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Former Scotland Star Fearing Tough Six Nations Campaign

Former Scotland star Scott Hastings is fearing the worst for his country as they head into the Six Nations

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(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Former Scotland centre Scott Hastings has predicted a tough Six Nations campaign for the national side as they go through a period of transition.

The 65-cap Scot believes that last year was expected to be the year where Scotland produced their best, but they failed and they are now trying to figure things out with a younger squad. 

Some of those youngsters have starred for club and country including the likes of Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury, but Hastings is worried that they will lack the guidance of experienced players with veterans such as Greig Laidlaw, John Barclay and Tommy Seymour retiring after last year’s Rugby World Cup

“I think Scotland are in for a tough season. There is a new era ahead. The team needs to try to put the World Cup to bed but they have lost three experienced heads in Laidlaw, Barclay and Seymour. There needs to be a new energy coming into the team and you can see Gregor is trying to do that with the six uncapped players he has included in his Six Nations squad. But has Gregor learned from the failure of last year? There was a lot of expectancy on the team but they imploded on numerous occasions,” he said while speaking to PA news agency. 

With that in mind Hastings believes that other players in the squad need to step up including Finn Russell, who is now one of the most experienced players in the squad. 

“The things we need to see is how does George Horne become that experienced player, how does Finn Russell strike that balance between exuberance, mercurial brilliance with also the need to be pinpoint accurate so he can deliver a winning performance for Scotland. In the forwards, how does Zander Fagerson turn himself into the number one tighthead in the Six Nations, how does Jonny Gray become the Alun Wyn Jones of Scottish rugby?” he added. 

However, he doesn’t believe that Scotland will be the only side in transition this year with Ireland and Wales in a similar boat in his eyes. While he is backing the title to head to either England or France this season. 

“I think Ireland and Wales are going through something a bit of a transitional period, similar to Scotland. England and France undoubtedly look like the teams to beat but I’m afraid Scotland are looking at fourth, fifth and sixth. I know that sounds harsh and when I played I certainly never went into a season thinking like that. But while I’m still a passionate Scotland supporter this time I’ve got to lead my head rule my heart. They have shown in glimpses that they can play well but you need more than that to compete for a Six Nations title,” he finished up with. 

Scotland will want an improvement from last season, where they only managed a win against Italy and a draw with England in the Six Nations as well as exiting the World Cup in the pool stages. 

However, they face a tough task this time around with their opening game against an Ireland side under new management and eager to impress their new coaches.

6 Nations

Scarlets provide updates on Williams & Owens

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(Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Liam Williams has recovered from a foot injury that has prevented him playing for the Scarlets so far this season. He has been released from the Wales squad to train with the Scarlets ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Benetton.

Ken Owens has undergone surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained against Glasgow and it is expected he will be unavailable for three to four months.

Josh Macleod has started his rehabilitation for a hamstring injury sustained against Glasgow. He will be targeting a return to play in December.

Scarlets also confirmed that Sam Lousi has been banned for a period of four weeks as a result of his red card in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow Warriors.

Lousi was shown a red card by referee Frank Murphy (IRFU) under Law 9.13 – a Player must not tackle an opponent early, late, or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling, or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulder even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.

The disciplinary hearing was handled by Roddy Dunlop (Scotland) and it was accepted that the player’s actions warranted a red card for foul play. The incident was deemed a mid-range offence, which carries a six-week suspension.

Due to the player’s previous disciplinary record (red card for punching incident, February 2020) the judicial officer could not offer full mitigation therefore, resulting in a four-week suspension.

Lousi is free to resume playing from midnight on November 9, 2020

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Scotland name squad for Autumn Internationals

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named a 40-man squad for the forthcoming autumn international matches, which include the conclusion of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and newly launched Autumn Nations Cup.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named a 40-man squad for the forthcoming autumn international matches, which include the conclusion of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and newly launched Autumn Nations Cup.

