Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland draw Springboks and Ireland for 2023 RWC

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

Scotland will again face Ireland in the group stages of the Rugby World Cup with the draw for rugby’s showcase tournament taking place today.

While the headlines will go to host nation France and New Zealand facing off again in Pool A, the draw is a tough ask for Gregor Townsend’s men – who will likely face the winner of that pool even if they get out of the group in second.

While Ireland have struggled to find a post Joe Schmidt identity (in the same way Wales are struggling after Gatland), even with the ageing Johnny Sexton at the reins they are masters of the sort of grim rugby that gets teams on in tournaments. In real terms this probably means Scotland will get a couple of decent results in the year before and once again think we’ll knock their old tough nuts over with some stylish tries, before being snuffed out of the game. See also, 2019, and last weekend.

South Africa are currently something of an unknown prospect having sat out the Rugby Championship this year due to Covid, but with the amount of SA-born lads in the Scotland squad at the moment not likely to change in a couple of year, it will at least mean less hard work to find a story angle for the Springbok rugby journos.

Making up the pool will be Europe 2 (currently Spain on rankings) and Asia/Pacific 1 which could end up being Samoa, who have also been regular World Cup opponents for Scotland.

Following the draw, head coach Gregor Townsend said: “I believe it’s the toughest pool. On current world rankings, Ireland are ranked fifth, South Africa are ranked first and they’re the world champions, and we’re ranked seventh, so all three are in the top 8 in the world which means it’s going to be very competitive.

“I feel very honoured to have been given that (contract) extension. I love working with this group of players and the staff we have, and it does get you looking forward to a big tournament. Every four years the World Cup just gets bigger and bigger for our sport, so it’s something to look forward to.

We obviously have big tournaments every year with the 6N but there is that long-term focus of developing a team and a squad that can play it’s best rugby in 2023.”

It will be third time that Scotland will face either side at the World Cup, but all the players involved may become even more familiar with each other due to the planned expansion of the Pro14/16 competition to include South African provinces, which Townsend can only see benefits from.

““Any competition that gets our players playing closer to international rugby will help their development. If those four South African teams who have been used to playing Super Rugby come into our competition that will enhance the Pro14/16 and also give experience of a different style of rugby in different conditions that South Africa bring.”

59 Responses

    1. Posted my thoughts on the podcast thread – but really it could have been a lot worse.
      SA is preferable to NZ or England
      Ireland is preferable to France at home or Australia.
      Only Wales/Japan would have been an easier draw.

      Who knows where the teams will be in 3 years time, but we generally have pretty competitive games against SA and Ireland have a lot of aging players already.

      1. I think SA are the worst team for us. We find it impossible to breakdown hugely physical teams and no one is more physical than them.

        We are currently a fair bit off Ireland but you’re right, they have an ageing team and don’t seem to have bled an awful lot of new players.

        Hopefully we can uncover a good 8 and 12 in the next three years!

      2. Ireland have an outrageous conveyor belt developing, one that is starting to look ominously New Zealand’ish. Ireland have an aging team for sure, but the quality of young player in their system is fantastic and I expect them to be a top 3 to top 5 team for the foreseeable future. Ireland were a really unfortunate draw from pool 2.

      3. Aging Players? The same was said when O connell and BOD were retiring and have produced unreal players .One of the best youth development squads around. Back to Back six nations u20 the last 2 years and 4 highly competitive clubs in H Cup with a conveyor of youth coming through. Ireland is way ahead and will be well into the future be miles ahead of Scotland

  1. World Cup Draw

    SA/Ire/Sco/Eur 2/Asia-Pacific

    Europe 2 I guess likely Spain, AP likely the 3rd best Pacific Islands team (since I can’t even think who the second best Asian team is) so maybe Tonga?

    Not a terrible draw for us (depending on how things change in the next 3 years….).
    SA better than NZ or Eng (Wales would have been nice)
    Ireland we can beat on a good day and better than France at home or Aus.
    The other 2 shouldn’t be too much of a threat.

    If we get through it will be NZ or France in the quarters though.

    The other pools are reasonable as well – NZ/France should go through no problem (and meet again in the final….). Australia/Wales/Fiji could be interesting if Aus and Wal don’t pick their games up. England/Arg should walk it, can’t see Japan doing as well again/not in Japan. No team looks guaranteed to top their group I would say.

