Rugby World Cup: for Scotland, against Ireland, it's the feat or the exit

This weekend there will be a scent of the Six Nations Tournament at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis

Rugby World Cup: for Scotland, against Ireland, it's the feat or the exit

This weekend there will be a scent of the Six Nations Tournament at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Saturday October 7 at 9 p.m., the Irish rugby team faces Scotland in the final match of Pool B. The identity of the quarter-finalists who manage to escape will depend on the result of the match. of this “group of death” and therefore the opponent of the XV of France in the quarter-finals.

After the exotic clashes between Portugal and Georgia, Namibia and Uruguay or Chile and Argentina, the rugby fan will dive back in, with delight or reluctantly, it depends, in the comfort of habit. Ireland and Scotland have faced each other once a year for one hundred and forty-six years, and their players know each other by heart, crossing swords every year in the Tournament, but also in the championship and in the European Cup with their respective clubs.

"We obviously have a game plan. We have the advantage of having played them quite often in the Six Nations and therefore being able to look at our previous meetings with them, and the chances that we perhaps didn't take." analyzed, this week, the captain of the Chardon XV, Jamie Ritchie.

Eight consecutive defeats

For the Scots, after their inaugural defeat against South Africa (18 to 3), the equation is clear but delicate. You have to win to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. But a simple victory will not be enough for them: Scotland must win their match without Ireland taking a bonus point (offensive, by scoring four tries, or defensive, by losing by seven points or less). The Chardon or not in front of his evening opponent.

“We knew we had to deliver our best performance in one of these two matches [against Ireland or South Africa] and, as we did not play well enough against South Africa, it 'It's all against Ireland,' recognizes Jamie Ritchie.

Problem: it's been a long time since Scotland last triumphed over Ireland, since they remain on eight consecutive defeats, conceded with an average of more than 14 points behind. During their last meeting, counting for the 2023 Six Nations Tournament, Ireland dryly dominated their opponent 22-7, inflicting a relentless 14-0 in the second half.

Very mobile game and offensive abilities

Scotland, in constant progress in recent years and fifth in the world rankings, is however capable of competing with any team. At the beginning of August, they beat the French XV – admittedly largely reworked – in their Murrayfield stadium, in Edinburgh. Even their last defeat against Ireland contained reasons for hope: before collapsing in the second half, the Scots had made life very difficult for the Irish.

The Chardon XV can notably rely on a very mobile style of play and above-average offensive capabilities, in the wake of its fly half Finn Russell, one of the best players in the world. “We have to be able to make our attack work: when that’s the case, I think we can beat anyone,” Chardon fullback Blair Kinghorn confirmed this week.

Against Ireland, however, it has planned a substitute bench made up of six forwards, compared to only two three-quarters, proof that it does not intend to shy away from the standoff that the Irish will propose. “We know that the match will be very physical and that the speed of movement of the ball is crucial for the success of our attack. For this, we thought that an additional third line would bring the freshness, energy and aggressiveness that we will need to have fast balls and slow down the opponent in defense,” explained Scottish coach Gregor Townsend .

In this area, Scotland has arguments: it showed it by competing, particularly at the start of the match, against South Africa. “For a good year, we have played physical matches and we have risen to the occasion. We are ready to face any team,” says Scottish prop Zander Fagerson, who will be at the heart of the fight.

Gregor Townsend firmly believes in his team's chances. “We have already had great performances in matches where we were not favorites, in Paris [against the Blues] as well as at Twickenham [in London], against England. We want to be the courageous team that has nothing to lose. That’s been our state of mind all week,” added the Scottish technician.