Scotland team to play Italy: Rugby World Cup warm-up - Ruck

Scotland team to play Italy: Rugby World Cup warm-up

Head coach Gregor Townsend has named his Scotland team to play Italy in their first warm-up match ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Rory Darge is set to make his debut as captain for Scotland in the opening game of The Famous Grouse Nations Series at Scottish Gas Murrayfield on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Glasgow Warriors flanker received his first Scotland cap during the 2022 Guinness Six Nations match against Wales and has since earned six more appearances. Darge already has prior captaincy experience, having led the Scotland U20 team in the Under-20 Six Nations tournament three years ago.

Joining him on the field, Glasgow Warriors centre Stafford McDowall and Leicester Tigers second row Cameron Henderson will make their Scotland debuts. McDowall has previously represented Scotland at U18 and U20 levels, while Henderson, born in Hong Kong but eligible to play for Scotland through his Scottish father, has also featured in the national age-grade teams.

The pack features loosehead prop Rory Sutherland and tighthead Murphy Walker, with George Turner starting at hooker. Sam Skinner and Scott Cummings complete the second row, while blindside flanker Luke Crosbie and No 8 Matt Fagerson join Darge in the back row.

Edinburgh Rugby’s new signing, Ben Healy, who debuted for Scotland in the final 2023 Guinness Six Nations match against Italy earlier this year, will start at stand-off alongside Ali Price at scrum half.

In the backline, Kyle Steyn and Darcy Graham will take their places on the wings, alongside Chris Harris and debutant McDowall in the center. Ollie Smith completes the starting 15 at fullback, following his recent appearance in the victory over Italy in March.

On the replacement bench, there’s a five-three split with Stuart McInally, Jamie Bhatti, Javan Sebastian, Henderson, and Josh Bayliss covering the forwards, while Jamie Dobie, Blair Kinghorn, and Cameron Redpath provide support for the backs.

Scotland team to play Italy:

15. Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps

14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 33 caps
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) – Vice-Captain – 42 caps
12. Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
11. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps

10. Ben Healy (Edinburgh Rugby) 1 cap
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 61 caps

1. Rory Sutherland (unattached) 23 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps
3. Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
4. Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) – Vice-captain – 25 caps
5. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors)  25 caps
6. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby)  4 caps
7. Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors) – Captain – 7 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)  33 caps


16. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby)  47 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors)  29 caps
18. Javan Sebastian (Edinburgh Rugby)  3 caps
19. Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers)  uncapped
20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)  3 caps
21. Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors)  1 cap
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby)  43 caps
23. Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby)  5 caps

Next weekend Scotland play France (Sat 5 Aug, 3.15pm) secure your tickets here and then Georgia on Saturday 26 August (5.30pm).

There are NO Autumn Test fixtures this year, so these summer games are your last chance to see Scotland men in action on home soil in 2023!

30 greatest rugby players of the professional era ranked, Jonny Wilkinson ranked 10th

Warning: the following article will annoy you. The following article will trigger you. The following will make you think ‘how in under God did he get this SO wrong? This is ridiculous!!!!!’ 

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not SO wrong. 

Maybe this list ranking the 30 greatest rugby players of the professional era is actually 100% correct. 

But before you angrily tweet us or angrily WhatsApp your friends your disgust, please bear the aforementioned in mind and TRY (all I’m asking is you try) and enjoy reading Wales Online’s ranking from back in 2018.

Best rugby players (professional era

30 Jason Robinson (England)

Known as Billy Whizz, this former rugby league star proved a hugely successful convert to Union. A lethal runner from full-back or wing, he was a nightmare to mark in one-on-one situations.

They said: “Known as Billy Whizz, this former rugby league star proved a hugely successful convert to Union. A lethal runner from full-back or wing, he was a nightmare to mark in one-on-one situations.”

29 George Smith (Australia)

Renowned for his skills at the breakdown, George Smith was a master of turnovers and a tireless worker on the field. His tenacity and rugby intelligence made him a valuable asset for Australia.

28 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

A true leader and embodiment of Welsh rugby, Alun Wyn Jones has been a towering presence in the second row. With his physicality, work rate, and immense passion, he has achieved numerous accolades.”

27 Sam Warburton (Wales)

Sam Warburton captained Wales and the British and Irish Lions with distinction. His athleticism, poise, and ability to win turnovers made him one of the finest openside flankers of his generation.

26 Doug Howlett (New Zealand)

As a former New Zealand rugby star, Doug Howlett was a prolific try-scorer. His speed, agility, and finishing ability made him a constant threat on the wing for both club and country.

25 Stephen Larkham (Australia)

Stephen Larkham was a gifted playmaker who orchestrated attacks with his vision and passing skills. His ability to read the game and create opportunities set him apart as a top-class fly-half.

24 Gethin Jenkins (Wales)

Gethin Jenkins was a formidable prop known for his scrummaging prowess and work rate around the field. His durability and consistency made him a vital asset to the Welsh and British Lions.

23 Richard Hill (England)

Richard Hill was a versatile back-row forward who excelled in both defense and attack. His commitment, reliability, and selflessness earned him plaudits as a vital contributor to England’s success.

They said: “Did all the unseen, grafting work and just got on with his job in unassuming fashion, putting his body on the line. Able to excel right across the back row, he was a pivotal figure on two Lions trips and an England World Cup winner.”

22 Schalk Burger (South Africa)

Schalk Burger was a dynamic and physical flanker, always putting his body on the line. His ferocious tackling and ability to turn over ball made him a feared competitor in the back row.

21 Lawrence Dallaglio (England)

Lawrence Dallaglio was a powerful number eight who led by example. His leadership qualities, ball-carrying ability, and never-say-die attitude made him an integral part of successful teams.

They said: “Had it all in his prime – pace, power, aggression, pride and a steely mind-set. A Lions series winner, a World Cup winner and a trophy magnet with Wasps.”