Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland start RWC2019 against Ireland

Rugby World Cup
The William Webb Ellis Trophy - pic © World Rugby/Getty Images

Talk of 4 day turnarounds is sure to resurface as the schedule for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan has been announced today.

Scotland will face Ireland in the opening game on the 22nd September in Yokohama, both teams having dodged the bullet of the hosts in the opening game only to be faced with a knife-fight against each other that could in all reality determine their fortunes in the tournament right from the start.

With the winner of the pool scheduled to take on South Africa but the runner-up most likely to face New Zealand, points will be vital and starting slowly – something Scotland are worryingly good at – is not an option especially with Japan definitely in the mix for qualification on their home turf.

Scotland will then face Playoff 1 Winner (potentially Samoa) in Kobe on the 30th September and Europe 1 (most likely Romania but possibly Portugal or Germany) on October 9th in Shizuoka. Then after a 4-day turnaround they finish off with what may turn out to be a winner takes all game against the hosts on October 13th against Japan back in Yokohama. They are not the only ones, with Wales and England also facing similarly short gaps between games.

In one sense then things have been balanced so it’s not just Tier 2 and 3 teams getting shafted, but is 4 days really enough for anyone to recover from test match rugby?

Gregor Townsend and his team can start planning now.

The full RWC 2019 fixture list can be found here.

37 Responses

  1. While 4-day turnarounds are not ideal, I’m not that concerned at the moment.

    The team will be up for the first match, after a few warm-ups and plenty of time in training camp. There is then 8 days until we face, in all likelihood, Samoa. There is then 9 days until we play the weakest team in the group, before the short turnaround until we play Japan.

    Think about it this way, our teams will be selected as follows:

    Ireland: the absolute 100% best team we can put on the pitch.

    (8-day break)

    “Samoa”: chance for 1 or 2 who didn’t play Ireland, but otherwise our best team again.

    (9-day break)

    “Romania”: opportunity for squad players to stake a claim for a place in the 23 for the next game.

    (4-day break)

    Japan: again, the best available team.

    In other words, it is unlikely that anyone will be starting the three final games and I would imagine that none of the starting line-up for Japan will play more than a half against “Romania”. All subject to form and fitness of course, but Russell/Hogg/Jones (as an example) are not going to play against “Romania” and will be fresh after a 13-day break since playing “Samoa”. I would’ve been far more concerned if we had Samoa then Ireland as the last two games.

    1. Exactly the same conclusion as I came to.
      The issue with the controversial Japan turnaround in 2015 was that it was against South Africa and Scotland for them – i.e. the two ‘strongest’ outfits in the Pool and therefore the two games above all else that they would perhaps want their strongest side.
      Worth also remembering that we had a 4 day turnaround in 2015 ourselves, from Japan to USA. This was not deemed an issue due to the relative level of opposition – much as it should not be an issue in 2019. In 2015 we dropped Nel, Laidlaw, Seymour, J.Gray (among others) for the game against the US (the latter two from the matchday 23 altogether). I would fully expect us to do similar against ‘Europe 1’ in 2019.

      1. While we beat the USA comfortably in the end, it was a pretty honking first half if memory serves me correctly! I think the relative strength of the opposition being the other way around with only 4 days between games is an advantage this time.

      1. It’s overly critical of Scotland RU, I think, for us to say we over play Hogg and Russell. We need them to beat most sides. Majority of international squads would struggle to replace them with ‘apples to apples’ ability. Without players of their ability results, standings etc are at risk. Scotland are never going to have the talent resources to replace world class talents with similar quality. Its not like Australia have a bank of Folau’s… or England have a plethora of B. Vunipola’s e.g..without likes of them their standards drop and they risk losing games.

  2. Have to agree – it could be a lot worse. Look at Ireland – if they lose to us they have a “win-or-go home” game against the hosts, Japan, 6 days later! They could effectively be out of the tournament 8 days after it started.

  3. Berghan-Ford-McCallum

    To neutralise the Romanian scrum (their only wrapon) and make an easy game of it.

    Fagerson – Brown – Dell

    In for the Japan game to blast them off the park with the physicality in the loose.

      1. I must confess to being a little sceptical that Ross Ford will still be a professional rugby player, let alone a Scotland international, in two years time. Brown, McInally and Turner are much more likely to be the three hookers in the squad.

      2. I’m sure Ross will be there or thereabouts. 35 isn’t that old for a hooker. Unfortunately I tried to do a bit of analysis on that but apparently googling “oldest international hookers” isn’t allowed at work.

      3. I would hope that we *might* have one other young hooker breaking through by then – I had high hopes for Cammy Fenton becoming the number 1 number 2 (so to speak) at Edinburgh this season, but he appears to have disappeared.

        I once googled ‘Glasgow Hookers’ at work after a a particularly obscure pick during our dark days of who’s left squad selections. You don’t make that mistake twice!

      1. Err their scrum is good but Romania’s is probably the best in the world. It’s literally their only weapon and when an opposing team is able to get near parity or overcome the glut of scrum penalties through being superior in the loose the Romanians crumble. Worth noting they are importing Pacific Islander backs to try and address that reliance on the scrum.

      2. That is a wild claim. Romania’s scrum is nowhere near the best in the world, just no.

        They have four PIs in the backs in their autumn squad, but as they are all playing in the Romanian domestic league for peanuts, rather than for Clermont or Montpellier, I think it is fair to say they are someway below top class. Probably some way below journeymen as they aren’t even playing at pro clubs in top European leagues.

      3. I didn’t say the PI backs were any good merely that they were being called up. In recent times Romania’s backs have amounted to Fercu, Vlaicu’s boot and not a lot else hence them calling up the Islanders.

