By Ryan Goodwin, Sport & Health Editor
It has been 24 years since the Rugby World Cup came to the UK for the first time with England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales (and a bit of France) all getting their turn of hosting the event.
Eight years later, the competition returned to British soil. Even though Wales were the principal host nation, Scotland, England, the Irish nations and France were all once again able to have the competition played within their borders. In actual fact, since the World Cup started in 1987, Scotland have hosted 15 games despite only being listed as joint-hosts once in 1991.
Whilst joint-hosts however, Scotland were able to get their record placement in the tournament with a fourth-placed finish. The last time it was hosted principally in Britain (Wales, 1999), Scotland were only able to get to the quarter-final stage, the very stage we become very accustomed to in the Rugby World Cup.
This year, with the 2015 event being primarily based in London, Scotland will not be hosting any events in Murrayfield as they have done in the past, and thus far, it hasn’t mattered too much. With early victories over Japan and the United States, we put ourselves in a huge position to advance to the knockout stages.
Further, back in the 1991 competition, we also drew Japan in our first game of the competition. Although that game was played in Murrayfield as opposed to Kingsholm in Gloucester, we still came out with a similar score line: winning 47-9 then as opposed to 45-10 now. Gavin “Big Gav” Hastings – alumni of the University of the West of Scotland, and considered by some to be one of the best ever Scottish players – was on the scoresheet as well that day, managing one try and five conversions.
This year however, it was perhaps a little trickier for the Scots as Japan actually dominated possession and were helped by the display of one Amanaki Mafi, who was eventually forced off the pitch. In a clearer indication that Japan as a whole were struggling for fitness worries however, Scotland managed five second-half tries, allowing a score – and a victory – that was very similar to when the competition was first hosted in Britain.
The worst Scotland has ever done in the World Cup, on the flipside was actually the other end of the world from the British isles. In the 2011 tournament, hosted away over in New Zealand, Scotland managed to win two games, but were also beaten by Argentina and England and were put out in the group stage – something that had never actually happened previously.
Therefore, at the time of writing especially, there is certainly a correlation between Scotland playing nearer Britain and succeeding, going to the semi-finals when they were joint-hosts and then performing at their worst when playing further away. This year, with the competition in London, as well as two early victories, it looks like such a relation between location and results could ultimately follow through.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);