Scotland have appeared in all nine previous tournaments and are the sixth-highest point-scorers in Rugby World Cup history with 1,261 points, placing them above Six Nations rivals Wales and Ireland in the all-time list. Twenty-nine per cent of those points came from two of the greatest-ever kickers to grace the Rugby World Cup stage in Gavin Hastings and Chris Paterson.
Since reaching the semi-finals of the second tournament in 1991, the furthest Scotland have gone in the competition is the quarter-finals. And having missed out on the knockout stages for only the second time in 2019, after a defeat to Japan, they will be desperate to make amends at France 2023.
We take a look at Scotland’s Rugby World Cup story.
RWC debut: 23 May, 1987 v France at Lancaster Park, Christchurch
RWC appearances: Played 42 – Won 24 Drawn 1 Lost 17 – Points for 1,261 Points against 803 – Winning ratio 57 per cent
Most RWC appearances: Chris Paterson, 15
Most RWC tries: Gavin Hastings, 9
Best finish: Semi-finalists in 1991
Qualification for RWC 2023: Third in Pool A at RWC 2019
Most memorable match: The breathtaking 36-33 win against Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle in 2015. Greig Laidlaw scored 26 points – his best ever haul in a single test – in a bonkers game of rugby that produced seven tries and booked Scotland a quarter-final against Australia.
Iconic moment: Chris Paterson kicking Scotland into the RWC 2007 quarter-finals with every point in their narrow 18-16 win over Italy, part of his then record run of 36 consecutive successful kicks at goal in international rugby.
Low point: Gavin Hastings’ miss in front of the posts in the 1991 semi-final against England – a kick that could have sent Scotland through to the final. The scores were tied at 6-6 at the time and Jonathan Webb’s second penalty of the match won it for England instead. Hastings later said the miss was his biggest regret in rugby: “If I could change one thing in my career, it would be putting that kick over.”
Iconic player: Hastings kicked far more than he missed in his three tournament appearances and held the individual record for most Rugby World Cup points until Jonny Wilkinson overtook his tally of 227 points from 13 matches in the RWC 2007 quarter-finals.
Record-breaker: Chris Paterson is the only Scotland player to have played in four Rugby World Cups (1999-2011). The last of his record 15 tournament appearances, against England in Auckland in 2011, was also his farewell test.
Did you know? Scotland’s tally of 34 points against Australia in their RWC 2015 quarter-final was the joint second highest number of points scored by a team in a RWC match without them winning the game. (Wales’ 37 v New Zealand at RWC 2003 is the highest).
Quote: “To play against Jonah Lomu (in 1995) was the ultimate test although he was still relatively unknown at the time. I was pretty quick and there weren’t that many people I could show the outside to and not catch, but he was phenomenally fast for such a big man and incredibly light on his feet too.” – Scotland winger Craig Joiner on the thrill, and challenge, of facing rugby’s most iconic player on the game’s biggest stage.