World Rugby

Wales Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Will Scotland's Cardiff Curse End?

Wales Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Will Scotland's Cardiff Curse End?

Scotland hasn't won in Cardiff in 22 years, but Wales is well below full-strength. Can the Scots finally turn decades of nightmares into a match of dreams?

Feb 2, 2024 by Briar Napier
Wales Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Will Scotland's Cardiff Curse End?

This weekend, for the 130th time, Scotland and Wales will meet on a rugby pitch.

And, too many times lately from a Scottish perspective, they’ve been tired of the status quo.

In the 23 matches in all competitions since Wales and Scotland’s draw at Murrayfield in the 2001 Six Nations, Scotland has won just six times, including twice on Welsh soil. Back-to-back wins against the Welsh haven’t occurred since 2002-2003.

Scotland’s biggest win over Wales, which came in last year’s Six Nations, however, may have marked an important turning point in one of rugby’s oldest rivalries. 

But from the Welsh point of view, they shouldn’t plan on admitting that as true until the Scots can win at their home fortress of the Principality Stadium, Wales Rugby’s national stadium and an imposing colossus in a sport with plenty of massive venues.

It’s the opening round of the 2024 Six Nations, always important for the top-tier sides of European rugby, but especially so in the aftermath of a Rugby World Cup year. 

Strap in, because in a fixture with so much history and full of so many classics like Scotland-Wales, another one on the horizon is absolutely not out of the question.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the Wales-Scotland clash in Cardiff on Saturday to kick off each nation’s 2024 Six Nations campaign:

Team News


The most obvious omission from the Wales starting XV has been known for some time; star winger Louis Rees-Zammit, in a shocking move, announced last month that he was leaving rugby to pursue a career in American football, where rugby players before him who have tried similar moves have seen mixed results in the States. 

Centurion George North is out of the picture for the opening fixture, as well, as he nurses a shoulder injury. 

Those events, and other high-cap names that have been out of the picture over the past year and change, have resulted in coach Warren Gatland’s side having its share of fresh faces as a rebuilding unit. 

For instance, fullback — a position Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams have held down for Wales for years— will see a new name wearing the No. 15 shirt, as Cardiff’s Cameron Winnett will get the start and be primed to make his senior international debut, owing that due to Halfpenny’s retirement from Wales and Williams (who moved to Japan’s Kubota Spears after the Rugby World Cup) being unavailable for selection due to his club commitments. 

And speaking of new names, 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins has been named captain and will be the second-youngest Wales player ever to wear the armband, only behind the legendary Sir Gareth Edwards and his first cap as captain at age 20 in 1968. 

Jenkins’ partner in the second row will be the Ospreys’ Adam Beard, as Will Rowlands is out following the recent birth of his child, with Beard’s club teammate Owen Watkin filling in for North at No. 13. 

Scarlets fly-half Sam Costelow, with eight senior caps to his name, gets the start at No. 10 and will make his first Six Nations appearance this weekend.


As coach Gregor Townsend’s squad tries to finally end its Cardiff hoodoo, there is more continuity and chemistry on the Scotland side than what Wales has, with the ever-present Finn Russell starting at fly-half and bound to lead his country out of the Principality Stadium tunnel as captain. 

Like Wales, however, Scotland will have a raw option at fullback with Blair Kinghorn out due to a knee injury for the first two Six Nations matches. 

His replacement, Glasgow Warriors No. 15 Kyle Rowe, is slated to earn his second test cap (the last of which came in the summer of 2022 during Scotland’s tour of Argentina) and first Scotland start, as he’ll be trusted with much responsibility in his role, playing in a daunting environment with only a substitute appearance in senior international rugby in his career. 

But with his strong form at club level upping his stock — Rowe had seven tries for the Warriors in last year’s United Rugby Championship campaign — Townsend will roll the dice with Rowe and get him some pitch time as Kinghorn recovers. 

Co-captain and flanker Rory Darge is out for this weekend but should be back for the match against France at Murrayfield in Round 2, whereas former captain Jamie Ritchie will start and be paired in the back row with Luke Crosbie and Matt Fagerson. 

Other familiar players, such as lock Richie Gray (suiting up for his 11th Six Nations), South Africa-born wing Duhan van der Merwe and others, also are present in Townsend’s XV.

Uncapped props Alec Hepburn and Elliot Millar-Mills will be looking for their senior Scotland debuts off of the bench and to give the front row a boost in the latter stages of what should be a tight opening-round fixture in Cardiff.

Key Head-To-Head Matchups

Cameron Winnett vs. Kyle Rowe

Considering that Winnett and Rowe have a combined 12 minutes of senior international test experience between them, the clash of the two suddenly starting fullbacks will be an intriguing one on the Principality Stadium pitch. 

Gatland’s pick to start Winnett seems especially risky on the surface; he does have two tries in 11 matches for Cardiff this season, but only 15 - yes, 15 - total professional matches in his entire career. 

Still, even with the standard and expectation of excellence that’s been set at the No. 15 on his squad over the years, Gatland raved about Winnett’s talent in Wales’ news release on the squad news, calling him a “lovely footballer” who he thinks will develop into a “quality international player in the future.” 

And in the Six Nations, in front of what should be a raucous crowd in the city where he plays club rugby, Winnett will get a massive test to prove that potential. 

Elsewhere with Rowe, he’ll be looking to have a better-luck outing in his second senior test after his Scotland debut off of the bench was ruined by an ACL injury that sidelined him for nearly a year, so a first Scotland start will be a landmark moment for the impressive 25-year-old and ex-Scotland sevens player. 

Rowe usually is a winger, however, and only has had one professional appearance at fullback for club or country, with him donning the No. 15 shirt heavily due to Scotland’s injury and depth headaches in the back three. 

Each player will be stuck in an unfamiliar setting, and/or scenario and be dared to react and thrive; whichever one handles the pressure better may see them play a major role in an important early victory for their side.


There’s just something about Wales often being able to create some magic in Cardiff, and whenever Scotland plays in the Welsh capital, it’s often in for a world of hurt. 

The Scots haven’t won in Cardiff since 2002, an 11-match winning run for Wales at the Principality Stadium that has seen the visitors endure plenty of heartbreak, including Wales’ wild 31-24 comeback win in 2010 and a 51-3 Welsh beatdown in 2014. 

But can Scotland finally make this the year to break the curse and return from Cardiff with a win, following its epic 2020 victory in Llanelli? 

The answer, after a 35-7 Scottish demolition in Edinburgh last year, is yes. 

Wales’ form began to improve heavily as 2023 went along, seeing it top Pool C with four wins from four in the Rugby World Cup, before being knocked out by Argentina in the quarterfinals, but with so many key names for the side who have retired, are inactive or are even out of the sport entirely ahead of its Six Nations opener, Gatland’s squad isn’t at full strength. 

Scotland is dealing with some moving pieces, too — and the Principality Stadium atmosphere is one of the toughest to face in the world, as it has been well aware of during numerous nightmare trips — but with serious questions surrounding its opponent and a strong core, Scotland has the edge on paper. 

And that will be the driving factor for Scotland, for the first time in 22 years, being a winner in Cardiff. Finally.

Scotland 27, Wales 20

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