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LeithWith the festive season in full swing we bring you a tale about a rugby club – Leith RFC- who are standing up for what they believe is right and doing their bit for their community. Leith RFC are from a coastal village in the east of Scotland, just north of Edinburgh, who play in the East League Championship. In a statement released by the players on Friday they confirm they are going ahead and honouring a commitment they have made even if it will cost them from a rugby point of view, as they face a points deduction in their league.

Leith Rugby club are supporting Bethany Christian Trust’s Caring Christmas Tree Project, which raises money for Edinburgh’s Winter Care Shelter, giving homeless people in our community an opportunity to come in from the cold this Christmas. As well as promoting the project, we the playing squad volunteered to sell Christmas trees pre-ordered from the Caring Christmas tree website, at Ocean Terminal this Saturday 20th December, the last shopping Saturday before Christmas.

Unfortunately due to inclement weather, our fixture with Forrester RFC was postponed last weekend (13th), and rescheduled for this coming Saturday (20th), one of the standby dates in East League 2. It was, and is our error as a club that we did not initiate a dispensation request at the point of arranging to volunteer on the 20th, it being an published standby date for postponed fixtures. Our request for dispensation, made on Monday was rejected by the East Region Championship Committee, and we have been instructed to fulfil the fixture against possible sanction, normally a 2-point deduction, should we refuse.

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Josh Strauss & Leone Nakarawa

Josh Strauss and Leone Nakarawa

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.

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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Gilbert Rugby BallOnly one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!

Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.

The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.

The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter has made four injury-enforced changes to the starting Scotland team that will play Tonga in this Saturday’s historic viagogo Autumn Test match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (kick-off 14:30 BST & GMT, 16:30 SA Time).

The national team are continuing their trend of taking international rugby to pastures new in a globally ground-breaking fixture, as an international involving a Tier One country is held on an entirely artificial pitch for the first time.

The team’s alterations are split evenly between the forwards and backs, with tight-head prop Geoff Cross and number 8 Johnnie Beattie stepping into the pack for Euan Murray and Adam Ashe, who miss out through thigh and neck injuries respectively.

In the backs, 90-cap Glasgow Warrior Sean Lamont, who came on in the 13th minute against New Zealand as an injury replacement for club-mate Mark Bennett (hamstring), retains his place in midfield.

The final change sees Edinburgh Rugby’s free-scoring winger Tim Visser set to make his first appearance since the summer tour in place of injured Warrior Sean Maitland (hamstring).

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Omar Mouneimne

Omar Mouneimne

Edinburgh confirmed on Tuesday that due to personal reasons Omar Mouneimne has had to leave the Pro12 outfit to return to South Africa.

“We are sorry that Omar has had to return to South Africa to deal with some personal issues,” Edinburgh coaching boss Alan Solomons said.

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Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett

The Warriors have confirmed that Mark Bennett will be out for in the region of 12 weeks with a hamstring injury.

The centre, who was injured during Scotland’s defeat to New Zealand on Saturday, was assessed at Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow.

He does not require surgery and will now undergo a period of rehabiitation.

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ScotlandPrior to the test match between Scotland and the New Zealand All Blacks we featured a piece which suggested that we would like to see wholesale changes to Scotland’s team to face Tonga this coming Saturday. In short the reasoning was that in picking a team with as many players who ply their trade outside Scotland as the two professional teams under Scottish Rugby Union’s control would be aided in their PRO12 efforts, with Glasgow Warriors being the main benefactor. Remember Glasgow Warriors play against Welsh team Llanelli Scarlets in the Guinness PRO12 on Friday night while Edinburgh host Cardiff Blues on Sunday.

There would also be the benefit of  head coach Vern Cotter and his coaching team being able to work a bit more with exiles and assess their abilities in the heat of battle in the Test match, bearing in mind that the last Test match of Scotland’s summer tour (June Internationals) was played outside the international window, so he didn’t have the chance to play any of the non Scotland based players then.

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Steve Hansen

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had no regrets about risking defeat against Scotland by fielding an experimental young side at Murrayfield, insisting that the close call of a contest that ended in a 24-16 victory for the reigning world champions was “a perfect game”.

New Zealand have never lost to Scotland but the hosts were scenting an historic victory as they entered the final 10 minutes just 17-16 down against an All Black side featuring 13 changes in personnel from the team that started the 24-21 win against England at Twickenham seven days previously.

It took a 74th minute try from Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush and a conversion by Colin Slade, who started on the right wing but switched to the familiar realm of flyhalf after the 56th minute substitution of Dan Carter, to make victory secure against a spirited Scotland side.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter was unimpressed by his scratchy return in the number 10 shirt against Scotland but grateful just to get through the 24-16 win unscathed.

