Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is confident that his squad will find their four Rugby World Cup warm-up matches “invaluable experiences” in the countdown to the tournament in France.

The fixtures, announced yesterday, begin and end with home games, against Italy and Georgia respectively. Those two matches sandwich two games against the French, one at home and another at a venue in France yet to be decided.

“Two thousand and twenty-three is a huge year for our national team and after the Guinness Six Nations our focus will quickly turn to the Rugby World Cup,” Townsend said in a Scottish Rugby press release. “All four fixtures will provide invaluable experiences in our preparation for the tournament.

“Having the opportunity to play at home on three occasions before we depart will enable our players to feel the backing of our supporters ahead of setting off for the World Cup.

“The match against France away from home will be very important as we are going to spend time at our training base for the World Cup in Nice prior to the match and replicate the schedule our players will experience during the tournament itself.”

All the games are on Saturdays, with kick-off times and the venue in France still to be announced. Ticket information for all four matches is yet to be announced.

As well as meeting annually in the Six Nations, Scotland and Italy have played in World Cup warm-up matches in 2003, 2011 and 2015 (twice), with Scotland winning each time. Scotland have also played the French in warm-ups before the last two tournaments, losing at the Stade de France in 2015 and in Nice four years later, but winning a second warm-up game at home in 2019.

The Georgians, meanwhile, provided the opposition in the other two 2019 warm-up matches, losing both. The first game saw Townsend’s team win 44-10 at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, then a week later they won 36-9 in Edinburgh.

The World Cup itself starts in early September and runs until late October. Scotland have been drawn in Pool B alongside South Africa, Ireland, Tonga and Romania.

Meanwhile, former Scotland hooker Stevie Scott has been named head coach of the Watsonians Super6 team.

The 48-year-old from Galashiels was capped 11 times by his country in a playing career which saw him turn out nearly 100 times for Edinburgh. As a coach he has worked with Sale Sharks, London Scottish and Worcester as well as Edinburgh and Scotland, in addition to spells in Romania and the USA.

Scott takes over at Myreside from Fergus Pringle, who is now Scotland Under-20s forwards coach, and under whom Watsonians won both the Super6 Championship and the subsidiary Sprint competition in 2022. Current assistant coaches Nikki Walker and Richard Snedden will work under him.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Watsonians for offering me this position,” he said in a statement released by Watsonians. “It’s great to be back coaching in Scotland after many years abroad, where I’ve gained lots of experience.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started and working alongside two good coaches in, Nikki, Richard and the rest of the staff at the club as we all look to improve on the good work done previously by Fergus.

“We have a good strong squad with experience and young inspiring players, but it’s important that we keep strengthening this as we build towards the start of the season.”

Chris Hunter, Watsonians’ director of rugby, said: “The club are excited to have someone of Stevie’s experience and calibre leading our Super6 team. Stevie’s CV speaks for itself, having worked with professional and International teams.

“We have no doubt that Stevie will build on the fantastic work Ferg has done over the last three years whilst bringing in his own ideas.

“The club have ambitions to build on last season’s success, and we believe that in Stevie, Nikki and Snedds [Richard Snedden] we have the coaching team to do that.”

With Alan Tait having been appointed as the Southern Knights’ head coach on Monday, Stirling Wolves are the only one of the half-dozen franchisees who have yet to announce their head coach for the coming season.

Ben Cairns left them last year and subsequently joined Heriot’s. Boroughmuir Bears are coached by Graham Shiel and the Ayrshire Bulls are coached by Pat MacArthur.