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Scottish Rugby

WP Nel

WP Nel

At the end of a trying season of provincial rugby under the sweltering South African sun, Willem Petrus Nel trudged exhausted from the field.

He turned to his coach and mentor, Pierre Ribbens, a distinguished ex-prop for the Bulls in what is now the Super 15 competition, the cream of the Southern Hemisphere game.

“I think I’m done with rugby – I don’t want to play anymore,” he said.

In late 2008, the 22-year-old tight-head had completed his agricultural studies, his certificate signed and stamped. From university some 250 miles to the south, the pull of home, the sheep farm he had been raised tending and the rolling mountains of the Northern Cape was strong.

“Give me a week,” replied Ribbens.

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melrose2015

Glasgow Warriors have won the Ladies Cup for the 2nd year in a row after battling back from behind against fellow guest side, Germany in the final to lift the coveted trophy.

After beating Dundee, Gala and Jed Forest en route to the final, the side coached by Kenny Murray were behind 21 / 12 against the Germans but showed grit and determination to run out 36 / 21 winners!

The Warriors kick-started their Melrose 7’s defence with a 2nd round tie against Dundee who beat Stirling County earlier in the day.

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Edinburgh RugbyEdinburgh Rugby’s players are in open revolt against their managing director, David Davies, after he sacked the long-serving team manager. Lynsey Dingwall was a popular and efficient member of the backroom staff at Edinburgh Rugby yet she was given an hour to clear her desk after working at the club for 14 years.

The players sent an email to the board and the council of the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) which Scotland on Sunday has seen. In the missive, sent on 23 March, the players offer their full support to Dingwall.

“We feel the dismissal of Lynsey Dingwall was unfair and unjustified,” the e-mail reads. “Lynsey was part of Edinburgh Rugby for 14 years. Over that period she worked tirelessly with and for the players and was hugely respected within the organisation. Numerous past coaches and players have commented that she was the best team manager that they have ever worked with. We feel she has been the victim of a personal attack.”

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Al KellockGlasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock will retire from rugby at the end of the season.

Kellock, who has been the Warriors captain for the past nine seasons, has played 154 games for the club and captained the team for the 150th time in the 34-34 draw with Leinster in Dublin on Friday.

The 33-year-old has led the club to the PRO12 Play-Offs four times since they were introduced in the 2009/10 campaign and last year skippered the team to the PRO12 Final for the first time.

At the end of the season Kellock will take up an ambassadorial role with Scottish Rugby, as well as helping to continue the development of Glasgow Warriors. The main focus of his role will be engaging with the rugby and business communities and learning more about the commercial aspect of sport, enabling him to stay connected with the Warriors.

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Scotstoun Stadium

Glasgow Warriors ambitious plans for Scotstoun Stadium cover

 

Glasgow Warriors have today revealed plans for a revolutionary new temporary stadium cover for their Scotstoun Stadium home in the west end of the city.

The club have been working closely with Scottish architecture firm Kettle Collective, to develop the radical new system and it will be in place from the start of next season.

The design was inspired by fishing nets, similar to the Yas Island Hotel at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 resort.

The stadium roof will be the first of its kind in the world and is an organic form that will enclose the stadium from the elements.

The Warriors moved to Scotstoun in 2012 having previously played at Hughenden and Firhill and with crowds exceeding 6,000 a decision has been made to put a roof over the existing stadium for all home matches from next season.

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Glasgow WarriorsThe Warriors have announced that hooker Dougie Hall will retire from rugby at the end of the season, while prop Jon Welsh and assistant coach Shade Munro will also leave the club.

Shade has been part of the coaching staff at the Warriors since 2003 and will leave his role this summer when his contract expires.

Dougie arrived from Edinburgh in 2007 and has gone on to make 141 appearances for the PRO12 side over an 8-year spell. In the summer he will join one of the club’s sponsors, McCrea Financial Services.

Jon, who joined Glasgow in 2008 and has gone on to make 106 appearances, will join Newcastle Falcons for next season.

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Nasi Manu

Nasi Manu

Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu has signed for Scottish club Edinburgh and will leave at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Manu has played 53 games for the Highlanders and has been co-captain with Ben Smith for the last 2 seasons.

“Believe me it was a very hard decision to leave the Highlanders, my team mates, my friends and family. This place, this team, it gets under your skin, becomes part of you and I will always treasure my time here” said Manu.

“Obviously I want to go out on a good note and I am keen to finish off my time here really successfully and that’s my focus at the moment.

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ScotlandScotland head coach Vern Cotter has made 2 changes to the team that lost to England for this weekend’s Six Nations match against Ireland.

