The Autumn Tests

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The Scottish rugby team are already limbering up for two important games this November. As part of the Autumn Test season at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, they will be playing New Zealand and then South Africa on consecutive weekends: Saturday 8 November and Saturday 15 November. In the run up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the results of these test matches will prove important in determining the eventual group draw. As ever, Scotland will be putting everything into their performance, and they will need all the support of the crowd to overcome their rivals. We ask two lifelong rugby fans to give their opinions on whether Scotland stand a chance against giants from down under.

The Saffa

Daniel Kemp came to Scotland as a backpacker and decided not to leave. He now lives in Oban after marrying the manageress of a local hostel. He enjoys fishing and is looking to join the army.

How do you rate Scotland’s chances against the Springboks? To be honest, with the way South Africa are playing at the moment Scotland could stand a chance, but only if they can tighten up their game, focus on their forwards and cut off South Africa’s backs.

Who’s the key player in the South African squad? It’s difficult to pick just one so I’ll have to put a word in for a few of them. Butch James because he manages to get all over the park and seems to be always involved in everything that happens. Schalk Burger is the best flanker in the world; his tackles are hard and the way he runs with the ball is amazing. Bryan Habana (my hero) always finds space where there is none and could run away from a cheetah if necessary, but the mud might make that a different story.

Are there any weaknesses that Scotland could take advantage of?
We’re South Africa, we don’t have weaknesses! Er, but if you really have to know... our backs aren’t the best at the moment.

Is there anything to be said for a home crowd advantage?
The Scots always play better at Murrayfield, but it’s the only time they play better. Who knows, if the great Scottish weather keeps up, and it rains all the way through to November, they might just stand a fighting chance. The Boks aren’t used to wallowing in the mud!

Predicted Score: 36-16 to South Africa

The Kiwi

Gene Foster is a manager at the High Street Hostel in Edinburgh (8-18 Blackfriars St, 0131 557 3984, www.highstreethostel.com) where he has an open door policy on a drink and a chat if you’d like to pop in.

How do you rate Scotland’s chances against the All Blacks?

On recent form I’d have to say they have two chances: none and bugger all! New Zealand seem to have bounced back from our World Cup debacle, and our Tri Nations form has been pretty good. Although, I have lived in Scotland for 15 years, so I will be cheering the Scots on
the inside.

Who’s the key player in the New Zealand Squad?

Key players, let’s see… Dan Cater and Dan Cater, also maybe Dan Cater, and let’s not forget Richie McCaw. Pound for pound those two are the best players in their positions in the world. The All Blacks wouldn’t be the world’s greatest team without them.

Are there any weaknesses that Scotland could take advantage of?

Maybe they could hire a certain South African waitress to lace the Blacks dinner the night before.*

Is there anything to be said for a home crowd advantage?

Murrayfield will need to be in full voice to maybe upset a few of the newer All Blacks, but I can’t see it changing this result. But I’ll be there cheering Scotland on against the Saffas. Come on Scotland!

Predicted Score 42-18 to New Zealand

* There is a long-standing, unsubstantiated rumour that before the 1995 World Cup final with South Africa, the New Zealand squad were given food poisoning by an untraceable South African waitress. The All Blacks lost the final and are bitter about the result to this day.

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