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Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw To Miss Remainder Of Six Nations
- Updated: February 15, 2017
After a stunning victory over Ireland in the opening round of Six Nations play, the bliss came quickly crashing back to earth for Scotland; Sunday’s 22-16 defeat to France being just the beginning. Wednesday, the Scottish Rugby Union announced that captain Greig Laidlaw will miss the remainder of the tournament. Laidlaw suffered an ankle injury in the 25th minutes of Sunday’s match, was removed from the game, and did not return, spotted on crutches and walking boot for the remainder of the day.
Laidlaw was released back to his club, Gloucester, this week, where scans confirmed ankle ligament damage. He will miss the remaining three Six Nations matches, but the ramifications may go far beyond. Laidlaw was in the running to join the British & Irish Lions for the summer New Zealand tour, and the injury may put that in jeopardy. He may have also seen his final days in Gloucester as a result. In October, Laidlaw announced that at season’s end he would join Top 14 French giant Clermont Auvergne. Amid relegation talks early in the season, Gloucester currently faces a 17-point advantage over current last place Bristol with 8 matches remaining. The 31-year-old scrum-half will undergo further evaluation this week to determine a full timetable of return.
The impact of the loss of Laidlaw will be heavy for Scotland. As captain and scrum-half, Laidlaw plays an integral part to nearly every facet of Scotland’s game. Uniquely, Laidlaw also assumes many kicking roles that would traditionally go to the fly-half.
Laidlaw has 2 penalty goals and 3 conversions through the Six Nations, and while he’s gained just 3 metres, his 127 passes, usually coming out from the breakdown, has been what restarts the attack for the Scots.
Ali Price took over the 9 duties after Laidlaw’s departure Sunday. Despite it being just his second test, the 23-year-old will likely start Saturday. Henry Pyrgos remains an option, but has seemingly lost his place within the depth chart to Price going forward.
Who will assume the captaincy prior to next Saturday’s match will be a hot topic through the coming days. Flanker John Barclay took on the armband following Laidlaw’s exit Sunday, but soon followed to the sidelines after a head injury. His status for against Wales remains under question as he undergoes return-to-play protocol. Johnny Gray was Sunday’s third captain. Assuming Barclay is a no go, Gray is likely to assume the skipper role; he has long been revered as the future captaincy nod.
Head coach Vern Cotter has plenty to digest in just a matter of days. While not ideal, injuries are no rarity in the brutal sport of rugby, and Cotter appears ready to proceed regardless, speaking Saturday, “Greig has a big part to play as captain and half-back, but Ali played well when he came on and the guys behind adapted well.
“These things do happen and we had trained for it. John Barclay and John Hardie both had head injury assessments so we will have to wait and see how they come through the return-to-play protocols.”
Scotland will play Wales next Saturday (Feb. 25) before another week off from the tournament, resuming March 11 to play England at Twickenham before concluding with a home game at Murrayfield with Italy.