Rugby World Cup
Hadden hoping for fair schedule
December 1, 2008
Pool B rivals - Scotland coach Frank Hadden, Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi and England team manager Martin Johnson pictured at today's Rugby World Cup Pool Draw © Getty Images
Frank Hadden has urged 2011 Rugby World Cup organisers to provide Scotland with a level playing field after they were drawn in the same pool as England and Argentina.
Hadden believes Scotland have the potential to produce their best Rugby World Cup performance since 1991, when they were beaten 9-6 by England in the semi-finals. But he does not want those ambitions to be shattered by an unfair match schedule which forces his side to play four times in 20 days like they did at France 2007.
Hadden said: "It's a good draw and one that gives Scotland every chance of maintaining our proud record of being one of only five countries to qualify for the quarter-final of every World Cup. But the draw is the first piece of the jigsaw. The next thing for us is to find out what the scheduling is.
"We felt we had a very tough schedule last time and I think it will have a very big impact on the outcome of the next World Cup. As soon as you put five teams together in the group it is tough for everyone but it is harder for some teams than others.
"I believe it is absolutely imperative that games are scheduled to allow players proper recovery and preparation time, given the intensity of international matches. There needs to be a level playing field."
The World Cup organisers are set to announce the match schedule in March next year.
Scotland avoided the Tri-Nations super-powers to be drawn together in Pool B with England and fourth seeds Argentina plus the leading European qualifier - possibly Georgia or Romania - and a play-off winner. In 2007, that was Portugal.
Hadden would be forgiven for wishing the World Cup could be played next year given his side's impressive recent record against both England and the Pumas. But he is confident the Scotland squad that pushed South Africa to the brink last month will grow into something special by the time 2011 rolls around.
"We have a decent young squad that hasn't reached its potential yet and we think in three years time there is a lot to come from this side," said Hadden. "We are very proud of our World Cup record. For a country with as limited resources as we have, to have reached the quarter final every time since the World Cup started is a proud record.
"We felt we could have gone further last time and who is to say this is not the opportunity for our young squad to go all the way? We have beaten England twice in the last three years and we beat Argentina last summer. Of course you go into these situations with a cause for optimism."
And a group match against the auld enemy, particularly with memories of 1991 to erase, will rouse the passions like nothing else. "It is an exciting draw. I think the supporters will be delighted with the opportunity to play England at the next World Cup," said Hadden.
"Just because we play each other on a regular basis in the Six Nations doesn't make it any less exciting when you have got them at the World Cup."
Scotland, who split the Test series 1-1 with Argentina last month, will face the Pumas three times in 2010. England suffered three heavy defeats to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand during the autumn but Hadden cautioned against reading too much into those results at this stage.
"We are aware how tough it is going to be. Just because England haven't got off to the greatest start under Martin Johnson that is not to mean that in three years time they won't be up there with the best in the world," said Hadden. "Who knows what will happen between now and 2011?
"We are due to tour Argentina in 2010. You certainly take more interest in the performances of the team in your pool from here on in - but we might not learn an awful lot until the last few months before the competition."
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry