All roads led to Rome, where Scotland changed their RBS 6 Nations fortunes with a hard fought win over Italy (36 / 20).
Two 1st half, and one 2nd half, try interspersed with a succession of Greig Laidlaw penalties gave Scotland their biggest RBS 6 Nations score since the championship expanded in 2000.
The Scotland captain was awarded man of match for his kicking off the tee and calm leadership that saw the away side maintain structure and clarity of thought despite 2 2nd half Yellow Cards – for Finn Russell and WP Nel – and sustained Italian attacks.
When he took to the field as Scotland cap number 1 073, Josh Strauss became the 50th player to make his debut for the national side since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011. This is by far the highest number of new players for Scotland in any Rugby World Cup cycle – more, in fact, than the previous 2 combined (48 new caps). It requires going back to the 1950s to find a greater number of 1st caps in a 4 year period.
Despite having the smallest player base of any of the Six Nations, Scotland has had more debutants than any of their rivals:
- England – 41
- France – 40
- Ireland – 37
- Italy – 31
- Wales – 37
In fact only 1 side who competed at this year’s Rugby World Cup awarded more new caps in the last 4 years. By a quirk of the global calendar Argentina didn’t have access to many of their 1st (or even 2nd) choice players when the South American Championship takes place and 54 of their 67 new caps (including 24 in the space of 5 days in 2013, the last year they appeared in it!) debuted in the annual iterations of this tournament.
The Scotland squad issued the following medical bulletin on Sunday after Saturday’s (3 October) 34 / 16 loss to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup at St James’ Park.
Hooker Ross Ford failed an in-game HIA (head injury assessment) meaning he will now follow the graduated return-to-play protocol, as will centre Matt Scott, who reported delayed onset concussion symptoms post match.
Fullback Stuart Hogg left the field of play in the 63rd minute of the Test match having suffered cramp to his legs and lower back, however he is not considered an immediate concern.
Further knocks include a dead leg for lock Jonny Gray and a mild knee strain for centre Richie Vernon. Both players will continue to be monitored and rehabilitated by the Scotland medical team.
Jannie du Plessis is telling the story of the day the Springboks decided to change their entire lineout book in the build-up to Saturday’s World Cup match with Scotland.
The tighthead prop, with 66 caps packed into his near-33 years, bows his head and laughs.
“It was Monday. Black Monday,” he explains.
“Our forwards coach came in and said, ‘OK, on the weekend Scotland will have Josh Strauss and WP Nel in their team. We respect them as rugby players and we respect their ability to understand lineout calls in Afrikaans. So we’re changing our calls.’
“We said, ‘What? All of them?’ Our coach said, ‘Yes, every one. We start today.’ There was more than 1 sigh of frustration in that room, I can tell you. We were saying, ‘No! How am I going to learn all of this in a week!’ Maybe it’s a blessing. We made so many mistakes with the old ones. Maybe we needed to change anyway.”
Head Coach Vern Cotter has sought continuity in the rotated Scotland squad named for this Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Round 2 Test against the USA Eagles at Elland Road, Leeds (27 September, kick-off 15:30 SA Time, 14:30 BST, 13:30 GMT).
The entire bench from Wednesday’s win over Japan (45 / 10) has been promoted into the starting line-up meaning that despite making 10 changes to the starting 15 there are just 4 new faces in the 23-man squad: Tim Visser and Alasdair Strokosch who start at wing and back-row respectively and replacements Tim Swinson (lock) and Duncan Weir (flyhalf).
Cotter said: “We said from the start that we’d need the whole group of 31 players for this campaign. We’ve known this schedule for a long time and have tried to keep continuity in selection, while also introducing fresh legs to what will be another very physical challenge this Sunday.”
Josh Strauss is set to make his debut for Scotland on Wednesday as he has been named as a replacement for the Rugby World Cup match against Japan in Gloucester. Fellow South African WP Nel has been named in the starting line up for this match.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 David Denton, 7 John Hardie, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Maitland.
You would think after years of repeated and soul-destroying failure in the Six Nations, those with an affection for the Scotland team would be looking at the upcoming Rugby World Cup with some trepidation.
Some do fear that a 2nd successive group stage exit is a distinct possibility but others will tell you that this tournament represents an opportunity for an emerging squad to spring some shocks on the rugby elite.
Scotland begin their campaign against Japan at Kingsholm on 23 September before facing the USA and 2-time champions South Africa ahead of the final – and potentially decisive – pool match against Samoa.
3 Former Scotland internationals were asked to assess how Scotland will fare in the World Cup.
- Chris Paterson ( CP ) is Scotland’s record cap holder and played in 4 World Cups from 1999 through to 2007.
- Peter Wright ( PW ) won 21 caps for Scotland, played at the 1995 World Cup and was selected for the 1993 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
- John Beattie ( JB ) appeared 25 times for Scotland, was part of the 1984 Grand Slam winning squad and toured twice with the British & Irish Lions.
Scotland’s 31-man Rugby World Cup squad has been named, the players have been told, and it was publicly announced this afternoon at Edinburgh University.
After almost 3 months of hard training and 2 wins out of 3 in the warm-up games, Vern Cotter has made his decision and the paperwork has been delivered to the tournament organisers. Supporters were treated at the Old College Quad to see today’s announcement, which was made at 14:30 BST (15:30 SA Time), and supporters had a chance to mingle with the players afterwards.
Following Saturday’s 48 / 7 win over Italy at BT Murrayfield, Cotter and his coaching staff met for final discussions and assessments of the medical reports before confirming the squad and informing the players of the decision.
The Scotland team and the 2 Scottish PRO12 teams, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, were in action this weekend playing warm-up matches.
Scotland faced Italy for the 2nd weekend in a row in the 3rd of their 4 Rugby World Cup warm-up matches. The game was played at Murrayfield in front of what was said to be a record crowd for a summer Test match. The team that ran out must have been close to Vern Cotter’s 1st choice 15 and they did not disappoint running in 6 tries and only conceding 1 in a very impressive performance.
WP Nel put in a solid performance which saw Italy’s scrum in trouble from the word go. The pressure Nel put on Italy’s loosehead prop earned Scotland a few penalties with the loosehead resorting to scrumming in on various occasions.
The next game of the day also took place in Edinburgh where the hosts took on Ulster in a preseason warm-up match, 1 week ahead of the start of the PRO12 for 2015 / 2016. The game was played at Heriot FC’s ground Goldenacre due to the Test match which was played earlier in the day at Murrayfield.
Head coach Alan Solomons would have been pleased to see his team get their 2nd win in their 2nd preseason friendly match against what was a fairly strong starting Ulster line-up.
The final game of the day, which was billed as the ‘Battle of New Scotland’, saw Canada host Glasgow Warriors in Halifax Nova Scotia.
Josh Strauss played the whole game for the Warriors ahead of possible inclusion in the Scotland World Cup squad. Former Glasgow Warriors winger DTH vd Merwe scored a try for Canada late in the game to ensure victory for them. The game was played in quite high temperatures and there were a few water breaks during the game.
Round 11 of the Guinness PRO12 kicked off on Friday night and ended with the final fixture on Sunday, with big derby matches being played between the teams from all four countries who have teams in the competition. South African players made a big impact during the Round, earning Player Of The Match accolades in 3 out of the 6 fixtures.
Rynard ‘Ligtoring’ Landman started it off with a Man Of The Match performance for Newport Gwent Dragons against Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday afternoon. CJ Stander added a Man Of The Match accolade in a comfortably victorious Munster effort against Leinster, while Rob Herring completed the trio of South African Man Of The Match performances on Friday for Ulster who scraped home against Connacht. Josh Strauss was pipped to the award by skipper Alastair Kellock for Glasgow Warriors against Edinburgh, but Strauss put in a fine performance for the Scotstoun-based outfit outshining his opposite number David Denton and scored the only try of the match, late in the first half.
Head coach Marius Goosen’s Benetton Treviso picked up their first win of the season in the competition in their Italian derby match away to Zebre.
Glasgow Warriors have received a major boost ahead of Sunday’s European Rugby Champions Cup match against Toulouse, with the news that Josh Strauss and Leone Nakarawa have signed new deals with the club.
Both players have signed two-year contracts, keeping them at Scotstoun until at least May 2017 and have committed their futures to the club just a week after Stuart Hogg and Lee Jones penned deals for the same length of time.
South African-born Strauss arrived in Glasgow in September 2012 and the 28-year-old has made 56 appearances for the Guinness PRO12 side. He has scored six tries and has captained the team.
The powerful No 8 has featured regularly for the Warriors and will become eligible to play for Scotland in September 2015.
The first round of matches in the Guinness PRO12 take place this weekend with two matches scheduled for Friday night, three for Saturday and one for Sunday.
The opening fixture of the tournament kicking off tonight in Limerick will see Munster Rugby hosting Edinburgh Rugby and for the last fixture of the round Cardiff Blues travel to Italy to take on Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile.
This weekend represents the final chance for Gregor Townsend and Alan Solomons, head coaches of Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby, to test out various combinations in a match situation ahead of the 2014/2015 season which starts in all earnest next weekend. Edinburgh played their pre-season friendly match last night against Newcastle Falcons in Hawick while Glasgow Warriors face London Scottish in London.
In last night’s match the final score was Edinburgh Rugby 21(11)/15 (10) Newcastle Falcons. Alan Solomons was pleased with the win as although it was only a friendly match they had gone into it with the mind-set of it being a competitive one.
Josh Strauss admits he must deliver another sterling season for Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 – and only then can he turn his attention to winning a Scotland cap.
Strauss, 27, made the move from South Africa to Glasgow in 2012 and will be eligible to play for Scotland on September 19, 2015 – four days before their opening World Cup match.
The back-row has been a formidable force for Gregor Townsend over the last two years, starting in 31 domestic games including last season’s final.
The top-of-the-table clash at Thomond Park between Munster and Ospreys on Saturday headlines Round Seven of the Pro12. Munster currently lead the pack thanks to winning one more game than Ospreys, but Ospreys have garnered more bonus points in the six rounds than their hosts, so the scene is set for an epic battle.
Today is the third and final day of matches in the first round of the pool stage of the Heineken Cup. In what is arguably the pick of the day’s matches Glasgow Warriors travel to France to take on Toulon. These teams currently top the RabboDirect PRO12 and French Top 14 respectively. The game is due to kick off at 16.00 South African Time.
Stuart Hogg, Ryan Grant, DTH van der Merwe and Josh Strauss all return to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up for the game against Ulster at Ravenhill tonight, Friday 13 Septemeber, kick-off 8.05pm South African Time.
Gregor Townsend’s squad kicked off their new season with a 22-15 win over Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun Stadium last Friday and now face last season’s RaboDirect PRO12 finalists in Belfast. The Warriors were the last Scottish team to win at Ravenhill back in December 2009.
Tyrone Holmes is set to make his debut on Thursday for Glasgow Warriors at Rubislaw in Aberdeen. The Warriors are on a two day trip to the city as part of their preseason preparations which include a practice session which will be open to the public to attend as well as a match against local team, Aberdeen Grammar.
There was good news for clubs on both sides of the Central Belt as the services of two valuable loose forwards were announced. Glasgow Warriors have managed to secure the services of prodigal son Richie Vernon once more while Roddy Grant has extended his contract with Edinburgh Rugby.
Glasgow Warriors are gunning for their second home RaboDirect PRO12 victory in seven days when they face Zebre at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm British Summer Time). The Warriors have made several changes to their match day squad of 23 for this game. In arguably the most notable change, former Golden Lions eighthman and captain Josh Strauss will be starting at eightman.
He will depart for Scotland in the next 2 weeks.
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