Hadden braced for rush defence

Scotland coach Frank Hadden wants his players to show they have overcome their problems in dealing with rush defences when they take on South Africa at Murrayfield next week. [more]

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Scotland coach Frank Hadden wants his players to show they have overcome their problems in dealing with rush defences when they take on South Africa at Murrayfield next week.

Scotland’s deficiencies were most shockingly exposed in February when they faced Italy in the Six Nations Championship at Murrayfield.

A charged-down Phil Godman clearance kick, and two intercepted Chris Cusiter passes, handed Italy three tries within seven minutes of kick-off.

It provided the Italians with a head start from which Scotland could not recover, and as a result they became the first team to ever lose at home to Italy in the Six Nations.

However, after a long summer working together as a squad, Hadden believes his players are ready to deal with the increasingly popular ploy aimed at knocking the opposition off their stride by closing them down as quickly as possible.

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There can be no better team for Scotland to be playing as they look to test their progress.

South Africa are widely regarded as the being the team who pioneered the risky but potentially devastating tactic.

Hadden said: "The key thing that’s happened in rugby over the last year or so is the increase in the number of teams using the rushing defence; and we’re coming out a week on Saturday against South Africa, who were the first international side to use that tactic.

"So for me, it is a very interesting and important challenge for us, in which we will find out if we have got better over the last couple of years with dealing with that – because we have not dealt with it particularly well up until now.

"Ireland didn’t play an out-and-out rushing defence last week, but they did come forward faster than we’re used to, and in the weather conditions I think it is fair to say that we pulled the right tools out the tool bag for that situation. We kept it pretty tight and played percentage rugby.

"What would be great to see against South Africa is if we are capable of dealing with a fully fledged rushing defence in dry conditions.

"It would be great to think that our players have now got the maturity and experience to know how to cope with that."

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