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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Telfer urges change
Scotland's director of rugby Jim Telfer
Jim Telfer fears the World Cup semi finals are inevitable
Scotland's director of rugby Jim Telfer fears the World Cup could become too predictable if more work is not done to close the gap between the big five nations and the best of the rest.

Telfer, who is retiring after the tournament, is pleased that the World Cup is becoming a "bigger and bigger" event - but urged the International Rugby Board to do more to increase competition.

Wales in 1987 and Scotland four years later are the only nations from outside the big five to have reached the World Cup semi-finals and Telfer bemoaned the "inevitability" of the draw.

"When everybody is playing well and the conditions are good, rugby is not a game where you get shocks," he said after Scotland touched down in Australia.

"It's not like a golf match at St Andrews when it's blowing a gale, or last year at Muirfield (for the Open) when the wind is howling.

"I suspect in Australia that the conditions will be the same for both teams, pretty even and good, so the chances of a minor team coming through are slim."

As a result, few people are looking past England, New Zealand, Australia and France reaching the last four.

Scotland face Les Bleus in what could be the crunch Pool B showdown on 25 October, with the winners likely to avoid a potential tie with Australia in the quarter-finals.

"We want to do as well at the World Cup as we can, but we haven't beaten England since 2000 and haven't beaten New Zealand ever," said Telfer, who neglected to mention it is also four meetings since Scotland last beat the French.

"The IRB spend a lot of energy and time developing the minor nations, which is very creditable, but actually what they should be doing is looking at the medium nations - between four and 16 - and developing them."

We will be very disappointed if we fail to get to that quarter-final stage
Gordon Bulloch
Telfer pointed to soccer's tiger nations who have come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade and the way the likes of South Korea, Senegal and Japan made a significant impact at the 2002 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Gordon Bulloch believes Scotland can make an impact and beat any of the top teams on their day.

The Scots are not fancied to do well at the tournament, but the hooker concedes that failing to make the quarter-final stage would be failure.

"We can beat anybody on our day," insisted the 28-year-old.

"There's maybe slightly less pressure on us because the expectation has gone down. We've shown we can play at times, but we just need to prove it on the pitch.

"We are expected to progress and we ourselves expect to progress - and will be very disappointed if we fail to get to that quarter-final stage.

"Nothing's changed from that respect, but we have to make sure we go out and enjoy it and get results.

"It does take a lot of pressure off not being expected to go beyond the last-eight stage, but the great thing about it is in the quarter-final you get one huge game.

"You don't have home advantage and you have to give it your all. People can get nervous, have a bad day and make mistakes - you've just got to get out there and do it."





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