EDINBURGH: Scotland are so confident of playing Wales at their own game in a Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Sunday, they’ve asked for the Millennium Stadium’s roof to be closed in a bid to ensure ideal conditions.
Many pundits believe Scotland’s best chance of winning in the Welsh capital for the first time in a decade is for them to play in the forecast rain, weather which has provided the backdrop to some of their most notable recent triumphs including a 2010 win over then world champions South Africa.
And they could, if they wanted, insist on this weekend’s match being played in the open air as the standard protocol for Tests at the Millennium is that both sides must agree to the retractable roof being closed.
Wales, 23-21 winners away to Ireland in their tournament opener last weekend, are unlikely to have any qualms about playing ‘indoors’.But nor are Scotland, according to captain Ross Ford, even though their handling game let them down badly in decent conditions at Murrayfield during last Saturday’s 13-6 loss at home to England.
“We’ve asked for the roof to be closed, so that guarantees us a nice dry ball to go out and play the way we want to,” Ford said.“We believe we’ve got the ability there to put pressure on Wales with the way we want to play and we’d prefer it if the roof was closed,” the hooker added.
“We have had victories in the worst weather conditions, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a rugby player who enjoys the wet and the cold.“We’re going down there with the intention of closing the roof and playing.”
In Gregor Laidlaw, nephew of Scotland great Roy, the visitors will have a ‘running’ fly-half in contrast to Dan Parks, who retired from international duty after the England defeat and was renowned for his ability to direct operations with the boot in the wet.
But Laidlaw will be looking to the forwards and scrum-half Chris Cusiter to provide him with quick ball in a bid to spark a Scotland back division that, for all the talent of the Lamont brothers and Max Evans in particular, has now gone four games without a try.
“Greg for Edinburgh in the Heineken (European) Cup this year, everything that’s been asked of him he’s gone out and done it,” Ford said. “That’s the type of man he is.“I’m sure he will carry on in the same vein down in Wales on Sunday.”
World Cup semi-finalists Wales will be firm favourites to win this weekend but the 27-year-old Ford added: “It is a big challenge, going down to Wales always is.
“Wales are coming off a good win in Ireland, but we believe we’ve seen enough from how Ireland played them and that we’ve got the ability in our squad to go down there and win.“We’ve had a look at the video from Saturday and believe we’ve found areas we can sharpen up on and that will give us an edge in the way we’re trying to play and to put Wales under pressure.”