Scotland at full strength for Japan rugby tour

May 9, 2016

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Scotland will be at full strength for its two-test rugby tour of Japan next month because it cannot afford to rest players.

Practically all of the 27-man squad named on Monday competed in the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations this season.

Coach Vern Cotter said Scotland didn't have great depth. And despite a full year of training and playing, including a three-month buildup for the World Cup, the potentially tired players needed to build their teamwork and experience.

At least the club season was over for Edinburgh players, while Glasgow was in the Pro12 semifinals next week.


The only two players not considered for the tour were centers Mark Bennett, who was trying to make the Britain sevens team for the Olympics, and Matt Scott, who recently returned from a lengthy layoff with a torn left elbow ligament. Scott was on standby if Alex Dunbar doesn't pass a fitness test on his knee, Cotter said.

Asked if he considered resting players, Cotter said, ''No. We don't have a lot of depth really, and this group needs to play more rugby together, to have more test experience to become better.

''We have taken the (players' energy levels) into account. We know there has been a fair load put on these players.''

If the tour had been of three tests, Cotter said their planning might have been different, but two tests let him pick a smaller squad.

Scotland, en route to the quarterfinals, was the only team to beat Japan at the Rugby World Cup. But that match was four days after Japan upended South Africa, while it was fresher Scotland's opener.

Scotland will play its first test in Japan on June 18 in Tokyo, followed a week later at Ajinomoto.


Scotland: Forwards: Alasdair Dickinson, Willem Nel, Moray Low, Rory Sutherland, Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson, John Barclay, David Denton, John Hardie, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson. Backs: Greig Laidlaw (captain), Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Ruaridh Jackson, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor, Damien Hoyland, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg.