Rugby Union: Scotland's change in philosophy: French stability contrasts with the Scots' wholesale clear-out

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The Independent Online
ANYTHING Wales can do Scotland can, too, only more so. Whereas the Welsh have got rid of six of those beaten by Canada for Saturday's Five Nations opener in Cardiff, the Scots yesterday dispensed with seven who collapsed to a record defeat by New Zealand.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that three of them are injured. But though Scott Hastings's pulled Achilles tendon was a savage blow, the others - Graham Shiel and Damian Cronin - very probably would not have been picked anyway.

The selectors' response to the All Blacks' 51-15 win is not only a sweeping change in personnel but also of forward- playing philosophy. The

gigantism which coloured their thinking against the Blacks has been instantly abandoned in favour of greater mobility.

Shade Munro, the 6ft 6in Glasgow lock, is the only new cap but Neil Edwards's recall alongside him is specifically aimed at stabilising the scrummaging and last season's front row of Wright, Milne and Burnell - three reserve Lions - is reunited.

Kenny Milne has not been playing much; Paul Burnell has not played at all for a month because of a groin strain; Peter Wright was left out of the squad altogether in the autumn and has firmly re- established his old reputation for indiscipline. 'He has been spoken to about his temperament but he is still the best rugby-playing prop we have,' Duncan Paterson, the Scotland manager, said.

The Scots have also given up the idea of playing an elongated open-side flanker, Rob Wainwright reverting to No 8 to allow for the return of a genuine flyer in Iain Morrison. On the blind side the choice is Derek Turnbull for his strength of tackle with Wales expected to attack through Emyr Lewis and Scott Quinnell.

It is widely believed in Scotland that the choice of the team was effectively made a week ago and that it has needed Scott Hastings's injury to keep Craig Chalmers at stand- off. Instead, the 20-year-old Gregor Townsend has to fill in at centre and the selectors' real preference will be known only if Hastings is fit for the next match against England.

By comparison, France are an unusual model of stability, though the recalled scrum- half, Fabien Galthie, was one of the victims of a previous

selection purge after the 1992 home defeat by Argentina. Galthie displaces Aubin Hueber against Ireland in Paris on Saturday, with the only other change from the side who shared the recent series with Australia being injury-enforced: Philippe Gallart for Laurent Seigne at prop.

SCOTLAND (v Wales, Cardiff, 15 January): G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), G Townsend (Gala), I Jardine, K

Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), A Nicol (Dundee HFSP); P Wright (Boroughmuir), K Milne (Heriot's FP), P Burnell (London Scottish), N Edwards (Northampton), S Munro (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), D Turnbull (Hawick), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacements: D Stark (Boroughmuir), D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville FP), B Redpath (Melrose), A Sharp (Bristol), K McKenzie (Stirling County), G Weir (Melrose).

FRANCE (v Ireland, Paris, 15 January): J-L Sadourny (Colomiers); P Bernat-Salles (Pau), P Sella (Agen), T Lacroix (Dax), P Saint-Andre (Montferrand); A Penaud (Brive), F Galthie (Colomiers); L Armary (Lourdes), J-M Gonzalez (Bayonne), P Gallart (Beziers), O Merle (Grenoble), O Roumat (Dax, capt), P Benetton (Agen), M Cecillon (Bourgoin), A Benazzi (Agen).

Replacements: E N'tamack (Toulouse), P Montlaur (Agen), A Hueber (Toulon), S Graou (Auch), F Landreau, O Brouzet

(Grenoble).

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