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'A miracle': How Schoeman came close to missing Scotland opportunity

By PA
Pierre Schoeman/ PA

Pierre Schoeman is hellbent on extending his “miracle” World Cup beyond this weekend as he gears up for Saturday’s critical Paris showdown with Pool B rivals Ireland.

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Just under two years after winning the first of his 25 caps, the South Africa-born prop is enjoying the time of his life in France as Gregor Townsend’s first-choice loosehead.

But Schoeman knows he would likely have missed out on playing for Scotland at the tournament if not for the fact the Covid-19 pandemic led to a delay in World Rugby changing the three-year residency rule to five years.

That meant the 29-year-old – who left Bulls in his homeland to join Edinburgh in 2018 – was able to make his debut in October 2021 as opposed to having to wait until this summer to become eligible, by which time it would probably have been too late for him to force his way into the World Cup squad.

“I can only say with gratitude that it is a miracle, to be honest,” he said. “It would have actually been five years but because of Covid, it was three years, so two years less.

“I would have only made my debut for Scotland now (this summer) if it wasn’t for Covid so there is always a blessing in disguise somewhere.”

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Schoeman is savouring every moment of a tournament he described as the highlight of his career.

“It has been massive,” he said. “Representing Scotland at the World Cup is the best thing I have experienced in my rugby journey.

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“I have been honoured and privileged to do it. And with the team we have, the management and the players are a really good group.

“It has been amazing. I have to give credit to our partners and our families for the sacrifices they have made but in the south of France, the passion they have for their rugby and having all the Scottish fans here as well, that’s massive.

“The amount of fans that came over makes you realise that you have to play a bit harder for them as well.

“It’s not just about you and the team, it’s about playing for the fans and the country you represent.

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“Putting on the jersey for Scotland in a World Cup in the south of France gives you that extra fuel to prep. You want to do it 100 times.”

Schoeman and his Scotland colleagues know their World Cup adventure will end if they are not able to get a bonus-point win over Ireland on Saturday or deny their opponents a losing bonus.

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The prop is unable to countenance the prospect of leaving France this weekend.

“I haven’t even thought about making plans for a holiday or time off or going back to play with my club,” he said. “It’s all this now, this week, this test, to get another three weeks or however long it is.

“We are confident, we are going to go for the win and we believe we can get the win. As a group, we are ready to go.”

Schoeman is braced for the biggest game of his career in Paris.

“There have been some big Six Nations games but this is a World Cup and we’re against the world’s best in Ireland,” he said.

“These are the games you want to play in. They are the games you want to measure yourself against, especially the set-piece battles.

“Being a prop, you want to go against the best. As a pack and as a team, we can’t wait.”

Rugby World Cup

Pool A
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
France
3
3
0
0
13
2
New Zealand
3
2
1
0
10
3
Italy
3
2
1
0
10
4
Uruguay
3
1
2
0
5
5
Namibia
4
0
4
0
0
Pool B
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
South Africa
4
3
1
0
15
2
Ireland
3
3
0
0
14
3
Scotland
3
2
1
0
10
4
Tonga
3
0
3
0
0
5
Romania
3
0
3
0
0
Pool C
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Wales
3
3
0
0
14
2
Australia
4
2
2
0
11
3
Fiji
3
2
1
0
10
4
Georgia
3
0
2
1
3
5
Portugal
3
0
2
1
2
Pool D
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
England
3
3
0
0
14
2
Argentina
3
2
1
0
9
3
Japan
3
2
1
0
9
4
Samoa
3
1
2
0
6
5
Chile
4
0
4
0
0
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