Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has today named a 36-man squad for a two day training camp ahead of the first game of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series.
The group brings together predominantly home-based players, 19 of whom featured in the 2021 Scotland summer squad which was unable to play its three intended matches due to Covid-19.
Glasgow Warriors back-row player Rory Darge continues in the squad from the summer after man of the match performances in the opening rounds of the United Rugby Championship campaign. He is joined by fellow Warriors in backs Ross Thompson, Cole Forbes, Rufus McLean, Kyle Steyn, George Horne, Jamie Dobie, Sione Tuipulotu and forwards Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Matt Fagerson and George Turner.
Edinburgh Rugby also have players retained from the summer in the form of back row pair Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie, alongside lock Jamie Hodgson and backs Blair Kinghorn, Jack Blain, Damien Hoyland and James Lang.
The remaining group of 17 players are called up having returned from either the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, injury or rest, having not featured in Scotland’s disrupted summer campaign.
Lions Ali Price, Hamish Watson and Zander Fagerson all bring their experience to the group.
In the pack Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, Nick Haining and Rob Harley are called up bringing with them a combined tally of 169 caps.
Also returning are backs Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett and Sam Johnson all of whom have made bright starts to the new season.
Townsend has also brought in four new faces with an uncapped quartet of three forwards and a back.
Edinburgh Rugby forwards Pierre Schoeman and Marshall Sykes are joined by midfield back Charlie Savala in the training group.
There is also a call-up for Cell C Sharks loose-forward Dylan Richardson who qualifies for Scotland through his father, who was born in Edinburgh. The 22 year-old flanker has started two URC matches this season having lined up against Munster in the opening round and Glasgow Warriors in round two and was part of the matchday 23 for the South African team’s third-round win against Ospreys.
The training squad will convene on Sunday 17 October and train on Monday 18 October at Oriam High Performance centre outside Edinburgh.
Speaking on the selection Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “It has been great to see both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors make positive starts to their URC campaigns driven by some standout performances from both young and established players.
“With four tough Test matches ahead of us in this year’s Autumn Nations Series it is important we bring players together early, connect with them as coaches and enable them to grow as a group before the campaign gets underway against Tonga at BT Murrayfield. We’ll then move on to the challenge of facing in-form Australia, World Champions South Africa and a very dangerous Japan team.
“We are pleased with the depth we are able to call upon to make up this training squad and it provides a genuine opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection to the full Autumn Nations Series squad.”
Autumn Nations Training Squad
Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps
Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps
Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps
Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
Cole Forbes – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
Matt Currie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
James Lang – Edinburgh Rugby – 6 caps
Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
Jack Blain – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Charlie Savala – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 14 caps
Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Scotland’s match against South Africa is already sold out with the Australia fixture expected to follow very shortly.
A full house at BT Murrayfield is also expected for Japan.
Tonga will be the exciting opponents on Saturday 30 October when Scotland take the field for the first test match at BT Murrayfield with a live crowd since March 2020.
Plans are underway to host a massive Halloween party with fans encouraged to wear fancy dress and with ‘kids for £1’ tickets available it gives a great opportunity for families to see their national team in action.
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
Ryan And Baird Ruled Out Of Scotland Game. 2 called up.
The Ireland squad returned to Dublin on Saturday evening following the victory over England at Twickenham and reassembled at Carton House on Sunday evening.
James Ryan will not be considered for selection this week and his return to rugby protocols will be supervised by the Leinster Medical Team. Ryan Baird is ruled out of the final fixture of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with a back issue.
Uncapped locks Ross Molony and Joe McCarthy have been called up to train with the squad. Ross has been involved in Ireland squads since the summer of 2021 while Joe, a former Ireland U20 player, made his Leinster debut against Cardiff in January having impressed for Dublin University in the Energia AIL.
Robert Baloucoune, Nick Timoney and Mike Lowry all return after lining out for Ulster in the URC against Leinster at the weekend.
Ireland play Scotland in the final round of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship on Saturday 19th March at 4.45pm. The game is being televised by Virgin (ROI) and ITV (NI).
Ireland Squad Round 5 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championships
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 36 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 31 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 11 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 30 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 16 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 3 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 56 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 3 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 19 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 11 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 95 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 104 caps CAPTAIN
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 22 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 29 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 26 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 16 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 56 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 115 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 6 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 67 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 25 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 47 caps
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin) uncapped
Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 83 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 6 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 4 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 39 caps
Johnny Sexton Signs Contract Extension to 2023 Rugby World Cup￼
Ireland and Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton has signed a contract extension up until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
In November Johnny earned his 100th cap for Ireland against Japan and played a pivotal role in Ireland’s third defeat of New Zealand. He hit the milestone of 500 Six Nations Championship points against Wales in Round 1 of this year’s tournament and has represented Ireland on 103 occasions to date.
The former World Player of the Year was appointed Ireland captain by Andy Farrell in January 2020 and has led the team to ten victories in his 13 game tenure as the on field general.
Johnny made his international debut against Fiji in November 2009 and has represented Ireland at three Rugby World Cups (2011, 2015 & 2019). Johnny is a two time Lions tourist (2013 & 2017) and has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and five European Cups with Leinster. He has represented his provinces on 178 occasions, scoring 1549 points.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented: “Johnny’s performances continue to be of the highest standard and he remains an integral member of the Ireland and Leinster squads. He has always been a leader on the field and in the past two years since taking on the Ireland captaincy his leadership off it has been top class. Johnny is a generational player and we are delighted that he has extended to 2023.”
Johnny Sexton, commented: “I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract. There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then.”