The squad features three uncapped players in Glasgow Warriors prop Oli Kebble, Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe and Harlequins scrum-half, Scott Steele. In the 23 forwards there are five players who did not feature in the 2020 Guinness Six Nations earlier in the year, with Glasgow Warriors trio Richie Gray (lock), Rob Harley (back-row/lock) and Kebble selected alongside London Irish flanker Blair Cowan, who won his last Scotland cap in 2016 and earns his first call up under Townsend. Scarlets’ Blade Thompson (back-row) also re-joins the squad having last featured at Rugby World Cup 2019.

In the 17 backs selected there are returns for Harlequins centre James Lang, who last featured in the national side during the summer of 2018, as well as Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg and Edinburgh winger Damien Hoyland, alongside squad debutants van der Merwe and scrum-half Steele.

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell also joins the squad, with an opportunity to earn his 50th Scotland cap during the campaign.Gregor Townsend said:

“We are very much looking forward to coming back together as a coaching and playing group after such an unprecedented and challenging period in our sport and across society in general. “There was a strong feeling that we were growing as a team during the Six Nations earlier this year, making progress from game-to-game as well as building closer bonds within the squad.

Our aim is to keep this momentum going as we take on Georgia and Wales before competing in the Autumn Nations Cup in November. “The squad we have selected is formed by the majority of the players we worked with in the Six Nations alongside players who have grabbed their opportunity in the past few weeks and have been in form for their respective teams. “Given the lack of games since March, there will be opportunities for players out-with the squad to break into our group over the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on this group that will be in camp from tomorrow.

It will be great to see some familiar faces, welcome a few back into our squad and also introduce some new players to Test match rugby.”

Scotland begin their autumn test matches at BT Murrayfield against Georgia on Friday 23 October before facing Wales in Llanelli on 31 October in the rescheduled 2020 Guinness Six Nations fixture.

The newly formed Autumn Nations Cup begins in November with Scotland in Pool B alongside France and Fiji who they will play at BT Murrayfield as well as an away test match against Italy.

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England announce new landmark deal with O2

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O2 and the RFU have today announced a new five-year partnership of the national teams and bringing spend parity across the men’s and women’s games. O2 is the principal shirt partner for the England Senior Men’s and England Senior Women’s teams with O2’s logo appearing front and centre on all match day and training kit.

As part of the new agreement, O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership. O2 and the RFU have the collective ambition to grow both the profile of the Red Roses and increase attendance at future games.

The deal also provides O2 customers the opportunity to access Priority Tickets for all England Rugby games, 48 hours before general release. As the UK’s No1 network, O2 is committed to offering the very best offers and experiences. Through Priority, O2 customers will have the opportunity to access exclusive player meet and greets, 20% matchday discount on England Rugby kit at the Twickenham Stadium store and O2 Ultimate Fan – winning the chance to go on summer tour with the team.

O2 Inside Line will continue as the exclusive England Rugby behind the scenes content series, now with equal commitment to both teams. This includes content from inside training camps, live broadcasts from camps during test week, and exclusive pre and post-match content from the O2 Blueroom. O2 Inside Line will be multi-format series including live stream, video and podcast.

The deal also brings a joint commitment from O2 and the RFU to support the country’s grassroots clubs through exclusive rugby community offers from O2, and a vision for Twickenham to become more connected, utilising O2 5G and O2 Business products and services.

Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO commented: “O2 have been a loyal supporter of England Rugby, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years and we are proud to continue to carry their logo front and centre on our shirts for a further five years. O2’s commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable and it’s great to collaborate with a partner that truly shares our same passion to see the women’s game flourish and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy.”

Nina Bibby, CMO of O2 said: “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we love and have invested in for over 25 years. We are proud to support the RFU through our extended partnership, which we believe is the longest shirt sponsorship in the history of UK sport. Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women. The future for English rugby is bright, and together we want to make sure that rugby emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”

  • O2 to Wear the Rose for five more years as principal shirt sponsor commencing from September 2021
  • This year marks twenty-five years of O2 sponsorship of the England Rugby Team with the renewal taking the partnership to thirty years
  • O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership
  • Priority Tickets for both the men’s and women’s fixtures available to O2 customers 48 hours ahead of general release as part of a set of exclusive offers and experiences
  • Increased connectivity at Twickenham Stadium 

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