After what appears to be a soul-searching that went on over years even more than months, Cameron Redpath called Gregor Townsend on Monday and accepted his invitation to join Scotland’s squad for the forthcoming Guinness Six Nations.
The intrigue over the highly-rated Bath centre and son of former Scotland captain Bryan Redpath should have one final twist.
The 21-year-old may well make his international debut on February 6 at Twickenham against England, the country who courted him aggressively and capped him at every age-group level.
It seems Toonie's now-traditional 6N squad "bolter" today is going to be a good one…Cameron Redpath strongly rumoured.
— Steve Scott (@C_SScott) January 20, 2021
Redpath’s inclusion was the “Toonie bolter” to surpass them all.
The Scotland coach delights in naming an unexpected player at a squad announcement. This was the coup de grace.
The tug-of-war over Redpath has been a long and involved one. Born in Narbonne in France when his Dad played there, Cam was brought up in England during the spells “Basil” had at Sale, Gloucester and Leeds.
Not only was he capped at age group but he was invited to train with the England senior squad by Eddie Jones. This was countered by the gentle persuasion from his father, who always made it clear what his preference was, and Bryan’s long-time half-back partner for Scotland, “Uncle” Gregor.
“He came to the decision on his own,” said Townsend. “His dad obviously played for and captained Scotland. I imagine the family will be really proud. But this was Cam’s decision.
“I have been chatting to him for a wee while now. We offered him the chance to be in our squad in the autumn but he felt it wasn’t the right time. Now he has come to a decision and he has chosen Scotland.”
Redpath moved from Sale to Bath this year and has played more regularly. That and the from showed convinced Townsend to ask about a decision.
“Cam has told me that Bath are really supportive,” he said. “The coaches said that back when he joined the club and have repeated that to him over the past few weeks.
“They see Cam’s involvement will make him a better player and will help Bath when he comes back with international experience.”
‘He’s made up his own mind’
There had been no messages yet from his English opposite number, added Townsend.
“Selling is, I suppose, the job of coaching these days,” he said. “You sell a game-plan, you sell opportunities to play for clubs or countries to other players, whilst being as truthful as possible.
“(Cam) is a bright lad, a mature lad – he’s already in the leadership group at Bath – and he’s made up his own mind.
“He’s fortunate in that he’s got a father who knows international rugby. (Bryan) coached Scotland Under-20s a couple of years ago so is still very close to the modern game.
“He can ask advice on things on Scotland around the camp and the type of rugby we look to play. But I imagine he’s made that assessment himself.”
Big loss with McInally and Brown out
There’s a turnover of bodies from the Autumn Nations Cup, but the most notable loss is at hooker.
Neither of the experienced duo Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown is likely to play any part in the championship.
Brown was already considered out after a neck injury against Ireland, but McInally’s similar problem came in a gym session just over a week ago.
“It’s similar in terms of the disc in there which is causing him a bit of pain, and the length of recovery,” said Townsend. “It will be months rather than weeks.”
That opens the door for Glasgow’s George Turner. His team-mate Grant Stewart, Edinburgh’s Dave Cherry and Canadian-born Ewan Ashman will vie to be the back-up.
Gary Graham among those recalled
There are a couple of interesting recalls, notably Gary Graham. Like Redpath the son of a Scotland player, he also trained with England before seeing the light and joining up.
“Gary’s form has earned him the right to come into the squad,” said Townsend. “He played really well last year, and his move to No 8 has helped him a lot.
“He brings outstanding aggression and work rate whenever he plays and he’s been in great form. Speaking to (Falcons coach) Dean Richards, he’s also a leader down there.
“It adds to the ball carrying ability we already have with other guys.”
Scotland Squad for the Six Nations
Forwards: Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), David Cherry (Edinburgh), Alex Craig (Gloucester), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (London Irish), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).
Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, capt), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), James Lang (Harlequins), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Scott Steele (Harlequins), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh).