Scotland v France: Borders star Rory Sutherland looking to shine in Six Nations clash

Borders forward Rory Sutherland has won much acclaim for his solid scrum dominance and intermittent bursts of agility in Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations campaign so far.

Rory Sutherland in action during Scotland’s open training session at Melrose last week. Pic: Bill McBurnie
Rory Sutherland in action during Scotland’s open training session at Melrose last week. Pic: Bill McBurnie

But the former Gala and Hawick prop believes he and his fellow forwards could face their biggest test yet this Sunday against France.

Sutherland (27) was speaking exclusively to the Southern Reporter last week as the Scotland squad held an open training session at The Greenyards in Melrose.

A crowd of about 1500 or so, including parties of school pupils from around the Borders and other parts of the country, disregarded the rain to come and watch a number of the leading players go through their paces.

Rory Sutherland in action during Scotland’s open training session at Melrose last week. Pic: Bill McBurnie

The squad - without captain and ex-Hawick hero Stuart Hogg - worked on shape and attack, sprinting, close manoeuvring and numerous other aspects of the game, before gathering to meet the young spectators, many of whom collected autographs afterwards.

The 17-0 victory over Italy in Rome last month gave the players a fresh energy surge for their practice and spurred an added interest from the public as the Scots prepare for the visit of Les Blues - although sadly it was confirmed earlier in the week that ex-Hawick ace Darcy Graham will miss the rest of the tournament through injury.

The young French side, 60 per cent of the way to a Grand Slam, is unlikely to relent in its quest for success.

But the Scots have plenty of talent in their ranks and will have a home crowd behind them.

Sutherland said it would be a huge test but the players were up for it.

“Our scrum has gone well and the lineouts have gone well over the championship so far, so we are looking forward to the challenge it’s going to pose,” he said.

“Playing at home is always really special. There’s that emotional side of it, when you sing the anthem and you have the crowd behind you - but it’s the same with every match.

“You have got to prepare well through the week for the 80 minutes on the Saturday. We are really looking forward to going out there and putting on a good performance.”

Sutherland said the Scots were in a good place ahead of the game after the victory against Italy.

“The championship is huge - there is always a lot of pressure going into all the games, with the weight of the nation on your shoulders. But we ran two of the best teams in the world (Ireland and England) very close. Both those games could have gone our way.

“We didn’t win and that is a negative. But the positive you have to take out of that is we came close. We gave them a good game and those are things you can take into the matches like that.

“So we were really happy to get the win, bury those demons and be in a good position going into that game with France.”

Sutherland, now with Edinburgh, grew up in Hawick and played for both the Greens and Gala.

He was first capped in 2016 but spent 14 months on the sidelines through injury, so he is delighted to be back in the international reckoning and be part of this campaign.

“I really enjoy working with the coaches,” he said. “Pieter (de Villiers, scrum coach) has been fantastic. He has not tried to change anything for us on a personal level or individually. He has worked on us as a collective and as a unit, and has worked really well.

“Also, I have said it a lot over the past few weeks - I am very, very grateful for the opportunity I have been given by Gregor (Townsend, head coach) to play some consistent rugby again, and be given those opportunities every week. I just hope I get another opportunity against France and I can put in a good game.”

Sutherland added it was nice to see supporters from the Borders turn out to watch the practice and the new 4G surface at Melrose had been “awesome”.

Melrose board member Graeme Burgess told master of ceremonies Alan Nash the club had received a huge boost from the public being able to come along and see the players in action - as well as seeing the level of use of the new surface by a variety of age groups in a variety of sports.