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17 October 2014

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Scotland's Rugby World Cup 1991

Craig Chalmers

© SNSpix

Having won the Five Nations the year before, Scotland went into the 1991 World Cup with more reason than ever to be optimistic about their chances of success.

Since landing that title, Scotland had returned to their more recognised position of mid-table in the 1991 Five Nations, having won both home matches and losing on their travels. However, with the potential to play all their matches up to the semi-final at Murrayfield, they had the opportunity to take advantage of that good home form in the World Cup.

Scotland cruised through their first two matches, first disposing of Japan 47-9 and then Zimbabwe 51-12.

Ireland were their third opponents, with victory required to ensure that Scotland would face Western Samoa at Murrayfield in the quarter-finals.

The Irish threatened to cause an upset and led by fifteen points to nine early in the second half, before Scotland upped the tempo. Aided by tries from Graeme Shiel and Gary Armstrong they eventually overhauled their visitors to seal a 24-15 success.

The hard-tackling Western Samoans were emerging as the surprise element of the tournament, having already beaten Wales and only narrowly lost to one of the pre-tournament favourites, Australia.

Tony Stanger


Based on an outstanding performance from their pack, Scotland ran their opponents' defence ragged, scoring three tries - two of them by John Jeffrey, the other by Tony Stanger. The Samoans were not easily beaten however and made Scotland work hard for their win, leaving the pitch to a standing ovation from the Murrayfield crowd.

Playing at home in the semi-final undoubtedly gave Scotland their best ever chance of a place on the biggest stage of all - the World Cup final - although with England as opponents, it was no easy task. Crowds at Murrayfield for the pool games and the quarter-final had been disappointing in comparison to those at other venues, but with the Auld Enemy in town, tickets were at a premium for the semi-final.

Having lost their Grand Slam decider the year before, England had avenged that defeat at Twickenham earlier in the season and were now seeking to erase those memories completely by winning at Murrayfield.

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