Three Uncapped Players Named In Scotland Squad
Head coach Andy Robinson OBE has today named three uncapped players in the Scotland squad for the opening Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Test against Fiji at Murrayfield next month.The trio are back-row forwards Alan MacDonald – who celebrates his 24th birthday today – and Richie Vernon; and the Scottish Exiles centre Alex Grove. All three were part of the IRB Nations Cup winning Scotland A team that Robinson took to Romania during the summer. Robinson said today: “We’ve chosen the squad primarily on the basis of current form and there’s a good balance of players with ten each from Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors and 12 Exiles.”Robinson praised Edinburgh flanker MacDonald for his consistency and hailed 22-year-old Vernon as an exciting talent. “Both have done well this season where, once again, the competition in the back-row is intense with Roddy Grant also knocking on the door,” he explained.Robinson noted that prop Kyle Traynor and centre John Houston (both Edinburgh) had, like Grant, raised their game and were very much in the Scotland coaches’ thoughts, though had missed out on this occasion.The squad will gather for a three-day camp at St Andrews on Monday 2 November then reconvene at Murrayfield on Sunday 8 November ahead of the Fiji match on Saturday 14 November.Other players could yet force their way into contention for the remaining games in the Autumn Tests – against Australia on 21 November and Argentina on 28 November – Robinson citing Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints) and Allister Hogg (Edinburgh) as players whose form is being monitored closely.Two Glasgow players who are returning from injury, centre Max Evans and lock Richie Gray, will join the Scotland squad for their camp at St Andrews as part of their recovery programme.Scotland squad for the opening Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Test against Fiji on Saturday 14 November at Murrayfield (kick-off 2.30pm)John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)Mike Blair (Edinburgh)Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors)Ben Cairns (Edinburgh)Geoff Cross (Edinburgh)Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors)Simon Danielli (Ulster)Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester)Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors)Ross Ford (Edinburgh)Phil Godman (Edinburgh)Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors) *Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors)Nathan Hines (Leinster)Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)Rory Lamont (Toulon)Sean Lamont (Scarlets)Rory Lawson (Gloucester)Scott Lawson (Gloucester)Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh) *Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh)Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors)Chris Paterson (Edinburgh)Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais)Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester)Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors) *Nikki Walker (Ospreys)Jason White (Clermont Auvergne)* = uncapped playerAlex Grove (Worcester Warriors)Centre/full back. Born: 30.11.87 in Solihull, England. Height: 5ft 11in (1.81m). Weight: 13st 11lb (88kg).Alexander Grove, adding to national under-18 honours, appeared in seven of Scotland’s nine under-19 internationals in 2005-2006, including four in the world championship in Dubai. The following season he stepped up to make his under-20 international debut as left wing in Scotland’s match against England at Bath and went on to be an ever-present by playing in all five games in the championship. Further progress followed with two Scotland A appearances as inside centre in wins against Russia and France A in the IRB Nations Cup success in Bucharest in June 2009.The Rugby School former pupil, who is with Worcester Warriors, has played for Warwickshire at under-15 and under-17 levels and Scottish Exiles at under-17, under-18, and under-19, and he has competed in national swimming championships.Alex qualifies for Scotland through his Glasgow-born grandfather, Ron Wylie, the former Aston Villa and Birmingham City footballer who became West Bromwich Albion manager.Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh and Stewart’s-Melville FP)Flanker. Born 21.10.85 in Edinburgh. Height 6ft 2in (1.88m). Weight 16st (102kg).Alan Robin MacDonald played for Scotland at under-18, under-19, and under-21 levels as well as the national sevens squad before making a try-scoring debut in A international rugby in the 67-7 win against Ireland at McDiarmid Park, Perth, in February 2008. He continued in the Scotland A team as open-side flanker in all three matches in the Barclays Churchill Cup four months later in North America. He has now played nine games for Scotland A, most recently all three in the IRB Nations Cup success in Bucharest in June 2009Alan’s under-19 honours included all five matches in the 2004 world championship in Durban, South Africa, where he scored a try against Argentina. Alan joined Edinburgh Rugby as a full-time apprentice in season 2004-2005 and made his debut as open-side flanker in the Celtic League game against Ospreys at Murrayfield in November that season.He was unavailable for the under-21 6 Nations matches in 2005 because of injury, but he returned in time to play in the age grade’s world championship in Argentina, making his under-21 debut as a replacement in the opening match against Australia. Alan played in all five of Scotland’s matches in the under-21 6 Nations in 2006, scoring a try in the game against England at Falkirk, and later in the year he was in the Scotland squad for the under-21 world championship in France. The first of his two IRB world sevens series appearances was in the 2007 Dubai tournament.He made his Heineken Cup debut on Edinburgh’s visit to London Wasps in January 2006. Alan was named Scotland Under-21 Player of the Year at the Scottish Rugby Awards Dinner in May 2006.Scotland A (9 caps), Scotland Sevens (2 caps), Scotland u18, u19, u21 (12).Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors and Dundee HSFP)Back row/lock. Born: 7 July 1987 in Dundee. Height: 6ft 5in (1.97m). Weight: 16st 4lb (104kg).Richard John Vernon marked his debut for Scotland A by scoring two tries in the 69-3 win against Georgia at Firhill, Glasgow, in November 2008. He had two more Scotland A games seven months later when he played in the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest, scoring the crucial try in the 22-12 win against France A in the trophy decider. Previously, he had had international honours at under-18, under-19, and under-20 as well as in sevens for Scotland and Great Britain.Richie joined Border Reivers as an apprentice in summer 2006 and made his professional debut in January 2007 in the Heineken Cup match against Northampton Saints at Murrayfield. The following month he was at No.8 for Scotland in the under-20 internationals against England and Wales, and in the summer that year he moved from Reivers to Glasgow Warriors. He joined the Scotland sevens squad for the IRB’s Dubai and George (South Africa) tournaments in 2005, and he returned to the squad to be an ever-present in the eight tournaments in 2007-2008. He scored three of the Scots’ nine tries in the San Diego (USA) tournament and then notched five in the Twickenham event plus three a week later at Murrayfield before injury forced him to miss the last two ties. In April 2008 he was in the Scottish Thistles’ squad who won the prestigious Melrose sevens, and 10 months later he returned to the national sevens squad for the IRB’s tournaments in Wellington (New Zealand) and San Diego (USA). Richie was also in the Great Britain sevens squad in the 2005 World Games in Duisburg, Germany.Later that year he scored a try against Italy on his under-19 international debut, and he went on to form an ever-present second-row partnership with Steve Turnbull throughout Scotland’s four matches in season 2005-2006. Richie was also an ever-present in the IRB Under 19 World Championship in Dubai in April 2006. He was Scotland’s top try-scorer in that tournament with four – two against Japan and one each against Romania and Samoa.The High School of Dundee former pupil has played also for Caledonia under-16 and under-18.Scotland A (3 caps), Scotland sevens (12 caps), Great Britain sevens, and Scotland u18, u19, u20.