Scotland U20s Head Coach Sean Lineen has named his side to face Ireland U20s on Friday evening at Dubarry Park.
The side includes for players who were part of the Jonny Gray led side that won 21-20 against the same opposition at Netherdale last year, props James Malcolm and D’Arcy Rae, centre Damien Hoyland, and openside flanker and captain for the match, Tommy Spinks.
It is the first time that Spinks will lead the side, and he spoke of the lessons he learned under Grayâ€™s captaincy last year and his hopes for his own leadership:
“When I was involved in the squad last year we had a great captain in Jonny Gray who combined all the elements of leadership with his ability on the field.”
“Leadership is obviously a massive part of the role, to be someone that players can look to in challenging times, and I’m looking forward to taking that responsibility.â€
Spinks also stressed that he expected Ireland to â€œcome out firingâ€ but that â€œif we stick to our game plan, I’m sure we can bring it to them again.â€
It was a sentiment that Sean Lineen was keen to echo as he praised the Irish set up under the stewardship of the 2005 Welsh Grand Slam winning coach, Mike Ruddock:
“Mike Ruddock’s been there a while as head coach and he’s done a great job. The Irish youth system’s strong, through their clubs and schools, and they’re pretty hardy lads, tough and aggressive.”
“We have to match them physically and, defensively, be a bit more clever in where and how we play.”
“It’s always a cracking game, against Ireland, and we know they’ll want to get one back on us this year but we’re looking forward to it â€“ this is what representing Scotland is all about.â€
The headline inclusion in the side is Ben Chalmers at fly half, the young Melrose stand off was a late inclusion in the squad after impressing in a training game and has continued to impress, earning that starting shirt.
He will be hoping to emulate his father Craig, who was the last Scottish fly half to win a Grand Slam, back in 1990 with that famous victory over England.
That will not be only name of resonance to English readers though as there are plenty in the side plying their trade south of the border, including captain Spinks with London Scottish, hooker Sam James at London Wasps, Glen Young in the second row with Newcastle Falcons, replacement prop Jack Cosgrove and back up nine Ben Vellacott with Worcester Warriors, and of course Wellington Collegeâ€™s star of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasonâ€™s Buchan Richardson, who starts at number eight and now plyâ€™s his trade for London Scottish, alongside Spinks.
One player comes inform even further afield though, Murdo McAndrew. McAndrew is currently based in France with Clermont Auvergne where he is sure to picking up a thing or two from the exceptional Morgan Parra.
What do you think of the Scotland U20s side â€“ is there anyone that you see being a future shining light for Scotland? Let us know via the comment box below or via Twitter on @FifteenRugbyXV
Scotland U20 v Ireland U20, Friday 31 January, Dubarry Park, Athlone, KO 19.05:
15 Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) 14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) 13 Damien Hoyland (Melrose) 12 Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s) 11 Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies) 10 Ben Chalmers (Melrose) 9 Murdo McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne); 1 James Malcolm (Ayr) 2 Sam James (London Wasps) 3 D’Arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors) 4 Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby) 5 Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons) 6 Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh Rugby) 7 Tommy Spinks (London Scottish, captain) 8 Buchan Richardson (London Scottish).
Replacements: 16 Ross Graham (Hawick) 17 Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) 18 Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors) 19 Lewis Carmicheal (Melrose) 20 Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby) 21 Ben Vellacott (Worcester Warriors/Hartpury) 22 Ben Cooper (Boroughmuir) 23 Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies).