Rugby World Cup: Scotland must flush away the bitter disappointment of 2015

Brian McClair gives his own unique take on how Scotland must bounce back from the agony of four years ago at this year's tournament in Japan.

Brian McClair

Back in 2015 Scotland faced Australia in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup and for the briefest of moments we dared to dream that this could be our year.

With a minute left, we were one of brink of one of the biggest upsets ever and with Argentina waiting for the winners of this tie in the semi-final, Scotland would fancy their chances of reaching the final for the first time ever.

Then, to the horror and dismay of the majority of the 80,000 in attendance and millions of us watching on television, the referee would award a controversial penalty to Australia which they would convert to send Scotland home.

To compound his decision referee Craig Joubert then immediately blew his whistle before sprinting off the pitch in one of the most painful defeats any Scotland fan could experience.

So when Scotland get their 2019 campaign underway on Sunday in Yokohama against Ireland, who ended their preparations with a win over Wales that saw the Irish rise to the No 1 ranked rugby team in the world, that agony is bound to be fresh in the mind.

But they have left nothing to chance when it comes to their preparations for another crack at the Webb Ellis trophy – including how the tricky and ever-changing conditions might affect their game.

To become acclimatised to the heat and humidity they can expect in Japan Scotland’s training regime has included taking hot baths regularly and frequent sauna visits during the summer, not to mention a training camp in Portugal where the climate is similar to that in Japan at this time of the year.


The attention to detail isn’t restricted to climate preparation either, their kit includes long sleeve vests and leggings to cover tattoos that can cause offence in Japanese culture – vital if they are to win-over the support of the locals.

Not just that, but with torrential rain forecast on Sunday, Scotland have been practicing with balls covered in shampoo – of the rugby variety that is.

September is typhoon season in Japan and if any pool game cannot be played on the scheduled day the match will be declared as a draw.

This could have a huge impact on the final pool standings – so it’s key that Scotland take the points when they are on offer as they don’t want another hard luck story to add to that of four years ago.

Their key man looks to be Finn Russell who is now plying his trade in France with Racing 92 who will no doubt be confident that the real Scotland will turn up in Japan and that they will qualify for the knock out stages which they have only failed to do once before at the World Cup.

If the Scots need any encouragement going into this tournament they only have to look back to their last fixture in the Six Nations which saw them mount an incredible recovery to draw 38-38 with the old enemy England.

However, the World Cup is an entirely different prospect all together and along with the climate issues is bound to provide them with sterner challenges than a dead rubber at Twickenham against a pretty ordinary England outfit.

A lot of people invest in the idea that “marginal gains” will make the difference between success and failure in Japan, so perhaps the picture above should be studied by all the participating players!?

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