Scotland will play four test matches this summer in preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, three of which will be played at BT Murrayfield. Starting with a home match against Italy on Saturday 29 July, Scotland will then face France a week later before heading off to face the Rugby World Cup hosts on Saturday 12 August, a venue to be confirmed.
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After a one-week break, Scotland will conclude their summer program against Georgia at BT Murrayfield on Saturday 26 August with start times for all games to be confirmed in due course. The Rugby World Cup 2023 will take place from 8 September to 28 October next year and Scotland will play in Group B alongside reigning world champions South Africa, Ireland, Tonga and Romania.
Head coach Gregor Townsend said: 2023 is an important year for our national team and after Guinness 6 Nations we will quickly focus on the Rugby World Cup. All four matches will provide us with invaluable experience in preparing for the tournament. The opportunity to play at home three times before leaving will allow our players to feel the support of our fans before going to the RWC 2023.
“The away match against France will be very important as we are going to spend time at our pre-Rugby World Cup training facility in Nice before the match and replicate the schedule our players will experience during the tournament itself.”
Scotland’s 2023 Summer Test Schedule (Kick-off times to be confirmed)
- Scotland vs Italy Saturday 29 July, BT Murrayfield
- Scotland vs France Saturday 5 August, BT Murrayfield
- France vs Scotland Saturday 12 August, TBC
- Scotland vs Georgia Saturday 26 August, BT Murrayfield
RWC 2023 – Scotland’s injury list mounts ahead of 2023 Six Nations
Who exactly will be ready to participate in the 2023 Six Nations? With the current list of injuries, Scotland rugby head coach Gregor Townsend is facing several headaches, and very few good or interesting ones. Here is a brief example of who has been injured as Townsend prepares for the start of the tournament in February and the Calcutta Cup opener against England.
Which Forwards are Injured?
Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally were on Edinburgh’s current injury list as of Friday, while Glasgow listed Scott Cummings (foot), Rory Darge (ankle), Allan Dell (calves), Zander Fagerson (hamstring), Oli Kebble (shoulder), Murphy Walker. (neck), Ryan Wilson (knee). In exile, locking Alex Craig (Gloucester) was also out with a shoulder injury.
Some of them, like Wilson, are unlikely to be on the minds of selectors these days, but certainly even some of the minor props could be considered backups—or backups for backups. With Zander gone, there is serious concern about who will play the curmudgeon (Walker and the new convert Kebble could be candidates). Murray McCallum is on Montauban’s short-term test in French D2, but Javan Sebastian is in good shape, as is…Simon Bergan?
In the middle of the front row, aside from McInally, all of the team’s other regular prostitutes seem to be in good shape, though Fraser Brown may have taken a hit in Glasgow’s impressive win over the Stormers at the weekend.
It’s likely that Richie Gray will be able to retain at least one second-row seat in the Six Nations, with either his brother or Grant Gilchrist (who took a break from Edinburgh this weekend) being his likely running mate. Sam Skinner has also returned to form from injury, but only recently, and while Scott Cummings is also apparently hoping to be ready, his playing time will be even shorter.
A scenario in which we saw two or even three open sides turn around for Scotland at once will be a distant memory. These injuries to Darge and Watson could give game time to some of the more aggressive 6/8 players who still haven’t seen much experience at test level since Darge and Ritchie came on the scene, like Andy Christie or Luke Crosby.
Josh Bayliss or Nick Haining could also be recalled, though news broke this week that Mish might be back in full training again. Fagerson/Ritchie/Dempsey in the back row of the first pick still looks likely. For more about Scotland Vs Tonga Tickets.
Which Backs are Injured?
Edinburgh are bearing the brunt of this as several key players are missing from the club and likely the country: Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Doohan van der Merwe have all been out this weekend. With Stuart Hogg battling an illness and knee and heel problems lingering in recent weeks, could we need a whole new back three to replace the unit that crushed Argentina last time?
From the above, it is likely that former skipper Hogg will still be in the squad no matter what, with Scotland’s 100th cap on the horizon, but with a heel injury that will see him miss Exeter’s European trip for, ahem , South. Africa next weekend is something Townsend will at least need to think about. The question will be, is Blair Kinghorn a backup or not?
On either side of Hogg, the need to develop wing depth beyond the undoubted first options could increase the likelihood of a challenge for players with little experience like Rufus McLean or using Blair Kinghorn there. London-based Irish speedster Kyle Rowe is still recovering from an ACL tear sustained 11 minutes into his first match against Argentina in the summer. Townsend often surprises in the spring, so if you’re a qualified Scottish winger playing in the south, you should be on the lookout for a call. Sean Maitland or Byron McGuigan, whoever?
One of the good news is the center, where almost all the centers – even Duncan Taylor of the Saracens – fit. Expect those who have also been in the back three (Kyle Stein, Rory Hutchinson, Hugh Jones) or both center positions (Jones, Hutchinson, Sione Tuipulotu) to be especially useful to Townsend as the Glasgow Stein skipper also offers leadership qualities. Jones and Tuipulotu are in great shape right now and it looks like the starting centers will be a combo of them + Chris Harris.
Confronting Adam Hastings needs shoulder surgery at Gloucester and Ross Thompson is still on Glasgow’s injured list meaning we’ll still be counting on Finn Russell who should be officially the 5th pick or so by now to start in jersey 10. Recent news of Ben Healy defecting to Scotland increases his chances of being called up much sooner rather than later to fill in injury gaps.
A partnership with linebacker choice, a group of Ali Price, George Horn and Ben White, seems likely, with potentially either one getting the nod on match day. Former Ireland international John Cooney has spoken of casting his lot with Scotland in the style of Jack Dempsey, but will he be anything more than an admittedly very good player on his way to the Rugby World Cup if one of the three above get hurt?
Last year, Scotland’s original Six Nations squad consisted of 17 defenders and 22 forwards, so with that in mind (and some players may be back in shape before the start of the tournament):
Jamie Bhatti, Pierre Schoeman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Javan Sebastian, Simon Berghan
Ewan Ashman, Fraser Brown, George Turner, Dave Cherry
Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Sam Skinner, Jamie Hodgson
Magnus Bradbury, Andy Christie, Jack Dempsey, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Josh Bayliss
Sean Maitland, Ollie Smith, Blair Kinghorn, Kyle Steyn, Rufus McLean
Rory Hutchinson, Cam Redpath, Sione Tuipulotu, Chris Harris, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Mark Bennett
Finn Russell, Ben Healy
Ali Price, George Horne, Ben White
It will still be possible to field a team close to full roster, but as usual, the choice becomes more interesting on the bench. The race to match the fitness of Cummings, Hogg and Watson will be of the most interest if we hope the team can claim higher places in the table.
Offensive coach E.B. Zondach is leaving for France (with immediate effect) and rumours in France that Touni himself may have applied for the post of French offensive coach after the Rugby World Cup all add to the rather unsettling pre-tournament mood.
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