Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Scotland feeling under the weather

RUGBY WORLD CUPThe subtropical region north of Brisbane was supposed to provide warm temperatures before Scotland's first match Sunday against Japan

AP , CALOUNDRA, AUSTRALIA

Scottish captain and scrum half Bryan Redpath during a wet training session at Caloundra, Sunshine Coast, Tuesday. Scotland plays Japan at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Sunday in their opening Pool B Rugby World Cup match.

PHOTO: EPA

It's known as the Sunshine Coast, but nearly a week into Scotland's Rugby World Cup adventure in Australia, veteran captain Bryan Redpath can't figure out why.

"We came here with the idea of some nice, warm weather, but we've had four days of rain and two days of sun," Redpath said Tuesday at the team's first news conference. "It's very similar to back home."

The subtropical region north of Brisbane was supposed to provide warm temperatures before Scotland's first match Sunday against Japan at Townsville in north Queensland state, where temperatures have been hotter than usual in the southern hemisphere spring.

Instead the weather around their Caloundra training base has been blustery with showers. Team doctor James Robson said that the cooler temperatures have helped the Scots, who trained in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden to simulate Townsville's heat and humidity, get over their jet lag earlier than expected.

Robson delivered the news Tuesday that openside flanker Andrew Mower is the team's first injury scratch. He suffered a knee injury in training that will rule him out of the Japan match, although he was not a certain selection.

The Australian-born Mower, who has 13 caps, collided with a teammate in a training session Monday and will be out for the next five to seven days.

"It's not terribly serious, there's no ligament damage," Robson said.

"It's a minor strain at the back of his left knee. He was unsighted and got caught from behind. [Center] James McLaren just clipped his heal, one of those freaks that occur now and again. It would be silly to risk him further."

Robson said three other Scottish players carrying injuries into the Cup were coping well and improving -- props Tom Smith (fractured thumb) and Bruce Douglas (ankle) and lock Scott Murray (knee).

They and back-row forward Jon Petrie, now into consideration due to Mower's injury, will all be available for selection when Scotland names its team Friday morning before making the two-hour flight north to Townsville later in the day.

Redpath said Scotland would not underestimate Japan. The last time the clubs met in a World Cup match in Edinburgh in 1991, the home side won 47-9.

"The first game is always difficult and tense," Redpath said. "They are very effective in their backs, and they use the ball pretty well. We have to be careful."

Scotland plays its second match on Oct. 20 against the United States at Brisbane and its final two matches Oct. 25 against France and Nov. 1 against Fiji, both in Sydney.

They have a 2-0 record against the Americans and 2-1 against Fiji. In 75 matches against the French, Scotland has won 33, lost 39 and drawn three. Quarterfinalists in 1987, 1995 and 1999, Scotland lost the 1991 semifinal to England.

Team manager Douglas Gordon says the Scots will be trying to pace the players through the first two matches.

"We're looking at the whole picture," Gordon said Tuesday. "The USA. game is only five days before the France game. We have to take all these things into consideration and manage the sides."

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