FORMER Hawick player Stuart Hogg will start for Scotland on Sunday against France in the third round of the RBS 6 Nations Championship, wearing the number 15 jersey.
It is a reward for his excellent debut performance nearly two weeks ago against Wales when he came on after just 15 minutes to replace the injured Max Evans.
Speaking at yesterday’s team announcement, Scotland head coach Andy Robinson stated: “Stuart Hogg did well off the bench in Cardiff, stood out in the A team victory over England Saxons and has been one of Glasgow’s most consistent performers this season. He fully deserves his first start.”
Hogg has enjoyed a lot of media attention in recent days and has taken it all in his stride. He is confident yet grounded and has already become a favourite with the fans. There’s a lot of pressure on his young shoulders, but it’s a challenge he is relishing and many, including myself, are predicting a long and prosperous future in the Scottish team.
Hogg admitted it was a dream come true.
He said: “When I was a kid we’d play full contact rugby in the street in the Weensland area of Hawick. I’d be about five and there would be kids there up to about 12 or 13 years old and you’d always think about what it would be like to play for Scotland. Now I’ve got that opportunity – brilliant.”
Robinson has decided to shuffle the centre partnership with the absence of Max Evans, who has not recovered from injury. Graeme Morrison comes in at inside centre with Nick De Luca dropping to the bench. Sean Lamont goes to 13. One big change which Robinson has made is to bring in Mike Blair to partner Greig Laidlaw at half back and this has to be the right decision.
They are the form pairing and have been doing great things for Edinburgh. The half-hour they had together in Cardiff impressed the head coach.
In the pack the only change is John Barclay, in for the injured Alasdair Strokosch, but it’s a pack which picks itself at the moment, and that is very encouraging.
Scotland team to play France on Sunday (kick-off 3pm): Stuart Hogg; Rory Lamont, Sean Lamont, Graeme Morrison, Lee Jones; Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, John Barclay, Ross Rennie, David Denton. Subs: Scott Lawson, Ed Kalmen, Alastair Kellock, Richie Vernon, Chris Cusiter, Duncan Weir, Nick De Luca.
z Elsewhere, three Borders teams made it through to the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Plate finals, which were played last night at Murrayfield.
Earlston High School won an enthralling semi-final on Monday with a hard-fought 23-7 win against Madras College of St Andrews to set up a final against Carrick Academy from Ayrshire.
And, in the younger Under-16s age group it’s an all-Border affair with Jedburgh Grammar School going head-to-head with Peebles High School, for their first chance at the silverware in recent years.
Outcomes of both games can be found at www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk after 9am today, while full reports will be in next week’s Southern.
For local weekend fixtures, see panel below.