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Introducing Scotland: Scots plotting international breakthrough

Introducing Scotland: Scots plotting international breakthrough

The Scotland team celebrate with the Auld Alliance trophy

Scotland have the talent to be a major international player.

The question is now, will they be able to jump that final hurdle to become a Test match force to be feared?

Gregor Townsend’s side boast a host of British & Irish Lions following the summer tour of South Africa, with their most experienced internationals now entering their Test match prime.

It’s time for Scotland to turn their potential into results on the global stage, with the Autumn Nations Series providing a perfect platform for Townsend’s side to show what they are made of.

ANALYSIS

2021 was a mixed bag for Scotland.

A dominant 52-10 win over Italy coupled with incredible away wins over England and France were marred by narrow defeats to Wales and Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations.

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Had they managed to defeat their Celtic opponents in Wales and Ireland, who they lost to 25-24 and 27-24 respectively, they would have walked away from the 2021 Championship with their first Grand Slam title since 1990.

While their stars made their way over to South Africa for the British & Irish Lions summer tour, the rest of the Scotland squad were set to face off against Romania and Georgia until COVID-19 struck again, leading to the Tests being cancelled.

Stuart Hogg

As a result, the clash against Tonga on 30 October will be Scotland’s first Test match action for some time.

If they can find a way to turn the tide in those narrow Championship defeats, they could find themselves in uncharted waters as one of world rugby’s finest international outfits.

And with matches against Australia and South Africa also coming up, the Autumn Nations Series will provide a perfect testing ground for Townsend’s men.

KEY PLAYERS

Scotland boast a stellar backline packed to the rafters with Lions Ali Price, Duhan van der Merwe, Chris Harris and Stuart Hogg, who all played a part in South Africa.

But their star man is undoubtedly fly-half Finn Russell, who also starred for the Lions against the Boks.

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A mercurial conductor who brings a level of unpredictability to proceedings, the 29-year-old keeps Scotland ticking along and gives them a chance to win any Test match on his day.

Away from Scotland’s stylish backs, flanker Hamish Watson is also a key figure in the Scotland set up.

Scotland players celebrate after Zander Fagerson scores a try

The 29-year-old was named the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship and has become increasingly important to Scotland.

Despite his small stature, which some have labelled as a downside to his game, Watson brings dogged work rate off the ball, incredible technique over the ball at the break down and a strong carrying presence.

In Russell and Watson, Scotland have two of the northern hemisphere’s standout players, capable of delivering moments of magic that could flip a Test match on its head.

SCHEDULE

Scotland open their Autumn Nations Series campaign by welcoming pacific islanders Tonga to BT Murrayfield on 30 October.

The last time the two faced off in Edinburgh was 20 years ago, with Scotland running out 43-20 winner in 2001.

A week later, they welcome a resurgent Australia side, who head north buoyed by a successful Rugby Championship campaign that saw them finish second.

Scotland’s last home match against the Wallabies in 2017 saw them demolish their southern hemisphere counterparts 53-24.

VDM Scotland

Australia opened the Rugby Championship with heavy defeats to rivals New Zealand, before producing four magnificent back-to-back wins over South Africa and Argentina respectively.

The defending world champion Springboks are Scotland’s next test following Australia’s appearance at BT Murrayfield.

2018 was the last time the two sides squared off against each other, with the Springboks claiming a 26-20 win.

And Scotland round off their autumn campaign with a visit from Japan on 20 November.

The Brave Blossom’s defeated Scotland 28-21 during their home World Cup in 2019 and Scotland will be out for revenge when they welcome them to BT Murrayfield for their final autumn Test.

FIXTURES

30 October – Scotland v Tonga, BT Murrayfield – KO: 2.30pm

7 November – Scotland v Australia, BT Murrayfield – KO: 2.15pm

13 November – Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield – KO: 1pm

20 November – Scotland v Japan, BT Murrayfield – KO: 1pm

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