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.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
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Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.