Stuart Hogg: Scotland can cause a stir in wide open Rugby World Cup

In his first column of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, writing exclusively for The Independent Premium, the Scotland and Lions legend Stuart Hogg tips his nation to pull off some upsets in a tough pool... and reveals the defensive secrets behind their revival

Saturday 09 September 2023 15:14 BST
<p>Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is quietly confident ahead of the tournament</p>

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is quietly confident ahead of the tournament

I’m massively excited for the World Cup. After announcing my retirement, this is the first opportunity I’ve ever had to be a genuine fan of rugby and see everything the tournament has to offer. A World Cup only comes around every four years. Everyone has been going hammer and tongs, knocking lumps out of each other to get to where they want to be.

There’s going to be an incredible amount of excitement and support across France. It’s a chance for rugby to really grow and show what a great sport it is. Admittedly, it has been struggling slightly – look at the Gallagher Premiership with three teams going bust. Rugby isn’t in a fantastic place by any stretch of the imagination, but this is a brilliant opportunity to put it back on the biggest stage and show what it is really about.

I’ve had so many different conversations about who is going to qualify from the groups and who is going to win, and every time I do, I change my mind – on everything. Ireland are in with a good chance. I think New Zealand will win the opening game this weekend but that will then galvanise the French to be bigger and better as the tournament goes on.

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