Skip to content

Scotland change 13 for Romania Rugby World Cup Pool B clash; Javan Sebastian makes first start

Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Richie Gray, Jack Dempsey, Zander Fagerson rested for Scotland's Rugby World Cup game vs Romania; Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones, Rory Darge on bench; Grant Gilchrist to captain Scots in Lille; tighthead prop Javan Sebastian in for first Scotland Test start

javan sebastian
Image: Tighthead prop Javan Sebastian will make his first Scotland start vs Romania

New Edinburgh prop Javan Sebastian will start for Scotland for the first time in Saturday's must-win match against World Cup Pool B minnows Romania in Lille as Gregor Townsend makes 13 changes to his XV.

Backs Chris Harris and Kyle Steyn are the only two players to have retained their places in the side from last Sunday's win over Tonga.

Stand-off Ben Healy plus back-rowers Hamish Watson and Luke Crosbie join 29-year-old Sebastian - who has won all of his six caps as a substitute - in coming in for their first appearances of the tournament.

Lock Grant Gilchrist will take over the captaincy in the absence of Edinburgh colleague Jamie Ritchie, who is going through concussion protocols.

Uncapped Glasgow hooker Johnny Matthews - called up last weekend - will have the chance to make his debut off the bench.

Key men like Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Richie Gray, Jack Dempsey and Zander Fagerson have been left out of the 23 ahead of the following weekend's showdown with Ireland, while established starters Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones and Rory Darge will be on the bench.

South Africa v Scotland - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Pool B - Stade de Marseille
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match at the Stade de Marseille, France. Picture date: Sunday September 10, 2023.
Image: Gregor Townsend has made 13 changes to the Scotland starting XV to take on Romania on Saturday

Scotland must defeat Romania with a bonus point to ensure they have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals going into the Ireland match in Paris.

Also See:

"Hamish [Watson] has so much respect in the group, him and Grant Gilchrist will work together with that forward pack and make sure we are on song, but also getting quick ball at the ruck," Townsend said.

"Cam [Redpath] did well off the bench against South Africa and the way he has trained this week deserves his chance. Starting in a World Cup is a special achievement.

"There are players who deserve the opportunity to play at this World Cup. They have been training really well, so this is the right time to give them this opportunity.

Image: Second row Grant Gilchrist will captain the Scotland side in Lille

"With a six day turnaround (after the victory over Tonga), we also want to keep players as fresh as possible."

Should Scotland win as expected, they will go into a Paris showdown with Ireland in their final pool game on Saturday October 7 with a fighting chance of reaching the knockout stages.

Scotland: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price; 1 Jamie Bhatti, 2 Ewan Ashman, 3 Javan Sebastian, 4 Sam Skinner, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 6 Luke Crosbie, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Rory Darge, 21 George Horne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Huw Jones.

Around Sky