• MySTV

Scotland assistant coach Blair calls for longer World Cup

Blair says the gap between games can leave some nations "vulnerable".

Blair is concerned about injuries to players.
Blair is concerned about injuries to players. SNS Group

Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair has called on World Rugby to extend the length of the World Cup and increase the number of players who can travel to the tournament after admitting the current set-up leaves competing nations "vulnerable".

The Dark Blues face a make-or-break double header with Russia and Japan just four days apart as they seek to reach the quarter-finals.

The Scots need two wins and at least one bonus point - perhaps two depending on how they fare in their final game with the Brave Blossoms on October 13 - to seal qualification to the last eight.

But Blair is concerned the strain of playing two crucial matches in such quick succession will leave Gregor Townsend's squad - currently limited to 31 players - flagging after admitting some team members may be asked to put their bodies on the line in both clashes.

It is too late to change the rules and schedule for this year's competition in the Far East but Blair says the situation should be looked at in future.

The former Scotland scrum-half said: "I think bigger World Cup squads would certainly help. It's a challenging position to be in.

"You leave yourselves a little bit vulnerable in some positions when you cut down to 31-men.

"So there's no doubt a couple more players would definitely help, as would potentially extending (the competition) an extra few days so everyone gets similar breaks in between.

"It's unique. It's not something that happens during the normal season. It's another challenge we've got to take on and to enjoy.

"We're looking at guys backing up. There might be guys who don't go on the pitch 100 per cent fit and that's something that might need to be looked at."

Vice-captain John Barclay should be available to face Russia next Wednesday after overcoming a groin strain while prop Allan Dell is working his way through concussion protocols after coming off early during Monday's bonus-point win over Samoa.

But Blair admits Townsend's back-room team will have to manage their numbers carefully.

"It's obviously a challenge," he said. "Russia first up that's what that focus is going to be on, but at the same time we are aware we've got that four-day turnaround straight after so how we look after the players, the volume of training we do, the direction in which we take training, what we focus on is going to be really important.

"It should be seamless for the players, we don't want to add undue stress on to them in that period where they are going to have to recover quickly.

"Some guys will have to back up because of the numbers in the squad and the make-up of the squad we've got, so looking after them, preparing them to be able to perform from a physical point of view is going to be really important.

"A lot of teams have got it in this World Cup where there's a four or five-day turnaround. That's how the tournament was structured and we've known that for a long time so we've had that in our minds.

"It doesn't keep everyone on a level playing field but that's what happens, we'll deal with it. We are really confident in the ability of our guys to back-up."


Scotland's campaign got off to the worst possible start as they were humiliated by Ireland in their Pool A opener.

This week's 34-0 triumph over Samoa has averted a disastrous early exit for now but the Dark Blues will have to win three straight games in a single tournament for the first time since 1999 if they are to make the knock-out rounds.

Blair added: "We have obviously got a bit of momentum from the Samoa game there.

"You say there was pressure on us, but it was also a massive motivator. We can't afford to slip up, so that is going to be a huge driving force for the players."

Watch all the action from Rugby World Cup 2019 on the STV Player including live games, catch-up, highlights, full fixtures and behind the scenes extras.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.