Scotland rugby coach Vern Cotter’s worst fears were realised yesterday when his new captain Grant Gilchrist was ruled out of the autumn Test series with a broken forearm.
Just a fortnight ahead of Cotter’s first outing at Murrayfield, on 8 November against Argentina, the national coach is now searching for a new leader on the pitch. Gilchrist was only anointed skipper on Monday so his was a short reign by any standard.
The lock forward will be in a cast for six weeks and will miss the Tests against Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga.
Gilchrist left the BT Murrayfield pitch just 28 minutes into Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup match against Lyon on Friday night nursing his right arm. He went to hospital, while his team-mates held out for a second consecutive European victory, where X-rays confirmed the fracture.
The SRU released a bulletin stating that he would still link up with the Scotland squad today for a four-day camp ahead of the November Test match window.
His place in the squad has been filled by Jim Hamilton who put in a good shift for Saracens at Thomond Park on Friday in what was ultimately a losing cause. The loss of Gilchrist as a player is a setback, but finding a replacement to captain the team is a harder task than finding another international class lock forward.
The obvious choice would be between Ross Ford in the forward pack and Henry Pyrgos in the backs. Ford took over the captaincy of Edinburgh when Gilchrist left the field on Friday and Pyrgos has been an occasional captain of Glasgow this season.
If he wants a left-field choice, Cotter could yet hand the reins to Jonny Gray. The 20-year-old has already captained Glasgow and he will almost certainly be around for a long time. Alternatively Cotter may decide the captaincy on a match-by-match basis.
Cotter said: “Clearly this is really disappointing news for Grant, who’s been a fine player and leader for his club this season; and was set to continue that role for Scotland this autumn.”
Those Scotland players who survived the weekend’s matches unscathed will meet today in Newcastle for a camp which will be their base during next year’s World Cup.