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Scotland coach Ian McGeechan
"You don't throw out the baby with the bath water"
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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 18:07 GMT
Scots and Irish out to make amends

Scotland: Trying to remove the tarnish from their crown

Scotland will be hoping to make amends for a dreadful start to their Six Nations campaign with a victory over struggling Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Six Nations Championship
The reigning champions were well beaten by supposed no-hopers Italy in the opening match of the competition two weeks ago.

Ireland are perhaps the only team in the competition to have felt the depth of the Scots' humiliation when they were drubbed by England 50-18 at Twickenham on the same day.

Warren Gatland Warren Gatland: Under pressure
The men in green are equally desperate for a turnaround in fortunes, having only won two Nations matches in the last three seasons.

Buy neither side has enjoyed a smooth run-up to this bottom of the table clash.

Scotland lost captain John Leslie to injury at the start of the week, with his duties falling to scrum-half Bryan Redpath. There was some respite, however, with lock Scott Murray passed fit to play on Friday.

But with the exception of Leslie, coach Ian McGeechan has opted for continuity and resisted pressing the panic button.

Irish problems have been more of the self-inflicted variety, with new cap Shane Horgan under investigation for his alleged involvement in a brawl last October and reserve hooker Frank Sheahan receiving a hefty fine from the IRFU for headbutting a fan at Twickenham.

We have a good core group of players, but we have to play well if we want to perform
Ian McGeechan, Scotland coach
Throw into the mix coach Warren Gatland's decision to call up domestic championship frontrunners Munster in the shape of five new caps and eight changes overall and all bets are off.

It is a huge gamble for the New Zealander, who will be well aware that better qualified coaches than he have been kicked out before now for failing to bring in results.

If he should fail, his decision to ditch World Cup captain Dion O'Cuinneagain and talented players like scrum-half Tom Tierney will almost certainly come back to haunt him.

But McGeechan came out in support of his opposite number's decision to pursue a path of radical change.

Scott Murray Scott Murray: Won fitness battle
"We have a good core group of players, but we have to play well if we want to perform," he said.

"But there are a lot of similarities between Scotland and Ireland in terms of background and reserve pool of players and we have done similar things to Warren in the past.

"We have had five or six new players in at one time before, it is something you do when you think it is right."

There will be tens of thousands of Irish fans at Lansdowne Road praying that Gatland's gamble proves inspired rather than the last throw of a man who has run out of ideas.

And by the same token, the Scots will be hoping that McGeechan - their saviour so many times in the past - has not lost his Midas touch.
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See also:
17 Feb 00 |  Rugby Union
New Irish cap in 'brawl' probe
17 Feb 00 |  Rugby Union
Scots lose captain
14 Feb 00 |  Six Nations
Maggs out for Ireland
05 Feb 00 |  Six Nations
Scots destroyed in Italian debut
07 Feb 00 |  Six Nations
England off to record start
15 Feb 00 |  Rugby Union
Victory a must for Scots
Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.