Magnus Bradbury will have Jamie Ritchie’s seat on the flight to Japan as Scotland depart for the Rugby World Cup but not yet his place in the full Scotland squad, insisted team officials.
Bradbury, the 24-year-old back rower who became the first Scottish No 8 to score in a cap international for nine years with his try during the Calcutta Cup game in March, is travelling with the team on their flight as “precautionary injury cover” for his Edinburgh clubmate Ritchie.
The 23-year-old from St Andrews suffered a facial injury in the final warm-up game at BT Murrayfield on Friday night and – with fears he may have suffered a cheekbone or eye socket fracture – he was given specialist scans at Spire Murrayfield hospital.
A short statement from Murrayfield released yesterday revealed that Ritchie would stay in Scotland for more specialist assessment over the next few days while Bradbury flies with the team to Japan.
“The outcome (of the assessment) will influence whether (Ritchie) remains part of the 31-man group for the Rugby World Cup which begins later this month,” said the release.
It’s understood that Ritchie’s injury may not be as a serious as was feared, but the delicate location of the problem will have a bearing on whether he takes part in the World Cup at all.
The Scotland squad of 31 was submitted to Rugby World Cup officials by yesterday’s deadline, and it included Ritchie. However if he was designated as unable to go, he could be replaced at any time by Bradbury – or any other player – with a 48-hour notice period required before the replacement could play.
The fact that Bradbury – the son of current SRU president Dee Bradbury – is travelling in Ritchie’s stead certainly suggests there remains considerable doubt to whether the former Strathallan School player and Scotland Under-20 captain can join up with the squad at all.
Bradbury himself only returned from a foot injury sustained during the ten-week training camp as a replacement in Friday night’s game, having been left out of the travelling squad. Like Ritchie, Bradbury can play multiple positions in the back row, specialising at blindside flanker or No 8.
However tournament regulations forbid potential replacement players being too close to the playing squad, which could mean that Bradbury would have to return home, potentially to fly back out again if further injuries occur.
Scotland arrive late on Monday in Japan for a week’s acclimatisation camp based in Nagasaki, before they move to Tokyo for the week prior to their opening pool game against Ireland at Yokohama International Stadium on September 22.
The Scots then play Samoa in Kobe on September 30, Russia in Shizouka on October 9 and complete their pool schedule against the host nation, back in Yokohama, on October 13.