Rory in back row for Italian job

Rory Darge
Rory Darge

Melrose player Rory Darge is in the starting line-up as Scotland’s U20 squad faces Italy tomorrow (Friday) in the final match of the U20 Six Nations.

The match kicks off at 3pm, local time, in the Stadio della Vittoria in Bari.

Head coach Stevie Scott’s team selection includes two changes to the side which secured a losing bonus point away to Ireland last weekend and features 13 players who are products of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy.

Hawick player Guy Graham has not made a reappearance after injury, but Darge has retained his place in the back row, wearing number seven.

In the backs, Stirling County’s Logan Trotter replaces the injured Rory McMichael on the wing, with Sam Yawayawa named on the bench.

Up-front, Glasgow Hawks’ Paul Cairncross makes his first start of the campaign at hooker, as influential captain Robbie Smith – who suffered an ankle injury in Dublin last weekend – has been unable to recover in time for the trip to Italy.

Scott said: “Our attack against Ireland was the best it has been in the tournament so far. We created a lot of opportunities and thoroughly deserved the bonus point but we are disappointed that we didn’t win the game, because we had a chance to do that.

“This group has grown considerably from the start of this process. Where they are now, compared to when they first came into camp, is a credit to them as a team.

“It would be a really good championship for us if we can win this game in Italy. It will be a challenge, but the squad have trained well this week and we’re really looking forward to the fixture.”

The inclusion of Trotter is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back three, as Paddy Dewhirst and Kyle Rowe keep their spots at fullback and wing respectively.

In the midfield, Northampton Saints’ Fraser Strachan once again links up with Stafford McDowall, who is named as captain. Ross Thompson – who notched up 10 points in the defeat to Ireland – keeps his place at stand-off and is partnered by Gloucester’s Charlie Chapman.

Prop pairing Shaun Gunn and Finlay Richardson continue in the front row, alongside hooker Paul Cairncross, who features for the first time this Six Nations campaign.

An unchanged second row sees Jamie Hodgson and Ewan Johnson continue their impressive partnership, while Darge is in the back row with Martin Hughes and Devante Onojaife.