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'It cost us the game, it's as simple as that': Richie Gray rues where Scotland went wrong

By Josh Raisey
Richie Gray of Scotland looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Scotland (Photo by Franco Arland/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Scotland lock Richie Gray had no problem identifying where his side lost the game against South Africa in their World Cup opener in Marseille on Sunday evening, saying his side were not quick enough to react to South Africa’s change in intensity after the break.


The world champions went into half-time holding a slender 6-3 lead over a Scotland team that were matching them physically. That even culminated in Gray and his pack winning a scrum penalty on the stroke of half-time, which is a position the Springboks seldom find themselves in. Speaking to RugbyPass after the match, the Glasgow Warriors lock said the team knew that a reaction was coming from the three-time champions, but they were not quick enough to respond in the fifteen minutes following the break.

“We were feeling good,” the 34-year-old said about Scotland’s mentality at half-time. “Obviously it wasn’t the perfect half by any means, but we put ourselves in a really strong position. We had a big moment before half-time with that scrum. We went in at half-time and we knew there would be a reaction from the Springboks. We had to be accurate coming out the sheds, we simply weren’t in that ten, fifteen minutes after half-time. It cost us the game, it’s as simple as that. You’re going up against the such a good side, to three, six, nine to 18-3 down, chasing it, is not an ideal position and we weren’t accurate enough to do that. So, that ten, fifteen minutes after half-time cost us.”


South Africa immediately came out after the break and won a scrum penalty of their own, which set the tone for what was to come for the rest of the half. Gray pinpointed the noticeable ways Siya Kolisi’s team moved up a gear in the second stanza, as they exhibited their credentials to retain their title against the fifth ranked side in the world.

“They started to move the ball and a little bit more, which was good by them,” he said. “The heat at the breakdown came, the heat at the scrum came, we reacted to it at the end of the game, but just that little bit after half-time we weren’t quick enough.”


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