The long wait is almost over and the 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off tonight at the Stade de France in Paris.
Host nations France take on three time winners New Zealand in a mouthwatering opener between two of the pre-tournament favourites while Scotland begin their campaign on Sunday against defending champions South Africa. Ahead of the competition getting underway and the Scots facing the Springboks in Nice, here are some of the day’s biggest headlines on Friday, September 8:
Former Scotland star says team must be ‘absolutley perfect’ to escape pool
Pundits and former players have been making their predictions for the tournament in recent days, including former Scotland players Johnnie Beattie and Rory Lawson. The pair, who will be part of the BBC’s coverage for the competition, both recognised how good the current crop of Scotland stars is but are well aware how difficult the challenge ahead is.
Beattie said: “The strange and cruel nature of this pool is that this is the best Scottish team I have seen in my lifetime but you are opening up against the world champions and have to also play the number one team in the world. They are going to have to be absolutely perfect.”
Lawson added: “It’s the talent pool of a generation for Scotland. We saw eight British and Irish Lions on tour a couple of years ago and that was as many as Scotland have ever had so they’re well deserving of a seat at the top table.”
Scotland team to play South Africa
Gregor Townsend has named his starting XV and replacements for Sunday’s opening match with South Africa. There aren’t any major surprises as Blair Kinghorn gets the nod at full-back following Stuart Hogg’s retirement earlier this year and winger Darcy Graham is fit enough to start.
Rory Darge is prefered to Hamish Watson at openside flanker while Jack Dempsey starts at number 8 with Matt Fagerson on the bench. Here is the Scotland team to play South Africa:
Starting XV: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ben White, Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie (C) Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey. Replacements: Dave Cherry, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath, Ollie Smith.