Rugby World Cup: Borders rugby legend Alan Tait reckons routine Scotland World Cup wins are poor preparation for Ireland crunch match

Scotland legend Alan Tait reckons the national team’s routine Pool B victories over Tonga (45-17) and Romania (84-0) are poor preparation for taking on the might of top ranked Ireland in their final Rugby World Cup group fixture in France this Saturday, kick-off 8pm.
Alan Tait of Scotland is tackled by Dion O''Cuinneagain of Ireland during Scotland's 30-13 Five Nations win at Murrayfield on March 20, 1999 (Pic by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)Alan Tait of Scotland is tackled by Dion O''Cuinneagain of Ireland during Scotland's 30-13 Five Nations win at Murrayfield on March 20, 1999 (Pic by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Alan Tait of Scotland is tackled by Dion O''Cuinneagain of Ireland during Scotland's 30-13 Five Nations win at Murrayfield on March 20, 1999 (Pic by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Having previously lost 18-3 to South Africa in their group opener, the third-placed Scots have 10 points as they trail the Springboks and the Greens in the race for a quarter-final spot, with only the top two qualifying. Scotland must not only beat Ireland, but do so by more than seven points while restricting them to three tries or less to deny Ireland a losing bonus point.

Kelso-born Southern Knights head coach Tait, 59, who won 27 Scotland caps between 1987 and 1999, told the Southern Reporter: "Scotland have played against some poor defences in the last two games and have rattled in a lot of tries.

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"Does that really get you ready for a game like Ireland? I’m not too sure.

"I think Scotland could have done with a stiffer test before they go into it because there certainly won’t be spaces like they’ve been getting in the last two games when they play Ireland, who probably have one of the best defences in the world.

"That might catch Scotland out, because they just haven’t had that sort of physical challenge.

"Forget the pool stages, it would be brilliant to get into the knockout stages, that’s what World Cups are all about.

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"I just hope that the whole tournament kicks off really. I’ve been pretty disappointed with it. I can’t wait until we get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s get some knockout rugby going and get the big boys against each other.”

Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend is a former international team-mate of Tait’s, who reckons his old pal won’t worry about the maths involved in Scotland qualifying.

Tait said: “Gregor’s not daft, you win first and then worry about bonus points.

"If Scotland win that game and they don’t qualify they can always say that they’ve beaten the Six Nations champions and world number ones. It would be a big scalp for them to go into next year’s Six Nations.

"It will be a big ask but Scotland have nothing to lose, have they? Scots love being the underdogs.”