Ex-Howe flanker Jamie Ritchie about to hit half-century of rugby caps for Scotland

Jamie Ritchie ahead of Edinburgh's game against Aviron Bayonnais at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium in April (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Jamie Ritchie ahead of Edinburgh's game against Aviron Bayonnais at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium in April (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Jamie Ritchie ahead of Edinburgh's game against Aviron Bayonnais at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium in April (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Former Howe of Fife blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is about to hit the half-century mark for Scotland.

The 49-times-capped 27-year-old, now at Edinburgh, has been named in the starting XV for the national rugby team’s tour match against the USA in Washington DC this Friday.

Ritchie is one of three ex-Howe players in this week’s starting line-up, along with scrum-half George Horne and No 8 Matt Fagerson, both now with 2024 United Rugby Championship title-winners Glasgow Warriors.

Horne, 29, is currently on 30 caps and Fagerson, 25, on 45.

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Matt Fagerson playing for Scotland against Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome in March (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)Matt Fagerson playing for Scotland against Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome in March (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)
Matt Fagerson playing for Scotland against Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome in March (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

Ritchie’s been named by head coach Gregor Townsend as one of two vice-captains, together with Kyle Steyn, of a match-day squad being co-skippered by Rory Darge and Sione Tuipulotu.

Kick-off on Friday is at 11.30pm and the second match of the Scots’ tour, following a 73-12 victory away to Canada in Ottawa on Saturday gone, is being screened live by TNT Sports 1.

Making up the rest of the visitors’ starting XV are Kyle Rowe, Huw Jones, Duhan van der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Pierre Schoeman, Ewan Ashman, Murphy Walker, Alex Craig and Scott Cummings.

Robbie Smith, Rory Sutherland, Elliot Millar Mills, Max Williamson, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Matt Currie will be replacements.

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Horne and Fagerson are the sole survivors of Scotland’s only loss to the Americans ever, in June 2018, to be facing them again this week as they bid to avert history repeating itself.

That was Horne’s international debut and his elder brother and fellow ex-Howe player Peter also started that day.

Lauding Ritchie for making it to the brink of a half-century of caps in the space of six years, having made his international debut in a 48-10 win against Canada in June 2018, Townsend said: “It’s a great achievement for him and his family.

“He’s had a few injuries in his career, some serious ones. He’s put his body on the line for Scotland ever since he came through on the tour to North America six years ago.

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“Talking about Jamie now, I felt his performances in the Six Nations and how he conducted himself in training and off-field when he wasn’t selected in a couple of matches were outstanding, a real credit to who he is as a person and a leader.

“Also, he is playing probably the best rugby of his career.

“He finished the season in excellent form and he continued that in training, so he can go into the game with real confidence.

“It’s his 50th cap and he’s in great condition so there are many more to come.”

Looking ahead to this week’s match, the 51-year-old added: “It’s a more experienced team obviously, with ten new caps last week, but those ten new caps and the wider 23 put a really good marker down of what we expect in our performance, what we expect in the detail of our game.

“It’s up to these players to take that to another level.

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“What we’ve attempted to do with this tour is extend it to give more players an opportunity and make it a proper tour of four weeks rather than two.

“It’s also a big opportunity to give players game-time. It’s been a long season for a lot of our players with the world cup, preparation and games last July and August, so some players are getting a chance to refresh ahead of next year.

“We see it as a big positive at this time in the cycle. We don’t get huge opportunities to increase our playing depth because you are really picking your best 15 when you are playing games in November and in the Six Nations, but now we are bringing players into test rugby and hopefully they grab that opportunity.”

Scotland’s last two tour fixtures are versus Chile in Santiago on Saturday, July 20, and Uruguay in Montevideo on Saturday, July 27.

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