09 May ‘Tight’ Group Named for Scotland Summer Tour
Head Coach Vern Cotter today named a 27-man Scotland squad for the national team’s two-Test summer tour of Japan next month – live on BBC.
The Test matches will be played on consecutive Saturdays at J1 League football stadia; the first at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota City (18 June), the second at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo (25 June), homes of Nagoya Grampus and FC Tokyo respectively.
The relatively short tour has allowed Cotter to select a tight group for the rematch of last year’s Rugby World Cup pool fixture where, after a tense start, Scotland produced a clinical five-try finish to win 45-10.
Cotter, said: “Being a two-match tour, rather than three, allows us to take a smaller squad; a tight group, though opportunities still remain for other players to come in.
“This squad still has a lot of work to do to get better and this is another opportunity to analyse our last game against Ireland and the RBS 6 Nations Championship as a whole, in order to move forward.
The majority of the squad played a key role in Scotland’s recent RBS 6 Nations campaign, with just three players in today’s selection missing out on Championship exposure – Henry Pyrgos (recovered from a wrist injury in time for the final game against Ireland but was an unused replacement), hooker Fraser Brown (absent through injury), and promising young Edinburgh Rugby wing Damien Hoyland (22).
Cotter also confirmed that Glasgow Warriors centre Mark Bennett has not been named to allow him to be considered for extended GB7s selection ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Cotter added: “The first game will be especially tough. We have five days to prepare following our arrival in Japan to face a team one place below us in the world rankings, on home soil.
“You only have to look at the crowd numbers and the passion that the Japanese people have at the Sun Wolves [inaugural Japanese Super Rugby team] fixtures at home to know that this will be a real test for the players.”
The tour has the added significance of being in the host country of Rugby World Cup 2019, with Cotter conscious of the added importance of Test results as the pool draw looms this coming season.
“We are aware of the fact that the world rankings for the Rugby World Cup are ongoing, and that the only way we’ll influence those ranking positively is to win games,” said Cotter.
“Winning is our primary focus, while also developing our leadership group, our experience and becoming better at controlling fixtures by understanding and exploiting the opportunities in the game to build and apply pressure by varying our attack.”
The Test matches will be the sixth and seventh time that Scotland and Japan have met on full Test-capped terms (with Scotland unbeaten thus far), while the countries have played on five other occasions, when Scotland fielded a development ‘XV’ in 1976, 1977, 1986, 1989 and 2010.
The games will also be the first to see caps awarded to the two nations on Japanese soil; though it will be the third time a Scottish side has toured the land of the rising sun (1977 and 1989).
2016 Summer Tour (live on BBC):
Saturday 18 June: Japan v Scotland, Toyota Stadium, Toyota City (kick-off 7.20pm local)
Saturday 25 June: Japan v Scotland, Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo (kick-off 7.20pm local)
Scotland / Japan history:
2015: Scotland 45-10 Japan, Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester (RWC 2015)
2013: Scotland 42-17 Japan, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
2010: Scotland XV 24-5 Japan Select, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (uncapped match)
2004: Scotland 100-8 Japan, McDiarmid Park, Perth
2003: Japan 11-32 Scotland, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville (RWC 2003)
1991: Scotland 47-9 Japan, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (RWC 1991)
1989: Japan 28-24 Scotland XV, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo (uncapped match)
1986: Scotland XV 33-18 Japan, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (uncapped match)
1977: Japan 9-74 Scotland XV, Olympic Stadium, Tokyo (uncapped match)
1976: Scotland XV 34-9 Japan, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (uncapped match)