Ross Ford has 98 Scotland caps to his name which should make this afternoon’s encounter in Dublin his 99th appearance... except that he earned one cap for the British and Irish Lions back in 2009 off the bench but he doesn’t feel like celebrating, at least not yet.
“You don’t tend to look at the stats and numbers when you are playing, you just enjoy playing alongside the boys and winning games,” says the Kelso man. “There is nothing special been done yet. I’ll just go out and play the way I normally would and put in the performance that I’m happy with and help the boys out. It’s not really a big thing that I have thought about.”
The veteran hooker has been around since he made his Test bow back in 2004 against Australia and becomes the first Scotland forward to follow Chris Paterson and Sean Lamont into three figures. But Scotland have not won at Lansdowne Road/Aviva Stadium since 1998 and unsurprisingly Ford is anticipating a tough afternoon. “I think they [Ireland] are going through a bit of a transition,” he concedes. “They have lost a few key members of the squad. They are still a dangerous team, they don’t make too many mistakes, maybe a slight transition in leadership but still a very dangerous team.”
Ford has been one third of a Scotland front row which has earned rave revues for their commanding performances in the tournament to date; they have earned 11 scrum penalties in the last two matches against Italy and France, teams who are unaccustomed to getting sand kicked in their face.
“Dicko, Fordy and Wee Willy Nel” are perhaps not quite as famous as the Pontypool front row of the 1970s but they are, nevertheless, quietly transforming Scotland’s image at the sharp end of the game. All three are the product of Edinburgh Rugby as are two of the three front-row replacements on the bench, Rory Sutherland and Stuart McInally. “We have worked together for a long time now and know what each other do,” says Ford, pictured. “We have come up against most of the front rows we have played against in club games and internationally. So we know what to expect from different scenarios.
“It has been good we have come from the same club. We have been able to understand and work on it, it’s no real change for us in the way we scrum at Edinburgh when we come up to Scotland, so it has been good.”
Scotland will look to wily veterans of the international arena like Ford this afternoon because Joe Schmidt’s side have yet to lose a Six Nations home game on the Kiwi’s watch.
The Scots are up against it, not least since Ireland ran 58 points past Italy.
“We need to put them under pressure and be physical,” said Ford. “Teams will make errors if you put them under pressure.”