Bigger crowd at Scotland v Georgia rugby than Scotland v Russia football

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
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Scotland’s players will be given a rousing send-off to the World Cup in Japan by a bumper crowd as they face Georgia in their final warm-up Test in Edinburgh on Friday.

Ticket sales for the game are understood to be in the mid-50,000 range, which would make it the second highest ‘Summer Test’ attendance at BT Murrayfield following last month’s 67,500 capacity crowd for the 17-14 win over France.

That was the 15th consecutive sell-out at the national stadium.

It means the Scotland’s rugby players will be playing a ‘friendly’ against an emerging minor nation in front of a crowd bigger than the country’s footballers in tonight’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Russia at Hampden.

Three days after head coach Gregor Townsend named his 31-man squad for the tournament, which starts on 22 September against Ireland in Yokohama, he has gone with a starting XV who will hopefully all be on the plane to the Nagasaki holding camp on Monday.

Townsend said there was a balance to giving players some proper game time before the World Cup, some for the first time this series like lock Jonny Gray, and protecting them ahead of the trip to the Far East.

“We’ll see, it’s important use all the 23, we’ve done that consistently through these three games,” said Townsend, reflecting on a pre-tournament campaign which started badly with a 32-3 defeat by France in Nice to that 17-14 win in the home return and a 44-10 thumping of Georgia in Tbilisi at the weekend.

“There’s combinations we still want to see, we want to look at. Sometimes plans change if we get an injury in some area of the field. We have two centres on the bench and the preference is that they come on at centre, Peter [Horne, pictured] and Chris [Harris], who played together two weeks ago.

“But maybe Peter comes on a stand-off and Chris comes on to the wing or other positions, but yes, we’ll be looking to get all the subs on sometime early in the second half.”

Asked what his final message will be to the team before Friday night’s match, the coach replied: “We have one more meeting with them. Today as coaches we said a couple of things about Georgia and then passed it on to the players. What I said to the players is we can’t take this game lightly, we put a lot of hard work into last week’s performance, analysed the opposition and focused on what we needed to do to win away from home. It’s not going to come out if we’re complacent in any way.”