Scotland go with experience heads for Ireland clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Star backs Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell will lead Scotland’s challenge against Celtic rivals Ireland, as coach Gregor Townsend named a side full of experience for Sunday’s crunch Pool A encounter.
The Scottish back line is packed full of British and Irish Lions players – scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw and winger Tommy Seymour have also won Lions honours – and will fancy their chances against their injury-hit Irish opponents.
Scotland’s starting XV has a total of 630 Test caps, with Townsend making wholesale changes from the team that beat Georgia 36-9 in their final warm-up match.
“Our team has a lot of experience playing together in major games for Scotland, with a bench capable of making a difference when required,” said Townsend.
“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,” added the coach.
Up front, flanker John Barclay will feature in his third World Cup, after playing in both 2007 and 2011 but missing out in 2015.
The Pool A blockbuster between Scotland and top-ranked Ireland could determine who wins the group, although hosts Japan will also be hoping to cause an upset.
“We know them well and are well aware of the strengths they possess throughout their squad… only our best performance will do in order to win,” added Townsend.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclaym 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Ali Price, 22 Chris Harris, 23 Darcy Graham
Date: Sunday, September 21
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama
Kick-off: 16.45 ( 08.45 UK time, 07.45 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
Your Scotland team to play Ireland in this Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool A opener in Yokohama has been announced!
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 20, 2019