Zander Fagerson eyes Scotland’s World Cup opener after red card ‘roller coaster’

By Sports Desk August 17, 2023

Zander Fagerson admits he is “relieved” not to have had his World Cup dream dashed by suspension after going through an emotional “roller coaster” in the aftermath of his red card in Scotland’s recent home win over France.

There were fears the Glasgow prop might miss at least part of the upcoming showpiece in France after he was sent off for making contact with the head of Les Bleus hooker Pierre Bourgarit at the side of a ruck.

After an anxious few days for the 27-year-old, he learned last week that he would face a reduced two-game ban, ruling him out of last weekend’s rematch with the French in Saint Etienne and the home game against Georgia later this month before freeing him up to play in the World Cup opener against South Africa in Marseille.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but I’m just relieved,” he told the PA news agency. “I’m remorseful for what happened, but it’s one of these things and you’ve got to move on from it and learn from your mistakes.”

Fagerson explained how the sight of his children helped him deal with the gloomy post-game realisation that his dismissal may have put his World Cup chances in jeopardy.

“I was pretty down afterwards but by my wife and kids were there (at Murrayfield) and my kids didn’t care about what had happened, they just wanted to see their dad,” he said.

“I was gutted but that helped put a smile back on my face. It (the incident) was done, I couldn’t do anything to change it, so I just had to go through the process and wait for the outcome.

“I’m gutted I got suspended, but I’m relieved I can play the first game. It’s done now, I’ve got to move on and learn from it.”

Fagerson insists it is not in his nature to go into any Test without full commitment, even if there is a risk his wholehearted playing style could cost him involvement in a career pinnacle.

“You can’t go into games at this stage worrying about injury or suspension, because you’re not focusing on the task at hand if you’re doing that,” he said.

“You can’t let that cross your mind. Any time I play for Scotland is a massive opportunity and I don’t take it for granted. I go into every game fully committed.”

With his suspension ruling him out of next week’s match at home to Georgia, Fagerson – who has played just 50 minutes of rugby this summer – must focus on ensuring he is in prime shape for the Springboks showdown three weeks on Sunday.

“Fingers crossed I get selected for the first game, that’s a massive goal for me and one I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m in the best physical condition for,” he said.

Fagerson is heading to his second World Cup after being part of the squad that went to Japan four years ago, but this will be his first with his younger brother Matt, who has also been included in Gregor Townsend’s 33-man pool.

“Sadly Matt didn’t make it in 2019, but he was really excited for me and I was gutted for him, so to go out together this time will be really special,” said Fagerson. “It will be great for the family as well. Hopefully we can make some memories over there together.”

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