Having come so close to reaching the semi-finals at the Rugby World Cup in 2015, Scotland are looking to continue to upset the odds and go one better this year in Japan.
Gregor Townsend’s side may suffer from inconsistency but when they get it right, they are near-on impossible to stop, as England found to their detriment in their nail-biting 2019 Guinness Six Nations 2019 finale in March, where Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 1984.
Having endured an injury-hit Guinness Six Nations campaign, Scotland are now looking to this warm-up period to bed in a settled and fit squad that will be raring to go when they meet Ireland in a crucial Pool A opener in Yokohama in September.
With the tournament not far away, let’s take a look at Scotland’s preparations for Japan.
Townsend’s men have just completed the first block of their pre-season preparations with a gruelling warm weather training camp in Portugal, which included a testing session with Judo Scotland.
When Scotland get into the business of their warm-up matches, they centre on two double-headers with France and then Georgia – both played home and away.
First up is a visit to France on August 17, where Scotland will be looking to avenge their 27-10 Guinness Six Nations defeat away from home and then, a week later on August 24, they face the same opposition on the familiar turf of Murrayfield in Scotland’s biggest-selling summer Test ever.
Seven days on and Scotland are once again on their travels when they visit Georgia to face the world’s 12th-ranked side on August 31.
In their final game before facing Ireland at the World Cup on September 22, Scotland host Georgia on September 6, aiming to bring their preparations to a close with a bang.
Warm-ups in full
August 17: France v Scotland (Allianz Riviera Stadium)
August 24: Scotland v France (BT Murrayfield)
August 31: Georgia v Scotland (Dinamo Arena)
September 6: Scotland v Georgia (BT Murrayfield)
Scotland have a large squad of 44 out on their pre-tournament preparations, which includes five uncapped players – competition for places in the 31-man World Cup squad is fierce.
Nine men make up the back-row spots, with Blade Thomson set to make his much-anticipated debut and lock Sam Skinner already making waves just five appearances into his international career.
The big names are present with scrum-half captain Greig Laidlaw joining the experienced hands of fly-half Finn Russell, full-back Stuart Hogg and wings Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland to make up an impressive-looking selection of backs.
There are also positions up for grabs in the front row behind the trio of Allan Dell, Stuart McInally and WP Nel, with the likes of Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown and Grant Stewart all in contention.
Rugby World Cup Pool
Scotland have a more favourable group than most but know their most important game of the tournament could be their first with an all-important clash against Ireland likely deciding whether they qualify first or second from Pool A and, thereby, avoiding or facing New Zealand in the quarter-finals.
Hosts Japan, who enjoyed a breakthrough 2015 World Cup when they pulled off one of biggest shocks in rugby history by beating South Africa, will also present a formidable challenge.
Scotland have beaten Japan in all five of their previous meetings, including a huge 100-8 win in November 2004, but Townsend’s troops show be wary of perhaps the biggest-growing force in world rugby, who will be buoyed by their home support.
Samoa and Russia make up the rest of the pool, with Scotland having only lost once in 10 contests with Samoa while the match with Russia will be the first-ever meeting of the two sides.
Fans can get tickets for the home warm-ups here, the trip to France here and the match in Georgia here