Monday, November 19

Blade Thomson unable to make Scotland debut against Wales – Gregor Townsend

The 27-year-old is one of three uncapped players named in Townsend’s bumper 40-man squad for the Autumn Tests alongside Sam Skinner and Sam Johnson.
By Andy Newport, | 1mo

Gregor Townsend has confirmed new Scotland call-up Blade Thomson will not be able to make his debut against Wales – even though the forward’s Scarlets team-mates will be lining up for the hosts in Cardiff.

The 27-year-old is one of three uncapped players named in Townsend’s bumper 40-man squad for the autumn Tests alongside Sam Skinner and Sam Johnson.

But – with the opening clash against Wales on November 3 taking place outside of World Rugby’s international calendar – Scarlets are under no obligation to release the former New Zealand Under-20s number eight, who qualifies for Scotland duty through his Wishaw-born grandfather.

Townsend will also be barred from selecting eight others currently playing their club rugby in England and France for the Principality Stadium showdown.

The Scotland coach did contact his Scarlets counterpart Wayne Pivac seeking permission to throw Thomson into action.

But with the Llanelli outfit – who have handed over 13 members of their squad to Welsh chief Warren Gatland – taking on Edinburgh the night before Scotland arrive, Pivac was in no mood to cooperate.

It means a Glasgow and Edinburgh combined XV will now take on Wales before Townsend welcomes Thomson and the rest of the exiles back for the three Murrayfield clashes with Fiji, South Africa and Argentina.

The Scotland boss said: “The Wales game is outside the World Rugby window. Scarlets are playing Edinburgh that weekend so it would be nice of Wayne Pivac to say to Blade ‘you are available’ but we know that is not going to happen.

“The rules are definitely in place for English and French-based teams and with the PRO14 it is just bad timing that our teams, Glasgow and Edinburgh, plus the Scarlets are playing that weekend otherwise it would be a free weekend.”

Townsend will be denied the talents of Stuart Hogg, John Barclay, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Duncan Taylor and Tim Swinson for the entire November series through injury.

It was announced earlier this week that Gray required surgery on a hip injury but Townsend is confident the giant Toulouse lock will shake of his latest problem to feature in the Six Nations.

“It’s a blow for him, a blow for us,” said Townsend. “He’s our most experienced forward after Ross Ford and John Barclay, who is not in the squad.

“But we believe the surgery will be a success and he’ll be back around Six Nations time.

“Obviously there is a big period of rugby from Six Nations on to World Cup. We’re backing him and supporting him to come back to the level we know he’s capable of.”


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