Two ex-Melrose players in Scotland rugby squad for Six Nations game against Italy

Two former Melrose players feature in the 35-man Scotland squad named today, March 15, to face Italy in rugby’s Six Nations this coming weekend.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 5:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 1:06 pm
Damien Hoyland with Edinburgh team-mate Darcy Graham during their European Rugby Challenge Cup home match against Agen in January 2020 (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Damien Hoyland and Ally Miller, both now with Edinburgh, though the latter is off to Glasgow Warriors in the summer, are among three changes to the squad for yesterday’s 27-24 defeat at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium by Ireland.

The other is Zander Fagerson, set to make a return after being sent off during the national side’s round-two defeat against Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday, February 13, and hit with a four-match ban.

Dropping out of the squad are Scott Cummings, injured yesterday, March 14, and Rufus McLean.

Damien Hoyland challenging Leonardo Sarto and Tommaso Allan of Italy for the ball during a test match at Singapore Sports Stadium on June 10, 2017 (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Hoyland, 27, a wing also able to play at full-back, got the first of his four caps against Italy six years ago but hasn’t represented his country since June 2017.

It’s a first senior squad call-up for Miller, however.

The 24-year-old back-rower has represented Scotland at under-20 level and at rugby sevens, appearing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia to play the short-sided game.

He will link up with nine of his future Glasgow Warriors team-mates in the Scottish squad, including the returning Fagerson.

Ally Miller playing for Scotland against Russia during the Canada Sevens in March 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

Finn Russell and Jonny Gray are also in the squad despite being taken off injured yesterday.

Captain Stuart Hogg and fellow ex-Hawick players Rory Sutherland and Darcy Graham retain their places in the squad after playing yesterday.

Hogg, 28, is now on 83 caps, with Sutherland, also 28, on 14 and Graham, 23, on 17.

Another former Melrose player now with Edinburgh but about to join Glasgow Warriors, Rory Darge, 21, has been invited to train with squad, as have Matt Currie and Alex Samuel.

Scotland host Italy at Murrayfield at 2.15pm on Saturday, March 20, for a game being broadcast live on BBC One.

The hosts are currently fifth in the Six Nations table with six points from three games, one place ahead of their visitors, yet to pick up their first point after four games.

Speaking after yesterday’s last-gasp loss, Hogg says he and his team-mates are looking forward to making amends against Italy for having squandered the momentum built up by their opening-day victory away to England by letting Wales and now Ireland get the better of them.

“I think it’s a frustrating outcome,” he told the Six Nations website.

“For large periods of that game, we showed what we are about.

“We stood firm in defence and really challenged them, and in attack when we had ball, we probably lacked that clinical edge at times.

“It’s difficult to take. The boys are really disappointed with the final outcome.

“The frustrating thing for myself and the rest of the boys is that we know we’re a lot better than that. We’re a lot better than what we showed at times.

“We’re going to have to take it on board really quickly and get back to what we do best.

“We want to be in a position where we’re comfortable and in control of everything and having the foot on the throttle from the very beginning.

“That’s a challenge the boys are more than capable of doing. The annoying thing for us now is that we have to wait until next week to perform.”