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Luke Crosbie leads a Scotland A team full of capped players against Chile in first tour match

Scotland A captain Luke Crosbie.
Scotland A captain Luke Crosbie.

Luke Crosbie will finally get his captaincy of a Scotland team after a year’s gap as Gregor Townsend named a strong team for the A game against Chile in Santiago.

The Edinburgh flanker was due to captain against England last June but the game was scuppered by Covid. Full caps won’t be awarded for this fixture outside the official international window, but 17 of the match 23 have played test rugby.

There’s recalls for Crosbie, Scott Cummings, George Horne and Matt Fagerson, who all missed all or part of the Six Nations. Former Strathallan School pupils Ollie Smith and Murphy Walker are in the 22, Smith starting at full-back.

There are only four other uncapped players in the 23, with Edinburgh’s Matt Currie and Ben Muncaster starting the game.

‘We want to put our game in place’

“The first object is to win,” said Townsend. “We want to put our game in place in an 80-minute match context that we’re working on in training.

“Then we want to see how individuals go in a Scotland jersey playing together. Some of them are playing together for the first time outside of age-group level. Some of them have played for us a number of times over the last few years.

Crosbie has often been unfortunate with timing in his international chances. But the Scottish management team have been as patient as the player, said Townsend.

“A year ago he was due to be captain in our ‘A’ game against England which unfortunately got cancelled. So we thought highly of him then; we think very highly of him now.

“He’s a leader by example, the way he plays, the way he trains. He’s very proud to represent Scotland, and he’s had captaincy experience at Edinburgh this year.

“He missed the Six Nations through injury, but he’s bounced back from that really well and I thought he was one of the form players at the end of the season.”

‘They’re very close to being a World Cup team’

Chile wanted this fixture – their first against a Six Nations team in 60 years – to prepare for their final World Cup qualifier against the USA in two weeks.

“They’re of a high standard, that has got them very close to being a World Cup team. They have beaten Russia and Canada on their way to the play-off game against the US.

“A lot of their players are involved in the South American professional championship – their team which represents Chile beat the Jaguares, the Argentinian professional side, and played some really good rugby.

“They’ll be strong in the set piece, strong in the scrum, they’ll be very physical. From what we’ve seen, they seem to be a team that’s really aggressive in defence. They’ll look to jackal – it’s very similar to what we’ll get against Argentina in the next few weeks.”

Townsend also welcomed the news from Murrayfield that chief executive Mark Dodson had agreed an extension until 2025.

“Mark has been a big supporter of the national team and of the professional teams. I’ve experienced both of those roles with Glasgow and with Scotland,” he said.

“We’ve got a good relationship. We won’t always agree on things, but we respect each other’s views. He wants success for all our teams, whether that’s success at the national level, the pro teams or age group.

“He’ll be driving that, I’m sure, over the next two years.”

‘Continuity and experience’

The chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board, former international John Jeffrey, said Dodson’s presence would be vital as a new governance structure for the sport in Scotland is implemented.

“As we enter what is likely to be a period of significant change the Board unanimously agreed to ask him to continue for an additional 18 months. It is important we can have continuity and experience around the table as that work progresses.

Dodson said: “To know there was unanimous support on the Board to extend my role for a further 18-months was a key factor in the decision to accept their offer to continue in post.

“I know how hard all our people work to deliver rugby across Scotland and on the international stage. I remain fully committed to leading them through what is likely to be a challenging and unpredictable period.”

 

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