Scotland will play New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga this November.
The problem with World Cups is that you have to make sacrifices to attend. A trip to the other side of the world doesn’t come cheap and to fund this you have to give up on the small pleasures, such as warm up games. However the rugby god’s saw fit to reward my commitment to the cause by dishing up a couple of tickets to Saturday’s game so I could see first hand just what was being prepared for the main course in a few weeks time.
Tickets on sale on match days. Woohoo, I hear you cry!
Ahead of Scotland’s EMC Test against Ireland at Murrayfield this Saturday, sales of tickets have now reached around the 20,000 mark. To ensure all supporters have an opportunity to come along to Murrayfield to back the team ahead of the IRB Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the match in addition to the usual pre-booking avenues. So never mind that it is on TV, get on down!
With the EMC tests looming and the daily press releases telling us how our players are “harder, faster, stronger” than ever before whilst the players assure us the group has never been so tight-knit, I must ask: how will the warm up games pan out?
Scotland 19-16 Samoa
Scotland brought their Autumn International series to a close with a narrow win over a determined bunch of Samoans, who seem to have replaced their free-wheeling and high-tackling style with something far more difficult to overcome. Consistent access to this group of players and a bit of work on the set piece will make them very tricky opponents for Wales, Fiji and South Africa in next year’s Rugby World Cup. Luckily, we only have the new Champions of the World (ie England) to contend with in our group so we can continue to be wildly inconsistent.
I’m gonna blow my own trumpet…last week, like a new-age Mystic Meg, I predicted Scotland would usurp Ireland and Argentina in the World Rankings. I just had no idea we would do it so soon!
Amidst the mess it is easy to forget there’s an important Test to be played, one the Springboks will win comfortably. Scotland were woeful against the All Blacks and won’t make the exponential improvements needed to beat the Springboks.
Ryan Vrede, Telegraph Rugby Blog
TEAM UPDATE: Max Evans has not fully recovered from the stinger he picked up last weekend against New Zealand that brought the game to a close. Hotly tipped Saints utility man Joe Ansbro has been brought straight into the side to earn his first cap. His now vacant wing place in the A Team results in giant Jack Cuthbert coming in at full back and Thompson swapping in for Ansbro. Congratulations to Joe and we wish him all the best for Saturday.
This coming Saturday it won’t be wave after wave of clinical attack, but it will be a display of blunt force trauma.
S.A. have lost experience in their backline and have a 9 who has little experience at test level (perhaps the reason why Lawson was picked ahead of Laidlaw). Looks like this one is going to be teed up for the Ogres in green. Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield (capt); Juan Smith, Ryan Kankowski. Some big boys there.
Scotland A: 15 Jim Thompson (Edinburgh) 14 Joe Ansbro (Northampton Saints) 13 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh) 12 Alex Grove (Edinburgh) 11 Lee Jones (Edinburgh) 10 David Blair (Edinburgh) 9 Mark McMillan (Bath) 1 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) 2 Scott Lawson (Gloucester) 3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh) 4 Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh) 5 Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors, CAPTAIN) 6 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 7 Roddy Grant (Edinburgh) 8 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie (Doncaster Knights) 17 Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh) 18 Tom Ryder (Saracens) 19 David Denton (Edinburgh) 20 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 21 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 22 Jack Cuthbert (Bath)
Several of these guys should be worth a run against Samoa if they step up and put the USA Eagles away at Netherdale on Friday 19th, 7.30pm, FREE admission. Yes, free. The captain’s run tomorrow (Thurs) is also open to the public.
Here is the team to face South Africa at Murrayfield on Saturday, k.o 2.230pm GMT, as best I can make out:
Scotland Team: Hugo Southwell, Nikki Walker, Max Evans Joe Ansbro, Graeme Morrison, Sean Lamont, Dan Parks, Rory Lawson (capt), Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Scott Macleod, Richie Gray, Nathan Hines, John Barclay, Kelly Brown
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Richie Vernon, Ross Rennie, Greg Laidlaw, Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Paterson
South Africa: Zane Kirchner; Gio Aplon, Francois Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Lwazi Mvovo; Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield (capt); Deon Stegmann, Juan Smith, Ryan Kankowski.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Patrick Lambie, Adrian Jacobs.