Hogg retained and Laidlaw returns as captain to face France

Greig Laidlaw returns to captain Scotland against France in Edinburgh on Saturday (library picture by Ian Rutherford).
Greig Laidlaw returns to captain Scotland against France in Edinburgh on Saturday (library picture by Ian Rutherford).

Star Borders full-back Stuart Hogg is the only player to be reselected in the starting Scotland side as several experienced campaigners return for this Saturday’s Summer Test rematch against France at BT Murrayfield Stadium.

Fellow Borderers Darcy Graham and Jamie Bhatti have been dropped, but ex-Jed-Forest scrum-half Greig Laidlaw returns to captain the side, with the game kicking off at 1.10pm and being told live on Premier Sports.

Scotland’s biggest stadium is poised for its 15th consecutive capacity crowd – with limited tickets remaining – before which the national team aims to bounce back from its 32-3 defeat at the hands of Les Bleus in Nice last weekend.

Scotland head coach, former Gala star Gregor Townsend, told the Scottish Rugby website: “Our first outing of the season was a disappointment and not reflective of the hard work our players have put in over the past two months.

“France are a very dangerous side if you give them space and quick ball to play, which is what we allowed to happen on too many occasions last week.

“Our focus all week has been to remedy this and also create much more from our attacking game.

“It was a stark reminder of how tough things can be at international level if our standards slip.

“We expect our players to show a much truer picture of themselves this Saturday.

“France have selected another strong side, so it will be a great challenge for us to deliver a much-improved performance.”

Scotland’s starting back division is book-ended by familiar partnerships and British & Irish Lions, as Hogg is joined by Saracens and Glasgow Warriors wings Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour for their 19th Test start as a trio.

Continuing the thread of familiarity are Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell and current Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Laidlaw.

This pair will equal the starting partnership appearances of fellow Scottish Lions Gary Armstrong and Craig Chalmers (32) and will then be three starts short of equalling the record-holding half-back partnership of Greig’s uncle Roy Laidlaw, another celebrated former Jed player, and ex-Selkirk legend, stand-off John Rutherford.

At the opposite end of the international experience spectrum is Scarlets number 8 Blade Thomson, who will make his long-awaited Test debut in a back-row featuring Edinburgh’s Hamish Watson and Glasgow Warriors’ Ryan Wilson for the first time this campaign.

Fellow Warrior Scott Cummings is promoted from the bench position from which he debuted last weekend, alongside Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner, and behind a new front-row trio of Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), Willem Nel (Edinburgh) and hooker George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), who starts his second Scotland Test.

The side is completed by a new starting midfield partnership of Glasgow Warriors’ 41-times capped Pete Horne and Gloucester’s Chris Harris, while Glasgow Warriors hooker Grant Stewart could make his debut if called upon from the bench.

Scotland team: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 1 Gordon Reid, 2 George Turner, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Scott Cummings, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Blade Thomson. Subs: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Barclay, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Blair Kinghorn.