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Rugby Union: SHOW THEM NO OUARTER; Scots must thrash minnows and reach last eight showdown.


WORLD CUP record-holder Gavin Hastings last night set the target for Scotland Down Under: Make the quarter-finals and do it in style. The legendary full-back still sits proudly at the top of the RWC points table after piling up 227 in three tournaments between 1987 and 1995.

The staggering total, helped by a 44-point haul against the Ivory Coast, is more than World Cup-winners Grant Fox or Michael Lynagh racked up while reaching the final.

Hastings, 40, flies to Australia next week to be inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in Sydney, work for VISA and the Famous Grouse and watch the 2003 Scottish team attempt to emulate his achievements.

Scotland have never failed to reach the last eight of the tournament and could and should have beaten England in the 1991 semi-final at Murrayfield.

And despite two heavy defeats in the warm-up Tests, Hastings is quietly confident Ian McGeechan's side can build momentum in Group B to make the knockout stages again.

But he admits failure to reach the quarter-finals would be a ``disaster'' for Scottish rugby.

He said: ``They couldn't have wished for a much better start against Japan and USA will be a hard game but there is no hope for Scotland if they are not going to win either of those two games.

``I hope they produce and start playing with some flair and gain confidence by their performances in the first two games.

``Fiji is the toughest pool game outside France but if they perform well against the French, you would expect them to get past Fiji and into the quarter-finals.

``Anything less than the quarter-finals will be deemed a disaster. Anything more will be a major upset.

``I hope they give France a good run for their money and give whoever they are playing in the quarter-final a good run for their money, too.

``They will be expected to beat the other teams and if they do just struggle by those and lose meekly to France and whoever in the quarter-final, it will not be good.

``If they were to beat France and lose in the quarter-finals, you could argue justifiably it has been a successful World Cup because they have beaten one of the top sides.

``Scotland will be judged by how they perform against France and the team they play in the quarter-final. If they don't get there, they will be in trouble.''

How Scotland could use the rampaging runs and siege-gun kicking of Hastings in Australia over the next few weeks.

This was a big player who performed on the big occasion. He said: ``I always felt the Rugby World Cup was the Olympics of our sport and I was lucky enough to play in three of them I think I performed to the best of my ability.

``I always raised my game and felt Scotland played pretty well during the World Cups and for that I was thankful to be part of it. It's nice to look back and see your name is still there.''

Hastings played in those three World Cups while Jason Leonard will this year equal the record of four set by Canadian Gareth Rees. But whether the Scot's points tally will ever be broken is open to debate.

He said: ``I think Jonny Wilkinson (who notched 69 points in 1999) is probably capable of breaking it at this one.

``Mind you, he probably won't play in many games and the point is he will miss the games against the smaller teams. But records are there to be broken.''

Hastings was there at the birth of the World Cup back in 1987, just a year after he made his international debut.

The game was still amateur then and he recalls travelling in the same Air New Zealand flight in ``zoo class'' with the Welsh and Irish teams.

Scotland's first game was a thrilling 20-20 draw with France still the only draw in RWC history.

He said: ``I remember sitting in the changing rooms under the stands at Lancaster Park at Christchurch and all I could hear was the bagpipes.''

His last game, the quarter-final defeat by New Zealand in 1995, was memorable for the party that followed it.

Hastings said: ``I have video footage of me being carried around at the end with loads of Scottish flags there and loads of supporters. It was a good way to go.''


POINTS KING: Gavin Hastings; HOT SCOT: Skipper Bryan Redpath works out yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 3, 2003
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