Rugby: Don’t sell the Scotsmen short

The Scots might be a bigger threat than imagined when they join Samoa and Italy for a quadrangular series here in SA, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku.

Two years after every Rugby World Cup comes a feast for one southern hemisphere team and famine for the rest.

With the British and Irish Lions party heading down under, South Africa’s left to make do with scraps.

Only three Scotsmen, in Sean Maitland, Richie Gray and Stuart Hogg are part of the Lions setup.

Nick De Luca will also not go on tour.

The three is one less than the 2009 contingent, with Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Nathan Hines and Mike Blair being the Scottish representatives then.

Murray and Ford will make the trip to South Africa now, setting up what will be delicious scrum battles.

In 2005, they had only three making the trip to New Zealand.

It is a sign of how low the opinion of Scottish players is in the eyes of Lions selectors.

Failure to finish in the top three since winning the five nations in 1999 has not served them well either.

Between now and the first test in Brisbane on June 22, there will be casualties, but even then, not many of the Scots will be first-choice replacements.

Of the Celtic nations, they are the weakest and their player depth is minuscule compared to that of England, Wales and Ireland.

Their record in South Africa is not the most flattering either, nor is the one against their quadrangular opponents.

What they have done is to twice upstage South Africa on end-of-year tours, which could amount to catching the Springboks going off the boil after long seasons.

The difference is those victories came at a cold and heavy Murrayfield.

They have never won a test match in South Africa. But with Super Rugby injuries taking their toll on South Africans, this could represent their best chance of winning a Test against the Boks.

Even the Italians will fancy their chances against a Scotland team with precious few stars in it.

They beat them 13-6 in a Six Nations arm-wrestle in Rome, but then again, what the northern hemisphere has lacked in style it has always made up for in passion and substance.

Samoa, with positive records against both sides, will not be here to only make up the numbers, but South Africa will be the Scotsmen’s most prized scalp, if they can do it.

»?The quadrangular series runs from June 8 to June 22

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