Scots want Millennium Stadium roof closed
February 9, 2012
Scotland captain Ross Ford is looking forward to his side's showdown with Wales in Cardiff © PA Photos
Scotland have requested that the Millennium Stadium roof be closed for their Six Nations clash with Wales on Sunday.
Head coach Andy Robinson, whose side slipped to a disappointing 13-6 defeat to England in their opening match last weekend, has backed his side to take on Wales at their own expansive game although the hosts must agree to the request for the Scots to get their way.
Captain Ross Ford is also confident his side can match fire with fire and improve on their profligate showing against England. "We've asked for the roof to be closed, so that guarantees us a nice dry ball to go out and play the way we want to," Ford told PA Sport. "We believe we've got the ability there to put pressure on Wales with the way we want to play and we'd prefer it if the roof was closed."
Many of Scotland's most memorable victories, even in recent times, have come in teeming rain, such as the November 2010 win over then world champions South Africa. The desire for Sunday's contest to be played without the influence of the elements shows how Scotland's tactical game has evolved under Robinson.
Ford added: "We have had victories in the worst weather conditions, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a rugby player who enjoys the wet and the cold. We're going down there with the intention of closing the roof and playing."
Robinson's selection of Greig Laidlaw at fly-half, with Duncan Weir in reserve, hastened the international retirement of Dan Parks, who was renowned for his ability to influence a match with the boot and thrived in the wet. The onus will be on the forwards and Chris Cusiter at scrum-half to provide Laidlaw with quick, clean ball to implement Scotland's game plan.
The Edinburgh captain will be tasked with sparking a Scotland back-line featuring exciting runners including the Lamont brothers, Nick De Luca, Max Evans and Lee Jones into action. Hooker Ford said of Laidlaw: "Greig for Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup this year, everything that's been asked of him he's gone out and done it. That's the type of man he is. I'm sure he will carry on in the same vein down in Wales on Sunday."
Scotland's opponents are formidable, having reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals, and many are already British & Irish Lions or tipped for places on the 2013 tour to Australia. Ford is far from overawed by the size of the task which faces Scotland.
The 27-year-old, who is set to win his 55th cap, added: "It is a big challenge, going down to Wales always is. Wales are coming off a good win in Ireland, but we believe we've seen enough from how Ireland played them and that we've got the ability in our squad to go down there and win. We've had a look at the video from Saturday and believe we've found areas we can sharpen up on and that will give us an edge in the way we're trying to play and to put Wales under pressure."
One Welshman Scotland will be relieved not to face is Shane Williams, who scored a last-gasp try to secure a dramatic 31-24 come-from-behind victory for Wales in the last Cardiff contest between the sides, but has now retired. As well as conceding a 10-point lead with seven minutes remaining, Scotland's Chris Paterson suffered a lacerated kidney and Thom Evans a neck injury which ended his career.
Ford added: "I'm sure there will be boys in the squad that will remember back to that. It was a very strange game, what happened wasn't great. Some boys will use that to spur them on and get up for the game. For me, it's a new Six Nations and it's a new squad that's going down there. I'll be approaching it in the same manner I do every other game."
The message last week from the Scotland squad it was time to realise their potential. Having fallen short against England, that notion carries on for Cardiff. Ford added: "Nothing changes. We didn't deliver on Saturday, but we've got to do it this week. We have to go down to the Millennium Stadium and perform."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton