The ‘Next Generation’ Has Arrived
Scotland’s summer tour kicked off on Sunday with a triumphant 48-10 win over Canada in Edmonton. Erin McRitchie takes us through the game’s biggest talking points including new caps, training techniques and try scoring history.
The debutants celebrating Scotland’s win with the Douglas JL Horn Memorial Cup (From the left: Hastings, Ritchie, Carmichael and Lang) (Photo from Scottish Rugby)
The ‘next generation’ make their presence known
Every international debut is special, but a small number can be deemed storybook. I’m inclined to believe that Jamie Ritchie, James Lang, Adam Hastings and Lewis Carmichael achieved the latter this past Saturday, against Canada.
Ritchie and Lang, both named in the starting 15, had a positive impact from the first whistle. The young Edinburgh flanker committed to many a destructive tackle and was instrumental at the breakdown, whilst the new cap from Harlequins kept his composure under pressure collecting and providing a number of beautifully timed passes.
In a somewhat unfortunate turn of events, Hastings arrival on the pitch was as a result of a HIA to Lang, but that didn’t hold back the skilled Glasgow prospect as he quickly became instrumental in the calling of the game.
Then, after half time, it was finally Carmichael’s turn to take his first steps onto the international field. He immediately got to work, and his talents at the breakdown were undeniable, meaning he quickly became pivotal to the Scottish defence.
Come the full-time whistle, it is safe to say, there was not one yard of the field that the four new caps did not cover. Along with their fellow young players Magnus Bradbury, Blair Kinghorn and Murray McCallum, they clearly seemed determined to ensure that the future is bright for Scottish Rugby.
The ‘next generation’ – as John Beattie and Chris Paterson deemed them on commentary – was out in force, and I for one sure hope head coach Gregor Townsend plans on keeping them around.
Whilst all the debutants certainly made their mark, extra praise has to be given to Lewis Carmichael. The Edinburgh lock did not let his opportunity fall by the wayside, he took full advantage of being named in Townsend’s team.
After all, it isn’t every day that you see a 6ft 5in lock making not just one, but two line-breaks. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, can we just reminisce on the fact that the first of those actually lead to Carmichael’s first international try. Not bad, not bad at all.
Carmichael’s performance has by no means gone unnoticed (Photo from Opta Jonny twitter)
Dominance of the Scottish driving maul
The brute strength of the forward pack has been a feature of a number of Scotland games this season, and Saturday was no different. It got to the point that one couldn’t be blamed for beginning to feel slightly sorry for their Canadian counterparts.
The majority of the Scottish lineouts were executed with precision, and as soon as the jumper’s feet hit the ground, the shove was on. It was this steamrolling power of the maul that directly resulted in three of Scotland’s seven tries. So, long may the forward ascendancy continue.
A few quick observations
Impact of Townsend’s inclusive training technique: One thing that has become a noticeable trait of Townsend’s Scotland set-up, is that of cohesion. No matter who he names in the touring squad, or who is picked for the match day 23 – the players seem to have the inapt ability to thrive off one another.
A number of analysts and commentators have deemed this a result of the training tactics the new head coach has employed, as he is rumoured to promote a method of inclusiveness. This can only benefit his team, as regardless of who is picked for matches, the players will learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses, thus allowing them to best read their teammates in game situations.
Commentators glowing reviews of Scotland’s debutants: If you watched the match on BBC, then you would have been afforded the insight of John Beattie and Chris Paterson – both former Scotland internationalists themselves – for the duration of the 80 minutes.
They quite deservedly praised the accomplishments already achieved by a number of the debutants. Lewis Carmichael, for example, gained valuable experience playing for Australian side Western Force during a loan spell from Edinburgh in early 2017, whilst fellow forward Jamie Ritchie has previously captained Scotland at Under 20 level.
It was also rather lovely to listen as Beattie recognised the pride that his former teammate, Gavin Hastings, must have been feeling as his son Adam gained his first cap. It was made more meaningful given that Beattie himself has had the same experience – his son Johnnie also played internationally for Scotland.
Edinburgh boys on tour: It is no secret that this season has been one of rejuvenation for Edinburgh Rugby. Richard Cockerill has come to build his team around a number of Scotland’s young and promising talents the likes of Bradbury, Kinghorn, Carmichael, Ritchie and McCallum.
So, to see these five young players – who will undoubtedly become the backbone of the capital side in seasons to come – all line up together in the blue of their country, and also for all five to grace the field at the same time in the second half was definitely special.
From the left: Carmichael, Kinghorn, Bradbury and McCallum (Photo from James Grant Rugby)
Hattrick hooker makes a little history: As previously mentioned, the Scottish maul lead to a number of Scotland’s tries at the weekend, and hooker George Turner was a main feature in three of the day’s seven scores. Yes – a hooker got a hattrick of tries.
This accomplishment makes him the first Scottish player to score a hattrick in 11 years, following in the footsteps of Ally Hogg back in 2007.