Finn Russell named Scotland captain as Gregor Townsend recalls big guns for World Cup warm-up against France

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made 13 changes to his starting line-up as they prepare to face France in their second Rugby World Cup warm-up clash; Finn Russell will captain the side in the match at Murrayfield on Saturday in the absence of Jamie Ritchie (3.15pm kick-off)

        Finn Russell named Scotland captain as Gregor Townsend recalls big guns for World Cup warm-up against France

Finn Russell will captain Scotland in Saturday’s match against France

Finn Russell will captain Scotland as one of 13 changes to the team to face France in the second of their Rugby World Cup warm-up matches on Saturday.

Head coach Gregor Townsend has restored most of his senior players to his starting XV after a largely experimental side defeated Italy 25-13 last weekend.

However, regular captain Jamie Ritchie is not in the matchday squad, so talismanic fly-half Russell will lead the team, with Grant Gilchrist and Sione Tuipulotu his vice-captains.

Ritchie misses out with a minor niggle. Scotland medical staff hope the regular skipper will be fit to return for the rematch with France in St Etienne the following Saturday.

    Scotland begin Rugby World Cup preparations with 25-13 win against ItalyRugby World Cup 2023 fixtures | Pools | Stream Sky Sports on NOW

Twitter Due to your consent preferences, you’re not able to view this Privacy Options

Darcy Graham and Matt Fagerson are the only two to retain their places from the win over Italy, while hooker Ewan Ashman is the least-established player in the starting line-up to face the World Cup hosts, with just seven caps to date.

Graham scored two tries as Scotland defeat the Azzurri, retaining his place on wing while Duhan van der Merwe returns on the other. Blair Kinghorn completes the back three by slotting into the side at full-back.

Inside centre Sione Tuipulotu is named as one of two vice-captains, along with second row Grant Gilchrist, and resumes his midfield partnership with fellow 2023 Six Nations Team of the Championship selection Huw Jones.

Fagerson switches from openside to blindside flanker for the meeting with the 2023 Six Nations runners-up, who beat Scotland 32-21 in Paris back in February, with Hamish Watson returning on the opposite flank and Jack Dempsey coming in at No 8.

        Finn Russell named Scotland captain as Gregor Townsend recalls big guns for World Cup warm-up against France

Darcy Graham is one of two players to retain his place in the line-up

Gilchrist is joined in the second row by Richie Gray, with Pierre Schoeman, Ewan Ashman and Zander Fagerson the starting front rows. Ben White forms the half-back partnership alongside Russell.

Rory Darge, captain of the team for the win over Italy, is among the replacements this week, with Townsend going for a 5-3 split of forwards and backs respectively on the bench.

Scotland team to face France

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu (vice-captain), 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (captain), 9 Ben White; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 Ewan Ashman, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist (vice-captain), 6 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Rory Darge, 21 George Horne, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Ollie Smith.