons, meanwhile, says he will be “shocked” if Scotland don’t start the World Cup with an all-Edinburgh front row of Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel.
Solomons was speaking at the launch of the Guinness PRO12 at the title sponsor’s London headquarters and said he was sure Cotter will look to three of his players to provide Scotland with their set-piece platform.
South Africa-born prop Nel came off the bench to win his first cap in Turin just over two months after becoming eligible to play for Scotland on the three years residency rule.
Solomons said: “Dicko, Fordy and WP in the front row can take on anybody. I will be shocked to my boots if that is not the front row. I’ve watched these games and, believe me, that is the front row for sure, and Stuart McInally on the bench too.
“I have been very proud watching our guys the last couple of weeks but I was really upset that Gilco [Grant Gilchrist] was ill. I usually stay closely in touch by text but I didn’t know until I sat down to watch the match and I thought ‘where is this guy?’ That was a big disappointment with him going to captain the side.
“Even though there were a couple of errors at the back end of the game I thought Sammy [Hidalgo-Clyne] played with a lot of confidence and a lot of composure. And Matt Scott, whose X-factor we missed a lot last season, looked back to his best with a lovely pass for the try.”
Responding to the news that five Edinburgh players had been cut from the extended World Cup squad, Solomons said he was disappointed for the players concerned but happy to have them available for the start of the league campaign.
He added that he wasn’t too concerned by the fact the World Cup disruption effectively makes for two seasons and added: “I don’t think any of the sides will have too much trouble integrating guys back in. The players are all very much part of the club and should slot back seamlessly, so I don’t think it will be a problem.
“Every country will decide on rest periods. If a player has played a lot of games in the World Cup they’ll need a proper break. That will vary and will have a knock-on effect.
“There is obviously going to be a distinction between World Cup and post-World Cup because squads are going to be back to full strength but one has to view it that it’s a competition and you know you’re going to have at least six games without your strongest squad and that’s just the way it is and you get on with it.”