The young Scots, under the charge of Sean Lineen, open their campaign against Ireland who were top of table last year when the championship was suspended due to Covid.
Scotland finished the 2020 tournament strongly, with a thumping 52-17 win over Wales in Colwyn Bay, but only four of thE squad remain so there is a particularly youthful feel to Lineen’s current crop.
Among the debutants at this level is Murray Redpath, the Newcastle University scrum-half who celebrated his 19th birthday this week.
The teenager comes from good stock. He is the son of former Scotland captain Bryan, a distinguished performer in the No 9 jersey for the national side across three World Cups, and the younger brother of Cameron, the centre who made such an impression on his Test debut in the win over England at Twickenham in February.
Lineen has liked what he’s seen so far from Redpath junior.
“Some parts of his game are really powerful and one thing that has impressed me is his maturity on the field,” said the coach. “You can see that he's a leader already.”
Redapth’s half-back partner will be Cameron Scott, an academy player with Edinburgh who played for the under-20s last year, scoring a try against Ireland.
Lineen has promoted him to the squad’s leadership group and hopes he can follow a similar path to another Scotland U20 alumni now making waves in the pro game.
“He’s a really good lad, a left-footer,” said the coach. “If you look at the 10s, he’s where Ross Thompson was a few years ago, just finding his way. It takes a while. You get the ball a lot as a 10 and there is a lot of pressure so we need to look at how we can help and support him.
“He’s got a nice break and he’s got a good pass, he’s brave and I’m really looking forward to seeing him play. He’s really developed in the leadership side of things as well.”
Stand-off cover on the bench is provided by Christian Townsend, son of national coach Gregor, raising the prospect of reprising the Townsend-Redpath partnership which served Scotland so well in the 1990s.
“Christian is a good player as well,” said Lineen. “He’s like Murray in that he is pretty mature on the field. He's got that bit of magic as well that he tries now and then and that’s really positive. He attacks the line really well and has a good passing game.
“We’ve got him, Cammy Scott and Euan Cunningham as well. It’s really positive having three 10s. They will be with the under 20s next year as well so you may see a bit more of the Redpath-Townsend partnership as it moves on but there are other players out there as well and we’re looking forward to seeing them all play.”
The entire tournament is being played at Cardiff Arms Park over the next four weeks so it will be a long camp for the Scotland squad. It will undoubtedly present its own challenges but Lineen is confident his players will grow throughout the competition.
“It’s going to be a massive learning curve for these guys,” he said.