GREGOR Townsend believes that Scotland are genuine contenders for this year’s Six Nations Championship after winning three games but coming only fourth in 2021. Speaking after naming a squad of 39 that includes five uncapped players, the national coach said his group’s self-belief would be all the greater this year as a consequence of ending lengthy runs without a win in Wales, England and France over the past couple of campaigns.
“We’d enter any game or any competition with the goal of winning what’s in front of us,” he said. “We feel that the experiences our players have gone through over the last couple of years put them in a good position to know how to win a rugby game. It gives them the confidence that they’ve done that before.
“So they should be confident as individuals, confident with the team, but we’re aware of what a big challenge this is. We won three games last year but we didn’t even finish in the top two. We were in the fight for every game we played. But we’ve got to make sure that we turn those performances into more wins and play to our potential throughout this tournament.”
There are 13 players from Edinburgh and 11 from Glasgow in the squad, with the capital club’s scrum-half Ben Vellacott and Warriors openside Rory Darge among the five hoping to win a first cap. The London Irish winger Kyle Rowe, an Edinburgh player until last summer, has also been rewarded with a call-up after some impressive form this season.
The two more surprising inclusions are Rowe’s team-mate Ben White, who joins Vellacott and Ali Price in competing for the No 9 jersey, and Saracens back-row forward Andy Christie. The significant omissions include Glasgow’s Fraser Brown, Oli Kebble and George Horne, Adam Hastings of Gloucester and Huw Jones of Harlequins.