  2. Yeah I guess three years is a long time. The likes of Sexton and some of Ireland’s pack will be too old but then again the Leinster player factory will no doubt produce some handy replacements.

    It’s a phenomenal draw for Dave Rennie’s Australia. Wales and Fiji couldn’t have worked out better.

  3. Firstly them making the draw 3 years early while we momentarily sit as 9th ranked isn’t a coincidence, it’s payback for what happened in Yokohama.

    The draw is no disaster. We have a sprinkling of talented youngsters coming through and mixed with old heads like Hogg, Russell, Brown and Harley we will go well.

    As for Duhan heading to Worcester, it’s plainly for the money and good luck to him. These guys are 1 bad head knock from being down the job centre.

    1. If Japan were seeded 9th before the Autumn nations cup you can bet your bottom dollar that WR would have finalised the seedings after the competition had finished in the hope that we dropped out of the top 8.

      Just waiting for the fixtures to be announced. No doubt we will have to play Ireland and South Africa within four days.

    2. Good troll BLB. Almost passed as a genuine comment until you snuck Harley’s name in there which confirmed the whole thing was nonsense.

  4. I still don’t understand making the draw 3 years early and with some of the teams unknown. Do this happen in any other sport?

    As for the draw, if you want to do well in any tournament you’re going to have to beat good teams. If we’re not good enough we won’t get out the group. Toonie and co know what they’re working towards now so let’s hope they’re up to the task!

  5. It is a v bad draw for us – either C or D would have given us more chance to progress. Both Ireland and SA play the physically overwhelming game we find so tough to deal with and as third seeds no doubt we’ll play them with 4 days between the matches.

    Ireland aren’t as good as they have been but they are going to be formidable – Doris looks like a star in the making and they have excellent depth in every position. At least they also tend under perform at world cups.

    I think Scotland should really not focus to much on the World Cup – our obsession should be getting over our current 6N plateau and the RWC will take care of itself.

  6. Let’s focus on the positives: draw has not yet been made for 2027 and maybe after another disastrous tournament Townsend will not be in charge (doubtful).

  7. At first I thought “Oh No, the World Champions and our bogey opposition”.
    But it could have been worse – we could be in Italy’s position: playing against the ABs and the home nation, with very little chance of progressing.
    Or England and Japan – OK we’ve got a better chance against Japan than against Ireland the moment, but not hugely so.
    Australia and Wales might have been a better draw for us: At least we know we can beat those teams. But it’s over three years away and a lot can change in that time.

    As with almost everyone, I cannot understand why the seedings and draw are done 3 years ahead of time. World Rugby disingenuously states it was because it “would disrupt tournament preparations, delay the match schedule, venue allocation, and ticket launch.” Absolutely ridiculous that these things need more than 12 months’ preparation. At the very earliest it should have been seeded and drawn a year from now.

    1. WR make FIFA look like a bunch of saints. I think it’s done this way to allow WR to make the draw as soon as they have their preferred top 8 in the world rankings. Finalising the seedings before the Autumn nations cup was done purely to protect Japan while denying other nations the opportunity to move up.

      The one saving grace is that we have other test windows outside the RWC to navigate up through the rankings otherwise we could have found ourselves in the 3rd pool wilderness for years.

  8. Kind of think this draw is better for us….there can be no illusions going into this one…no easing ourselves in..have to hit the ground running .GT has 3 years to prepare for this. He has the opportunity to show himself to be a great coach or an average one.

    Agree SA is a tough one for us… and we will have to come up with something far more creative than going toe to toe with them…we won’t be able to arm wrestle for 80 mins with them.

    Ireland?… I think that could go either way to be honest. They have won their recent matches against us…but if we produce our best and on a neutral venue we could win….they never look amazing to me..they are effective at what they do.

    England will be licking their lips….but there could easily be 2 huge banana skins to slip on there. Argentina have been a tough opponent in this last rugby championship..and took an NZ scalp. Japan may or may not have progressed…if they have…England will have a very tough match.

    Yep..the draw seedings smack of being far too early and against scotland by design…. we have lower reg player numbers…combined with the 2019 RWC spat.

  9. Making the pool draw on current rankings nearly three years before a major team tournament starts is preposterous and indefensible. I agree with Merlot’s comments that World Rugby’s stated reasons for doing this are feeble.

    There are three 6Ns, two sets of AIs, a number of tours and probably two Rugby Championships to be played out long before the 2023 RWC begins. It’s farcical.

    Who knows where SA, Ireland and Scotland will be relative to each other by the second half of 2023? Or other Tier 1 nations in relation to all other Tier 1s?

    I’d like to know the true motives behind World Rugby’s reasons for drawing this now.

    And I’m not saying this because we’ve not got, on current – repeat current – Test form, a great draw for 2023.

  10. Can not see us reaching the QF’s with that group, people saying South Africa are going to be easier than the All Blacks or England are deluded based on what we have last seen of them.

    And Ireland? we have beaten them twice in the last decade, under Toony we have little chance of success, especially with our dynamic midfield at the time likely to be a 35 year old Taylor as well as Harris.

    At least we have Captain ‘we dominated for 70 minutes’ Hogg to give us a chance.

    1. No no no, we have three years to sort it out. Expect more tombola and a game plan around just one man. One day it will work and we will all be sorry then.

  11. South Africa’s chances of doing well hinge on Rassie Erasmus still being in charge in 2023 IMO. They were horrendous before he took over. If he is still in charge then they will likely be formidable. Andy Farrell is still largely unproven as a head coach and I am not convinced he will develop into anything special. What he does have in his favour is a good pool of players to choose from particularly from the Leinster system.

    Wonder what the chances of Wilson, Cockerill and even Toonie still being in position in 2023? I would predict that at least two of the three will have gone to pastures new. Maybe Dodson needs to tap up Rassie as the next Springjock.

  12. Fully expect Scotland to get mullered by South Africa and gubbed by Ireland. Townsend has the best part of 3 years to hone those excuses. Yes we we were in the game for the first 40 mins but got a nosebleed when we got to the opposition 22. Things to work on for the next game, we played well but got a kicking etc etc etc…

  13. The only group that would be escapable is wales/oz, and maybe england/japan on a good day. Ours is hopeless, and also disappointingly boring given we played these teams in the last two. Anyone who thinks otherwise has there head buried in there arse. SA are the worst possible team for us – we’d have a better chance with NZ or even france at home. We should just forget about this and focus on the six nations.

  14. A further kick in the chuckies for Warriors fans. It has been reported that Adam Hastings has signed for Gloucester for next season. We won’t even beat Zebre soon Horne or Thompson at No 10.
    Something just isn’t wright at the Warriors.
    Can it get any worse?

    1. Both Fagersons signed until 2022 but I think Price, Cummings, Huw Jones and Johnson have contracts that expire at the end of this season. Not quite so sure about Kebble but I think his last extension was only one year. So, yes, it could get worse!

    2. Horne and Thompson are injury/backup 10s nothing more or less….if Glasgow dont have a great development 10 in the background that we dont know about…they are screwed.

    3. Confirmed on BBC website, Hastings playing for Gloucs – not sure exactly when, article focuses on the departing Cipriani rather than Hastins.

  15. Not sour grapes because of the draw, it could have been worse in my opinion, in a World Cup if you want to do anything you have to beat good teams at some point. All this wanting to reach at least the QFs is just a load of nonsense, it’s a cup, you either win it or you lose, does it really matter what point we go out at? We’ve been mince for most of this year and aren’t as good as SA and Ireland so it’s a fair match up IMO.

    What annoys me and everyone else is the ridiculous way the draw is done. Why are draws made 3 years before hand? That’s only 1 year after the previous World Cup! I know the host nation will need to plan things and need a fixture list to assist in that, but 3 years, come on to ****. They know there’s going to be two big teams in each group who need a big stadium for their head to head, home nation get their regular ground and the rest can get scattered around. See I’ve done it for them already, that took 30s not 3 years.

  16. I have no doubt at all that WR would have delayed the draw had Japan been ranked 9th and Scotland 8th.

    Pathetic from world rugby to decide the draw 3 years in advance (whether it benefited us or not)

    In worse news, the corruption of the SRU (with respect to director remunerations) is haunting us yet again with Hastings signing for Gloucester.

