'Scotland need a 'best ever' performance to down the Springboks'

Grant Gilchrist sees Sunday's challenge as 'great way to start a World Cup'.

Grant Gilchrist says excitement is building ahead of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup opener, and his side will have to produce a historic performance to beat the Springboks.

Gilchrist and his Scotland teammates face the defending champions in Marseille in their opening game, and the experienced lock intends to relish every moment of the match.

All focus is on trying to deliver a winning start to the campaign but Gilchrist admits that the occasion itself is something to savour.

He said: “It’s as big as it comes, isn’t it?

“How excited can you be, challenging yourselves individually and collectively against the world champions on the biggest stage?

“As a front-five forward, we know if we don’t do our job there is no chance we can win the game on Sunday. That is something that excites me and it’s why I play the game. If you are not excited by that you are in the wrong team and in the wrong sport.

“It’s a great way to start a World Cup.”

Though ranked fifth in the world, Scotland are undoubted underdogs against a side packed with talent and among the favourites to win the tournament.

With 65 caps to his name, Gilchrist has played in his share of important matches, and faced plenty of tough teams, but he says Scotland will have to produce one of their best games of all time to come out on top against this South Africa side.

“If you bring any of the boys in here and ask them, it would mean the world to them to win some big games at a World Cup,” he said.

“All the focus is on being the best version of ourselves on Sunday. We know the challenge and it will take one of our best ever performances, probably of any Scotland team to win.”


Behind the scenes at Scotland’s Rugby World Cup accomodation as the team prepares to take on South Africa. #rugbyworldcup #rugby #scotland #southafrica #france2023

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The team are now in their final preparations after beginning training more than three months ago. While the physical workouts have been tough, and the players have had to take in a lot of information about tactics and opposition, Gilchrist feels one major benefit has been how the squad has bonded over that time.

“We started preparation for this at the end of May which was a long time ago now,” he said. “Every time we have come back together, we have been closer and closer to this week.

“I remember that first meeting and we talked about how many days it was until we played South Africa, now that day is nearly here, and we feel we are ready.”

“It is the small things, not just the work on the training pitch. It’s the conversations at dinner, the nights out, we have had a few beers. We have been through a lot and not just over the last few months.

“People pick up knocks, there’s all sorts happening, but you support each other and get closer and closer. The way our camp is run there is loads of emphasis to connect, and we put a big emphasis on it.

“It is sitting at breakfast, getting to know guys on a different level. When you have that amount of time together, we try to encourage guys not to spend loads of time in their room on their own, there are times you want to just chill, but spending time in the team area and getting those bonds stronger has happened.

After a long wait, the duel with South Africa is fast approaching and he hopes that camaraderie can count in their favour when the action gets under way on Sunday.

He said: “We are a squad that is really tight and ready to perform.”

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