- 6 Oct 07, 11:28 AM
Paris - “Every team needs a Chris Paterson”, said a television commentator as the pinpoint Scottish kicker landed another penalty in the winner-takes-all clash with Italy last weekend.
And how right he is.
For the 30-year-old soon-to-be Gloucester back is one of the prime reasons Scotland are facing a quarter-final clash with Argentina on Sunday rather than joining Wales and Ireland on the plane home.
His contribution to the Scottish cause cannot be underestimated. So far in this World Cup, Paterson has scored 41 of his side’s 116 points – including all six penalties in the win over Italy that put Scotland into the last eight.
In fact he has not yet missed a place kick at goal all tournament – with 15 out of 15 attempts going over.
No wonder he was surrounded by the media at Scotland’s tower-block hotel base in Paris on Friday after coach Frank Hadden announced his team to face the Pumas.
“I do get embarrassed with all the things I read about me kicking,” said a modest Paterson, who will win his 81st cap this weekend. “I want to go out there and try and score tries, I offer more than just kicks.
“I have kicked for five or six years now and the pressure is just something you learn to deal with. Every kick you take is under scrutiny, if you miss the next one you are a bad kicker so I just trust what I do in training.”
It is not just in the World Cup that "Mossy" has shone.
In this year’s Six Nations for example he scored 65 of Scotland’s 95 points and landed 22 of his 25 attempts at goal. A success rate of 88%. Last year it was 89% with 17 out of 19.
He now needs 58 points to overtake Gavin Hastings as Scotland’s leading points scorer.
But can he explain why his kicking has been so consistent?
“Not really,” he told BBC Sport. “I practise as I’ve practised for the last four or five years. I will do something every day.
“I do not put a time limit on it. I kick until I am feeling comfortable. Sometimes when I am kicking badly in training I just walk in. There is no point in pushing it and developing bad habits. I stay out until I am comfortable that I can take it out on to the field.
“People have to realise that kicking is a duty you are asked to do, you do the best you can, there will be kicks missed and kicks got. It’s about evaluating and hoping they go over.”
Scotland’s victory over Italy maintains their proud record of always reaching at least a World Cup quarter-final but Paterson seems a little frustrated that his side have not really played with much attacking flair.
“Undoubtedly there is more to come from us,” he added. “We have not shown our hand at all.
“We scraped through to the quarter-finals and let’s hope we can get in the semi by playing good rugby. Will we open up? It depends how the game goes. We were all set to open up against Italy but there was a monsoon before kick-off.
“To beat a team as good as Argentina, ranked fourth in the world, you have to play well and cause their defence difficulties. You have to be reasonably expansive, offload and take chances.
“It is the quarter-finals of the World Cup, you don’t want to go home not having tried something.”
Scotland have not made it to the last four of a World Cup since 1991 and Hadden says that matching that this year would be a huge fillip for Scottish rugby – especially with all the strife in the domestic game this year.
Magners League side Border Reivers were disbanded at the end of last season while Edinburgh were brought back under Scottish Rugby Union control following a summer of turmoil.
“We have had a fair bit of upheaval in Scottish rugby over the last few years and we haven’t taken smoothly to professionalism,” Hadden told BBC Sport. “We have had some very difficult times.
"We are very proud of our record of going to every single World Cup quarter-final – and it’s important for the people of Scotland to believe they had a team that was capable of emulating previous sides.
“We are one of only five countries in the world that has done that and yet Madagascar has more people playing rugby than we have. To win this week will raise the profile of the game in our country.”
Following their victories over France and Ireland in the pool stages, Argentina are favourites to overcome Scotland at the Stade de France but all week they have highlighted the danger of the Scotland number 11, and with Paterson in such impressive form with the boot, who can blame them.
Mark Orlovac is a BBC Sport journalist based in London. He will be based in Paris for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.