Scotland Six Nations team v England: Luke Crosbie handed second start as Hamish Watson misses out

Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie has been rewarded for his excellent form with a second start for Scotland in Gregor Townsend’s team to face England in the Six Nations opener, but clubmate Hamish Watson and Ali Price have missed out on the 23.
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A product of Livingston and Currie, 25-year-old Crosbie will line up in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham alongside Matt Fagerson and Jamie Ritchie, who is captaining his country in the Six Nations for the first time.

Watson was included in Townsend’s 40-man training squad despite having missed a chunk of the season due to concussion, but the popular flanker has missed out on a place in the matchday squad as Scotland bid to retain the Calcutta Cup.

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“Hamish played well last week but it's a big step up to have missed two and a half months and go from that right into a Calcutta Cup game,” said Townsend. “Luke has been excellent this season and we feel he's earned the opportunity to start.

“Luke is a form selection. It is a tricky one because you look at how well Andy Christie, Josh Bayliss and Jack Dempsey have been playing, but Luke has really stepped up. If you look at the two games against Saracens in particular, we feel he brought physicality on both sides of the ball.

“Hamish is such a quality player, one of our leaders. But given he had been out for over two months, we felt one game wasn't enough to get him up to Test level.”

In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and vice-captain Grant Gilchrist resume their partnership. Edinburgh’s Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.

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In the back division, Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell. Price has struggled for form at Glasgow this season and has lost the number nine jersey to the London Irish scrum-half. “It shows the level of competition, not just in that position but lots of positions,” said Townsend. “We have gone for players in really good form. We believe we'll see a reaction and get Ali back to his best for the rest of the campaign.”

Luke Crosbie will make his second start for Scotland in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham. Picture: Ross MacDonald / SNSLuke Crosbie will make his second start for Scotland in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham. Picture: Ross MacDonald / SNS
Luke Crosbie will make his second start for Scotland in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham. Picture: Ross MacDonald / SNS

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing. Tuipulotu scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina. In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Edinburgh’s Duhan van der Merwe and Glasgow’s Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.

Townsend added: “It was a difficult selection. There are so many players in really good form – and we back form now, which means there are experienced players who have played a lot of rugby for us who have missed out. But we believe this is the strongest squad we can pick for this weekend. The players who have missed out on selection have shown real professionalism.”


Scotland team to face England in the Guinness Six Nations opener on Saturday, 4 February at Twickenham. Kick-off 4.45pm, live on STV and ITV:

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15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) - Vice Captain - 59 caps6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) - Captain - 36 caps7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 capsReplacements16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps. 17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps. 18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps. 19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps. 20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps. 21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps. 22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps. 23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps.