So, a year from now and it’ll all be over and we will know just how far Scotland has come as a rugby nation. Scotland have been building towards World Cup 2011 since Andy Robinson came into post and the focus is now very much on next year’s big event. Progress has been made and the good folk at Team Scotland would point to good performances, and more importantly results, in the last 3 games – away from home – where they have beaten Ireland and the Argentinians (twice). A year from now though Scotland will be in the tightest Group at WC2011 with both England and Argentina standing in the way of progress to the knock out stages. Scotland need to keep on the upward trajectory to keep the momentum building towards WC2011 and the impending Autumn Internationals are now the next key test.
Cue the Richie/riches puns, people! Here is the Scotland team for this weekend:
Scotland: 15 Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), 14 Rory Lamont (Toulon), 13 Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), 12 Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), 11 Sean Lamont (Scarlets), 10 Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), 9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh) CAPTAIN
1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), 2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh), 3 Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), 4 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), 5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), 6 Kelly Brown (Saracens), 7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), 8 Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)
A new large-named and largely unheard of sponsor was announced for Scotland’s Autumn Tests, to replace the usual bank. I suppose from that point of view it is a change, and less for the anti-banking lobby to whinge about. I’d be quite happy for them to spend my tax pounds sponsoring Scottish Rugby. Pothole, what pothole?
As Robbo prepares to stop being in the crowd at every single Heineken Cup game on Sky and actually name his 33-man squad on Wednesday, he must have a few headaches. Even the distraction of B & I Lions manager Andy Irvine claiming Robbo is in the running for Lions head coach will take some heat away from the fact that some key injuries, poor performances and the inescapable need to select Dan “I’m enjoying the Leek and Mutton pies a bit too much” Parks could make selection a stingy issue.
Scotland will play their November international against Samoa at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen on Sat 27th November, 2.30pm. Cue massive excitement from the P & J and gushing interviews with any of the following: Chris Cusiter, Jason White, Willie Miller. Anyone fancying a blustery day out in Aberdeen in November should head over to the SRU website and snap up some tickets.
Tickets are now also on sale for the Boks and the Blacks. Reckon we could be in with a shout against South Africa if Du Preez stays injured. The All Blacks are cleverly peaking in between World Cups again so I don’t fancy our chances there. And quite what Samoans will make of playing rugby in the North Sea, I don’t know…