Scotland: State of the Nation

As part of SA Rugby magazine’s in-depth World Cup preview, DARRYN POLLOCK looks at how Scotland shape up ahead of the showpiece event in Japan.

READ: McInally to lead Scotland at World Cup

There is no doubt that the Scots have shaken off a long-standing reputation as a second-rate team and an easy beat for the top nations. In saying that, their results still make for pretty depressing reading.

It’s been four years since they picked up the wooden spoon in the Six Nations, perhaps hinting at a modicum of progression, but maybe that’s more down to the demise of Italy, who have finished at the foot of the standings each year since 2015.

To be fair, the change in playing style and admirable determination, which culminated in them almost pipping Australia in the 2015 World Cup but for a dodgy Craig Joubert offside call, has put them on the up.

In 2016 and 2017, they were fourth in the Six Nations; then they rose to third in 2018 and looked to be stamping their authority on the competition. However, much like the Irish, their peak seemed to come too early as in this year’s Six Nations they finished second from the bottom, with a solitary win over winless Italy.

Still, in their push to be taken seriously, they have at least claimed revenge over the Wallabies – on numerous occasions. The sides have played three times since the World Cup, with the men from the north winning twice, while the Wallabies’ sole victory was achieved by just one point. They have also broken the noose of being England’s whipping boys, having drawn the last game against their rivals to the south, while they comfortably won the Calcutta Cup clash in 2018.

So, while Scotland will feel they deserve their spot in the top eight of the World Rugby rankings – having climbed from 12th at the last World Cup – they will need to show consistency and flair at this year’s edition.

Scotland have embraced the modern game of flair, creativity and lively attack in the past few years, and this has seen them upset a few teams. But when this game plan doesn’t come off, it usually ends quite badly for them.

Biggest strength:

Scotland’s attacking play and willingness to move the ball around is something that sets them apart from other teams. They maintain this high-tempo game with exceptional fitness.

– This is a snippet from October issue of SA Rugby magazine that previews every team at the World Cup, now on sale!  

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