Scotland can knock over Ireland on the day
SPOTLIGHT: Scotland have not beaten Ireland since 2017 but there is always a first time, says defence coach Steve Tandy.
Following on the heels of their massive 84-0 victory over Romania on Saturday, Scotland is immediately switching their focus to the number one team in the world, Ireland.
“Over the last few years, I know we haven’t knocked over Ireland [Scotland last defeated Ireland in 2017] but there is always that first time and it would be special to do it on the weekend,” says Tandy.
Scotland needs to win by seven points to stay in the hunt, but Tandy is not too perturbed by that.
“It’s minor. You have to concentrate on your side, I don’t think you can think too far ahead too early. They are an outstanding team, but it’s about focusing on what we do and the later the game goes, you’ll obviously be aware of things, of what the permutations are. But ultimately the focus will be winning the game.
“We focus on ourselves, we have an unbelievable opportunity in the World Cup to play Ireland. It will be an amazing atmosphere and the boys have put in some good performances in France. So we are super excited about the opportunity and getting out there on Saturday night.”
Asked if there were any weaknesses in the Ireland team, Tandy said: “They’re not a bad team, in fairness (laughs)! We have massive respect for what they do and what they have done, they are on an amazing run and have great players. They are well coached but we believe in ourselves.
“We know it is going to be a real tough challenge against Ireland but it’s the World Cup. They are amazing, big games and this is where you need to be. If you’re going to win a World Cup then you have got to knock over the big teams.
“They are really efficient at what they do. They don’t make many unforced errors. Obviously they’ve been together a while now, the coaching staff.
“They are a well-oiled machine around how they play. It’s a clear identity but there is always some variety that comes with it as well, [they’re a] very experienced group who ultimately know how they want to play.”
Tandy was clearly happy with the result against Romania.
“Excellent, fair play, they scored some amazing tries. We changed the team around but I thought the boys really stepped up, which was brilliant for us as a squad. A great performance for the boys leading up to this weekend.”
On if Scotland having to beat Ireland by more than seven points affects their mindset:
Tandy revealed that the team did not sustain any significant injuries against Romania, besides captain Jamie Ritchie who is recovering from a head knock in the match against Tonga.
“No, the boys are still getting assessed. They are in recovery and they will go through all the assessments, probably will have a bit more feedback later on today. At the minute all seems well.”
“These big games might come down to just having those one or two moments that you execute at the right time.”
Tandy is of the opinion that the Scotland team is better than the one that competed in the Six Nations.
“I think there has been growth in us and I think that is what has been brilliant about these World Cup windows. Six Nations time, you don’t get the boys for long periods, you get them probably seven to 10 days before you play your first game. It’s been brilliant to have the time with the boys. I think there is definite growth in what we do. I suppose the truest test will be on Saturday.
“Being the underdog and everyone writing you off, I think the players, coaches and nations respond to it. It’s something that is there but ultimately I don’t think it’s a major factor for us. We don’t read into that too much.
“Whether you are favourites or underdogs you still have to put in a performance that you are proud of.”