McInally to captain Scotland in Japan
Stuart McInally will captain Scotland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan as ten Edinburgh players were today named in Head Coach Gregor Townsend’s 31-man squad.
The Edinburgh-born hooker is joined in the squad by front-row pairing Simon Berghan and WP Nel, while Ben Toolis – who scored his first international try in Saturday’s win over Georgia – and Grant Gilchrist both made the trip to Japan.
Townsend selects a capital-based back-row trio with John Barclay – the only player preparing for a third campaign (having featured in 2007 and 2011) – selected alongside Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, with both set to make their Rugby World Cup debuts this month.
Edinburgh have two backs named in the squad as wing Darcy Graham and Blair Kingorhorn were both selected at today’s lvive reveal at Linlithgow Palace.
Townsend said: “Stuart has done a really good job in the opportunities he’s had to captain Scotland.
“He captained Edinburgh last season and is a real lead-by-example player, both in training and in games. He’s a calming influence that brings people with him and brings the best out of others.”
Over a third (13) of the group have previous Rugby World Cup experience, with Barclay the only player preparing for a third campaign (having featured in 2007 and 2011).
The remainder are Glasgow Warriors quintet Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray, Pete Horne, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson, Edinburgh’s Gilchrist and Nel, plus Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), Finn Russell (Racing 92) and Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), who all featured in 2015.
Barclay is also the most-capped member of the squad with 74 of the group’s total of 902 appearances combined, with Scarlets back-row Blade Thomson operating at the other end of the spectrum, with one Test cap.
Glasgow Warriors contribute the most players (12) to the squad, with Edinburgh close behind with 10, eight coming from exile clubs and Reid representing the Super6 side as their new recruit for next season.
Edinburgh wing Graham is the youngest member of the squad having turned 22 in June, although there are three other 22-year-olds in the squad – Glasgow Warriors Scott Cummings and Adam Hastings, and Edinburgh back Kinghorn – while Laidlaw is the oldest at 33 years and 326 days (with Nel also 33). The squad has an average age of 29.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “We’re delighted with the squad and believe we’ve picked a group capable of playing our best rugby and making a statement on the world stage.
“When we play our best rugby, we know we’re a match for any team in the world.
“We feel that 14 backs give us really good cover and, with some of the forwards being able to play across the back-row, 17 is a good number too.
“Previous experience of Rugby World Cups can be important, while the majority of our group were on the tour – and won – in Japan in 2016. Overall, that experience is a bonus.”
He continued: “A lot of quality, experienced players have missed out on selection this time, but they know the areas we’d like to see them work on, for whenever they get the chance to play for Scotland again.
“They also know to keep working hard because, in a world cup, those opportunities can come around very quickly.”
Completing the squad’s forward stable are front-rows Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Allan Dell (London Irish), Zander Fagerson and George Turner (both Glasgow Warriors), and Edinburgh trio Ben Toolis (lock), Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson (back-row).
Joining Pete Horne as the squad’s centre options are his Glasgow Warriors clubmate Sam Johnson and exiles Chris Harris (Gloucester) and Duncan Taylor (Saracens), with Glasgow Warriors scrum-halves George Horne and Ali Price completing the back division.
31-man Scotland squad for Rugby World Cup 2019
John Barclay (Edinburgh) – 74 caps
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 42 caps
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
Allan Dell (London Irish) – 24 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 36 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 51 caps
Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 29 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 31 caps
Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) – 36 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 11 caps
Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 1 cap
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 20 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 27 caps
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 44 caps
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 6 caps
Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 9 caps
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Cheifs) – 69 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 42 caps
Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 14 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) – 73 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 42 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 26 caps
Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 46 caps
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 51 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 22 caps