Scotland reached an all-time high of fifth place in the World Rugby Rankings this week after the stirring 29-13 win over Wales in Rouch 3 of the 2017 RB Six Nations.
The national team leapfrogged the Welsh and the listless Springboks in the rankings having gained 1.28 rating points.
Scotland are now on 82.18 points, knowing that any sort of victory over England at Twickenham in a fortnight’s time would not only keep their RBS 6 Nations title bid well on track but also give them a damn good chance to claim a top-four spot by the time the 2019 Rugby World Cup pool draw takes place on 10 May.
The team have so far done sterling work to make sure that they are well inside the top 8 when the draw is made. However you can also approach it from the other side – Scotland would probably (if we’re honest) be the team any other side would want in their “pool of death” whether from the second or (less likely) first 4 teams. The fools.
A chance to avoid Australia and New Zealand in the pools would be a genuine positive for us if Scotland can get the results to sneak the top 4, but there is still a fair bit of rugby to be played, against England and Italy.
As attention turns towards the visit to England, the Scotland vs Italy game on the final weekend has been announced this week as a sell-out. It completes the set of three 67,144 capacity crowds for Scotland’s home Six Nations matches and is the first time the Italy fixture has been a sell out at Murrayfield.
If you haven’t got a ticket yet, we’ll have a chance to win a pair coming up on the site soon.
In less exciting news, John Hardie will sit out the remainder of the Six Nations with the knee injury he picked up early in the Wales game. It all but guarantees a back row of Barclay, Watson and Wilson but throws open the possibility of a bench slot to the likes of Cornell du Preez or Rob Harley. David Denton and Magnus Bradbury could also come into consideration for a call up as training cover at least.
While Hardie’s contract status remains up in the air, one of Scotland’s other injured back rows, the project beard himself Josh Strauss will move from Glasgow Warriors to Sale Sharks on a 3 year deal, solving that particular mystery. Glasgow have just about resolved all their contract issues one way or the other, but WP Nel (remember him) and Hardie remain in limbo at the other end of the M8.
Could injuries be hampering their chances of big money deals in England or France?
Some other snippets from the pro-teams: Rory Clegg has left Glasgow for Championship side Ealing, having had much less success in his second spell with the Warriors than he did during the first. Tom Brown and Sean Kennedy and Hugh Blake have been added to the HSBC Sevens squad for the American legs in the US and Canada.
Which may leave Edinburgh short of backs in an already underperforming unit for their game against Ospreys, but it is interesting that Sam Hidalgo-Clyne seemed to suffer from Solomons’ rotation policy and is now starting to rediscover some form given a run of games in the 9 shirt. Nathan Fowles has been retained as his deputy.
And who knows where Hugh Blake has been?