Borderer Rhys Tait to skipper Scotland’s under-20 rugby team for first time tomorrow

Hawick’s Rhys Tait is set to lead Scotland’s under-20 rugby team out tomorrow night, February 4, as they open their age-grade Six Nations campaign at home to England.

Hawick's Rhys Tait during a Scotland Under-20 training session at the Oriam in Edinburgh this week (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group/SRU)
Hawick's Rhys Tait during a Scotland Under-20 training session at the Oriam in Edinburgh this week (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group/SRU)

The 19-year-old, named as captain for the tournament by head coach Kenny Murray last week, is joined by fellow Borderers Patrick Harrison and Christian Townsend in the team to face the English announced yesterday.

Openside flanker Tait’s first game in charge of Scotland’s under-20s, at Edinburgh’s DAM Health Stadium, is also their first on home turf for two years, last year’s championship having been played entirely in Wales due to coronavirus restrictions.

Kicking off at 8pm, it will be broadcast live on BBC iPlayer.

Borderer Rhys Tait taking part in a Scotland under-20 training session in Edinburgh on Tuesday (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group/SRU)

Ex-Jed-Forest and Hawick youth player Tait, now with Boroughmuir Bears after playing for their Borders rivals Southern Knights, is joined in the back-row by Matt Deehan, making his debut, at blindside flanker and Ollie Leatherbarrow at No 8.

West Linton’s Harrison, 19, formerly at Peebles but now with Edinburgh, will start at hooker and will pack down alongside Tom Bantavala and Currie Chieftains’ Gregor Scougall, set to make his first Scotland U20 appearance.

Max Williamson returns to the squad in the second-row and will be joined by Josh Taylor.

Jed Gelderbloom starts at scrum-half and will partner former Melrose youth player Townsend, 20, now of Ayrshire Bulls and Glasgow Warriors, at stand-off.

Christian Townsend participating in a Scotland under-20 training session in Edinburgh on Tuesday ahead of their game tomorrow against England (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group/SRU)

Mike Gray starts at inside-centre with Duncan Munn outside and Ross McKnight and Ollie Melville on the wings.

Robin McClintock will play at full-back.

Murray, 48, said: “The team are in a really good place after working hard over the last few months.

“I’m really happy with the squad we’ve been able to select – 11 players have played in an international match of this level before, so they know what to expect.

“It will be a really special night at the DAM Health Stadium on Friday as this group of players get to experience representing their country for the first time on home soil since all 2021 under-20 Six Nations fixtures were held in Cardiff.

“A large crowd is expected, so it should be a great atmosphere to open our campaign with.”

Tomorrow’s replacements  are Gregor Hiddleston, Michael Jones, Callum Norrie, Jake Spurway, Olujare Oguntibeju, Tim Brown, Euan Cunningham and Ben Evans.

Murray Redpath, son of Galashiels-born former Scotland captain Bryan and brother of current senior international Cameron, also features among the initial 30-man squad named last Thursday.

Scotland’s second game of the championship is against Wales away on Friday, February 11, in Colwyn Bay, followed by a return to Edinburgh to host France on Friday, February 25.

Their tournament will end with away fixtures against Italy on Friday, March 11, in Treviso and Ireland on Sunday, March 20, in Cork.