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What Ben White makes of the trust Scotland now have for him

By PA
(Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

In-form Ben White is relishing the opportunity he has been given by Gregor Townsend to establish himself as the first-choice Scotland scrum-half. The 24-year-old London Irish half-back only made his international debut a year ago but has ousted the more senior Ali Price from the number nine jersey for each of the Scots’ three Guinness Six Nations matches so far this year.

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After scoring a try in the victory away to England, White also shone in the home win over Wales and Sunday’s spirited showing in the 32-21 defeat by France in Paris. “It has been a huge honour to get to pull on the nine jersey for Scotland in the first three games,” he said. “I thank Gregor a lot for the trust he has shown in me and I hope I can repay that.

“I love being out there, I love every minute of it. It’s amazing, you have to pinch yourself sometimes when you are out there on the pitch. I just want to keep improving my game and keep moving forward every week.”

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Until this year, Price had been a mainstay of Townsend’s Scotland starting XV. White is enjoying the challenge of trying to keep his place on the team. “There is always competition,” he said. “We have three very good nines and that is what it is at this level.

“You always have good players around you pushing you on and you have to be at the top of your game every week to keep the shirt. Having that competition is only going to drive us on to be better as individuals and then collectively as a team so it’s good having that competition in training, knowing you have to be on your game. I love the challenge, I love the competition.”

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White is encouraged by Scotland’s performance against France on Sunday when they roared back from 19-0 down to get to 25-21 before the hosts killed off their hopes of a famous win with a late try. “I thought we showed a lot of courage to come back from being 19-0 down and give ourselves a chance to win at the end,” he said. “I’m really proud of the performance in terms of how we stayed together as a group after the early red card.

“It could have gone completely the other way but we dug our heels in and grew back into the game. I thought we played some really good rugby. I felt France were there for the taking in the second half. We had them on the ropes but we just weren’t able to capitalise on that opportunity, which is frustrating but it’s also good to know we missed chances to take the game against a side ranked number two in the world. It shows we are there and thereabouts.”

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The Scots are second in the Six Nations table, five points behind leaders Ireland who they host in their next match. Victory in that would secure the Scots a first Triple Crown since 1990. “We have a lot of belief that we can win the championship,” said White.

“Being back at Murrayfield with our fans behind us is something we are really excited about and the challenge of playing Ireland for the Triple Crown is awesome. We are a good team and we are confident in our ability so we’re really excited.”

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Nickers 1 hours ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

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T
Thomas 1 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

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