Blair Strikes Confident Note
Scrum half Mike Blair is confident that Scotland have a genuine chance of creating history tomorrow, by becoming only the second side wearing the thistle to qualify for the Rugby World Cup semi finals. It has been 16 years since the nation made it to the last four and tomorrow a victory against Argentina would see the current crop emulate the feat of Messrs Sole, Hastings, Jeffrey, Calder and co. Scrum half Mike Blair is confident that Scotland have a genuine chance of creating history tomorrow, by becoming only the second side wearing the thistle to qualify for the Rugby World Cup semi finals. It has been 16 years since the nation made it to the last four and tomorrow a victory against Argentina would see the current crop emulate the feat of Messrs Sole, Hastings, Jeffrey, Calder and co. The squad made their first visit to the Stade de France earlier this evening for the captain’s run and there was hardly a breath of wind in the magnificent 80,000 arena. Speaking after tonight’s session, Blair declared: “Everyone is in good spirits after the game last week. It was a real must-win situation and now we’re in the best draw we could have had as I think we have the most chance of beating Argentina. “We have the feeling if we play, well we can definitely win. We have a real genuine chance.” His confidence, and enthusiasm, was shared by No 8 Simon Taylor. He said: I’m looking forward to it. It’s a brilliant stadium, we are at the quarter-finals. Everyone has been enjoying the World Cup so far and we are looking forward to putting on a performance. Argentina are favourites for the match, given their world ranking – four places above the Scots – and their performances so far. They have yet to lose a game in the tournament and have shown a speed and ferocity especially at the breakdown, which will be a key area in tomorrow’s match. Scotland’s assistant coach George Graham said: “Argentina have done well at the breakdown. They are very aggressive and so we’ve done work on that. We know when people should be running and we will make sure we can counteract that at the breakdown.” “Before the World Cup started, we were told there would be more leeway at the breakdown but I don’t see much change. It’s up to referees and their interpretation of law.” After the captain’s run, the squad watched the second quarter final, between New Zealand and France, on television, after having taken in England’s progress through to the next round earlier in the day. Graham continued: “The England game was good. They played very well, changing their tactics a bit to adapt to Australia. They didn’t do their normal forward-dominated, up their jumper stuff and the Australians didn’t cope with them playing a wider game.” Last week the continuous rain played a large part in Scotland’s final pool match against Italy in St Etienne. Tomorrow, the forecast is for a dry, cloudy night, but then again, that may change. Graham said: We are looking as closely as you can ever look at the weather. It’s never a certainty but you can always plan for every eventuality. Last week the forecast was for dry weather and the skies opened up. We can’t control that. Scotland may not have any power over the elements, but the chance to progress to the semi finals, for only the second time ever, is very much in their hands.