THIS column was going to be all about the Rugby World Cup until the death was announced of Fernando Ricksen, taken all too early at the age of 43 by Motor Neurone Disease.

I can add little to the plethora of tributes paid to Ricksen, except to say that in speaking about his fatal illness, he did many people a great service, both those who now have this utterly dreadful disease and those who will suffer from it in the future, the latter because his campaigning has raised awareness and cash to assist in research into MND.

His was a rare form of courage but then we knew he was always brave, for it took immense guts to have such a poor start to his career at Rangers and then come back to be an impressive contributor to the team who rightly became a legend at Ibrox.

I can only add one small story which to me was the measure of the man. About 15 years ago I was one of the corps of football writers who trudged tound the various club press conferences and if I remember rightly, after one of the Dutchman’s escapades, shall we call them, Alex McLeish had banned Fernando from speaking to the press which was a shame as he was always good copy.

READ MORE: Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen dies aged 43, club announce

I spotted him at the Auchenhowie training ground and asked him if he would sign an autograph for a young female Rangers-supporting friend who adored him.

Fernando said “wait here a minute” and disappeared, returning shortly afterwards with his training top that he signed with a dedication to her. Just a small kindness but one he didn’t have to do, and I admired that fact that he was prepared to give a little extra for a fan – he was always prepared to do that much more for the Rangers fans, on and off the pitch. He will be missed.

SO to the Rugby World Cup and a plea to all involved in the Scotland camp to do something revolutionary – wait and see.

I have been saying for some time now that Scotland had to give their all to get a result against Ireland tomorrow. But then a wiser man than me pointed out that the luck of the draw and the timings of pool matches have given Scotland a real chance of working out a game plan to get them into the quarter-finals.

The prognosis was originally this – get out of the group stage as runners-up in Pool A and in the quarter-finals Scotland would meet Pool B winners New Zealand and put up a plucky fight against the favourites before going home.

Except there may possibly be another way of working that would require Scotland to be a little devious.

READ MORE: Celtic boss Neil Lennon pays heartfelt tribute to "fierce competitor" Fernando Ricksen

The big marquee game of the opening weekend in Japan is undoubtedly New Zealand v South Africa. It takes place later today and will be a humdinger of a match. South Africa are on a roll, and though they have only beaten the All Blacks once since that titanic World Cup semi-final at Twickenham four years ago, there’s no doubt the Springboks are a real threat to New Zealand’s dominance. My conclusion? Let’s wait and see who wins.

When the draw for the pool stages was made in May 2017, according to the official International Rugby Board (IRB) rankings, Scotland were the fifth-ranked team in the world and Ireland were just ahead in fourth. Fast forward 28 months and Scotland are now ranked seven while as we all know, Ireland are officially number one and therefore the best team in the world. By the rankings – and yes, I know they have often been criticised – we have no chance against the Irish.

There is no possibility whatsoever of Scotland beating New Zealand in the quarter finals, but there is a slim chance of beating South Africa, albeit we haven’t done so since 2010 and never away from Murrayfield.

Yet ask yourselves this – who would you rather play for the chance to get into a World Cup semi-final, the Blacks or the Boks? No brainer, that one.

So am I advocating that Scotland lie down to Ireland? Not at all.

READ MORE: Celtic boss Neil Lennon pays heartfelt tribute to "fierce competitor" Fernando Ricksen

The practical people in the Scottish rugby community know that Scotland’s real task is to beat Samoa, Russia and Japan and get into the quarters to preserve our place in the next World Cup. But if we are going to have a chance of progressing to the semi-final then it can only be by beating South Africa in the quarter-final.

So Gregor Townsend and the squad should wait and see who wins today’s huge encounter in Yokohama and if South Africa triumph then it will be no disgrace to lose to the official best team in the world tomorrow, if you catch my drift … and we could husband our resources for what will be the big crunch matches for us, against Samoa a week on Monday and the hosts Japan on Sunday, October 13.

If New Zealand win then Scotland simply have to go all out to beat Ireland, and if the rankings are to be trusted then we will progress unbeaten through the pool and have a quarter-final against South Africa.

Above all, Scotland must make those quarter-finals, or else some serious questions will be asked of the Murrayfield leadership.