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Dodson keeps World Cup aims high

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson has defended his claim the Dark Blues should aim to win next year's World Cup - insisting he would be "pilloried" if he sold the nation's ambitions any shorter.

Back in February, the Murrayfield boss claimed the Scots had to "raise their sights" at a time when the side had been humbled by Ireland and humiliated by England - a 20-0 defeat which saw them fail to register a point for the first time in 36 years - in their opening two RBS 6 Nations fixtures.

Scotland went on to lose four out of their five clashes, finishing the tournament with a record 51-3 defeat in Wales.

But Dodson stood by his statement as he told Press Association Sport: " It's about how you interpret it. If you said 'Scotland are going to win the World Cup next year, now let's go to the bookies', well that is one view.

"But if you say it in terms of, as a nation, that is what we should aim to do, then of course that is what you should be saying. I want to be the best.

"If you are asked to gauge where you expect to be by the time of the World Cup and say you only want to get out of the group, you would be pilloried for showing a lack of ambition.

"To be honest, we are caught in between the devil and the deep blue sea depending on what we say.

"What is a realistic aim? In the past we have got to the quarter-final stage pretty much every time. But we maintain we want to go as far as we can. We are in it to win it.

"We are 14 months from the tournament with 14 or 15 games to play. We don't know how this team will shape up. Just remember, Wales lost 11 games on the bounce before they won the 2005 Grand Slam."

Scotland's lamentable display in this year's Six Nations has led some pundits to suggest the struggling nation should no longer be guaranteed automatic entry into Europe's premier competition.

The Dark Blues have not won the championship since Italy joined to make it a six-team tournament in 2000 and, over the past decade, have won just 12 times from 50 matches.

But Dodson insists Scotland will come good.

He said: "Last year France finished bottom of the Six Nations and no-one asked them to step aside. We know where we are and where we have to go.

"We have now got a world-class coaching group as well as some great players coming through. We have got the likes of Alex Dunbar and Matt Scott at centre, a back three of Stuart Hogg, Tim Viser and Sean Maitland and in the pack, Jonny Gray coming along, his brother Richie already there.

"These are guys who can compete with anyone on their day."

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