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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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AlanTait

Alan Tait – appointed to assist coaching at BT Sport Academies by Scottish Rugby.

Scottish Rugby announced yesterday that it is appointing a vastly experienced Scottish coach with hands-on knowledge of the very top of the international game as part of its Academy initiative.

Alan Tait, 50, the former Scotland and British Lions back and rugby league internationalist, who was defence coach with the Scotland team and head coach with Newcastle Falcons, is joining as a specialist skills coach and will play a key role within the four BT Sport Academies that Scottish Rugby is establishing this season around the country.

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Reuben Norville

Winger Reuben Norville starred with a hat-trick of tries

The touring Scotland Under 19 development side opened their two-Test account with a convincing, five-try win over their Romanian counterparts at the Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest on Wednesday (31-3).

After what would turn out to be a relatively slow start, in which the side created a lot but finished little, the young Scots quickly found their feet and kicked into gear.

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IRBThere has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.

Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.

The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.

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Richie Gray

Richie Gray

Richie Gray has described working with the Springboks for the past year as an “honour” and admits he does not know if he will return to coach at Murrayfield.

The 44-year-old from Galashiels is breakdown skills coach at South African Rugby Union, having made his name developing rugby training equipment.

He said: “I cannot fault this country – the supporters, the players and the management have been outstanding.

“For me even to be down here, it’s a real honour to work with this country.”

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ScotlandScotland are continuing their trend of taking international rugby to pastures new. The Autumn Test match against Tonga on Saturday 22 November (kick-off 2.30pm) will be staged at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, home of Kilmarnock FC, it was announced this afternoon.

It will be globally ground-breaking too, as an international involving a Tier One country is held on an entirely artificial pitch for the first time.

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Glasgow 2014Some four years of hard work, of highs and of lows, have led to this weekend. Today (Friday 25 July) marks the eve of the rugby sevens tournament at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

During the past 1,460 days, a full-time sevens programme has been implemented, beginning at the outset of season 2011-12, the abbreviated national team’s most successful head coach, Stephen Gemmell, was reinstated in January 2013 and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Festival was transported along the M8 to Scotstoun Stadium, where the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s has taken place for the past three years.

It was in the host city, only two months ago that Scotland 7s matched their best ever finish in a HSBC Sevens World Series event, finishing in fourth place

Now, it is the belief of many that Gemmell has picked the best ever 12-man squad to pull-on Scotland’s short game jersey and that this is a squad who can make sevens history.

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Glasgow 2014There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead  and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.

The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.

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Glasgow 2014Stuart Hogg has been named in the Scotland 7’s squad to compete at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Ibrox Stadium, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July).

Scottish Rugby and Commonwealth Games Scotland can confirm Scotland’s 24 times capped full-back and British & Irish Lion will replace Tommy Seymour.  Seymour sustained a neck injury during the Scotland summer tour that will rule him out of the Games, however he will return to the care of Glasgow Warriors to recover and prepare for the new season.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!

Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!

Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.

Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.

The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.

With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.

The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.

At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!

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ashe

Adam Ashe (picture SNS/SRU)

Never can a nightmare have turned good as quickly as Adam Ashe’s. He spent almost the entire season fighting a recurring hamstring injury and though he did recover in time to win the chance to go training at the Canterbury International High Performance unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, everything was in reality geared to trying to make an impression next season.

He has not had to wait that long for his chance. Even though he had hardly played any rugby during the Scottish season and had managed only 36 minutes of pro play as a replacement for Glasgow, he has been propelled from the fringes of the game to centre stage as the starting No 8 against South Africa.

The magnitude of the step up is huge. For example, among the Springbok back row is Schalk Burger. Ashe was just ten when Burger started playing for South Africa in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scarcely any older when Burger won the World Player of the Year award. No wonder that, with his strong ball carrying and kamikaze tackling style, Burger was one of teenage Ashe’s heroes.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

A capacity crowd is expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday when the Springboks take on Scotland.

EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said there were roughly 3 500 tickets left by Thursday afternoon and tickets were selling fast.

“We have seen an upsurge in ticket sales this week and we are encouraging those who have not yet got tickets to please get them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

Crous said it would be great to be able to put up “sold out” signs ahead of the Test match and called on Nelson Mandela Bay residents to come out and support the Springboks.

He also advised people to come early to ensure that everyone would be able to get into the stadium before kickoff at 17:00 SA Time.

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Phil Burleigh

Phil Burleigh

Edinburgh’s backline resources for the new season were boosted with the signing of Highlanders utility back Phil Burleigh.

Burleigh signed a two-year deal with the Scottish outfit.

