Stuart McInally’s rugby career is over after the long-serving Edinburgh hooker was one of four players cut from Scotland’s 33-man World Cup squad.
The 33-year-old, who captained the national team at Japan 2019, announced at the end of last season that he would retire after this autumn’s showpiece in France to become an airplane pilot but, after being part of the training squad this summer, he has not made the final selection.
Scrum-half Jamie Dobie, tighthead prop Murphy Walker and back-row Josh Bayliss are the other three players who have been released from the squad.
The omission of the latter trio was not a major surprise given they have only accumulated 10 caps between them so far.
McInally won his 49th and final cap in last Saturday’s 30-27 defeat by France in Saint-Etienne.
First-choice number nine Ben White is in the squad, indicating that he has been given the all-clear after seeing a specialist this week about the ankle injury that forced him off against France a week past Saturday.
Fourteen of the 33 players Gregor Townsend has selected were also in his squad for the last World Cup, while four of them – Grant Gilchrist, WP Nel, Richie Gray, the only survivor from New Zealand 2011, and Finn Russell – will be going to the tournament for a third time.
Eighteen members of the squad will be going to their first World Cup, with 23-year-old full-back Ollie Smith the youngest while new Edinburgh stand-off Ben Healy is the least capped with two.
The squad is made up of 19 forwards and 14 backs. The three hookers are Glasgow’s George Turner and Edinburgh pair Ewan Ashman and Dave Cherry.
Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Sam Skinner and Gray – whose brother Jonny was out of contention through injury – are the four locks.
The six back-row options are comprised of captain Jamie Ritchie, Rory Darge, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson, Luke Crosbie and Jack Dempsey, who represented Australia at the last World Cup.
The six props are Pierre Schoeman, Rory Sutherland, Zander Fagerson, Javan Sebastian, Jamie Bhatti and 37-year-old Nel.
Russell and Healy are the two stand-off options while Blair Kinghorn, who can also deputise at 10, and Smith are the full-backs and Darcy Graham, Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn make up an exciting wing trio.
A quartet of centres will be on the plane to France in the shape of Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Chris Harris and Cam Redpath, whose father Bryan was part of the Scotland squad at the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups.
White will have competition for the number nine jersey from Glasgow pair Ali Price and George Horne.
In addition to McInally, Dobie, Walker and Bayliss, the other players to have been part of the training squad this summer who will not be going to the World Cup are Stuart Hogg, who retired in July, plus Ruaridh McConnochie, Andy Christie, Adam Hastings, Cam Henderson, Stafford McDowall and Kyle Rowe, who were all injured or cut from the squad.
The Scots – who have already faced Italy and had two Tests against France over the past few weeks – have one more warm-up match at home to Georgia a week on Saturday before they fly to the south of France on September 3 to step up preparations for their tournament opener against world champions South Africa in Marseille.
Tonga, Romania and Ireland are the other three teams Townsend’s side will face in pool B.
Scotland squad for 2023 Rugby World Cup
Forwards: Ewan Ashman (Edinburgh), Dave Cherry (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Sam Skinner (Edinburgh), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Rory Darge (Glasgow), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow), Jamie Ritchie (captain, Edinburgh), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh), Rory Sutherland (unattached), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Javan Sebastian (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), WP Nel (Edinburgh)
Backs: Finn Russell (Bath), Ben Healy (Edinburgh), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Ollie Smith (Glasgow), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Cameron Redpath (Bath), Ben White (Toulon), George Horne (Glasgow), Ali Price (Glasgow)