2012 Six Nations Rugby: Scotland Coach Makes Changes to XV for France Test

Alex GuyCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2012

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 12:  Toby Faletau (R) of Wales holds off the challenge of Mike Blair (L) of Scotland during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland at the Millenium Stadium on February 12, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Although it will not come as a shock to anyone interested in Scottish rugby, coach Andy Robinson has chosen teenage sensation Stuart Hogg for his first XV this weekend against France.

After an electrifying performance against England Saxons for Scotland A, Hogg was promoted to the senior roster for the Wales test match two weeks ago. Hogg was a valuable attacker in Millennium Stadium and will get his first chance to start at fullback against France.

John Barclay, a member of the Glasgow Warriors' 'Killer B's,' will replace the injured Alasdair Strokosch after the blindside flanker suffered a broken hand in the Wales contest.

In a somewhat surprising move, Robinson opted to shake things up in the midfield in an attempt to galvanize a Scottish attack that has proved largely stagnant in the team's opening Six Nations matches. Replacing Edinburgh center Nick De Luca is Sean Lamont. De Luca has faced significant criticism this week after a costly trip to the sin-bin against Wales.

Joining Lamont is Mike Blair, who takes over scrum-half duties from Chris Cusiter. Blair and Cusiter had been fighting for the No. 9 jersey for some time, and many thought Blair would be the first choice in the Wales match since his professional teammate, Greig Laidlaw, donned No. 10 for the first time.

Sean Lamont's move to the outside center position paved the way for Graeme Morrison to reclaim his position on the inside for the first time since last year's World Cup.

David Denton, one of the major bright spots for Scotland throughout the Six Nations tournament, lines up in his traditional No. 8 position, and Geoff Cross fills in for Euan Murray at the tighthead prop, who declines to play on Sundays due to his Christian faith.

Conspicuously absent from the squad is the now-healthy Ruaridh Jackson. The 24-year-old started at the No. 10 for Scotland in the World Cup, and it was assumed that he would rejoin the team after recovering from a hamstring injury. Robinson has instead chosen to stick with youngster Duncan Weir as Laidlaw's understudy for at least one more match.

Looking ahead to France this Sunday, Robinson said that lineouts and scrums would be key to beating France. 

The reserved coach said yesterday, "They destroyed us in the scrum last year. They completely dominated us because we scrummaged as individuals. We have to scrummage collectively as an eight-man operation, while the lineout is an area France will go to if they cannot get their game going."

Robinson and the rest of Scotland hope that the personnel changes will be the catalyst that fuels a rejuvenated attack on Sunday.


Full Lineup

15 Stuart Hogg 1 Allan Jacobsen

14 Rory Lamont 2 Ross Ford

13 Sean Lamont 3 Geoff Cross

12 Graeme Morrison 4 Richie Gray

11 Lee Jones 5 Jim Hamilton

10 Greig Laidlaw 6 John Barclay

9 Mike Blair 7 Ross Rennie

8 David Denton


16 Scott Lawson

17 Ed Kalman

18 Alastair Kellock

19 Richie Vernon

20 Chris Cusiter

21 Duncan Weir

22 Nick De Luca