Rugby World Cup: Scotland have no fear of history despite dire run against Ireland
The vice-captain believes his players need to produce a performance similar to the one they delivered to beat France in Paris in the 2021 Six Nations. It was Scotland’s first win at the Stade de France for 22 years and Gregor Townsend’s squad return to the great sporting arena on Saturday night for the Pool B showdown with the Irish.
It’s been six years since Scotland last beat them but Gilchrist believes in this squad and their ability to overturn long-standing records. The class of 2021 also won at Twickenham, the first time in 38 years they had defeated England at their HQ. A little over three months earlier they had won in Wales for the first time in 18 years. Such results are proof that they have the temperament and ability to deliver on the big occasion, according to Gilchrist who insists there can be no feelings of inferiority on Saturday evening despite eight defeats in a row against the Irish.
“There has to be an increase in emotion as this is as big a moment as you will get in your career,” said the forward. “It’s all or nothing for us. The challenge is hugely exciting, it’s the stuff of dreams for the players to go out into an arena like this with everything on the line, having had the journey that we’ve had to this point. It’s about bringing that emotion. It’s about not being scared of it, we are going to embrace it. We are going to put absolutely everything we’ve got into this game. We believe that is going to be enough to win.”
A win alone will not be enough. Scotland need to do it and deny Ireland a bonus point in the process. Townsend’s team failed to ignite in their Pool B opener against South Africa last month, losing 18-3, but bounced back to beat both Tonga and Romania with a bonus point. Ireland is a huge step up in class and Gilchrist knows Scotland will need to rediscover the levels they showed in that win over France in 2021 when they played the final ten minutes with 14 men following Finn Russell’s red card and showed patience and superb execution to win the match with Duhan van der Merwe’s try in injury time.
“The way we defended in that game, being a man down at the end and came back and went through multi phases, that’s the levels of effort which we will require,” said Gilchrist. “Big games that we’ve had recently against England, away at Twickenham where we have had bad records, there are similarities there. This Irish team has gone and done things that this Scotland team haven’t done. We know that beating Ireland on a big stage is something that we have not done but that is what excites us. That is why we need to go out and give our all for our country and for ourselves to get into the quarter-final final.
“History doesn’t scare this team. We want to go out and do things that we have struggled to do. That is the kind of challenge which gives you the really special moments in your career and that's what this team is striving to do.”
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