There are five changes among Scotland’s starters compared to their final World Cup pool match against the same opposition last October.

Kyle Steyn, Stafford McDowall, Ben White, Scott Cummings and Andy Christie replace Darcy Graham, Sione Tuipulotu, Ali Price, Richie Gray and Jamie Ritchie respectively.

Twelve of Ireland’s XV played in the shellacking in Saint-Denis – 11 starters plus Jack Crowley who is promoted from the bench to replace the retired Johnny Sexton.

The new faces for the home side are Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw and Joe McCarthy. There are another five players among the replacements who also featured five months ago.

Scotland Rugby News:

Head to heads 

Scotland Rugby News:

Across the past 20 years, only three Scots have filled the number 15 shirt for Scotland against Ireland in the Six Nations – Stuart Hogg (12 times – 2012-2023), Chris Paterson (4 – 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011)  and Hugo Southwell (4 – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010). Will Blair Kinghorn be the next man to dominate the full back position for a number of years?

Scottish back 3 players have scored 40 tries in their last 22 Tests, however, they drew a blank in both matches v Ireland during that spell. Duhan van der Merwe’s long range pick and go during the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup is the only try scored by a wing or full back for the dark blues in their last eight encounters with the Irish.

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This will be the international debut for the ‘Stuw’ partnership (No? Please yourself...) The Glasgow Warriors’ duo have been paired up three times already this season on club duty after only being picked together in the midfield on four occasions prior to that.

They will face off against Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw (‘Bubbie’? Is it possible to take this too far?) who have more commonly been an either/or selection, with one of them generally accompanying Garry Ringrose in the centres.

The Irish combination have still managed 19 Test starts together though (including one for the Lions), as well as another 14 games at 12 and 13 back during their time at Connacht.

Scotland Rugby News:

This is the first time that Finn Russell has started all five Six Nations’ fixtures in a campaign since 2018. It will also be his first start in Dublin since the same year.

The Muscle never really managed to impose himself on his head to head battles with Johnny Sexton who – to hopefully bring up this stat for its final outing - won his last 25 matches in a row against Edinburgh (5), Glasgow (7) and Scotland (13) across a period of a dozen years. The green jersey was highly appropriate as the Irish 10 was kryptonite for the best and brightest Scottish talent.

Scotland’s half backs need to be at their absolute best if they are to stop Jack Crowley from building the foundations of a similarly depressing run. That almost certainly means reverting to 35-40 kicks from hand, with Russell and Ben White taking the lions’ share of responsibility in this area.

Scotland Rugby News:

The same Scottish front row will start every round of a Six Nations for just the second time in the last 19 tournaments (2016 – Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel).

This used to be far more common – in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, loosehead Tom Smith and hooker Gordon Bulloch started every fixture with their tightheads for each edition being Mattie Stewart (2001 and 2002), Bruce Douglas (2003) and Gavin Kerr (2005).

Scotland need an awful lot of work out of all three of their front row starters (55 carries + tackles last time out versus Italy) which must have an impact on the energy levels available for scrummaging.

The setpiece has to be pretty much flawless though against an Irish trio who will be very aggressive at scrum time.Scotland Rugby News:

It has been a while since this contest saw a new face starting in the second row (Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, James Ryan for Ireland and Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, the Gray brothers taking all available slots back to before the 2019 RWC).

Joe McCarthy will therefore be a bit of a breath of fresh air whilst also being somewhat of a throwback - to an old school aggressive lock. Not for the Leinsterman the unseen work, rather he will be in the faces of the Scots from minute one.

The visitors could do with a bit of a response and reciprocation from their own second rows who have been up (v England) and down (v Italy) in terms of their contributions so far this Six Nations.

Scotland Rugby News:

The Irish starters also had the same jerseys for both games against Scotland during 2023, whereas the dark blues have shuffled their selection each time trying to find the right blend.

It’s a magic formula that has eluded them so far but the current personnel certainly appear to be the best individual picks for each back row position.

Whether they can combine their efforts seamlessly – in just their second start together – to counter a vastly experienced unit for the home side is one of the biggest tests facing this Scotland team.

Scotland Rugby News:

At the start of the 2022 Six Nations, Scotland fielded eight British and Irish Lions in their XV. Fast forward to now and just three of them remain regular starters.

Rory Sutherland’s return to the bench at least shows he is not done yet but it’s noticeable that the 2021 tour was a peak for a number of players and not a boost taking their game to another level – something that will need to be considered with one eye on the future when the 2025 Lions’ squad is announced.

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The supersub tag can often seem rather reductive but if a player is capable of negotiating the tricky skill of jumping into a full blooded Test match from the bench while still making a contribution to shaping the final quarter, that’s something that should be celebrated.

Both replacement scrum halves have plenty of experience in this role. Conor Murray has subbed on for 20 of his last 27 caps while George Horne has been picked on the bench 30 times by Gregor Townsend – more than any other player.

Scotland Rugby News:


– There are eleven Glasgow Warriors, five Edinburgh men and seven Exiles in the Scotland 23. The Irish squad is made up of players from Leinster (16), Munster (5) and Connacht (2),

– This is the first time for six years that Scotland have named an unchanged starting pack for consecutive fixtures. During the 2018 Six Nations, a unit of Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson started against France, England and then Ireland.

– Andrew Porter has finished on the winning side in 40 of the last 43 games he has played for Ireland and Leinster.

– Finn Russell will win his 80th cap, the eighth player to manage this feat for Scotland Men following:

  • 110 – Ross Ford
  • 109 – Chris Paterson
  • 105 – Sean Lamont
  • 100 – Stuart Hogg
  • 87 – Scott Murray
  • 85 – Mike Blair
  • 82 – Gregor Townsend

– 16 of the Irish 23 have never lost a Test match against Scotland. Zander Fagerson, Huw Jones and Finn Russell are the only players in the Scottish line-up who have experienced victory over Ireland – back in 2017 at Murrayfield.