CARL HOGG has named his 32-man Scotland squad for U20 Six Nations, which kicks off against Italy at Netherdale next Friday night (1st February). It contains nine players returning from last season, plus six players who graduated from last April’s highly successful Under-18s Six Nations Festival in Wales.
Props Murphy Walker, Euan McLaren and Sam Grahamslaw, hooker Finlay Scott, locks Ewan Johnson and Charlie Jupp, back-row Connor Boyle, stand-off Ross Thompson and wing Rory McMichael featured in last year’s squad. Boyle also played for the Under-18s last year, alongside second-row Cameron Henderson, back-row Jack Hill, stand-off Nathan Chamberlain, centre Robbie McCallum, and wingers Jack Blain and Rufus McLean
One of the less familiar names in the squad is Chester-born back-rower Teddy Leatherbarrow, who represented Scotland at Under-16 and Under-17 level, and then England at Under-18 level last season, but has now returned to the thistle.
Other exiles include hooker Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) and back-row Cristen van Niekerk (South Africa)), who both impressed whilst playing for Scotland at Under-19 level before Christmas, and in Tuesday night’s final warm-up match against the Scotland Club XV.
“We’ve chosen a well-rounded squad with talented players across the board,” said head coach Hogg. “There are plenty of young, exciting players stepping up to Under-20 level for the first time in their careers and we hope that they can make a positive impact on the upcoming Six Nations Championship.
“We’ve prepared well and the focus is fully on facing Italy next week. There’s still work to be done but we’ve got every confidence in this year’s squad.”
Among those not available for the age-grade side at this stage are Melrose flanker Rory Darge and Ayr second-row Marshall Sykes, who both featured for the Under-20s last season and were in outstanding form for their respective clubs in the Tennent’s Premiership at the start of this season before picking up knee injuries. Sykes hopes to be back later in the tournament, while Darge will be targeting the Junior World Championships in Argentina in June.
Scotland Under-20s squad –
Props – Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), Murphy Walker (Stirling County), Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Tigers), Will Hurd (Cardiff Metropolitan University), Euan McLaren (Ayr)
Hookers – Angus Fraser (Glasgow Hawks), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Finlay Scott (Jed-Forest)
Second-rows – Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), Charlie Jupp (Heriot’s), Ewan Johnson (Racing 92)
Back-row – Teddy Leatherbarrow (Sale Sharks), Connor Boyle (Watsonians), Jack Hill (Durham Univeristy), Jack Mann (Edinburgh Accies), Cristen van Niekerk (Lions, South Africa), Ross Bundy (Stirling County).
Scrum-halves – Kyle McGhie (Musselburgh), Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains), Murray Scott (Watsonians)
Stand-offs – Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears)
Centres – Andrew Jardine (Melrose), Cameron Anderson (Wasps), Grant Hughes (Stirling County), Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros, Spain), Ollie Smith (Ayr)
Back three – Jacob Lineen (Durham University), Matt Davidson (London Scottish), Jack Blain (Heriot’s), Rory McMichael (Heriot’s), Rufus McLean (Watsonians)
Scotland fixtures in the 2019 U20 Six Nations Championship –
Friday 1 February: Scotland U20 v Italy U20; Netherdale, Galashiels (kick-off 7.30pm)
Friday 8 February: Scotland U20 v Ireland U20; Netherdale, Galashiels (kick-off 7.30pm)
Friday 22 February: France U20 v Scotland U20; Stade du Hameau, Pau (kick-off 8pm)
Friday 8 March: Scotland U20 v Wales U20; Meggetland, Edinburgh (kick-off 7.30pm)
Friday 15 March: England U20 v Scotland U20; Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton (kick-off 7.45pm)