Paul O’Connell praises the ‘best Scottish team he’s ever come up against’


Paul O’Connell has lauded the current Scottish rugby team as the best he has ever come up against as a player or as a coach.

Scotland still have a chance of clinching the Six Nations title, having won one of their two games so far, while their third match against France was postponed.

Gregor Townsend’s side beat England for the first time in 38 years at Twickenham last month, with O’Connell telling the Irish Times that he believes that they are the best Scottish side in roughly 20 years.

“I think it’s the best Scottish team I’ve ever gone up against as a coach or a player,” O’Connell said, who retired in 2015 after a hamstring injury.

“They’re very well coached, very physical and they’ve got some real X-factor players as well – Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell. They’re in a very good place and we’re aware of the challenge.”

‘Any team coached by Gregor Townsend attack very well’

The Ireland forwards coach placed much of the praise for Scotland’s improvement on Gregor Townsend’s shoulders, pointing to the impact the head coach had on Glasgow Warriors.

“There’s no doubt Scotland are an excellent side. Any team coached by Gregor Townsend always attack very well. Going back to his Glasgow days they always had incredible physical edge,” O’Connell explained.

“You think sometimes if a coach is into attack then his team won’t have a physical edge, but every Glasgow team I played back in the day were excellent attacking sides, but were physical as well. It’s the same with this Scottish team.

“So much good attack in the Autumn Nations Cup and the Six Nations has come from Scotland. Fantastic performance against England, excellent set-piece performance, which laid a real solid foundation for them to go on and win.”

While Ireland have won the last five encounters between the two sides, Scotland will be confident ahead of this weekend’s clash after the men in green’s unconvincing performances against Wales and France.

The two go head to head at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh this Sunday in the fourth round of the 2021 Six Nations Championship.

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