Starting at flyhalf for the first time in a year after a season blighted by a broken leg, Carter was well below his best at Murrayfield, struggling with handling errors particularly in the opening exchanges before being replaced shortly after halftime.

“That first 20 (minutes) was pretty scratchy and there were a lot of mistakes from me personally which, if I get another chance, I’ll have to improve,” Carter told reporters.

“My option-taking probably wasn’t the best at times. But I was pretty pleased to be back out there playing again and I felt as the game went on I grew in confidence.”

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ScotlandScotland’s team for Saturday’s test at BT Murrayfield has been announced and no doubt the players and coaching staff will be completely focussed on this match. After all, there is a team from a country called New Zealand who play in black who are in town. However, looking beyond this test would like to discuss the match day squad that would preferably be doing duty at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, against Tonga next weekend. Rugby Park is the home of Kilmarnock football team, yes that can be confusing but that is not the topic of the this piece.

Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter has selected the same starting XV that beat Argentina to face the All Blacks , one wonders when last a Scotland coach picked the same XV for consecutive matches. For Tonga though I would suggest wholesale changes to the team for a variety of reasons, the main one being – Glasgow Warriors.

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), unlike the case in South Africa, have a direct stake in the two professional clubs here: Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors, and it is with this in mind that my suggestion for the Tonga test is made.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter has shown faith in his winning Scotland formula for this Saturday’s visit of world champions New Zealand to Murrayfield Stadium.

All 15 men that started the national team’s impressive 41-31 win over Argentina last weekend will once again kick off the second Test.

The reselection means that all five of the match-winning try-scorers – locks Jonny and Richie Gray and back-three trio Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour – all earn a return to the fold.

Man-of-the-match winning captain Greig Laidlaw will once again orchestrate the back division alongside flyhalf Finn Russell and a young midfield partnership of Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett.

Packing down with the secondrow Gray brothers is the experienced front row trio of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Euan Murray, and the promising loose forward combo of Rob Harly, Blair Cowan and Adam Ashe.

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All BlacksNew Zealand All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named his team to play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday with Dan Carter starting and James Parsons making his international debut.

The matchday 23 for Saturday features 11 players from the 23 which played England last week and Daniel Carter makes his first Test start of the year at first five-eighth in his 102nd Test, with TJ Perenara at halfback.

Two of the locks who played against England, Brodie Retallick (shoulder) and Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder), were not considered for selection, due to injury.

As a result, lock Dominic Bird, who, like Parsons, was called into the All Blacks as injury cover, will start, with Luke Romano coming off the bench. Loose forward Jerome Kaino (knee) was also not considered for selection.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter is expected to return to the match day squad for their clash with Scotland on Saturday as he continues to work his way back from a broken leg.

Carter was the highest profile water boy in world rugby last Saturday when the All Blacks beat England 24-21 at Twickenham. The 32-year-old missed out on a place in the playing squad, ostensibly because coach Steve Hansen felt he had not played enough rugby.

Carter has barely played this year after taking a six-month sabbatical and breaking his leg in the Super Rugby final in August.

He came off the bench for 30 minutes against the United States on November 1 and assistant All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he would now get more playing time in their final two matches against Scotland on Saturday and Wales on November 22.

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ScotlandDominate the collisions and get some big hits in at the tackle. That is Scotland’s recipe for success against New Zealand at Murrayfield on Saturday.

There is an air of confidence in the Scottish camp, following their 41-31 demolition of Argentina last week – a scoreline skewed by two late tries from the Pumas.

New Zealander Vern Cotter’s arrival as coach in Edinburgh has contributed to the country once called Caledonia by the Romans and also referred to as Alba – while they, of course, referee to it as ‘the greatest country on Earth’.

Last week’s victory over the Pumas, who recently tasted success over the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, has contributed to their growing confidence.

However, captain Greig Laidlaw admitted there are plenty of work ahead before Saturdays showdown with the All Blacks.

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will skip Saturday’s Test against Scotland so he can return home to deal with a family matter, reports said Monday.

Coach Steve Hansen said “the 33-year-old Smith, who played his 84th test on Saturday and became a father for the first time in August, would miss the Test in Edinburgh.

However, he will again return in time for the Test against Wales on 22 November.

“It’s not overly serious but it’s serious enough for him to have to go home,” Hansen told reporters.

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Vern Cotter

Vern Cotter

Scotland coach, New Zealander Vern Cotter, will be relishing the opportunity of guiding the Scots against New Zealand and has urged his players to embrace playing against the best team in the world.

Cotter has promised “a very positive approach” to the game after handing the national team their first success at home against the Pumas since 1990.

