RWC23: Scott Cummings unfazed by threat of Springbok ‘bomb squad’

Second-row will continue to push hard for starting spot but is also happy with impact sub role

Scott Cummings received his 2023 World Cup cap at a ceremony in Nice this [Monday] morning. Image: © Craig Watson --
Scott Cummings received his 2023 World Cup cap at a ceremony in Nice this [Monday] morning. Image: © Craig Watson --

GIVEN that it is the city where Scott Cummings made his international debut just over four years ago, Nice will forever hold a special place in the second-row’s heart – but the 26-year-old confesses to mixed emotions as he looks back at that day when he was a 56th minute replacement for Ben Toolis in a 32-3 defeat at the start of  Scotland’s 2019 World Cup warm-up schedule.

“I remember it being very hot. It was obviously tough. It wasn’t the rugby performance we wanted but getting my first cap was an amazing achievement and a great moment,” recalled the second-row, who was one of two new caps that day along with Rory Hutchinson, who continues to impress for Northampton Saints but has since fallen off the Scotland radar without trace.

“I was presented with my cap after the game in the changing rooms by [former SRU President] Dee Bradbury. My family and partner were out here as well so it was a great moment for all of us.

Iain Morrison’s essential RWC23 pool guide – Pool B: the pool of World Rugby gross incompetence; 1st, 2nd and 5th ranked teams all present

Iain Morrison’s essential RWC23 pool guide – Pool A: The dull one; qualification is a shoo-in

RWC23: Darcy Graham ready to return to training as Scotland squad arrive in Nice

“It’s an absolutely lovely part of France, with great sun, great weather, great beaches and all the places we’ve been we’ve been really welcomed by the French,” added the Glasgow Warriors man, who is now on his third visit to Nice this summer (with the squad being based near the city for a training camp in June and returning ahead of their warm-up match against France last month).

“I’m not a fan of the hot weather. But it’s quite nice training in shorts and a t-shirt, and it’s not raining like we are used to in Scotland. Hopefully it cools down a bit over the next couple of weeks.”

That debut was the start of a streak of 19 consecutive Scotland appearances, with 14 starts and five bench appearances, for Cummings up to round three of the 2021 Six Nations, but then a broken hand followed by an arm injury limited his involvement to one start against Japan during the remainder of that calendar year.

Thereafter, a combination of badly timed injuries and the return of Richie Gray to the dark blue engine-room means that he has managed just nine more caps with three starts during the last year and a half.

It is not where he wants to be, but Cummings is determined to remain upbeat about his role in the squad, and with the might of South Africa providing the opposition first-up at this World Cup on Sunday evening in Marseilles, he knows that he will have an absolutely crucial role to play trying to diffuse the fabled Springbok ‘bomb squad’ if, as expected, he is named among the replacements for that match.

“It’s tough because obviously there is really good depth in the position,” he reasoned. “Whatever my job in the team is, I’ll do it to the best of my ability, whether that is starting in the second-row, or on the bench, or not being in the match-day squad but helping the guys who are prepared to be the best they can be.

“Obviously, I want to start, and I want to be playing as much as I can, but everyone has got a job to do and whatever it is I will do to the best of my ability.

Asked if there is an intimidation factor to facing  South Africa, he retorted: “None at all. South Africa are playing really well, we know what’s coming, but we’re really excited about facing that challenge against the reigning champions.

“It is the first game of the World Cup, what’s not to enjoy? We’re confident in the way we play. It’s obviously going to be a massive challenge and we’re not going to shy away from that, but we’re here to enjoy ourselves and play the best rugby we can.

“We’re used to being underdogs. It’s a tough pool we are in, but we’re excited for it. You’ve got to beat the best teams at some point so why not do it now, at this World Cup.”

Iain Morrison’s essential RWC23 pool guide – Pool B: the pool of World Rugby gross incompetence; 1st, 2nd and 5th ranked teams all present

About David Barnes 3800 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. Asking them if they are daunted by the challenge of facing the Bok’s is a bit of a cheap question.

    We should have nothing to fear from them. They are human….there hearts beat just like ours. We can beat them. Its just a case of doing so…

    This is the best shot we have of beating them we’ve had in a long time. I truly believe that, and we should support the team in vocalising that. They need to hear us in Marseille, and so do the Saffa’s.

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