Under 20s rugby: Wright reshuffles after call-offs

SCOTLAND under-20s have lost three players to club duty ahead of their match with France in Galashiels on Friday night, but coach Peter Wright remains optimistic as the young Scots seek a first win of the season.

Centre Tommaso Allan, the nephew of former Scotland and South Africa hooker John Allan, has been recalled by Western Province, Scott Steele, who has started the last two games at scrum-half, has had to return to Leicester and Edinburgh have recalled prop Robin Hislop to their squad for Friday night’s game at Connacht. Glasgow have, however, released scrum-half Murray McConnell to provide bench cover.

Wright added: “Tommy and Scott getting recalled to their clubs means Finn Russell comes in at 12 and Matty Torrance starts at scrum-half. Finn is probably more of a stand-off, but bringing him in for Tommy means it’s a bit more like for like and I’m excited to see what he can do at inside centre from the start.

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“Scott going back to Leicester is a good opportunity for him to experience the Premiership set-up, but Matt brings in some pace and his delivery is quick and accurate.”

Scotland lost heavily to England in their opening match and went down out 28-15 in Colwyn Bay, but Wright was encouraged by the second half performance against what was a bigger and more experienced Welsh side.

“What we’ve got to do is get a bit more accurate especially around the contact areas and tackles,” he aid. “We made 94 percent of tackles against Wales but, in that six percent that we missed, we conceded two tries.”

Netherdale is becoming a popular venue for Scotland matches with the A team having attracted a sizeable crowd for their defeat of England Saxons and the under-20s similarly the underdogs this week but hoping for a big backing – entry is free – to emulate the A side and spring a surprise, and provide a boost to the senior team.

“The crowds have been really good there,” added Wright, “and it’s great for the boys to play somewhere which, of course, has a great rugby tradition but also is a pitch of real quality. The French are a big physical side, similar to the Welsh, but we have to not worry about that and stick to our gameplan. The guys are looking forward to the challenge.”

Scotland Under 20s (v France U20 at Netherdale, Galashiels on Friday, 7.30pm): Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Scotland 7s/Heriot’s), Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh/Edinburgh Accies), Robbie Fergusson (Ayr), Finn Russell (Falkirk), Michael Crawley (Boroughmuir), Harry Leonard (Edinburgh, capt), Matt Torrance (Ospreys); Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s Melville), Alex Allan (Loughborough Students), Adam Sinclair (Stirling County), Jonny Gray (Hamilton), Mitch Eadie (Bristol), Will Bordill (Sale), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir).

Substitutes: Russell Anderson (Gala), Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP), Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies), Callum Maguire (Berwick), Murray McConnell (Glasgow), Jack Bradford (Nottingham), Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks).