It's fair to say that the Scotland Rugby team were outplayed and second best during last Sunday's opening of the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Ireland. The Tartan Army were outplayed for the majority of the match and simply couldn't deal with the incredible energy and aggression shown by the Irish team. This result leaves Scotland second from the bottom of Pool A, above only a poor Russia team who lost heavily to both Samoa and Japan. It is certainly not a good start to the tournament for the Scot's but we believe there are still some reasons to be positive. The Republic of Ireland are ranked as the 4th favourite team and it was always going to be a difficult match for the Scots. The question that remains is - just how far can Scotland go at the 2019 Rugby World Cup?
- Scotland were easily defeated by the Irish 27-3 in Yokohama.
Coming into the tournament Scotland had odds of 40/1 to win the competition and were actually 8th place favourites to bring home the cup. Although these odds put them below countries like England, Wales and New Zealand, Scotland were bigger favourites than Argentina, Italy and even the host nation of Japan! Looking at the odds after their opening defeat however and although Scotland are still 8th place favourites the odds of them winning the competition have increased to 100/1. It would definitely be a massive shock if Scotland were to win the Rugby World cup but it is by no means impossible!
Scotland have a decent if not incredible record at the Rugby World Cup overall. They have finished in at least the quarter-finals at every tournament apart from in 2011 when they were eliminated during the pool stage by England. This includes one Quarter Final defeat by eventual champions New Zealand in 1987. Scotland's best result at the World Cup was during the 1994 competition when they reached the semi-finals. Unfortunately Scotland were again eliminated by the English in a tense game that finished 6-9 and ended up being one of the lowest scoring Rugby games ever! At the 2015 world cup Scotland were eliminated by a single point by eventual finalists Australia proving that the Scots can compete with the very best. With Australia scoring a controversial penalty in the dying seconds of the game this was a heartbreaking result for Scotland who would have played against an Argentina team in the semi-finals that they would have been favourites to beat.
- Scotland playing against Australia during the 2015 World Cup quarter finals. A match they narrowly lost 35-34
Looking at Scotland's World Cup history is all well and good but we will get a better indication of Scotland's chances by looking at their recent results and performances. As they played in the previous 2015 World Cup Scotland qualified automatically so obviously we cannot get any insight into their performances. Looking at Scotland's recent Six Nations results is very promising however. Although they finished 2nd bottom at last years Six Nations this does not tell the full story as Scotland put in some great performances and only finished 5 points away from 3rd place. Of these performances came a convincing and impressive 33-20 victory over Italy and a magnificent performance to claim a 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham. Scotland were also one of the teams that were closest to defeating eventual champions Wales losing marginally 11-18. Overall it was a very promising Six Nations campaign that gave fans plenty of hope for the World Cup.
Although Scotland winning the 2019 Rugby World cup is definitely a long shot, you never really know what can happen at a big tournament. When it comes to the knockout rounds, tactics can sometimes be thrown out of the window. Suddenly even the big teams can become very nervous and start making mistakes. If Scotland can capitalise on these mistakes then anything can happen!
They could maybe even bring the trophy back home...