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Richie Takes Aim on The World Cup

(or possibly a cardboard cut out of Jim Hamilton). Scotland’s players have enjoyed an afternoon of training with a difference as part of their preparations for Rugby World Cup.

Richie Gray Clay Pigeon Shooting, picture courtesy Scottish Rugby/PA Images
Richie Gray Clay Pigeon Shooting, picture courtesy Scottish Rugby/PA Images

As guests of HQ 2 Division of the Army at their base near Edinburgh, the players and coaches met with members of the specialist unit responsible for bomb disposal. Some, including head coach Andy Robinson, donned the protective equipment bomb disposal officers must wear, although it is unclear whether he then allowed the players to chase and tackle him as a reward for taking the beastings they have been given as part of their pre-season.

Competition was also a theme of the day with target golf and clay pigeon shooting on the agenda. I would imagine given his sporting pedigree, Max Evans would probably have wiped the floor in the golf.

Intriguingly, the team led by goal-kicking sharp-shooters, the Edinburgh duo Chris Paterson and Greig Laidlaw, also proved bang on target, winning on the shooting ranges.

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson explained: “The players have been working hard on their fitness, conditioning and rugby skills.

“But exercises like this, give everyone an insight into the team-working that goes on in other walks of life from which we can often learn something as sportsmen and also keep things in perspective when we talk about being ‘under pressure’.”

Paterson and Laidlaw had both shot in the past but it was a new experience for another of Scotland’s goal-kickers, stand-off Dan Parks, who has obviously never been one for Roo-shooting with a couple of tinnies in the outback (which my sources tell me is typical Aussie behaviour). Yet the hand/eye co-ordination that is common ground in both sports, was underlined as Parks banged his first three clays.

John Barclay, Nick DeLuca and Chris Cusiter getting some fieldcraft tips - picture courtesy Scottish Rugby / PA Images
John Barclay, Nick DeLuca and Chris Cusiter getting some fieldcraft tips - picture courtesy Scottish Rugby / PA Images

Scotland are continuing their on-field preparations ahead of the two EMC Tests at Murrayfield next month, filling in for the Autumn Internationals this year. With the festival on at the same time too to entice visiting fans, it’s sure to be a good atmosphere round the city (or a transport nightmare if you are a local grump like Al).

Tickets are on sale now for the matches against Ireland (Saturday 6 August) and Italy (Saturday 20 August). They cost from £5 for children and students and from £10 for adults, so a cheapish chance to wish them well for Rugby World Cup – and more likely to be of use to the players than hanging out at Glasgow Airport between now and then on the off chance you spot them.

You can buy your tickets at www.scottishrugby.org or on the 24-hour credit card hotline 0844 335 3933.

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