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Six Nations Preview: Scotland

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Shôn Douglas previews the 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship for Sport Talk. We Love Sport have teamed up with tournament sponsors Guinness to bring you complimentary pints during the championship – to redeem simply download the We Love Sport app.

SCOTLAND

Despite a disappointing time in Japan which saw Scotland boarding the plane before the rest of the Six Nations participants, Gregor Townsend is one of only two coaches from 2019 to still be in post.

The team’s performances have been upstaged by some fairly poor PR exercises by the Scottish Rugby Union off the field. Embarrassingly threatening legal action over the potential cancellation of the game against Japan as a result of Typhoon Hagibis and then doubling the salary of the chief executive of the SRU, Mark Dodson, to nearly £1million has left a sour taste in the mouths of Scotland fans. Little wonder they’ll be looking forward to the talking being done on the pitch when the tournament kicks off.

And when it does kick off Scotland will do so without scrum half Greg Laidlaw after seven years with the team. In December the former captain retired from the international stage and was joined by winger Tommy Seymour and flanker John Barclay as the squad gets an overhaul ahead of the next four years before France 2023.

In Laidlaw’s absence, one of the few genuinely world class talents in the Scotland team Stuart Hogg has been handed captaincy and will be expected to lead by example. His step up to playing for Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership has been good for him and provided he stays injury free has the ability to pull teams apart single handed.

At the same time as Hogg impressing on a bigger stage, mercurial Fly Half Finn Russell has been creating his own personal highlights reel for Racing Metro this season. His range of passing and kicking, as well as a deceptive turn of pace can open up any defence but for the sake of Rory Scannell’s reputation, we’ll not mention the nutmeg on the Munster centre.

However, Russell has been sent home from the Scotland squad for next week’s Six Nations opener against Ireland due to “a breach of team protocol” during training camp, and has returned to Paris, which places a huge amount of responsibility on back up Fly Half Adam Hastings’s shoulders.

The fleet footed Darcy Graham is one to watch having scored four tries in Glasgow’s recent Champions Cup game versus Agen and comes into the tournament with more expectation placed on his young shoulders than when he was first introduced into the Scotland side last year.

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Summary

Another year of mediocrity awaits and Townsend may well be out on his ear after. With tricky away fixtures against Ireland and Wales looking like dead rubbers for the Scots, all eyes will turn to the highly anticipated Calcutta Cup game against England on 8 February. It’s highly unlikely that the Murrayfield crowd will be treated to the same showing from Scotland and England as last year’s 38-38 thriller at Twickenham, but fans will be looking to get one over the auld enemy and you wouldn’t put it past them.

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