IT wasn’t long ago that I saw Scotland dismantle Japan 100-8 at St Johnstone’s football ground, with Chris Paterson scoring more than 40 points, writes Stuart Cameron.
But things have changed for Japanese rugby – they beat Wales in the summer and they’ve adopted (as other countries have done) the policy of attracting rugby players from abroad using the three-year residence rule, a rule which I detest.
While the plus side of this is that the second and third-tier teams can become more competitive against higher opposition, it does shut the door firmly in the face of some local talent who get elbowed out.
So Japan visit Murrayfield this time instead of Fife, and if the long overdue introduction of a special pass for all three games has worked, there should be a half-decent crowd to watch the game on Saturday, and I hope, rather than banks of empty seats, there will be rows of children experiencing international rugby for the first time.
Games like this offer a golden opportunity for the SRU to grow the game through youngsters – let’s hope this has been addressed.
Nothing short of a big win is expected and Borderer Kelly Brown reclaims the captaincy role. Greig Laidlaw and Ross Ford will start at 9 and 2, while Geoff Cross is named on the bench. There are first starts for Tim Swinson and Tommy Seymour.
Scotland team: S. Maitland; T. Seymour, N. De Luca, M. Scott, S. Lamont; R. Jackson, G. Laidlaw; R. Grant, R. Ford, E. Murray, T. Swinson, A. Kellock, A. Strokosch, K. Brown, D. Denton. Subs: P. MacArthur, A. Dickinson, G. Cross, R. Gray, J. Barclay, H. Pyrgos, D. Weir, D. Taylor.