There has been many a low day in the long and turbulent history of Scottish rugby, but few will have hit the depths of this one. 

A timid defeat for Kenny Murray’s age-grade side in the final pool match of their Junior World Trophy campaign against an unheralded but hungry and well-organised Uruguayan outfit means that there will be no immediate return back into the Junior World Championship next summer.

Instead, next year’s under-20s cohort will have to go through the ignominy of trying to qualify once again for the Trophy competition and hope that this time they can go on to win the tournament and thereby secure promotion back to the top table.

The young Scots came into this tournament with a record of just one win in their last 19 matches against Six Nations opposition and Georgia, and they suffered a heart-wrenching 82-7 home defeat to Ireland in the most recent championship.

All of which is a major concern because this level has historically been a valuable stepping-stone for the nation’s young talent progressing into pro ranks – but that process has all but dried up in the last two to three years.

“We’re really disappointed,” said head coach Murray afterwards. “It’s a game we prepared well for and believe we should have won, but we didn’t play well enough, it’s as simple as that.

“Playing against the wind, we didn’t manage our exits well enough in the first half hour in particular, which allowed them to get purchase in the game. We made a couple of costly errors – one defensive one in particular let them in for a try – and in the second half our game management wasn’t where it needed to be.”

Uruguay took the lead with just four minutes on the clock when crisp handling sent Juan Gonzalez clear on the right, who made good ground before feeding back inside for Juan Carlos Canessa to provide the link which sent Pedro Brum over for the opening score. Canessa added the conversion then kicked a breakdown penalty to make it 10-0 with quarter of the game played.

Even after Eddie Erskine muscled over on 23 minutes, the Scots couldn’t settle into any sort of rhythm, continuing to give away cheap penalties and losing their try-scorer to the sin-bin just a minute after the restart as punishment for dangerously taking out Uruguayan No 8 Manuel Rosmarino in the air at a line-out.

The South Americans took immediate advantage of their extra forward by kicking to the corner and then driving their maul over the line, with hooker Maximo Lamelas finishing off the try, and Canessa adding the conversion.

Icaro Amarillo fired home a 50-yard drop-goal which stretched the Uruguayan lead to 13-points, but Scotland had the last word of the first half when Cambon hit Dan King late and the penalty was kicked to the corner, setting up a line-out maul from which Tait scored his third try in as many matches at this tournament. Afshar sent the conversion over via a deflection off the right post.

Despite losing hooker Lamelas to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge on Tait just before the break, Uruguay surged out of the changing rooms at the start of the second period to claim their third try when Juan Gonzalez rode three tackles on his way to the line.

Scotland scored again through another line-out maul try for Tait, but Canessa kept Uruguay firmly in the driving seat with a scrum penalty.

The one area which was working for the Scots was their line-out maul, and that earned them a man advantage for 10 minutes when replacement prop Franciso Garcia was sent to the bin for illegally collapsing, just before Erskine bashed over for his second close-range try of the afternoon.

But Uruguay kept their cool and scored again when Pedro Hoblog fed Storace with a cute back-handed pass and the centre shrugged off Tait’s tackle on his way to the line.


Scotland: D King (M Reid 65); L Jarvie (F Burgess 70), B Salmon (K Johnston 72), F Thomson, F Douglas; A McLean, B Afshar; C Davidson (M Surry 43), C Tait (F Duraj 70), O Minnis (C Norrie 53), E Erskine, R Hart, L McConnell, J Smith (J Parkinson 46), J Morris (S Derrick, 12).

Uruguay: J Canessa; J Gonzalez , P Brum, G Storace (F Pick 62, F Garcia 55), N Conti; I Amarillo, J Suarez (P Hoblog 62); J Borrazas (F Garcia 55), M Lamelas, J Lorenzo (T Coubrough 62), F Bertini, M Bartolotti, J Cambon (J Noseda 62), F Deffemiinis, M Rosmarino.


Scotland: Tries: Erskine 2, Tait 2; Con: Afshar 3.

Uruguay: Tries: Brum, Lamelas, Gonzalez, Storace; Con: Canessa 4; Pen: Canessa 2; DG: Amarillo.