Rugby World Cup History: Scotland

With less than 100 days to the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Last Word on Sports looks back at how the participating nations have fared in the previous seven tournaments from the inaugural in 1987 to the most recent in 2011. Today’s focus is Scotland, who have appeared at each of the seven previous Rugby World Cups.

Rugby World Cup History: Scotland


Scotland qualified for the first World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as one of the seven IRFB members, and were drawn in pool four alongside France, Romania and Zimbabwe. An opening match against France saw the two teams from the Five Nations play out a 20-20 draw. Scotland dispatched both Romania and Zimbabwe with ease but despite scoring a total of 20 tries across the two games they still qualified behind the French as group runners up on points difference. By finishing second Scotland would meet pool three winners, co-host New Zealand. Scotland were beaten handily by the tournaments eventual winners, losing 30-3 to the All Blacks


By reaching the quarter finals in 1987, Scotland automatically qualified for the 1991 tournament, to be held in the Five Nations with the final held in England. As in 1987 Scotland were drawn with Zimbabwe in the pool stage, in addition to Ireland and Japan. Playing all three pool games at their home stadium of Murrayfield, Scotland easily saw off both Japan and Zimbabwe before defeating Ireland 24-15 to seal top spot in the group. A quarter final match against Western Samoa saw a comfortable 28-6 win for Scotland setting up a semi final against the auld enemy, England. A tight affair saw Scotland take a 6-0 lead through two Gavin Hastings penalties. Jonathan Webb brought England level with two penalties of his own before a Rob Andrew drop goal sealed a 9-6 England win. Scotland faced New Zealand in the 3rd/4th playoff but as at the previous World Cup New Zealand emerged victorious running out 13-6 winners


As in 1991 Scotland qualified by reaching the quarter finals of the previous tournament. Drawn in pool  4, Scotland would face France, Tonga and the Ivory Coast. Thrashing Ivory Coast 89-0 in their first game, Scotland then saw off Tonga 41-5 to set up a match with France to determine the group winners. Scotland came off second best against the French losing a tight game 22-19. Finishing second set up a quarter final against Jonah Lomu and the All Blacks. As in the two previous world cups Scotland were unable to overcome New Zealand going down 48-30.


In 1999 only the top three finishers from 1995 and final host Wales qualified automatically, as such Scotland would have to play in a qualifying group. Drawn against Spain and Portugal, Scotland easily saw off their Iberian opponents, scoring 85 points in both matches and only conceding a collective 14 points. Spain also qualified from the group and were placed in Pool A with Scotland at the main tournament. Making up the remaining participants in Pool A were Uruguay and World Champions South Africa. After losing to South Africa in their opening match Scotland defeated Spain and Uruguay to qualify for the quarter final playoff. This saw them face pool D runner up Samoa with Scotland running out 35-20 winners. As in 1987 and 1995 Scotland’s quarter final match would see them face New Zealand. It was déjà vu for Scotland, as in the previous three world cups, 1999 ended in defeat to the All Blacks with 30-18 being the final score.


The 2003 World Cup qualification reverted to automatic qualification for the previous tournaments quarter finalists. As such Scotland did not need to navigate qualifying and were drawn in pool B with France, Fiji, Japan and the USA.  Wins against Japan and USA came before a 51-9 defeat to France. This set up a final game show down against Fiji to qualify for the quarter finals. Scotland edged a tight game 22-20. Hosts Australia awaited Scotland who were unable to overcome the Wallabies losing 33-16.


Scotland went into the 2007 World Cup in France in pool C alongside New Zealand, Italy, Romania and Portugal. Bonus point wins against Portugal, playing in their first ever World Cup, and Romania, saw Scotland face their Rugby World Cup nemesis New Zealand with a maximum 10 points. However it was the same old story against the All Blacks. Losing 40-0 setting up a must win game against Italy to qualify from the pool. Scotland prevailed 18-16 setting up a quarter final against Argentina. Scotland lost 19-13 to the South Americans who went on to finish third.


Drawn in pool B for the 2011 World Cup alongside Argentina, England, Georgia and Romania, Scotland opened the tournament with wins against Georgia and Romania to leave themselves in a good position going into their games against Argentina and England. However a one point defeat to Argentina left Scotland needing a win against England to stay in the tournament. Despite holding a  12-9 lead entering the latter stages, a late Chris Ashton try saw England emerge 16-12 winners and eliminate Scotland. Although it was scant consolation by finishing third in the pool Scotland secured automatic qualification for the 2015 finals.

Scotland have appeared in every World Cup Finals and that run will continue this autumn. Achieving their best result at the 1991 coming 4th the Scots have only once failed to miss the quarter finals. Scotland performances on Rugby’s biggest stage have seen them put up gallant efforts only to just fall short often when facing the All Blacks, losing to New Zealand in five of the seven tournaments, and Scotland will be pleased to have avoided them in the 2015 pool stage and any potential quarter final.

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