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'That's their only chance of winning' - Irish TV's take on Scotland prospects

By Ian Cameron
Scotland wing Darcy Graham shares a joke with Finn Russell after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Scotland and Romania at Stade Pierre Mauroy on September 30, 2023 in Lille, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Irish rugby pundits have given their take on what they see as the best chance Scotland have of upsetting the Irish apple cart next weekend in Paris in what has been billed as Rugby World Cup’s Pool B decider.

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Virgin Media Sports pundits Ian Madigan, Matt Williams and Andrew Trimble ran the rule over Scotland’s 84-0 drubbing of Romania last night in Lille. They suggested little would be gleaned from the thrashing other than confidence and a sense of momentum heading into a do or die game against Ireland.

Andy Farrell’s world number ones are strong favourites to beat their Six Nations neighbours while Gregor Townsend’s men come into the game needing to beat Ireland with a try bonus point or beat the Irish while denying them a losing bonus point. In either one of those scenarios, Scotland would go through to the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

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Scotland post match presser after Georgia win

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Scotland post match presser after Georgia win

“I don’t think they will get much from what happened on the pitch [against Romania],” said Trimble. “They might get something from the energy and the crowd. Getting the Scottish supporters something to think about, get them behind them.

“They’ll get something intangible from that. A momentum, an energy from that. They’ll get everyone out drinking their Irn-Bru, [wearing] tartan in Lille, there’ll be bagpipes, there’ll be a party tonight. All the clichés.

“It’s going to take a huge effort from Scotland to get the better of Ireland next week. I think they’re going to be massively in the deep end and it’s going to be tough for them.

“The problem from an Irish perspective is there is just an uncertainty that comes from Scotland. Finn Russell pulling the strings… that fellow rolls the dice every time he gets the ball. Wingers are guessing, centres are guessing, lads are wondering what’s going on in the backfield because his kicking game is so good. He’s huge for Scotland next week.

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Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
5
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
26
13
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

“Ireland will be worried about him, they have done a lot of research. They won’t have looked at that game [versus Romania] at all. Finn Russell is the perfect remedy [to having lost to Ireland eight times]. If Scotland plays a conservative game they will definitely get beat.

“If they roll the dice, fling those passes, play 50/50s, sometimes they can stick and Scotland can really get a bit of momentum and a bit of a foothold from that. I’m not saying if they do that [they will win]… they could get beat by more, but I’m saying that’s their only chance of winning; throwing caution to the wind and Finn Russell is the perfect man for that.”

Finn Russell
Finn Russell of Scotland high fives teammate Chris Harris during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Scotland and Tonga at Stade de Nice on September 24, 2023 in Nice, France. (Photo by Michael Steele – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Long-time critic of Scotland Matt Williams was in strangely complimentary of Townsend’s players. “The unstructured nature of that game [versus Romania] really suited the Scots, because they’ve got fast guys, lots of good ball players… one of the best passing teams in the world. They’ve more passes in games than any other team in the world.

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“If you have a highly structured game against Scotland, that’s not necessarily what they want and that suits Ireland. I think we need to stress to everyone: that doesn’t mean the Scots can’t win. This pool is a really tough pool, a really tight pool. Whether we’ve won eight in a row or ten in a row, the more you win a row the closer you are to the end of that winning streak.

“You come back to the word that Gregor used in the pre-match: respect. Respect what they can do and face that respect with your best game.”

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