Cotter has made a promising start to his time in charge of the Scots, winning three of four Tests on the road earlier in the year, and beating Argentina 41-31 in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The former Bay of Plenty coach, Crusaders’ assistant coach and Clermont certainly isn’t getting too carried away, especially with what’s immediately in front of him.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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ScotlandAhead of this match, head coach Vern Cotter asked his players to play with a smile on their collective face and the entire BT Murrayfield crowd was sporting one at the conclusion of the Kiwi coach’s home debut. His side saw off Argentina in a five-try romp and the manner in which they did so will create real belief in the Scotland camp and among their tartan-clad fans.

Scotland were cohesive, tough, inventive and played with pace throughout. The forwards produced quick ball and the Glasgow back line demonstrated that they could reproduce their club form at the next level. At times, the home side were inspirational. They rarely dropped below the efficient. All they lacked on occasion was the clinical finishing required or this match could have been over by half time.

Instead, it was six minutes into the second half before Scotland scored their fourth try, which finally killed off any hopes of an Argentine revival. The crowd was understandably wowed; what a pity the stadium wasn’t full.

The two Gray boys were a huge presence, grabbing a try each and, while it is insidious to separate them, Jonny was utterly outstanding, carrying the fight to the Pumas relentlessly and winning one important turnover.

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ArgentinaCentre Juan Martin Hernandez, who as flyhalf steered Argentina to third place at 2007 World Cup, is set to win his 50th Pumas cap against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Hernandez will again be at inside centre in a team with five changes from the side that gave Argentina their maiden southern hemisphere Rugby Championship victory, 21-17 over Australia in Mendoza a month ago.

Coach Daniel Hourcade has made two changes in the backs and three in the forwards having been deprived of several players through injury or illness.

Marcelo Bosch returns to partner Hernandez in midfield after being rested against the Wallabies and Manuel Montero comes in for Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino on the left wing.

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Jonny & Richie Gray

Jonny and big brother Richie Gray

Second-row brothers Richie and Jonny Gray will play their first international game of rugby together this Saturday, following their selection to start for Scotland against Argentina at BT Murrayfield Stadium (8 November, kick-off 17:30 BST & GMT, 19:30 SA Time).

Selection represents a second start for the younger Gray, 20, who will make his sixth appearance for his country alongside his 39-times capped, 25-year-old, British & Irish Lions sibling.

Gray is not the only promising young player to earn the right to start the nation’s opening viagogo Autumn Test, with 21-year-old Glasgow Warriors Mark Bennett and Adam Ashe set to make their first and second appearances at outside-centre and number 8 respectively.

An exciting package of pace and guile, Bennett – a product of St Joseph’s Academy in Kilmarnock, Cumnock RFC and Ayr RFC – has been in fine form for the Warriors and Scotland 7s this year, and will be Scotland’s 1062nd capped internationalist when he crosses the paint for his debut at BT Murrayfeld.

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Greig Laidlaw

Greig Laidlaw replaces injured Grant Gilchrist as Scotland captain

Experienced Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will lead his country into this Saturday’s viagogo Autumn Test match against Argentina at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 5.30pm) it was announced today

The 31-times capped Borderer takes on the mantle from 24-year-old lock Grant Gilchrist, who was ruled out of the series after fracturing his forearm in Edinburgh Rugby’s European Challenge Cup win over Lyon, just four days after being accorded the honour.

Laidlaw, who skippered Edinburgh Rugby for the three seasons before departing for Gloucester in the summer, has led Scotland on seven occasions to date, two of which were in Vern Cotter’s first Tests as head coach in the recent summer tour – wins over USA and Canada.

Vern Cotter said: “Obviously we’re disappointed for Grant, who misses the opportunity to captain his country at home on this occasion, however congratulations must now go to Greig who takes on that responsibility for this Saturday’s game.  Greig offers us a bit of continuity, having captained the side on the summer tour. He’s been playing well for Gloucester and I think he deserves this selection.”

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Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant, the 18-times capped Glasgow Warriors prop, has been invited to train with Scotland for year-end Tests, as an injury replacement for Edinburgh’s Allan Dell.

Dell sustained a leg injury in last Friday’s Pro12 match against Leinster at the RDS in Dublin.

He was assessed at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin and returned the next day to Edinburgh with the rest of the team.

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We have NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

The HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 starts this weekend on Saturday, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it, and after registering, make your picks for this weekend’s games!

The End Of Year Tours or November Internationals as it is also known is a few weeks away still, nevertheless register now, while the iron is hot!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay!  It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter yesterday added two players to Scotland’s viagogo Autumn Test training squad in Newcastle.

