Scotland have struck a significant early Calcutta Cup blow on the selection front after including Bath’s Cameron Redpath in a 35-man squad for the Six Nations. Redpath was training with England last year and, barring injury, would have toured South Africa with England in 2018.
Redpath’s father, Bryan, captained Scotland and won 60 caps but the Bath centre’s decision to plump for Scotland is still a massive coup for the national coach, Gregor Townsend. The 21-year-old, born in Narbonne where his father played for the local club, is among the most gifted midfield backs in Britain and has the ability to enjoy a long Test career.
With Townsend having also selected Newcastle’s Gary Graham, another player previously picked by Eddie Jones in an England training squad, it reflects the recent trend for dual-qualified players to plump for a Test future away from Twickenham. Jake Polledri and Callum Braley have both opted to represent Italy, Johnny Williams has declared for Wales and Billy Burns and Mike Haley have both been capped by Ireland.
In Redpath’s case, England are not overstocked with classy inside centres and Townsend could barely disguise his joy having learned only this week that England’s loss would be Scotland’s gain.
Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), David Cherry (Edinburgh) - Uncapped, Alex Craig (Gloucester), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (London Irish), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Gary Graham (Newcastle), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Exeter), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Oli Kebble (Glasgow), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Grant Stewart (Glasgow), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), George Turner (Glasgow), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), James Lang (Harlequins), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Ali Price (Glasgow), Cameron Redpath (Bath), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Scott Steele (Harlequins), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh).
“We were delighted when we finally got confirmation from Cam on Monday,” said the head coach. “Obviously we have been aware he is in a unique situation in that his family the Scottish but he was brought up in England and played age-group rugby for England.
“He was wanted by the English coaches as well but I have been chatting to him for a wee while now. We offered him the chance to be in our squad in the autumn but he felt it wasn’t the right time. He’s a bright, mature lad and he’s made up his own mind. I imagine it has been a tough decision for him over the weeks and months but he is looking forward to camp and we are looking forward to working with him. He is an excellent player and he has a lot more to bring. His dad obviously captained Scotland so I imagine the family will be really proud.”
Potential issues with fringe players returning into camp with Covid-19 unwittingly contracted at their Premiership clubs, however, have counted against some English-based players with the Exeter duo of Sam Skinner and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Northampton’s Rory Hutchinson all omitted.
Scotland also have issues at hooker with Fraser Brown and Stuart McInallyinjured. Edinburgh’s uncapped 30-year-old Dave Cherry and Sale’s 20-year-old Canadian-born youngster Ewan Ashman have been called up.