Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has unveiled a 36-man training camp to prepare the first match of the end-of-year internationals, with Sharks utility forward Dylan Richardson making the cut.
Richardson, who was born and bred in South Africa, qualifies to play for Scotland thanks to his Edinburgh-born father.
Primarily an openside flanker, Richardson can also cover hooker, much like current Scotland players Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally.
Richardson is certainly not the first non-Scottish born player to feature within the squad, and he won’t be the last. Indeed, the list is fairly extensive, with the likes of Sean Maitland, Byron McGuigan, Hamish Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Ali Price, to name a few, featuring in the most recent 6 Nations.
Given the available player pool in Scotland is lower than other countries and the World Rugby laws on qualifying through ancestry, it should not come as a surprise that Richardson has been targeted as a future Scotland player.
However, the reaction to the call-up has not been universally well received, particularly by former Scotland fly-half Craig Chalmers.
I don’t feel we need another hooker, we are pretty strong there. Plus why doesn’t this kid want to play for the World Champions South Africa? Very strange!
It’s getting ridiculous the amount of non Scots speaking tongues in the squad. We are losing our identity.
— Craig Minto Chalmers (@Chick_Chalmers) October 12, 2021
This is a pretty disappointing take from a former Scottish player and B&I Lion.
Dylan Richardson is as Scottish as any man or woman with a Scottish grandparent. Double descent is grounds for British citizenship btw.
Also, not that it ought to matter, but he speaks… English. pic.twitter.com/2VHweluR3KADVERTISEMENT
— A-P Cronje (@rugby_ap) October 12, 2021
The rules on international qualification remain to this day, a contentious issue, most notably when residency is concerned. The current three-year requirement implemented by World Rugby has led critics to accuse some unions of recruiting “project players” from other nations in an attempt to cap said player.
This will likely still be an issue over the coming years, although soon it should change to five years minimum residency required before they are eligible for international representation.
Although Richardson has been called up to the training squad, there is no guarantee that he will actually be capped for Townsend’s side. Notable examples in the past include Gary Graham who joined Eddie Jones’ training squad before opting to jump ship, despite being born and bred in Newcastle.
Gregor Townsend’s 36-man Scotland Training Squad
Forwards: Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Luke Crosbie, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Rob Harley, Jamie Hodgson, Oli Kebble, Murray McCallum, Stuart McInally, Dylan Richardson, Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman, Marshall Sykes, George Turner.
Backs: Mark Bennett, Jack Blain, Matt Currie, Jamie Dobie, Cole Forbes, Darcy Graham, George Horne, Damien Hoyland, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang, Rufus McLean, Ali Price, Charlie Savala, Kyle Steyn, Ross Thompson, Sione Tuipulotu.