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Chris Paterson: Scotland right to call up foreign-born players

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter
Image: Scotland head coach Vern Cotter

Former Scotland captain Chris Paterson has defended head coach Vern Cotter's decision to exploit the residency rules to call up players born outside of the country for the Rugby World Cup.

Glasgow back-rower Josh Strauss and Edinburgh prop WP Nel, both born in South Africa, have been named in Cotter's provisional 46-man World Cup squad despite the fact they will only qualify to wear the Dark Blue jersey a matter of days before the tournament kicks off.

Roy Laidlaw, Scotland’s 1984 Grand Slam-winning scrum-half, recently launched a scathing attack on the IRB regulations which allow foreign-born players to migrate to national teams after just a three-year stay.

But Paterson, his country’s most capped player, defended Cotter’s decision and dismissed suggestions that it is a move which could damage the prospects for young domestic players.

It's a law that's there and almost everybody uses it. Whoever takes the field is going to give everything that they have for their country.
Chris Paterson on new-look Scotland

"It's a law that's there and almost everybody uses it," he said. "Whoever takes the field is going to give everything that they have for their country.

"If you want to progress in any sport, or any walk of life, you have got to work hard for it and if you are determined enough and work hard enough then you will give yourself the opportunity.


"We have just left 200 kids in North Berwick playing, around 300 in Jedburgh yesterday, then we go up to Cupar where there is a really successful youth scheme.

"We're going to Aberdeen, Inverness and Orkney so if we see this everywhere we go, which I have no doubt we will, the building blocks of the future are in good place."

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson put a World Cup win as his No 1 aim when he launched a four-year plan back in 2012 but retired full-back Paterson - capped 109 times for his country - admits Scotland's chances of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy are slim.

He watched Cotter's team suffer a humiliating RBS 6 Nations whitewash earlier this year, and believes the Scots are in for "one of the biggest challenges of their lives".

Scotland begin their campaign against Japan in Gloucester on September 23 before taking on the United States in Leeds four days later, with two decisive matches against South Africa and Samoa scheduled for October 3 and 10 at St James' Park in Newcastle.

When asked if Scotland can win the cup, he said: "It's a big ask, isn't it? I think there's so many teams now that could win it, and I think the number of teams that could win it is greater than it has ever been.

"There's more close games compared with 20 years ago when there would be big scores. You have to take it one step at a time and deal with what's in front of you."

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