Scotland great says Gregor Townsend has ’gone too far’ with Dylan Richardson selection
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Durban - An interesting sideshow in Saturday night’s United Rugby Championship match between the Sharks and Cardiff will be the performance of newly “kilted” Scot Dylan Richardson, who will want to empty the tank to show that he fully deserves an international career at Murrayfield.
Richardson’s announcement in the Scotland squad for their matches next month against Australia, Tonga, Japan and South Africa was not greeted with unanimous approval, with Scotland’s ‘80s Grand Slam flyhalf Craig Chalmers telling the Daily Mail that Gregor Townsend has “gone too far” regarding the balance between non-Scotland-born players in the squad and genuine Scots.
Townsend has also called up former Bull Pierre Schoeman and for some time has used the services of Duhan van der Merwe, Ollie Kebble and WP Nel.
“Does Richardson accepting the Scotland call-up mean he doesn’t think he is good enough to make the Springboks, and should Scotland accept second best? And what message does this selection give young Scottish players hoping to play for their country?” asked Chalmers, who played for Scotland for a decade and was a British and Irish Lion in 1989.
The Sharks will be delighted if Richardson responds with a cracker performance in their tour finale and helps them win their second game, and they also have the comfort of knowing that while the 22-year-old is lost to the Springboks, he will still call the Shark Tank his home for years to come, as per the deal between Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee and Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.
Townsend has in fact been watching Richardson for some time and even wanted to involve him in the tartan team’s 2019 World Cup campaign, says Sharks coach Sean Everitt.
While that did not eventuate, Townsend was further convinced that he wanted Richardson in the navy blue jersey when he watched him at close hand in the two games the Sharks played against the British and Irish Lions in July.
Townsends was Warren Gatland’s attack coach on the Lions tour. Everitt said Richardson’s involvement with Scotland “is a massive win for us”.
“We hate losing players to opposition countries. It is always a sad day for South African rugby when you lose a quality player at a young age, but it is a good career path for Dylan and a massive win for us that he will remain a Shark,” Everitt said.
“It's a path that he's chosen and we wish him all the best. We’ll certainly support him in his role.
"The Scottish Rugby Union has been watching Dylan and his progression for the past four years and they approached him in 2018 to play in the World Cup for them, so the writing was always on the wall.
“We support him in his quest to represent Scotland because the experience he will bring back to the Shark will be a huge benefit to the team.”