Scotland have been enjoying a remarkable Six Nations Championship.
A nation which has traditionally prided itself on surefire physicality up front, saw such power desert them in recent years. Indeed, having won the final Five Nations Championship they can forever dine out on being the last champions. They have had little else to celebrate in recent years, however.
Picking up four wooden spoons in the meantime is emblematic of such a dip in success but it would appear Scottish rugby is at last in a good place. Not only have they rediscovered their traditional brute force and doggedness up front, they have managed to marry it with scintillating running rugby.
In Finn Russell they have an out-half overjoyed at playing offensive rugby and Ali Price has wasted little time in announcing himself on the international stage. And then there’s Stuart Hogg. Deft hands, searing pace and an eye for a gap, the fullback surely has it all and, barring injury, looks to be one of the few players Warren Gatland can already pen in as a Lions test starter.
All this means Scotland will contest a grand slam decider with England in two weeks, but has also seen them race up the world rankings. As reported in Scotland Rugby News, Scotland are now in their highest ever ranking position of fifth, a rise of three places.
Credit: World Rugby
The move sees them overtake South Africa, currently sixth, Wales who drop to seventh and France who languish in eighth. Indeed, just one position now separates them from the conquerors of the All Blacks, Ireland.
The move is just the latest in a string of good news stories for Scottish rugby, and is timely ahead of their clash with England (ranked second) at Twickenham. England were somewhat sloppy in dispatching of France and often accurate in subduing Italy. The latest world ranking move is further confirmation that a similar performance won’t be enough to topple Scotland.
Scotland have earned the right to dine at rugby’s top table again, and deserve the respect that comes with it.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena
On this weeks Oval Office podcast we chat with Mako Vunipola, Paddy Butler, Rob Henderson and David Toms
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