Rugby-Scottish rugby gets major boost from Lions selections


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Italy - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain - March 20, 2021 Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe scores their eighth try REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland may not have won a Six Nations title this century and been rumbled out of the last World Cup at the first hurdle, but the selection of eight of their players for the British and Irish Lions will come as a major boost to rugby in the country.

The selection of Zander Fagerson, Chris Harris, Stuart Hogg, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson is the largest representation of Scots in a Lions tour party since 1989 and a four-fold increase on the two initially selected for the tour to New Zealand four years ago.

It comes on the heels of an impressive, if somewhat unlucky, Six Nations campaign, where Scotland proved much more competitive than they have for years.

“It affirms we are producing players to compete alongside some of the best in the world,” Scottish Rugby’s chief executive officer Mark Dodson said in a statement on Thursday.

Scotland, who have the smallest rugby structures of the home countries, promised much at the start of this year’s Six Nations tournament when they beat England away for the first time in 38 years, but narrow home losses to Wales and Ireland then ruled them out of contention for a first title since 1999.

But they did bounce back to beat France in Paris in the delayed finish to the competition in March, in a performance Lions coach Warren Gatland said had impressed him.

“That brought a lot of players into contention,” he said on Thursday.

Gatland also selected Scotland coach Gregor Townsend to serve as one of his assistants on the tour to South Africa but insisted there was no undue influence in the tour party selection.

“It wasn’t about pushing the Scottish players, it was about us picking who we thought could do the biggest job for us,” added Gatland.

“I’ve got to make sure I get the balance right between picking who we think are the best players in the squad, not about where they come from.”

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Rugby

Rugby-Rennie springs surprise with Paia'aua Wallabies selection
Rugby-Poor discipline cost Boks as coach admits Lions won aerial battle
Rugby-Gatland delighted with Lions' appetite for the fight against Springboks
Rugby-Lions roar back after half-time to beat Boks in first test
Rugby-Lions prop Jones out of first Springbok test with minor shoulder injury
Rugby-Boks have no special plans for Lions winger Van der Merwe
Rugby-Lions' Henshaw ready for midfield battle with 'great guy' De Allende
Rugby-Lions slam World Rugby for 'lack of foresight' on Jonker TMO appointment
Rugby-Australian winger Koroibete signs for Japan's Wild Knights
Rugby-New Zealand travel ban puts Bledisloe Cup, Rugby Championship in doubt

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers