No fans at Murrayfield for Autumn Nations Cup as Gregor Townsend updates squad

Scottish Rugby has conceded that it “will not be possible” for fans to attend the Autumn Nations Cup fixtures at Murrayfield as head coach Gregor Townsend updated his squad for the forthcoming tournament.

Head coach Gregor Townsend during a Scotland rugby training session at the Oriam. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Head coach Gregor Townsend during a Scotland rugby training session at the Oriam. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is named as the only new addition from Townsend’s original selection at the beginning of October, while winger Sean Maitland returns to the squad having not been available for the Guinness Six Nations finale against Wales last weekend.

Hidalgo-Clyne links up with Exeter Chiefs teammates Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner in the Scotland camp having helped his club win the European Rugby Champions Cup and the English Premiership double in the past few weeks.

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Stand-offs Finn Russell and Adam Hastings both sustained injuries in the concluding Guinness Six Nations match against Wales in Llanelli on Saturday and as a result will miss the rest of the 2020 autumn programme on account of groin and shoulder injuries respectively.

Hastings will require surgery and could be out for up to four months, while Russell’s groin injury can be managed through rest and rehab and he will return to the care of his club, Racing 92, with recovery time expected around two months.

Richie Gray, Rob Harley and Ratu Tagive have been released back to Glasgow Warriors.

Head coach Townsend said: “It’s obviously disappointing to lose two quality players like Finn and Adam, who had both been playing well. However, this provides an opportunity to other players come into the team and lead our attack. The squad adapted well at the weekend to the enforced changes and we have belief in those in our squad that can step up to play at stand-off.

“We welcome Sam Hidalgo-Clyne into camp after a successful time with Exeter Chiefs and he will add further competition at scrum-half.”

Scottish Rugby also expressed disappointment after talks with the Scottish Government concluded that there is virtually no chance of spectators attending the Autumn Nations Cup fixtures at Murrayfield against France on November 22 and Fiji on November 28.

A statement read: “With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting many aspects of public life in Scotland the move by the Scottish Government to a new tiered level of restrictions on travel and households meetings across the country means it will not be possible to host spectators at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh for the Autumn Nations Cup in November.

“Scottish Rugby has consulted with the Scottish Government regularly on this matter and they agree it will be unlikely crowds will be possible in the coming weeks, due to the restrictions now in place.

“Scottish Rugby is disappointed supporters won’t be able to come to the stadium this autumn, but consultation continues with the Scottish Government in the expectation crowds can return at some capacity soon and specifically for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, should the public health guidelines allow.”

The Autumn Nations Cup begins in November with Scotland in Pool B, featuring games against Italy (November 14 in Rome) before hosting France (November 22) and Fiji (November 28) at BT Murrayfield.

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