Rugby World Cup 2015: Scotland release seven from squad

Edinburgh wing Dougie Fife during Scotland training
Dougie Fife has six Scotland caps
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England and Wales Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has released seven players from his squad ahead of next month's World Cup.

Edinburgh's Dougie Fife, Allan Dell, Damien Hoyland, Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson have returned to their club.

Glasgow Warriors pair Mike Cusack and Rory Hughes have also been released.

Josh Strauss has returned to Warriors too, with Cotter saying the number eight needs game time with his club before being considered for the final 31-man squad.

South Africa-born Strauss, 28, did not play in either of Scotland's two warm-up games to date - against Ireland and Italy.

He only becomes eligible for Scotland under residency rules on 19 September - four days before Cotter's side start their finals campaign against Japan in Gloucester.

Strauss will not now join the other 40 remaining members of the squad for their four-day camp at the University of St Andrews ahead of Saturday's penultimate warm-up friendly, against Italy at Murrayfield Stadium.

Club-mate Kevin Bryce, the hooker who had been called to the squad as precautionary injury cover ahead of Saturday's win in Rome, has also returned to Scotstoun.

Cotter, who will announce his final squad on 1 September ahead of the final warm-up match against France, thanked the seven players who now seem unlikely to make the final 31-strong party barring injuries.

Scotland's Mike Cusack in action against Ireland
Mike Cusack earned his first Scotland cap during the defeat by Ireland in Dublin

"Their commitment to improving as individuals and to our collective endeavour has been exceptional and has made this a very tough decision," he said.

"They are understandably disappointed to miss out at this stage.

"However, they have done themselves proud with their performances in training and the two Test matches."

South Africa-born prop Willem Nel and New Zealand-born back-row John Hardie both retain their places in the squad after making their international debuts in the 16-12 win over Italy.

However, English-born prop Cusack misses out despite coming off the bench against Ireland to win his first Scotland cap and then starting in Rome.

Hughes made his Scotland debut when he started in Italy, while fellow wing Hoyland earned his first cap from a bench that also included back-row Watson, but wing Fife, prop Dell and lock Toolis were not involved in either game.

With six appearances, Fife is the most-capped player to have dropped out of Cotter's squad.

Australia-born Toolis and English-born Watson had earned their first and only caps against Italy in the 2015 Six Nations.

South Africa-born Dell had moved to Scotland last year in the hope of winning a place at the World Cup.

"The nature of Test rugby is that we may need to call upon any of these players at any given time during our journey to and through what will be a very tough Rugby World Cup campaign, so we'll continue to monitor their performances at club level very closely," added Cotter.

Extended Scotland squad


Prop: Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons).

Hooker: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)

Second-row: Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors)

Back-row: Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Scarlets), Hugh Blake (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton (Edinburgh), John Hardie (unattached), Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)


Scrum-half: Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors)

Stand-off: Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps), Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)

Centre: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)

Back-three: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (London Irish), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh), Tim Visser (Harlequins)