Ben White – Scrumhalf for the Ages

Ben White - Scrumhalf for the Ages

In just over a year since his Scotland debut against England in the 2022 Six Nations, scrum-half Ben White has already featured 14 times for Gregor Townsend’s side.

Every single game that Scotland has played since that Calcutta Cup opener last February, White has had a part to play. After years of dominance over the number nine jersey from Ali Price, Scotland fans can be excited at the prospect of Ben White being one of their stand-out players for a number of seasons to come.

A part of the successful London Irish Premiership Rugby club (see main image). the exposure to first rate rugby union week-in-week-out has benefitted Scotland with the high-performing Ben White.

Ben White makes instant Scotland impact

Not only has Ben White impacted the squad by retaining his place in the starting lineup, but he also made an immediate impact in his very first game. The Staffordshire-born number nine came off the bench at Murrayfield in Edinburgh to score a try in Scotland’s 20-17 win over their fiercest rivals. Starting scrum-half Price left the field for an HIA assessment and White wasted no time in taking his chance to shine on the international stage.

He scored the opening try of the game to set Scotland on their way to a famous victory, before being replaced once Price was given the head injury assessment all-clear. As international cameos, as well as international debuts, go, it does not get much better than that. 

In the 13 games that have followed, White has scored another two tries, including one in the 29-23 triumph over England at Twickenham in this year’s Six Nations Championship. 15 points in 14 games is a good return for a player still finding his feet at the top of the game, especially when you consider that Ali Price has scored just one more than White has in over four times the number of appearances. Price has been a great servant to Scottish Rugby over the years and will most likely continue to perform for his country in seasons to come, but White’s introduction into the game has certainly turned heads. He is here to stay. 

It is not only test rugby that has seen Ben White burst onto the scene but domestic rugby too.

White started his career in the midlands, at Leicester Tigers, and at just 17 years and 151 days old, he became the youngest player ever to pull on the famous green and red jersey in the club’s history. He went on to play a total of 71 times for the Tigers, scoring six tries. In the early days of his time at Leicester, White spent a season on loan at Doncaster Knights, where he also became the youngest player in their history of the professional era. In a strange twist, White captained the England Under 20s side, and was a vital player in the squad that made it to the U20 World Rugby Championship final against France, in 2018.

He now is a regular feature for London Irish, a side currently sitting fourth in the Gallagher Premiership and looking to make their first ever first division final. White has scored 45 points in his 42 appearances for the capital city side since joining the club in 2021.

One of the standouts of this Scottish rugby-generation

Since the turn of the century, up until Townsend took charge in 2017, Scotland has been coached by six different men. Collectively, over those 17 years, they have handed full international debuts to 10 number nines – Graeme Beveridge, Mike Blair, Chris Cusiter, Sam Pinder, Rory Lawson, Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos, Grayson Hart, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Ali Price. Scotland – like many other countries – has had a host of talented scrum halves grace their team over the years but, have also had a number of players fail to hit the heights that are required to make it as a starting half-back. 

With the scrumhalf playing such an important role in (any) team, it is vital for the coach to find someone that not only fits the style of play that the team are looking for but also, someone that can provide for their side for the long haul. Someone like Cusiter, Blair or Laidlaw especially, who can be a stable stalwart in the progression of the nation. 

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Townsend has had very good scrumhalf options since taking the reigns at Murrayfield, having given first caps to George Horne, Jamie Dobie, Ben White and Ben Vellacott. While all four have been playing well, and will likely feature for Scotland again, Townsend may have his stable stalwart scrumhalf in Ben White. 

Examing Ben White’s ‘Play Style’

While it is important to have the whole team pulling in the same direction with the same vision and play style, the scrumhalf lies right at the centre of what the team are trying to do. The scrumhalf, along with the flyhalf, often dictates the speed at which a side play, both offensively and defensively. 

Ben White likes to play at pace. Feeding the ball to the strong carriers such as Pierre Schoeman and Matt Fagerson around the corner to gain metres, before whipping play out wide to launch an attack. White is vocal on the pitch, demanding speed and intensity from the players around him and has a good relationship with star man Finn Russell. Their connection is a useful asset to have in holding Scotland together when building the phases and creating try-scoring opportunities. 

White, much like we have seen in the past with George Horne, is also good at playing on the shoulder, supporting runners on the inside for the chance of an offload to keep the ball alive. His box-kicking is solid and organisation in defence is clear to see. 

At just 24 years old, the London Irish halfback is young and passionate. He has been given his chance on the international stage and has taken it with both hands, solidifying his place as the Scot’s go-to man. Many great Scottish nines have come before him, yet Ben White has every chance of being one of the best.


Scotland finished third in the 2023 Six Nations Championship, and White’s London Irish club currently sit in fourth place, after 18 rounds of the competition.


“Main photo credit courtesy of London Irish website