Scotland need to up their game considerably to face the might of South Africa and Samoa in their pool. That having said, when Scotland want to, they can play with flair and having been coached since 2014 by Kiwi Vern Cotter, they have shown more flashes of determination.  Although they lost in the last Test in Paris recently, only by three points, they played with much more attention and attack.  If they manage to avoid injury  –  what will get them past the Pool games –  is a huge injection of Self Confidence – so let’s hope Flower of Scotland does bloom once more.

Captain: Greig Laidlaw

Players to Watch: Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell.

Dates of Pool Matches:

Wednesday 23rd September vs Japan – Kick off 14.30 – Kingsholm, Gloucester

Sunday 27th September vs USA – Kick off 14.30 – Elland Road, Leeds

Saturday 3rd October vs South Africa – Kick off 16.45 – St James Park, Newcastle

Saturday 10th October vs Samoa – Kick off 14.30 – St James Park, Newcastle

 

For more information on Scottish Rugby – http://www.scottishrugby.org

For full details follow: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/

 

What to Eat and Drink whilst watching Scotland 

Food: Scotland has an amazing natural larder – glorious beef & venison as well as delicious Sea food. It is sad that for too many years, that this bounty was not transferred to local cooking rather than wending its way down to London markets. But glorious though the Langoustines from the cold waters of the West Coast of Scotland are, it is for Rugby Food that we need to think.

But there is one foodstuff that says Scotland more than any other – Haggis. Now PLEASE don’t skip this paragraph, because you will be amazed once you have discovered the right producer. Family Run Macsween Haggis have won multiple awards – and there are all different types – there is even a vegetarian version! The clue is not thinking of it as a slab of haggis (all too often  experienced at a dodgy Burns Supper in the South of England) – but break it up and get inventive. I’ve stuffed Indian Pakoras, made Scotch eggs coated in Haggis – and all with rave reviews. Think where you can use mince or sausage meat – hagggis can take its place with pride. So pay the lovely people a visit at http://www.macsween.co.uk – they have even given you lots of recipes to inspire you – I think Wee Beasties of the Glen along with some Scotch eggs would be perfect Match Day food.

 

Another staple of all sporting events north of the border are Scotch Pies. Made from friable pastry (hopefully) and stuffed with mutton (traditionally) these are not for the faint hearted. https://www.campbellsmeat.com

Scotland also produces a good range of (mainly hard) cheeses so a cheese board would be a good thinking to pair with your beer or whisky during the match. Look out for names such Brodick Blue, Dunlop, Isle of Bute,  St Andrews .

For more information about other great Scottish Foods such as Stornaway Black Pudding or heather honey,   visit – http://www.visitscotland.com/about/food-drink

Drink:

Beer: There is no shortage of Craft Beers being made in Scotland. Look out for the superbly named Bitter & Twisted from – http://harviestoun.com Or for individual beers aged in Oak, try http://innisandgunn.com The peaty Heather Ale is worth searching out from http://www.williamsbrosbrew.com not to mention their Seaweed ale or Scots Pine Ale.

Making beer from organic malt in the Highlands is http://www.blackislebrewery.com or for coffee infused Stout try http://www.cromartybrewing.co.uk

If anywhere near Edinburgh (or for on line orders) check out the good selection of beers available at http://www.greatgrog.co.uk – with very helpful staff!

Wine: There is wine produced in Scotland, most noticeably this year in Fife – but this is more a case of planting vines and waiting to get some benefit from climate change some years ahead. Working in a vineyard is a game of patience and waiting and Scottish wine has a while to go.

National Drink: Usige Beatha – Water of Life – otherwise known as Whisky.

There is a wide spectrum of flavours in Single Malts and it all comes down to what style of Whisky you prefer .  Personally I adore the smoky, peatiness of Lagavulin from the south of Islay but if you’d prefer something slightly tinged with smoke but lighter in style, then look for Bunnahabhain on the northern side of the island.

For something much lighter with a touch of sweetness then do look towards Speyside, although it is hard to generalise as this is where the vast majority of distilleries are based  with such as classic names such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet (which was the first licenced distillery in 1824). But within Speyside, you can also find the richer more intense styles such as Macallan.  Within all of this are the special malts, sometimes aged in old Sherry or Madeira casks adding sweetness to the final Whisky.

As for the on-going discussion – water or not – there is no “right” answer but depends again on your own taste buds. I like a splash (literally about a teaspoon) of spring water (must be Highland Spring!)  to release the aromas of the malt. All I ask is please no ice, it freezes and masks the flavours.

 

A fine range of Single Malts are widely available in the UK – But for something a little different do have a look at the two websites below who list an intriguing array of special malts.

http://www.smws.co.uk

https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com

 

Direct Websites for Distilleries mentioned:

http://www.discovering-distilleries.com/lagavulin

http://bunnahabhain.com

http://www.glenfiddich.com

http://www.theglenlivet.com

http://www.themacallan.com