Defeat in Dublin would be the tenth in a row in all competitions at all venues for Scotland against Ireland. That would be the longest losing streak for the dark blues in their 147-year history of playing against the Irish, topping 9 consecutive losses between 1937 and 1954.

In their last 31 encounters, since the start of the 2000s, the Scots have won six and lost 25 by an average score of 15-27. That’s a remarkable transformation from the period immediately preceding this – between 1984 and 1999, Scotland only lost twice to Ireland in 17 matches (14 victories and one draw) with an average winning margin of 21-13.

In their 24 Six Nations matchups, Scotland have only been able to restrict Ireland to fewer than 19 points on three occasions:

  • 8 points in 2013 (Scotland won 12-8 at home)
  • 10 points in 2001 (Scotland won 32-10 at home)
  • 15 points in 2006 (Scotland lost 9-15 away)

Ireland Scouting Report

Rugby World Cup 

Pool stage: Ireland 82-8 Romania, Ireland 59-16 Tonga, Ireland 13-8 South Africa; Ireland 36-14 Scotland; Quarter-final: Ireland 24-28 New Zealand

Unfortunately, Scotland fans know all too well just how Ireland’s pool stage at the World Cup panned out after it intersected rather painfully with Scotland's campaign. One Scottish fan who went viral spoke for a nation when he stated after that match – “win, lose or draw I’m getting blootered!”

Ultimately the Irish supporters, players and staff had their own sorrows to drown just a round later after an epic encounter against New Zealand was decided in the the All Blacks’ favour when they turned the ball over on the last play of the game.

Ireland dominated possession and territory but were edged out by a New Zealand side who made a fast start, took points when they were available and were able to strike from deep. It also helped that Jordie Barrett was able to come up with a huge play, holding the ball up over the line and preventing the almost standard Irish try in the last 10 minutes of the game.

Scoreboard dominance

There is a relentlessness about Ireland that many teams – but especially Scotland – have found hard to deal with. A low error count and ability to control possession and territory gives few opportunities to relieve pressure.

They are also generally very good at accumulating points, knowing the right moments to take the three from a penalty or if it’s better to keep the foot on the throat and go for the corner. It goes without saying that when they get there, they are extremely efficient at converting.

The Scots have suffered more than most in this respect when they have travelled to Dublin. In the Six Nations, they have played 24 halves of rugby at the Aviva Stadium or Croke Park and lost 23 of them.

Almost without exception each of these fixtures has seen Ireland build a half-time lead and then stretch away in the second 40 minutes. Any route to a shock Scottish victory almost certainly involves a fast start and being ahead at the break.

The battle up front

England’s surprise win over Ireland was built on a powerhouse performance from the pack. They were able to counter the intense physicality of the Irish forwards and also take advantage when things got looser and a bit more disorganised.

The English forwards collectively made 59 carries for 206 metres of ground gained. That’s compared to 52 carries for 72m by their opposite numbers.

Removing the fancy dans in the back row, there was still a clear advantage for England’s tight five – 25 carries at an average of 2.2m versus 28 carries at an average of 1.2m.

The work rate and power required to contain Ireland’s pack is immense but without this, it just becomes wave after wave driving the defensive line back and tying in players until there simply aren’t enough tacklers left and a score becomes inevitable.

Scotland’s forwards are in for a long afternoon in Dublin. There have been spells in each of their four matches so far in the tournament where they have imposed themselves on the opposition.

That needs to be the case for pretty much the entire game on Saturday, with none of the second-half drop-off that has afflicted the side, costing them two wins and putting another in the balance.


  • Zero – the number of scrum put-ins that Ireland had against New Zealand during the World Cup. The All Blacks (admittedly from limited possession) were crisp and precise in their handling, offering the Irish minimal opportunities to get the ball back. In fact, NZ conceded a remarkably low three turnovers across the 80 minutes of their quarter-final. It’s a huge ask but Scotland’s protection of the ball almost certainly needs to be similarly accurate if they are to have a chance of a win in Dublin.
  • England flipped the usual script and controlled the territorial battle at Twickenham with 60% of the game played in the Irish half. That’s the kind of number that might change the game for Scotland – winning kicking contests will be a big part of this.
  • Ireland have only conceded eight tries in their last nine meetings with Scotland in Dublin during the Six Nations. The Scots average three tries per game in the championship since the start of the 2021 tournament – they are likely to need at least that many scores to win this time round.

Previous results

This will be the 13th time the two sides have met in Dublin for a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:

Scotland Rugby News:

Most recent meeting at the Aviva Stadium:

Ireland 26-5 Scotland

Significant stat
92% – tackle completion for Scotland. As has been the case for the majority of recent meetings between these nations, the dark blues have actually boasted a superior success rate for tackling.

That hasn’t translated onto the scoreboard though, with Irish forwards still likely to dominate collisions and get over the gainline even if brought to ground.

That aggressive physicality has to be matched on both sides of the ball by the Scots. There are players in the Scotland pack who are capable of this, but it has to be much more consistent to live with the home side’s forwards.


Referee: Matthew Carley (England, eighth Championship match)
Assistant Referees:  Karl Dickson (England) and Christophe Ridley (both England)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

So far in this Six Nations, Scotland’s crime count is 44 penalties conceded to just 23 won – plus three yellow cards versus a solitary sin bin for their opponents. The failure to get hold of their discipline or get on the right wavelength with referees nearly cost the match in Round one against Wales and was a huge contributor to the loss against Italy last time out.

Eight weeks ago, Glasgow Warriors won a penalty count for the first time ever with Mr Carley as referee. While the national side’s record has been more mixed with the English official, they were on the wrong end of a 15-10 penalty tally when he took charge of this fixture in 2020. Can lightning strike twice in 2024 and a Scottish side get their discipline spot on with a man who is now one of the senior refs on the international circuit?

Scotland Rugby News: Part two of the preview, including the head-to-heads, will follow on Friday after the team announcement on Thursday.