RWC Team Preview: Scotland

Rugby World Cup Pedigree:
Scotland have qualified for every Rugby World Cup since the competition began, and they have always graduated through the pool groups and into the knock-out stages. Scotland have scored points in the vast majority of their World Cup games, and certainly have held their own against some of the big name teams. Currently ranked 9th in the IRB World Rankings, Scotland will be looking to do the same again this year.

Best Rugby World Cup moment:
Scotland’s best finish was 4th place in the 1991 competition, after losing the 3rd place play off game to the All Blacks.

Biggest Rugby World Cup win:
Cote D’Ivoire 0 – 89 Scotland. Rustenburg, South Africa. 26th May 1995

Biggest Rugby World Cup defeat:
France 51 – 9 Scotland. Sydney, Australia. 25th October 2003

Key player: Alastair Kellock
Captained the side in the Six Nations, and proved more than capable of handling the added responsibility, therefore it is likely that he will take on the role again when the team head down under at the end of August.
Kellock missed out on the 2007 World Cup, and has put that disappointment behind him to focus on being selected for this campaign. And considering that the National coaches rested him after the Six Nations with a mind to keeping fit for the world cup, it is likely that we will see him on the field in New Zealand.
The 6ft 8in lock is a key feature of the set pieces, especially the lineout, using his height and bulk to great advantage. He is by no means the most capped Scotland player, nor a high scorer, but he is a presence in the game, and never fails to make a positive impact on the play. Expect him to lead by example and be instrumental in the Scotland effort.

One to watch: Ruaridh Jackson
Stepping into Dan Parks’s shoes can be no easy thing to do, but Ruaridh Jackson is certainly pushing to make the fly-half spot his own. Over the past few international games he has shared the goal kicking responsibility with experienced full back Chris Paterson, and at club level Jackson is the go-to fly-half for Glasgow Warriors, displaying an accuracy and a skill that will give Dan Parks a real run for his money. With the ball in hand you can expect to see some daring and pacy runs, Jackson is not afraid of taking a hit.
There are still areas of his game that can be improved; his tactical kicking can go awry, but he is still young and will do well for his team when they go to New Zealand.

Rugby World Cup Fixtures:
10th Sept 02:00: Scotland – Romania in Invercargill

14th Sept 08:30: Scotland – Georgia in Invercargill

25th Sept 09:30: Argentina – Scotland in Wellington

01st Oct 09:30: England – Scotland in Auckland

Key clash: vs. Argentina, 25th Sept
Many would say that the match against England is the key clash for Scotland. However, with England odds on favourites to win the group, I feel Argentina pose more of a threat to Scotland and their chances of making it out of the pool stages. Therefore this match will be key.
Each team is well capable of beating the other; Scotland’s impressive summer campaign last year saw them beat the Argentinians on their own soil. And Argentina were responsible for knocking Scotland out of the RWC in the 2007 quarter-finals. The previous games have all been close run encounters, and with Andy Robinson eyeing the quarter finals as a minimum, Scotland will have to win this encounter to ensure that they progress in the competition.

Odds:
175/1 to win the competition outright and 9/2 to win the pool group.
Odds provided by www.paddypower.com

Coach says:
“I’m an optimist. We’re here to win every game…I have belief that Scotland can win against any team we play against – if we play at our very best. But we have to be at our very best every time we play.”
– Andy Robinson

Captain says:
“I’m feeling good and we’ve had seven weeks of a pre-season…we have worked really hard, been pushed hard and everybody is driving each other on”
– Alastair Kellock

Prediction:
Runner up in Pool B, and will play the winner of Pool A (most likely New Zealand) in the quarter-finals. This year will not be the year that Scotland gets further than that.

by Christine Lester