Scotland coach has no qualms about picking another South African
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said he had no qualms about naming another debutant who has qualified to play through residency in his side for the last Autumn Nations Cup game amid concern over the number of foreign-born players in the team.
The inclusion of flyhalf Jaco van der Walt to face Ireland in Dublin makes him the third South African to debut for Scotland over the last month with prop Oli Kebble and winger Duhan van der Merwe also in the matchday squad on Saturday.
“There are a few things you think about on selection,” Townsend told a news conference on Thursday.
“The individual and what he brings to the team and the form they are in; their combinations because cohesion is really important at test level and the game plan and opposition you are playing.
“Not the fact that he lived all his life in Scotland or whether his parents were Scottish or if he qualified on residency. That does not come into any selection thoughts.
“Jaco has been here for the last three years playing for Edinburgh and his performance have earned him the right to be considered,” he added.
Townsend was asked whether he was concerned that Scotland were not producing enough of their own players.
“No, because I believe we are producing players better than we’ve ever done before. We work very hard to stay competitive and I think our depth is at its best-ever level.”
Townsend said Scotland had a long history of picking players through residency or family connections who had not been born in Scotland or grown up in the country.
“That’s always been the case,” he said.
Scotland also have South African-born prop WP Nel on among the replacements against Ireland and used loose forward Cornell du Preez off the bench in the Autumn Nations Cup. From next year, World Rugby has increased the residency requirement to five years.