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Scotland handed Wales opener


Danny Brough will be another pivotal player for Scotland

Danny Brough will be another pivotal player for Scotland

Danny Brough will be another pivotal player for Scotland

Scotland will open their defence of the European Championship against Wales in Wrexham on Friday, October 16.

Steve McCormack's Bravehearts, superbly led by Danny Brough, won their first silverware in 2014, taking the title on points difference from France and Ireland.

In the schedule released on Sunday, Scotland will return to Galashiels to play Ireland before finishing with a trip to France.

Ireland will play Wales in their new home of Bray and Cardiff Arms Park will stage a rugby league international for the first time since 1996 when Wales take on France.

The French had only one home game last year, when they missed out on a place in the 2016 Four Nations Series, but they will have fixtures in Albi and Avignon this time and will start as tournament favourites.

"A lot of the senior guys who didn't play for us last year, when we came so close to winning this Championship which would have seen us qualify for the 2016 Four Nations, have some regrets about what could have been," said France coach Richard Agar.

"Our guys have a point to prove, especially looking towards the next World Cup in 2017. We've lost Gregory Mounis and Olivier Elima to retirement but we still think that there is the basis of a squad, starting here in the Euros, to take us through.

"More players are looking for different experiences outside France, which is healthy for the game and the national side."

McCormack says his players will have the added incentive of playing for places against England, Australia and New Zealand in 2016 this autumn.

"A lot of players performed superbly well last year," he said. "They will have a chance to prove they deserve a place against the best in the world and there will be some serious competition for places from players injured last year and those who've come on a lot this season."

2015 European Championship schedule:

October 16: Wrexham - Wales v Scotland (8pm).

October 17: Albi - France v Ireland (3.30pm local time).

October 23: Galashiels - Scotland v Ireland (7.30pm).

October 31: Cardiff - Wales v France (1.30pm).

November 7: Avignon - France v Scotland (3.30pm local time); Bray - Ireland v Wales (5pm).