For one brief moment yesterday, Jason White was caught somewhat off balance. "Now who was the quarter-final against?" the Scotland captain responded when asked if he could recall his country's solitary success in five previous appearances in the last eight of the Rugby World Cup. Informed that Western Samoa provided the opposition at Murrayfield that day, the blindside flanker was back in his stride. "I can remember it," he said, "because that's when we asked Big Gav to come up and batter them."
Back in 1991, when White was a 13-year-old schoolboy, Scotland's deployment of Gavin Hastings as a battering ram in the outside-half position proved a masterstroke as it cleared the path to a 28-6 victory. On Sunday the 6ft 5in, 17st White will be the chief weapon of destruction as the Scots try to demolish an inspired Argentina.
The Sale Shark is only five games into his comeback, after nine months out with a wrecked right knee, yet already he is starting to recapture the bone-crunching form that earned him the Premiership player of the season award in 2006.
If Scotland beat an Argentine side likely to include Felipe Contepomi, even though the flu-suffering goal-kicker missed training again yesterday – it would raise the profile of Caledonian rugby to heights it last enjoyed in that 1991 World Cup run, which was brought to a halt by a 9-6 semi-final loss to England. "A win on Sunday would be a massive thing for Scottish rugby," White acknowledged. "It would produce great press and great things for the kids to tag on to."
For all that is at stake, White says that he and his team-mates are determined to "keep things quite relaxed and not build it up as a crazy game".Reuse content