Peter Horne, the five-times capped Glasgow Warriors centre, and uncapped Edinburgh scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, have been brought in as precautionary injury cover for Alex Dunbar and Chris Cusiter respectively.

Dunbar reported ankle discomfort during the Warriors’ European Rugby Champions Cup win over Montpellier in France on Saturday, while Cusiter missed Sale Sharks’ corresponding Cup clash with a calf strain.

The pair will require further assessment from the medical team over the coming days to determine their time of return.

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Grant Gilchrist

Grant Gilchrist

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a 33 man squad for the End Of Year Internationals with lock Grant Gilchrist being named as captain.

The honour represents a return for the 24-year-old product of Alloa and Stirling County rugby clubs, who led Scotland twice during the June Internationals, including a 21-19 victory over Argentina in Cordoba.

He will return to the role against the same opposition when the Tests get underway at Murrayfield next month, when Scotland face the Pumas on Saturday 8 November (kick-off 17:30 BST), before facing Rugby Championship winners New Zealand, at the same venue (15 November), followed by Tonga at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (22 November).

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WhistleThe International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for upcoming November internationals.

Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during the June international window, The Rugby Championship and other matches.

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will kick off a busy month of Tests as teams and officials begin the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015, when he takes charge of the New Zealand v USA fixture at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1.

Steve Walsh will be the man in the middle for England’s match with the Springboks and Nigel Owens will officiate at Stade de France when Les Bleus take on Australia, as well as refereeing New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham. Wayne Barnes has been appointed to Wales v New Zealand in Cardiff, while Ireland v Australia in Dublin will be refereed by Glen Jackson. Jérôme Garces will be in charge when the Wallabies take on England and will be in Padova on November 22 to referee Italy v South Africa.

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Five Glasgow Warriors players will be plying their trade for their draft clubs this weekend, including Sean Maitland who will don the pink and black of Ayr.

The British & Irish Lion scored a try in the Warriors 30-5 victory over Edinburgh in the ‘A’ game last month and is looking for added game-time, having not featured for the Scotstoun club so far this season through injury.

He will play alongside Dougie Hall against Boroughmuir at Meggetland.

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BT Sport Scottish Rugby AcademyScottish Rugby today unveiled the first of at least four BT Sport Academies that will be opened around the country to nurture the best young Scottish talent to become the stars of tomorrow.

Where Caledonia leads today, the Borders, East and West will follow with all being operational by the 2015-16 season.

“The Academies are the cornerstone of our determination to create a new era for Scottish Rugby,” declared chief executive Mark Dodson at the opening of the Caledonia Academy at the University of Aberdeen’s Hillhead campus.

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Finn Russell

Birthday Boy Finn Russell kicks one over for Glasgow Warriors ‘A’ at the foot of the monument in Stirling

A young Edinburgh ‘A’ side, which included eight EDPs (Elite Development Players), faced the tall task of taking on an experienced Glasgow Warriors squad, in what was deemed an away fixture for the Gunners at Bridgehaugh, home of Stirling County.

The inaugural reserve team game gave many of Edinburgh’s young Scottish players the chance to gain some valuable minutes in the Gunners shirt, with many of them putting their hands up and staking a claim for promotion into the first team squad.

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Rugby World Cup 2015There’s a year to go until the World Cup – just enough time for it to be turned into an eligibility farce.

The potential for the game’s biggest event to be laughed out of town is growing. The prospect of teams turning up with legions of players who don’t really have a strong link to the jersey they wear is real.

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Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine

The results of today’s referendum in Scotland could have an impact on the British & Irish Lions.

If Scotland votes ‘Yes’, it may have to re-brand to reflect the altered political landscape and constitutional agreement. From their 1891 roots as the ‘British Isles’, today’s poll may see them eventually become simply ‘The Lions’.

With this in mind, Scrum Sevens looks back at seven great Scottish players who gave body, blood and sweat for the British & Irish Lions’ cause.

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sco7s_team_2_0Scotland 7’s will compete in the Manchester 7’s Cup quarter-finals today (Sunday 14 September), following two victories against Italy (24-19) and Georgia (45-0) yesterday.

The Scots will play Russia at 11.06am, at the AJ Bell Stadium, as they look to improve on their third place finish, in the last Rugby Europe tournament in Moscow back in June.

After the disappointment of a, 5-12 loss to Spain, the side grew in confidence and composure, as each of the remaining ties past.

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British & Irish Lions

British & Irish Lions

Former British and Irish Lions prop Phil Vickery has called on the combined side to resist pressure to change their name should Scotland vote for independence next week.

The Lions could be forced to drop the word ‘British’ from their title if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom.

John Spencer, England’s representative on the Lions board and the manager for the team’s 2017 tour of New Zealand, said officials would discuss a possible name change in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

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