        Tell me who you think has a better scrum than the Romanians? They focus on it to the detriment of all else. The Argentinian and Georgian packs may have a say in the argument but whilst Romania may be dreadful overall their scrum isn’t.

  4. Happy with the fixtures to be honest. Agree with what has been said we should be able to field a second 15 and still beat the Europe team with a bonus point. Hopefully this autumn we will unearth at least 1 or 2 decent players we can add to the pool for next year.

    It does make preparation very important though and a good set of fixtures needed so we are firing on all cylinders for the Irish.

    1. I saw an interesting comment made by OnTopOfTheMoon on his site (sometimes writes articles here too).

      “0. Minutes played off the bench by Ali Price. Just 14 months ago the wee scrum half was uncapped and firmly behind Henry Pyrgos in the Glasgow pecking order. Fast forward to now and Ali will almost certainly be Gregor Townsend’s first choice for Scotland’s Autumn Tests – life moves pretty fast in pro rugby.

      Even with the World Cup less then 2 years away and only one PRO14 start under his belt there is still time for Friday night’s number 9 George Horne to make his mark and push for inclusion in the national squad for the tournament in Japan.”

      The door is certainly not closed for new players to make their breakthrough with almost two years still left until the World Cup. Indeed, with so many high quality youngsters knocking at the door I would expect to see two or three new faces well established in the wider squad by then. I’m thinking McCallum, Fagerson (M), Richie, Chris Dean, Blair Kinghorn, Horne, Hastings etc. There are lots on the cusp of being regular Pro14 players; that will put them in contention for Scotland places.

  5. The whole “Japan lost due to 4-day break” thing really got on my wick last time around…everyone had a 4 day break to deal with in the pool stages..everyone had the same sized squad…To me, the main differentiator was (and is) strength in depth, and I don’t think that should be artificially manipulated.

    1. Was that not just Eddie Jones winding up the press. I think Donald Trump knicked the fake news concept from Jones.

    2. Funnily enough Japan have a full week between all their games this time. Scotland are one of the few top teams that will have a 4 day turnaround in the 2015 and 2019 w/c

  6. Some way off topic, but I’ve had an email from the SRU to say that so far 60000 tickets have been sold for the Samoa Test. This is great news, and must say a lot about increasing interest in the national side. Hoping that the revenue generated will be good news for investment in schools/youth/Academy/Clubs in Scotland. Also hoping, after the Eng Fiji remuneration fiasco last year, that the Samoa players and their Union get a decent slice of the cake.

    1. Samoa players are getting £650 per game.

      Only games held outside test windows can split the gate to give visiting teams more.

      To put that in perspective England players will get £22,000 to play Samoa. No idea how much Scotland players will get – somewhere in between the two!

  7. For Samoa its maybe looking like
    Hogg Seymour Jones Horne McGuigan Russell Price
    Du Preez Watson Barclay J Gray Toolis Nel Ford Dell

    Dunbar, L Jones, Pygros, Wilson/Hamilton, Gilchrist, Fagerson, McInally, Darfo/Bhatti

    I feel Du Preez & his beef are crucial to enable Scotland to have a bash option

  8. Japan just lost 30-63 to Australia in Yokohama.

    Japan scores two late tries to take a bit of edge off what was a big loss, nine tries to three.

    1. Also Samoa RU apparently on verge bankruptcy and asked World Rugby for £200,000 bail out.

      Our RWC havin some struggles then.

      1. Samoa get truckloads of cash. They are going bankrupt due to corruption. Players fly economy while the big wigs, their mates and wives fly first class. Players pay for their own flights often. Let them go bankrupt then world rugby can step in and instead of sending tier 1 coaches over to support they cam send tier 1 administrators and executives in

  9. Thanks for those bits of info, FF.
    £650 a man for Samoa just doesn’t feel right. Gate receipts will surely top £1.3m. Whatever the customs and contracts around financials are, it doesn’t seem fair that 23 guys playing a Test in front of a 60k plus crowd will earn between them about 1% of the gate receipts.

    1. Apparently Mako Vunipola and Manu Tuilagi are asking England players to donate 5% of their match fee to Samoan players. Pretty sad state of affairs, hopefully they’ll shame the RFU into doing something.

      1. I like the way they think. A great game needs two sides to rock up and give it their all. They know its a very slim chance of a win.

        We would all hate to think any of these lads will get injured and their ability to earn a wage either in or out of rugby is endangered. They need adequate compensation, not just (and I assume this point) the promise of insurance.

        In 2014 the England players joined the post match prayer circle with the Samoans at the end of the game to ‘show solidarity’. (See Telegraph on line)

        I see the games are sponsored by a wealth management company. It is likely Ethics are important to them. Maybe the way to shame the RFU is through the sponsors.

      1. Well they clearly do not care about public opinion but their paymasters might. Unless it can move from back to front page news it will be hard to change.

  10. AI next a different topic, anyone want to take a punt on what the Toonie tombola will come up with tomorrow?

    1. I’m guessing it’ll be something like:
      Hogg, Seymour, Grigg, Jones, Jones, Russell, Price, Marfo, Mcinally, Nel, Swinson, Gray, Wilson (capt), Watson, Hamilton
      Bench: Turner, Sutherland, Fagerson, Cummings, Barclay, Pyrgos, Horne, McGuigan/Harris

      Pretty Glasgow-heavy side and think Toony will want pretty much the team thats going to play NZ to get a run out together. Ease Barclay and Sutherland in from the bench and if they go well both could start the next game. Haven’t seen much of McGuigan or Harris but apparently both are in good form so whoever’s impressed in training gets the bench spot.

      Have no doubt that The Tombola will chuck in a few surprises though

      1. This doesn’t look far off to me so will probably be completely wrong, when Pyrgos starts :)

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion