Scotland team named for RWC2019 opener
Head Coach Gregor Townsend today named the Scotland side to play Ireland in the national team’s opening Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the International Stadium Yokohama (kick-off 4.45pm local time, 8.45am BST) – live on ITV/STV.
The starting team – of which two-thirds have previous world cup experience – features a total of 630 Test caps, with 10 personnel changes made to the one that defeated Georgia 36-9 in the final Summer Test in Edinburgh earlier this month.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “We’ve had a really productive week’s preparation in Nagasaki ahead of our arrival in Tokyo, with our players adapting to the time zone and weather conditions out here in Japan.
“As we’ve got closer to the game our training has been more about fine-tuning the hard work that’s gone in over pre-season into a focus for Sunday’s game.
“Our team has a lot of experience playing together in major games for Scotland, with a bench capable of making a difference when required. That cohesion, experience and leadership is very valuable in a build-up to a match of this magnitude as well as during the 80 minutes on Sunday.”
Exeter Chiefs full-back Stuart Hogg and Saracens wing Sean Maitland return to the back-three to partner fellow British & Irish Lion and Glasgow Warriors wing Tommy Seymour.
Another pair of Lions – scrum-half Greig Laidlaw and stand-off Finn Russell – return to start at half-back, with Sam Johnson and Duncan Taylor the only backs to be reinstated, in midfield.
Glasgow Warriors forwards Ryan Wilson and Jonny Gray are the only forwards to remain in the pack, which features the remaining six changes, including a new front-row trio of Allan Dell (London Irish), captain Stuart McInally and Willem Nel (both Edinburgh).
Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist returns to partner the reinstated Gray in the boiler house, while the capital club’s Hamish Watson and John Barclay join Wilson in the loose forwards.
Townsend added: “In Ireland we face a quality opposition who, over the past number of years, have earned the right to be the number one ranked side in the world.
“We know them well and are well aware of the strengths they possess throughout their squad. We expect them to play very well, as they did in their most recent games against Wales, so only our best performance will do in order to win.
“The prospect of facing them in the opening round of a Rugby World Cup is a fantastic challenge for our players and supporters around the world.”
Scotland team to play Ireland, International Stadium, Yokohama in the Rugby World Cup
Sunday 22 September (kick-off 4.45pm) – live on ITV
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 69 caps
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 52 caps
13. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 23 caps
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 42 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 46 caps
9. Greig Laidlaw VICE CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) – 73 caps
1. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 25 caps
2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 29 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 31 caps
4. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 36 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 52 caps
6. John Barclay VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 74 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 27 caps
8. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 45 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 42 caps
17. Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) – 37 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
20. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 2 caps
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 27 caps
22. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 10 caps
23. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 7 caps