SCOTLAND UNDER-20 head coach Carl Hogg has stuck largely with the tried and tested for Scotland’s crucial World Championship 11th-12th place play-off against Fiji tomorrow afternoon. Defeat in this match will mean relegation out of the top tier competition and into the second level U20 Trophy next year (playing against teams such as Brazil, Hong Kong, Portugal and Uruguay), which would be a crippling blow to the age-grade programme as a development and recruitment tool for the best young players associated with this country.
Hogg has made two personnel changes, with Stirling County’s Ross Bundy coming in to the second-row for his injured club-mate Cameron Henderson, and Matt Davidson is reinstalled at full-back after dropping to the bench against Italy on Monday, prompting a reshuffle of the three-quarter line which sees Cameron Anderson returning to outside-centre, Rory McMichael shifting back to the wing and Lomond MacPherson dropping to the bench.
Fiji are also winless so far in this Championship, having lost their three pool matches to France [36-20], Argentina [41-14] and Wales [44-28], however they did give Georgia a real run for their money before eventually going down 12-8 in Monday’s play-off semi-final.
Given that Georgia defeated Scotland 17-12 in their final pool match, this is shaping up to be a tight contest.
“We understand the significance and importance of this Saturday’s fixture against Fiji and we have 14 players within the squad who have a vested interest in next year and the outcome of the result,” said Hogg.
“More importantly, we have seen glimpses of the potential in this current squad but now need to deliver a performance over the 80 minutes.
“Fiji will bring an unpredictable element to the game on Saturday. They love to play with ball in hand and are very unconventional. They like to offload and play at a fast and furious pace, so defensively, we’ll need to be at our best and alert at all times. We believe we have the discipline and structure to overcome their undoubtable individual skill.
“This game gives us the opportunity to ensure we’re playing in the World Rugby U20 Championship next year but also for this team to end the tournament with a winning performance. One which encapsulates the spirit and talent within the group.”
Scotland U20 (versus Fiji U20 at Club Old Resian, Rosario in the World Rugby U20 Championship 11h place play-off on Saturday 22 June – kick-off 2.30pm BST, 10.30am local time): Matt Davidson (London Scottish); Rory McMichael (Heriot’s), Cameron Anderson (Wasps), Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), Jack Blain (Heriot’s); Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains); Murphy Walker (Stirling County), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Euan McLaren (Ayr), Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), Ross Bundy (Stirling County), Marshall Sykes (Ayr), Connor Boyle (Watsonians), Tom Marshall (Newcastle Falcons).
Subs: Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Academy), Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), Will Hurd (Cardiff Metropolitan University), Mak Wilson (Melrose), Jack Hill (Durham University), Kwagga van Niekerk (Lions), Teddy Leatherbarrow (Sale Sharks), Murray Scott (Watsonians), Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears), Grant Hughes (Stirling County), Lomond MacPherson (Watsonians), Ollie Smith (Ayr).