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Heathcote ascends the throne

Crowned the King of Aberdeen by his peers two years ago, Ruaridh Jackson was unceremoniously deposed last night after being replaced in the Scotland squad by a young pretender in the shape of Tom Heathcote.

Just two days after Mike Blair was, in sporting parlance, 'hooked' after throwing the intercepted pass that allowed South Africa to assume a commanding lead at Murrayfield on Saturday, the Glasgow Warriors stand-off has been dropped after he, too, made mistakes as his side sought to fight back in the closing stages.

Jackson, a native Aberdonian, who was hailed by his team-mates for securing victory with the last kick of the match against Samoa, when Scotland last visited the Granite City in 2010 was among three players released from the squad to return to their pro teams this weekend, along with clubmates Alex Dunbar and Tom Ryder and the Edinbuirgh winger Lee Jones.

Of that quartet, Jackson is the only one who has played in the EMC Autumn Test Series so far, making cameo appearances against New Zealand and South Africa in the autumn Tests.

However, the brutality of his axing was accentuated by the one addition to the squad being the uncapped Heathcote, a 20-year-old, whose Scottish qualifications were little known until yesterday.

Born just up the road from Culloden in Inverness, Heathcote plays for Bath but has not done so in the English Premiership or Heineken Cup, this season. Few, though, are better placed to keep tabs on him than Scotland's head coach since, five years after he joined Edinburgh before being promoted to the national job, Andy Robinson still lives in the Somerset city. Heathcote, who has played age-grade rugby for England, has made a mark in Scotland previously, coming close to kicking his club to victory in last season's Heineken Cup match at Firhill only for Richie Gray's last-ditch try to snatch the glory from him.

"Tom has worked his way into the Bath first-team squad from the academy and we've been monitoring his progress for the last couple of years," said Robinson.

Heathcote, who was recently short-listed for the 2013 LV= Breakthrough Player Award down south, said: "I am delighted to be called up to the Scotland squad. I've always known I was eligible to play for Scotland and I'm grateful to be given this opportunity."

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