    So that’s now Russell, Hogg, Gray, Scott, Hidalgo-Clyne, Weir, Hastings that we cannot/refuse to hang onto due to ‘limited budgets’.

    Heads have got to roll. SRU is as corrupt as they come. We have the funds to sustain 2 very successful clubs but the whole thing is ruined by corporate greed at the top.

    1. Good, let’s see if he walks into a team that can put 50 points on Bristol and see where the arguments are that he’s worse than Grigg, McDowell, Harris etc etc. Money aside (as it does not seem relevant to these cases) why does talent like SHC, Russell and Jones get treated so poorly?

      1. Dug: I get the dig and NS is big enough to defend himself, but I think you have inadvertently hit on an enormous issue.

        You do not need to know much about rugby to work out that Townsend and Rennie are complex, ambitious guys. I do not know anything about Wilson.

        At that level you need to be much bigger than someone who understands rugby IMO.

      1. Is he being signed as a fullback or centre is my question though, we need him playing his best position.

      2. Matt: In my opinion it does not matter which position in fact it almost does not matter which club, because this one is not working for him. Huw Jones needs to earn a living in a short period of his life. He needs 1st XV rugby and a club that wants him IMO. The rest will follow. For whatever reason , Glasgow has not worked out for him. I think he has little choice and I can see nothing wrong with Clermont.

      3. Huw Jones arrived with talent and like all players went through a bad patch. But he should have been over that by now. Tells me the issue is external to him.

  17. Not Science, I think there is a bit of face-fittery going on. If you don’t toe the party line, don’t buy into whatever the tactics we are trying that week, or heaven forbid criticise the SRU/Dob$on your card is marked. In Finn’s case he was partially hung out to dry because his father dared to be critical of the organisation and ended up winning his unfair dismissal claim.
    Irrespective of the above the big crime is the financial mismanagement by the highest paid CEO in world rugby and his cronies. It’s a pity they are not paid on results, particularly in light of the last World Cup, they would be queuing at the local food bank.

    1. I take it you are a disgruntled Glasgow Warriors fan that is spitting the dummy out because you have lost a few players and your team is now on par with Zebra. Don’t like Dodson but he is being paid what has been agreed so give it a rest.

      1. Ok Crawford I know you’re at the wind up but I will bite. Here goes.
        By most measurement or just subjectivity the Warriors have declined over the last 5 years, worryingly over the last couple of years and alarming this year. Over the same period my season tickets have all but doubled in price. (Almost has bad the Warriors pies have doubled in price as well). During this period Mr Dodson’s remuneration has increased dramatically to £933k. For comparison Philip Browne the IRFU CEO is paid £175k and whilst Ireland are in transition they have little problem dispatching us and their pro team are operating at a level we can only dream of. Is Dodson who is officiating over the complete tumble into Firhill levels of obscurity of the Warriors and the abject failure of Scotland in last years World Cup worth 4 times the salary of his Irish counterpart? Crawford, I look forward with relish to you putting forward a reasoned argument that he is.

      2. Are you a stereotypical Embra rugby type who doesn’t mind a drubbing as long as the boys are all polite and call you “sir” in the bar?

        Glasgow was building into something that Edinburgh rugby can only dream of. And what did the SRU do, built a copy of Scotstoun in Edinburgh and let the Glasgow team wither away. Total mismanagement by the SRU. People support winners in a sports mad city with a broader fan base and even broader potential base than the establishment city up the road. Sadly the SRU are obsessed with the old school tie. No super six side and now the hollowing out of the Glasgow side.

        You are spot on with the Zebra comparison. We are now in the laughing stock group with them and the Dragons.

      3. Soton: I make no comment on some of your points, I just don’t want to get into that . But like you I am a warrior , however , an empty soul less Murrayfield was no comparison to Scotstoun. We could argue some of the club grounds were fine but Edinburgh does need a place to call home and build a following. Actually , I think our cracking pitch was probably paid for by the owners of the ground at Scotstoun , and not the SRU . But they need a place to call home as well.

      4. Don’t disagree Jockus. There are plenty of suitable venues in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Accies ground in Stockbridge would have been perfect. As I understand it that negation floundered like so many things with the SRU because of their demands.

        Anyway the sru have their ground for their club now. The trouble is they don’t have an identity as people into rugby,mainly, support their FP team in Edinburgh (see above re fan base).

        I am annoyed and disappointed at what has happened to Glasgow. Ever since Cockerill arrived the focus has been on Edinburgh.

  18. Have to wonder, what would i consider a successful 2021 for Scottish rugby based on what i have seen this year.

    For Scotland Team:

    3 out of 5 six nations wins, England and France Away, Italy, Wales, Ireland at Home. So best shot is 3 home wins ?

    5 lions minimum, with 2 in the Test squad (bench or starting) this would actually be a remarkable achievement.

    A summer tour? I would settle for a 3 match series against Aussies, good opposition. With a series win. Add in a warm-up game against Tonga or Samoa to do our part for the cash-strapped T2 sides.

    Autumn series – a win against the low ranked side and Aussies, can’t expect to beat SA.

    Oh… partial Crowds for six nations, and Sold-out BT murrayfield for the autumn games is a must for us.

    For the clubs teams.

    Glasgow (rebuilding season) Just qualifying to European cup.

    Edinburgh – Reach the pro14 final. Hard work to make up the points in the league, but our full strength on form can go toe to toe with any team other than Leinster.

    Neither side expected to reach knockouts of europe this season. Mabey Edinburgh have a good run in challenge cup?

    Clubs games by Aug/Sep with good funding needed for the amateurs. Get the super six back on track also.

    No idea for Sevens.

    Womans game hopefully will keep going in the right direction, hopefully some more serious talks of a pro team joining the English league.

    1. Team Cam. I think I mention remuneration and inadvertently added salary at the end of my rant.
      All the details are here .
      I take it you think Mr Dodson is worth a salary 3 times that of the First Minister who is running the country and dealing with the fallout of a global health emergency, before you add his bonuses for for dealing with a pandemic of epic failure?

    2. Team Cam. I mentioned remuneration but inadvertently typed salary later in my rant. Apologies for that, it must of had you spitting your pheasant and caviar sandwiches into your SRU press office blazer. I bet your real name isn’t even ‘Team’.

  19. Teamcam: The Offside Line and Rugbypass publish that Dodson ‘received £933k in 2019’ why do you disagree ? more importantly , why did you comment that ‘Fed up Flanker’ knows it is not !

    1. Although I was pulling Team Cams leg a bit he is correct in that Dodsons salary is made up of his salary and bonuses. I hadn’t twigged about this until his post, having read the headline figures in articles.
      Even at £455k Dodson makes three times that of the First Minister, who despite anyone’s political allegiances, is managing a global health emergency whilst running the country. Dodson on the other hand is overseeing his own pandemic that has taken us from one horrendous reffing blunder away from a World Cup semi final to an embarrassing early exit. He has also effectively, as the person watching the pennies in the biscuit tin, overseen the demise of the Warriors from a championship winning team to also rans. For this he has been gifted an additional half a million pound bonus.

      1. Just saying , salary, remuneration, wage, pay packet, compensation it makes no difference. We almost all knew what you meant. It is a lot of cash for want of a better word, what about the challenge on the like for like !

  20. If you’re going to knock Dodson it’s worth remembering he was the one who came in and significantly boosted the pro team budget which got them as far as it did.

    If you hold him accountable for the slump this season (which is fair enough) you have to also give him credit for the previous resurgence from where Glasgow were when his reign began.

    1. Scrummo :That is a fair point on the previous years. The SRU has transformed, probably, as fast as it could, things do not happen overnight and change is hard , hard work. I have wondered where that money came from? Did that come from sponsorship deals! our ticket money and merchandising is only two revenue streams. We moan, however , in my opinion , most business leaders are held to account when the big stakeholders complain. Just an opinion, I would love to know if anyone knows and can share more ?

  21. Scrummo. Let’s look at some facts before we praise Mr Dodson as the new messiah (festive couldn’t resist).
    Googled Warriors squad 2011/12 before the elderly baby Jesus sprinkled his alleged fiscal magic on the Scotslehem manger and it was jam packed with the following ‘donkeys’, if not also with frankincense & myrhh.

    R Gray

    Yep really poor wouldn’t have won anything with that lot. Thank goodness for the Christmas miracle of Mr Dodson and his half million pound bonus “God bless you govnor”.

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