Dod­die Weir

Scot­land must re­spond af­ter Ire­land de­ba­cle, four years of prepa­ra­tion all comes down to to­day

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

Play­ing in any World Cup is spe­cial. I was lucky enough to play in three tour­na­ments, but this one some­how seems ex­tra spe­cial. Ja­pan just looks the most amaz­ing coun­try and then you have had all th­ese fan­tas­tic sto­ries. Uruguay beat­ing Fiji in Ka­maishi: Wow. Ja­pan beat­ing Ire­land in Shizuoka: Dou­ble wow. Ob­vi­ously Scot­land has been less a case of “Wow” than “Ow”, but I just hope all the play­ers un­der­stand what a priv­i­lege it is to play in a World Cup. You will make mem­o­ries that last a life­time.

Some of my best mem­o­ries are of play­ing at World Cups, from get­ting to the semi­fi­nals in 1991 and then scor­ing two tries against New Zealand in 1995. Great, great times. It does feel strange to think I was in­volved in three World Cups when so much of my strength has dis­ap­peared. I think, “How can that hap­pen when I am strug­gling to lift a cup of cof­fee with two hands?”

For Scot­land, it is win or bust against Samoa to­day. The way the World Cup is or­gan­ised with the pool stages, you can af­ford one slip up, but you can­not af­ford two. Teams have re­cov­ered be­fore from los­ing a game to do well in the tour­na­ment. You look at South Africa los­ing to Ja­pan and then push­ing New Zealand all the way in the semi-fi­nal in 2015. Eng­land got pumped 36-0 against South Africa in 2007 and then reached the fi­nal. There is hope.

I will make no bones about it: Scot­land were very poor against Ire­land. There was no spark. It was flat, lack­lus­tre. When you go into the World Cup, you want to make a big state­ment first up.

Pos­si­bly the Scots took their eye off the ball be­cause their build-up had gone quite well.

The most dis­ap­point­ing thing is that Scot­land gave Ire­land too much re­spect, too much time, which you can­not af­ford to.

Ire­land’s play­mak­ers al­ways seemed to have three or four sec­onds on the ball. There was no get­ting into their faces, no hus­tling, no counter-ruck­ing, which al­lowed Ire­land to play on the front foot. Go back to the Uruguayans, they played a game where they gave Fiji no time. They hus­tled, they bus­tled. For all of Ire­land’s power up front, Ja­pan showed that you can knock them off their game if you do not play the match on their terms.

It is one thing to be beaten by a bet­ter team, but it is an­other to be out­worked by any­one else. Hard work un­der­pins ev­ery­thing in rugby. Tal­ent is prob­a­bly worth about five per cent.

Even if

Vi­tal task: Gre­gor Townsend must lift his Scot­land play­ers

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