Defence coach Taylor warns Scotland to avoid World Cup crisis against Russia

A Scotland win over Russia would take Pool A qualification down to the wire.

By Press Association Published: 1 October 2019 - 8.37am


Rugby Union

Matt Taylor has warned Scotland that a return to bad habits against Russia will cast them back into a World Cup crisis.

The Scots have reignited their quarter-final bid with Monday night’s bonus point win over Samoa as they shook off the shame of their woeful display in their Pool A opener against Ireland.

Gregor Townsend declared the real Dark Blues had finally shown up in Japan after his side’s 34-0 triumph over the Pacific Islanders in Kobe.

The stage is now set for a do-or-die decider with the hosts on October 13 to see who progresses to the last eight.

But before that Townsend’s team must take care of Russia – ranked 20th in the world – a week on Wednesday to ensure the Pool A battle goes down to the wire.

Defence coach Taylor does not want to see his side repeat the sloppy mistakes which left them on the brink of an early exit as they were thrashed by the Irish in Yokohama.

Scotland secured a potentially crucial bonus point against Samoa
Scotland secured a potentially crucial bonus point against Samoa (Adam Davy/PA)

He said: “The reality of where we are is it is knock-out now. Every game now is like a quarter-final.

“We have to turn up and play Russia with the right mindset and do a good professional job. Hopefully if we do that, we set ourselves up for a really good game against Japan.

“I will be very disappointed if we don’t show the same aggression and mindset because we know if we don’t show up, or put in a performance like we need to, we are out. It is basically knock-out every game for us now.

“We are back on the dance-floor, we are back in the competition, and we have to make sure we do it for the next two games.”

“Every game now is like a quarter-final”
- Matt Taylor

Taylor admits that with just four days between their final two fixtures, the Scots could put out two entirely different line-ups – allowing them to get a head start on their preparations for the showdown with the Japanese.

He added: “We’re going to sit down and draw up a really good plan.

“As coaches we’ve already thought through some really good ideas about how we’re going to approach that lead up to both games.

“We have to manage two teams, who’s playing and who’s not.

Taylor says Scotland will use their squad depth with two games in four days
Taylor says Scotland will use their squad depth with two games in four days (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“We’ve got to plan our tactics and making sure we do a professional job going into Russia. Then three or four days later, with not much physical training, then go into Japan.

“We have to get the training right, the balance, the strategy, the players right. We’ve got to get a lot of things right because it’s not a normal two-weeks.

“Our planning and preparation has to be spot on.

“It’s probably not as simple (as preparing with two separate teams) but in general sense yes.”

The knives were out for the Scots last week as pundits and fans laid into them in the wake of their savaging from Joe Schmidt’s men.

Taylor also found himself in the firing line as his defensive strategy was swept aside by the Irish, who ran in three first-half tries on their way to a crushing 27-3 win.

But the former Scotland A flanker refused to throw that criticism back at his doubters after seeing the Dark Blues chalk up their first clean sheet of Townsend’s reign at the Misaki Stadium.

“From the first line-out against Samoa we got off the line, we double-hit them and knocked them back,” he said.

“I think we took the stuffing out of them a little bit. It is exactly what we needed to do.

“It is very satisfying when you are a defence coach and manage to keep an opposition scoreless.”