The 27-year-old playmaker came through the ranks with Bay of Plenty, before becoming a regular star in the Southern Hemisphere’s top flight Super Rugby competition.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

South AfricaJunior Springbok captain Handré Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the Springboks’ match-23 for Saturday’s final encounter of the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

In total, the Springbok starting team shows six changes from the side which beat Wales by 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.

The four uncapped players on a new-look bench are Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf). Also on the bench are Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any Test rugby yet this season.

Two players, Pollard and Marcell Coetzee, have not yet featured for the Springboks this year, while four of these are replacements who have been promoted to the starting team, namely Lwazi Mvovo, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen.

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ScotlandAdam Ashe, the 20-year-old Glasgow Warriors No 8, will become the seventh new cap of Scotland’s summer tour when he takes to the field against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Ashe, a product of the Hillfoots and Stirling County clubs, was preparing for club training at Lincoln University in Christchurch one week ago, having been domiciled for a couple of months in New Zealand’s South Island as recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship.

Others have graduated to full international honours and have cited the “invaluable” experience the scholarship has bequeathed them, for example, John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray and Kevin Bryce.

The match is played at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT.

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Dan Parks

Dan Parks

Former Scotland international flyhalf Dan Parks has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby after retiring from international rugby in 2012.

Australian born Parks played for Scotland over an eight year period in which he won 67 caps.

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ScotlandSpringbok defence coach John McFarland says they have taken note of the dangerous back three of Scotland ahead of their Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Scotland head into the Test on the back of three consecutive away wins – against Argentina (21-19), Canada (19-17) and America (24-6).

They also have a new coach in Vern Cotter, but it was in particular the performances of Stuart Hogg (fullback), Sean Maitland (wing) and Tommy Seymour (wing) that caught the eye of the Springbok management.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springbok team to face Scotland in Port Elizabeth will be markedly different from the one that edged Wales in Nelspruit, by necessity rather than design.

With seven European-based players unavailable for selection and at least another two starters ruled through injury Heyneke Meyer’s hand will be forced when he names his team to face an under-strength Scotland.

However, the idea that Meyer should completely overhaul the team and give promising youngsters a shot because the match falls outside the June Test window and Scotland will not have their best team on the park is a little bit misguided.

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TyroneHolmesGW

Tyrone Holmes

ScotlandScotland head to South Africa this week on the final leg of what has been an arduous tour which has seen them play games in the USA, Canada and Argentina.

They set out with two squads selected for the tour, one which contained players for the North America leg and one for the Southern Hemisphere leg with some players there for the whole tour. There have been various changes made on the way though and now the Glasgow Warriors trio of Tyrone Holmes, Adam Ashe and Euan Murray have been added to the squad for the final test against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

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South AfricaIt is understood that French-based players in the Springbok squad are unlikely to be available to play Scotland in next week’s Test in Port Elizabeth.

This means the likes of Morne Steyn, Gurthro Steenkamp, Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana will all have to report back to their clubs.

It’s understood the clubs will invoke International Rugby Board (IRB) Regulation Nine, which governs the release of players for the June test window.

The regulation stipulates that releases are required for the second, third and fourth weekends of June, or for three matches.

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ScotlandArgentinaGrant Gilchrist will captain an inexperienced Scotland side against Argentina in Cordoba on Friday.

The 23-year-old Edinburgh lock will be playing in his seventh international, having scored a try in last Saturday’s 19-17 win over Canada.

Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Peter Horne also keep their places as 13 new faces joined the tour party this week.

Scrum-half Grayson Hart, lock Jonny Gray and back-row forward Kieran Low all make their first starts.

With scrum-half Greig Laidlaw among those returning home after victories against USA and Canada, Gilchrist becomes Scotland’s youngest captain since Gregor Townsend led the team against Australia 18 years ago.

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David Denton

David Denton

The already depleted Scotland team suffered another big blow, with back row forward David Denton out of their mid-year tour.

The 24-year-old Edinburgh player, Denton, will play no part in the tour matches against Argentina in Cordoba on Friday and for the closing match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth a week on Saturday.

Scotland team doctor James Robson explained that Denton suffered a concussion in his last game of the season for Edinburgh against Leinster in the Pro12 last month.

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ScotlandPeter Horne will make his first Scotland start in Saturday’s Test against Canada in Toronto.

The Glasgow centre replaces the injured Duncan Taylor in one of four changes to the side that beat USA 24-6.

Grant Gilchrist takes Jim Hamilton’s place in the second row, while prop Moray Low is in for Geoff Cross.

Kelly Brown returns to the back row for his 64th cap, with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw retaining the captaincy and Finn Russell staying at fly-half.

Russell, 21, enjoyed a promising debut in Texas along with Glasgow team-mate Gordon Reid, who also keeps his place in the front row. Brown’s inclusion means Blair Cowan drops to the bench after winning his first cap.

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