Scotland: Gregor Townsend resigned to losing Jonny Gray for Rugby World Cup

·3-min read
 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend does not envisage Jonny Gray playing any part in the Rugby World Cup after the lock suffered a serious injury.

The second-row dislocated his kneecap in Exeter Chiefs’ 47-28 defeat to La Rochelle in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup.

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Gray was therefore left out of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup squad for the tournament in France, which starts in September.

It will be at least four months before the second-row is back in action, a timescale that rules him out of their World Cup preparation.

Lack of matches

Although he could feasibly be fit by the time the first game kicks off, Townsend believes that a lack of training and matches would make it difficult for him to be involved.

The head coach did not completely dismiss the notion of the Exeter man taking part but he did not sound hopeful when asked about the outstanding forward.

“I think it’s going to be at least four months from now until he’s back in full training and ready to play,” he said. “We kick off in four months’ time against South Africa so who knows?

“It might be that a couple of weeks into the tournament we pick up an injury and he’s back in full training and played pre-season games, but I think that’s unlikely from where we stand today.

“Let’s hope he’s ready to go around September or October, whether that’s for us if we pick up injuries, or his club.”

There were not too many surprises in the 41-man training squad, with Fraser Brown the highest profile omission, but Townsend is happy with the depth of the group.

“It was really difficult,” Townsend said of his selection. “Certain positions required a lot of debate, not just yesterday but the last few weeks.

“I was really keen for a 38-man squad and then I suppose Jonny picking up his injury last week, and a couple of other things, it got to 40 and then it got finalised on 41.

“It just shows the depth we have that we’ve left out some quality players and we’ve still got so much quality in the squad.”

Lack of newbies

There were only two uncapped players selected in the Scotland 41 – Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson – but Townsend insisted that performances from the past year has made it difficult to drop players.

“The form of players that have been in our recent squads,” Townsend responded when asked about a lack of new caps.

Argentina and Chile (the summer tour) last year was very important for a number of reasons, and one of the reasons was development of players that got opportunities there and have kicked on and are still in our squad.

“The Six Nations was more of a senior squad, we picked the best squad we could put together and didn’t make many changes because we wanted to keep as much cohesion as possible, so it was always going to be difficult for players outside the group to come in when the players were performing so well in games and training.

“There’s lots of depth there so if we do pick up injuries, we know we’ve got quality players just outside the squad.”

READ MORE: Winners and losers from Scotland’s 41-man Rugby World Cup training squad

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