Scotland Rugby World Cup 2023 squad and odds – Toonie’s tartans to triumph?

When Scotland, led by the likes of Gavin and Scott Hastings and Doddie Weir, reached their first Rugby World Cup semi-final in 1991, they never would have thought it would take so many years to reach their second.

However, 32 years and eight tournaments later and it might be their best chance since. Despite being in a very tough group containing the reigning world champions and the number-one ranked team in the world, Gregor Townsend’s Scotland are on a roll after their third-place finish in the Six Nations and up to fifth in the World Rugby rankings.

Townsend has named a strong squad, stuffed with players who have been growing exponentially over the last four years, preparing to peak at precisely the right time. So let us take a look at who Scotland fans hope will crush 32 years of hurt.


  • Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors (31 caps)
  • Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh (23 caps)
  • WP Nel – Glasgow Warriors (55 caps)
  • Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors (59 caps)
  • Javan Sebastian – Edinburgh (5 caps)
  • Rory Sutherland – Ulster (25 caps)

Nothing to write home about here, all of these six have been mainstays in Townsend’s squad over the four-year World Cup cycle.

Expect Fagerson and Schoeman to start with Bhatti and Nel to finish.


  • Ewan Ashman – Edinburgh (8 caps)
  • George Turner – Glasgow Warriors (37 caps)
  • Dave Cherry – Edinburgh (9 caps)

A tough break for Edinburgh’s Stuart McInally who narrowly misses and subsequently announced his retirement from international rugby.

Aside from him, no surprises again as Townsend sticks to his guns and is consistent with the three hookers he has picked over his tenure.


  • Scott Cummings – Glasgow Warriors (28 caps)
  • Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh (64 caps)
  • Richie Gray – Glasgow Warriors (75 caps)
  • Sam Skinner – Edinburgh (27 caps)

Scotland fans will be gutted to see Richie’s brother Jonny Gray miss out through a knee injury, the Exeter Chief has been a perennial starter for many years and a standout performer.

With Jonny out of contention, the remaining four write themselves into the squad in what is an extremely experienced set of locks.

Back Row’s:

  • Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh (5 caps)
  • Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh (42 caps)
  • Hamish Watson – Edinburgh (58 caps)
  • Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors (10 caps)
  • Jack Dempsey – Glasgow Warriors (11 caps)
  • Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors (35 caps)

An extremely competitive area for Scotland sees six names stand out from the rest. Scotland fans who ponder who will start as all individuals enter the tournament in incredible form with a lot of noise around the talent of 23-year-old Rory Darge.

The 14-cap Wallaby Jack Dempsey makes the squad. Dempsey, who qualifies for Scotland through heritage, is eligible due to the new World Rugby relegations as his last Australia cap was more than three years ago.


  • Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors (63 caps)
  • George Horne – Glasgow Warriors (22 caps)
  • Ben White – RC Toulon (15 caps)
  • Finn Russell – Bath (71 caps)
  • Ben Healy – Edinburgh (2 caps)

The son of the aforementioned Gavin Hastings, Adam, is unfortunate to miss out after impressing in all of his 27 caps. Townsend opts for URC Champion Ben Healy who recently left Munster for Edinburgh and made his international debut in the Six Nations win over Italy.

No surprises in the trio of scrum halves, the British and Irish Lion, Price, will be eager to wrestle his starting spot back from Ben White after returning from injury.


  • Chris Harris – Gloucester (43 caps)
  • Huw Jones – Glasgow Warriors (38 caps)
  • Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors (18 caps)
  • Cameron Redpath – Bath (7 caps)

Another area bristling with competition as the electric Tuipulotu and Jones combination, affectionately labelled ‘Huwipulotu’, forced British and Irish Lion Chris Harris from the team during the past Six Nations.

Son of Scotland legend Bryan Redpath, Cameron, rounds out the centres with with only Brive’s Sam Johnson unlucky to miss out.

Back Three:

  • Darcy Graham – Edinburgh (35 caps)
  • Kyle Steyn – Edinburgh (12 caps)
  • Duhan van der Merwe – Edinburgh (30 caps)
  • Ollie Smith – Glasgow Warriors (5 caps)
  • Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh (46 caps)

When international centurion and former captain, Stuart Hogg, retired from rugby in June, the door opened for Glasgow’s Ollie Smith at fullback, who has thoroughly impressed in his five caps so far. Blair Kinghorn will be the other fullback but the Edinburgh man has experience at fly half, mostly in Finn Russell’s absence.

Glasgow’s Kyle Rowe misses out on the wing as the exhilarating trio of Steyn, Graham and van der Merwe all hit career form before rugby’s biggest tournament.

Key Players – Jamie Ritchie and Finn Russell

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When Stuart Hogg was first left out of the squad Jamie Ritchie stepped up to the leadership role effortlessly. The 27-year-old is now a seasoned international and relishes opportunities to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best players. Combining his physicality with an incredible rugby brain, Ritchie’s value goes far beyond his talent on the field and extends to his talismanic leadership.

Finn Russell is a player too often labelled ‘inconsistent’ or only useful for his highlight-worthy flair and tricks when in reality he is one of the world’s most astute controllers of the game and loves to dictate the pace and flow of a match with his elite kicking game and unrivalled vision. Armed with his refined and crisp passing game and with the ability to flip a game on its head with a moment of magic, if Scotland are to go far at Rugby World Cup 2023 they need Russell firing on all cylinders.

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Scotland’s Form:

Scotland have not been in better form in Gregor Townsend’s six years in charge, their gameplan growing and thriving throughout that time period. Their third-place finish in the Six Nations does not do their elegant and effective rugby justice due to the strength of both France and Ireland. In the past three years they’ve beaten France twice, England twice, Argentina and Australia and ran New Zealand down to the wire, they are a real threat to any team in the world on their day.

Last Five:

  • Scotland 33-6 Georgia
  • France 30-27 Scotland
  • Scotland 25-21 France
  • Scotland 25-13 Italy
  • Scotland 26-14 Italy

Scotland Rugby World Cup odds – 50/1

Scotland face a tough battle on their side of the pool. They have to escape a group containing both Ireland and South Africa and if they can manage that they will be rewarded with a quarter-final against likely either France or New Zealand. Bet 365 give them the ninth best odds of winning the tournament which is harsh considering they are the fifth ranked team in the world, however, the draw was not kind to them.

Scotland World Cup Schedule:

  • vs South Africa, 10th September 16:45 – Marseille
  • vs Tonga, 24th September 16:45 – Nice
  • vs Romania, 30th September 20:00 – Lille
  • vs Ireland, 2nd October 20:00 – Saint-Denis

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