Young Scots struggle on world stage

Scotland continue to draw blanks at this year’s Under-20 World Championships suffering a 24-20 defeat to Ireland on Saturday leaving them bottom of Pool B with one game remaining, writes Alexander McLeman.

Heading into this summer’s tournament in Italy the Scotland squad, including Borderers Neil Irvine-Hess, Lewis Carmichael and Ruaridh Knott (Melrose), Ross Graham (Hawick) and Ruaridh Howarth (Gala), had shown encouraging signs that improvements in youth rugby are beginning to turn into results, not least during this year’s under-20 RBS Six Nations where the young thistles finished third, the highest ever by a Scottish age-grade side.

Coached by Sean Lineen, assisted by John Dalziel, the young Scots have stuttered out of the blocks at the World’s, suffering a 68-10 ruination against a marvellously balanced All Black’s side bursting with Super rugby talent followed by Saturday’s malaise against Ireland.

Against New Zealand, the Scots were simply outplayed. The All Blacks are a juggernaut team who illustrated just how far Scotland have to go until they are realistically able to compete with the rest of the tier one nations.

The baby blacks tortured Scotland with their pace and destructive ball carrying skills, eventually coasting to a nine tries to one victory.

Saturday’s contest with Ireland, Scotland put on fundamental display of poor basic rugby with handling errors, rather than Irish superiority, costing them victory that remarkably for long stretches remained well within the Dark Blues reach.

The young thistles front eight, whose ruck-and-maul tactics were one of the few plusses against New Zealand, enjoyed another promising spell of dominance in the 30-plus degree heat of Calvisano.

Both sides scored two tries but it was penalties that proved Scotland’s undoing, Ireland’s Joey Carberry flawless with the boot, kicking four from four.