Scotland have one win in 21 years against world champions South Africa over their last 15 meetings, but there is a genuine belief among the class of 2023 they can claim victory in their Rugby World Cup Pool B opener in Marseille on Sunday.
The Scots, which have never beaten the Springboks away from Glasgow and Edinburgh in 117-years of contests between the two, will carry the ‘underdog’ tag going into their latest fixture, but there is a sense something special is brewing for the team in France.
This is despite the fact they are in a tough group that also includes world number one Ireland, with two teams to progress to the quarter-finals.
“We have self-belief, we know that if we perform on the day we can beat everyone in this group,” captain Jamie Ritchie told reporters.
“We’ve done well recently with an underdog tag, but I don’t think we need it. I fully believe that if we perform to the best of our ability, we can win all our games.”
Scotland have lost their last seven in a row against the Boks but have only met them twice in the previous five years.
“We don’t tend to play them much,” Ritchie said. “So our preparation is based on how they’ve played in the last few test matches. Where their strengths lie and where we can create opportunity with our actions.”
A hallmark of this Scotland team is their speed at the ruck and that will be crucial against a well-drilled South African defence.
“We pride ourselves on playing the fastest rugby in the world. When we’ve got the ball we must move it quickly and if you can disrupt the opposition (when they have the ball), you’re going to stop them creating opportunity.”
Ritchie says while they respect the Boks, they go into the game without fear.
“It’s important that you enjoy these moments and do look forward to them because if you let it become fear and things like that, then the moment gets away from you.”