Scotland are last in the Six Nations standings and need to beat Ireland to stand a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon after they fell to Italy earlier in the tournament.

Both of Cotter’s changes are promotions from the bench with back-row Adam Ashe starting on the blind-side flank in place of Robert Harley, and Ryan Grant switching roles with Alasdair Dickinson – who starts on the bench – for his 1st start of the championship.

The settled selection sees the national team’s backline return to start another match, with captain Greig Laidlaw partnering stand-off Finn Russell in front of Glasgow Warriors trio Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, and Edinburgh duo Matt Scott and Dougie Fife, the latter making his home debut.

In the pack, tighthead Euan Murray makes history, alongside Ross Ford and Grant, overtaking Allan Jacobsen’s record as the most capped Scotland prop with a 66th appearance.

Jonny Gray and Jim Hamilton will again start in the boiler house, with David Denton and Blair Cowan returning to the back-row, the latter 1 of 6 Scotland players to hold a starting spot in every match of the Championship, as well as Bennett, Ford, Gray, Hogg and Laidlaw.

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ScotlandScotland’s coaching staff and players remain upbeat, despite having a growing injury list heading into their final Six Nations match of the season.

Scotland, without a win and stuck at the bottom of the standings, host title-chasing Ireland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Matt Scott (thigh), Jim Hamilton (back spasm), Tommy Seymour (elbow), Blair Cowan (calf) and Alasdair Dickinson (leg) all suffered injuries in the 13 / 25 loss to England Twickenham this past weekend – setbacks that put them on the doubtful list for the final match of the season.

Mark Bennett insisted Scottish team morale is not at rock-bottom, despite a fourth consecutive Six Nations defeat in the Calcutta Cup clash at the weekend.

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ScotlandScotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a team with five changes for their penultimate Six Nations Championship match against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Cotter has brought back David Denton, Dougie Fife, Matt Scott, Jim Hamilton and Finn Russell to a Scotland team that are still looking for their first victory this year.

The five players come in to the starting team to replace Johnnie Beattie, knee injury victims Sean Lamont and Alex Dunbar, and Tim Swinson and Peter Horne.

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ScotlandScotland captain Greig Laidlaw has revealed that he and his team-mates have seen a different side of head coach Vern Cotter this week.

The New Zealander has generally been very supportive of his players since taking up the post last summer but, after 3 successive losses in the Six Nations Championship, his patience has worn thin. As the countdown to Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham reaches its final stages, Cotter has become more demanding of the squad, as well as changing his approach to analysing what has been going wrong.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter today (Monday) added 5 capped internationalists to Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad, 5 days out from the Round 3 Test against Italy this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (28 February, kick-off 14:30 GMT, 16:30 SA Time).

Scrum-half Chris Cusiter and prop Moray Low have been called up from English Premiership clubs Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, along with Glasgow Warriors duo Adam Ashe (No 8) and Alex Allan (prop), and Edinburgh No 8 David Denton.

Cusiter (knee) and Ashe (neck) were absent from Cotter’s initial squad selection due to injury, but have recovered to earn the recall, while Denton has recovered from the calf tear sustained in the national team’s pre-Championship camp in Glasgow last month.

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Finn Russell

Finn Russell

Finn Russell, the Scotland outside half, appeared today before an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee at Heathrow, having been cited under Law 10.4 (e) and (i) for an alleged dangerous tackle of an opponent in the air in the 31st minute of the RBS 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales on Sunday 15 February 2015.

The Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Mike Hamlin (England) along with Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland), having heard from the player and his representative and viewed various TV angles of the incident, determined that Finn Russell had committed an act of foul play which merited a Red Card rather than the on-field Yellow Card given by the Match Officials.

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Scotland (10) 23 / 26 (16) WalesScotland

Where do we begin in analysing a game full of movement, liberally spiced with controversy, which ended with Wales the victors at BT Murrayfield, thus extending their unbeaten record against Scotland to 8 games?

Scotland, who contributed so much to the contest, remain pointless in the RBS 6 Nations Championship as Wales bounced back from their opening round defeat by England.

Scotland will now welcome Italy to BT Murrayfield at the end of this month, which captain Greig Laidlaw cites as a “massive” game.

“We’re getting better as a team, becoming stronger but we need to get a result,” he said.

“Small margins,” has been the mantra in international rugby for many a year but we saw it so painfully from a Scottish perspective this afternoon.

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ScotlandHead Coach Vern Cotter has made 2 enforced changes to the starting Scotland side to face Wales at BT Murrayfield Stadium this Sunday (kick-off 15:00 BST & GMT, 17:00 SA Time).

Glasgow Warriors wing Sean Lamont – the most capped player in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad with 91 appearances – has made a timely return from the calf injury that ruled him out of the nation’s opening championship match against France, as a direct replacement for club-mate Tommy Seymour, who has not yet recovered fully from the hip injury sustained in Paris.

The 2nd change sees London Irish tight-head prop Geoff Cross promoted from the bench in place of Euan Murray, who is unavailable on the Sabbath due to his religious beliefs, with Jon Welsh taking the substitute spot vacated by Cross.

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ScotlandAfter an improved performance, though unable to turn possession into points, Scotland Women look ahead to their first home game at the new base of Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. The team announced to take on Wales (Saturday 14 February, kick-off 17: BST & GMT) sees 4 changes to the line-up that started against France at La-Roche-sur-Yon last Saturday.

All the changes come in the backs, scrumhalf Mhairi Grieve – who will be securing her 3rd cap – moves up from the bench while Hannah Sloan comes in at wing. Injury to Gillian Inglis during the game against France sees Chloe Rollie move from centre to fullback and Hannah Smith – winning her 2nd cap – takes the No 13 jersey.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front-row alongside the most experienced member of the team, 72-times capped Heather Lockhart.

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George North down against England on the weekend

George North down against England on the weekend

Wales have made 1 change to their side to face Scotland on Sunday, with Liam Williams coming into the starting 15.

Scarlets back Williams will win his 20th cap at Murrayfield and replaces George North.

North is currently symptom free and whilst nearing the conclusion of the graduated return to play protocol the decision has been taken to allow him an elongated recovery period in light of his recent concussive episode in the autumn period.

The 1 change results in the same starting backline that beat South Africa, in the final autumn international, taking to the field this weekend.

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Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson

Glasgow Warriors forward Ryan Wilson has been suspended by the Scottish Rugby Union after being fined at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday for assaulting two men, including Ally Maclay of Glasgow Hawks, in a takeaway shop in the west end of the city in October 2013.

His co-accused Warriors team-mates, Ryan Grant and Rory Hughes, were cleared.

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Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown and Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter (right)

Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.

The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.

“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.

“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”

Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.

Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Scotland international Sean Maitland will join London Irish next season.

Maitland, who signed for the Warriors in October 2012, has made 38 appearances for the club and has scored 11 tries during his spell in Glasgow.

The 26-year-old winger has 15 caps and 2 tries for Scotland.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Sean has played a big role at the club over the last 3 years and we wish him all the best when he leaves at the end of the season.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and I’m sure he’ll want to leave the club on a high in the summer.”

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ScotlandThe Scotland Women squad for the 2015 RBS 6 Nations includes a mix of experience and relatively newer faces, with a number of players having worked their way through the age grades and progressed from Scotland Women Under 20.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front row alongside 71-times capped Heather Lockhart while back row Rachael Cook – who hails from Larbert Academy and was part of the Scotland Women under-20 side who defeated Finland two years ago – will be looking to add to her five caps won last season.

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ScotlandHugh Blake has become the latest player to join the Kilted Kiwi brigade, joining his fellow countrymen Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland in the Scotland squad. It came as a big surprise to see Blake’s name on the team sheet as the Junior All Black and Highlander, now getting his first call up to a Scotland squad, only joined Edinburgh in December last year.

He played in an ‘A’ team fixture for Edinburgh against Glasgow Warriors on 22 December and had to leave the field injured, suffering from concussion following a knock to his head which knocked him out for a bit. Flanker Blake (1.87m and 102kg) has yet to appear for the senior Edinburgh team and what makes his inclusion even more baffling is that he was introduced as being recruited for a trial period on his arrival in Edinburgh.

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Duncan Weir

Duncan Weir

Duncan Weir has been ruled out of this year’s Six Nations tournament with the 23-year-old set to undergo surgery on his arm.

The Glasgow Warriors flyhalf, who gave Scotland a last-gasp victory over Italy in last year’s competition, took a knock on his arm during the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh at Scotstoun last month, with subsequent examination showing that he had severely damaged his bicep.

Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said that the injury suggested that Weir would be out of international action for the next three months.

Townsend added: “I would like to think it won’t be the end of his season, but I think it rules out the Six Nations.

“With a bicep injury you are talking months rather than weeks.”

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Commonwealth Games 2014The rugby year has not pegged out just yet but, even before the first of the thunderous 1872 Cup clashes between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the sport seems to have lapsed into reflective mode.

So, too, your correspondent, croaking towards 2014’s finishing line in a clapped-out but generally contented frame of mind. So when the stockings have been hung, I shall allow myself a few moments of rheumy-eyed and entirely random reflection on what made this twelve-month memorable .

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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 BT East Regional League Division 2. 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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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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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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