Bullish Scotland ‘can beat anyone’ at the Rugby World Cup

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Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie is confident over their chances at the upcoming Rugby World Cup following a positive Six Nations.

They defeated England, Wales and Italy in the recent tournament, finishing third behind Ireland and France – the number one and two ranked teams in the world.

Gregor Townsend’s men were competitive against the sides above them in the table, suggesting that the Scots can be competitive later this year, but they have been handed the ‘group of death.’

In a pool which contains Ireland and South Africa, as well a Tonga side which will be boosted by several former All Blacks, it will be a big ask to make the quarter-finals.

Building from the Six Nations

“We had a pretty successful Six Nations,” Ritchie told The Scotsman. “Beforehand, if you had asked anyone out with the group if they would have taken outright third behind arguably the best two teams in the world, they probably would have said yes.

“The France game is the one that hurts the most, because arguably we were the better team on the day. We just didn’t quite get it right at the start of the game and at the end.

“We need to put a full performance together. A complete performance. We’ve shown over the last couple of seasons that on our day if we play our best rugby, we can beat anyone in the world and be a better team than anyone in the world.

“You saw that against France, when we were all over them for 60 minutes of the game. If we can turn that into an 80-minute performance, we are going to cause these teams who are supposedly some of the best in the world a lot of problems.”

Ritchie also has confidence in Townsend and the rest of the coaching to get them prepared for the global tournament.

“The coaching team around Gregor is probably one of the best in the world,” he said. “Steve Tandy is probably the best coach I’ve ever worked with in terms of his detail. The way he’s shaped our defence has been outstanding.

“If you were to go into our squad and ask what our defence is, its identity, people would all come out with very similar answers – and that’s a sign we are on the same page. Steve’s job is to get our defence right, and part of our defence is trying to get the ball back so we can attack.

“The bits where he’s had to adapt is looking at the areas where we can put teams under pressure to get the ball back. That’s the one thing he’s thinking about most.”

Tough start

Scotland begin their on-field preparations with a warm-up game against Italy before a double-header with hosts France.

After those matches, they end with a clash against Georgia, but all their eyes by that point will ultimately be on their World Cup opener.

The Scots will be unable to ease into the competition as they face the Springboks on September 10 in a game which will have a huge bearing on who progresses from Pool B.

“We’ve not started speaking about the games, but everyone knows that come day one, that’s our goal (the South Africa match), that’s what we’re going for,” he added.

READ MORE: Opinion: Predicted 33-man Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup

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