South Africa

Scotland ‘always first’ ahead of personal glory, says SA-born Van der Merwe

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Duhan van der Merwe is ready to put thoughts of a Scotland try record aside in the cause of team success when the Dark Blues take on Italy in the Six Nations next month.

The dashing wing is now just one shy of Stuart Hogg’s all-time Scottish mark of 27 tries after his superb hat-trick in Saturday’s 30-21 win over England at Murrayfield.

Perhaps even more impressive is the South Africa-born Van der Merwe’s strike-rate, with his 26 tries for Scotland coming in just 37 Tests.

By contrast, recently retired full-back Hogg ended his Scotland career with 27 tries in 100 internationals.

Six Nations champions Ireland remain on course for a Grand Slam but the Scots’ fourth straight win over England left them in contention for a first title since they won the final Five Nations in 1999.

Focused on team victory

And the 28-year-old Van der Merwe said he would be happy to stay off the scoresheet if it meant Scotland defeating Italy in a fourth-round encounter at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on March 9.

“We want to start winning stuff as a team,” he said. “For me, the team is always first. If that means I have to give the pass and not score myself, then I have to do it. If I don’t score but we get the win, I’ll be a happy man.”

Van der Merwe’s treble on Saturday meant he became the first Scotland player in the 153-year history of rugby union’s oldest international fixture to score a hat-trick against England.

He has now also scored six tries in four winning appearances against England since making his Calcutta Cup debut in 2021.

“I don’t know what it is, but I obviously love scoring against England so it’s pretty special,” said Van der Merwe.