World Cup: Scotland, the brave


If there’s one thing you can’t judge a Scotsman by his jacket, it’s his bravery.

Scotland’s rugby team is the epitome of that. They play with only two teams, the Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh, in the United Rugby Championship, but never give up.

The Scots have played in the World Cup tournament every year since 1987, were in the quarter-finals six times and in 1991 reached fourth place.

The Scots won 24 of their 42 matches, lost 17 while one ended in a draw.

The chances of the Scots reaching this year’s final are slim, as they compete in Group B with the Springboks, Ireland, Tonga and Romania. But they can spring a surprise or two and make things very difficult for their opponents.

The Scots have played much more enterprising rugby in recent seasons, especially after coach Gregor Townsend started coaching the team.

Townsend, who was with the victorious British and Lions touring team in South Africa in 1997, is a big supporter of running rugby.

The Scots finished third in this year’s Six Nations after beating England (32-21), Wales (35-7) and Italy (26-14) and gave good accounts against France (21-32) and Ireland (7-22), although they lost both matches.

The Scots’ problem is that their pack cannot dominate against physical teams like the Springboks, All Blacks and France and that their player depth will come under the magnifying glass when injuries arise.

At the back they also experienced a major setback with the recent shock retirement of the experienced Stuart Hogg, but Ollie Smith or Blair Kinghorne should fill his shoes.

The South Africans Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn and the ex-Stormer Huw Jones are the core players at the back together with the quick-footed winger Darcy Graham.

Then flyhalf Finn Russel also holds a key. If he is allowed to pull the strings, the Scots can cook, but then his forwards and scrum-half must keep the pressure off him.

Up front, the two South Africans Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel will play the anchor roles as supports, while the ex-Wallaby Jack Dempsey, the Fagerson brothers, Zander and Matt, and Jamie Ritchie must play the guitar.

The Scots begin the World Cup on Sunday 10 September against the Springboks, followed by matches with Tonga and Romania. They close the group stages against Ireland.

The Scots should win two of their first three games and the showdown with Ireland could then be decisive.

Scots’ preliminary World Cup squad: Forwards: Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby), Andy Christie (Saracens), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby), WP Nel (Edin burgh Rugby), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), Javan Sebastian (Scarlets), Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby), Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby).

Backers: Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby), Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Healy (Munster Rugby), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors). ), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby), Ben White (London Irish).