Bryan Redpath has made ten personnel and two positional changes from the Scotland Under-20 side which lost to England last Thursday ahead of the team’s 9th-to-12th-place play-off semi-final against Ireland at the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France this afternoon.
The young Scots have shown plenty of potential during this campaign but, after coming up short against Italy, Argentina and England, they are now in a four-way battle to avoid being relegated out of the tournament. If they lose today, then they will play their final game against either Georgia or Japan and must win to avoid dropping down to the second-tier U20 Trophy next year – which would involve playing against teams such as Portugal, Uruguay and Namibia.
There is a lot at stake, but Redpath wants his players to play positively to win the match, rather than cautiously to avoid defeat. He has selected Callum McLelland, above, an 18-year-old who grew up playing rugby league in England before throwing his lot in with Scotland last November, at stand-off ahead of Ross Thompson of Glasgow Hawks.
“Charlie Chapman at scrum-half is doing the goal-kicking and he’s pretty good kicking from hand as well, so that allows us to focus purely on who is best at picking the right options at stand-off,” explained Redpath.
“Callum is a threat going to the line, whereas Ross is maybe a bit more of a conventional, old-school ten who sits back in the pocket a little bit. We’ve got to go out and win the game, we can’t sit back and soak up pressure all the time. We’ve gone with what we believe will get the best out of Stafford McDowall and Cammy Hutchison in the centre.
“We knew that the first, second and fourth games were going to be massive,” he continued. “So, while we took the England game really seriously, we had that in mind in our selection for that match, and there are a lot of fresh boys coming back in for this game.”
“We know Ireland well after facing them in the Six Nations. They’re a tough, direct side who we pushed all the way in Donnybrook three months ago. The boys know how intense the clash will be and we’ll have to match their intensity from the get go.”