SCOTLAND’S leading club players will be the warm-up act for the RBS Six Nations Championship clash with Ireland this weekend when they take on the Ireland Club XV in Dublin on Friday night.
Scotland Club XV coach Ally Donaldson has been forced into two changes to the side that claimed a stirring win over France in Ayr a fortnight ago. Prop Alan Dymock has dropped out after suffering concussion in Heriot’s win over Hawick at the weekend and full-back Fraser Harkness has been called up for Scotland sevens duty.
That means a return to the No 15 jersey for Melrose’s Fraser Thomson, and to the wing for Currie’s Dougie Fife, and a place in the front row for John Cox, the Currie loosehead. On the bench, Dundee HSFP captain Neil Dymock comes in as a replacement for his brother.
Donaldson praised the squad for their efforts at Millbrae but insisted they have their eyes on a first away win in six years of club international rugby.
He said: “We were very pleased with the result against France but, in order to win our first game on foreign soil, we must improve and lift the intensity on Friday. With only two games in a season and the chance to make history we want to keep as much continuity as possible.”
The very first club international match was held at Donnybrook, a stone’s throw from the Old Belvedere RFC ground on Anglesea Road that hosts the game on Friday night. The Scots have faced the Irish on six occasions, winning twice at home and losing the last time out, a 32-30 nail-biter at Netherdale last season, and losing 30-13, 20-15 and 21-18 in Dublin.
Ireland’s win, and claiming of the new Dalriada Cup, last year was their first on Scottish soil and Irish coach Conor Twomey, of UCC, has retained many players from that meeting.
Division 1A leaders Clontarf are represented by seasoned club caps Killian Lett, Simon Crawford, Barry O’Mahony and Frank Cogan, the latter the captain at Galashiels, while Dolphin’s prolific points scorer Barry Keeshan, who landed three penalties and two conversions in that game, and half-back partner Gerry Hurley of Cork Constitution, are again included.
Mirroring the full side’s approach, Donaldson added: “The Irish side is big and abrasive so, in order to win, we must combat that with pace and intensity.
“The fact we have never won away from home in Ireland shows how much of a challenge Friday will be.”