Hogg says Scotland hoping to emulate soccer team and inspire nation

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales v Scotland - Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales, Britain - October 31, 2020 Scotland's Stuart Hogg during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

(Reuters) - Scotland captain Stuart Hogg has said the team will head into Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash against Italy in Florence hoping to inspire the nation like their soccer counterparts.

Scotland’s soccer team qualified for the European Championship finals for the first time since 1996 on Thursday after a penalty shootout victory over Serbia in a playoff.

Manager Steve Clarke said after the game he was overjoyed to give the Scottish people something to cheer about amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been a tough year for everybody,” Hogg told reporters. “So if we can play a small part by putting smiles on people’s faces by getting results for everybody then that’s us doing our jobs.”

“The big thing which hit home was that we’re there to inspire the nation and the football boys did exactly that.

“Now it’s our turn... How good would it be if we were to win on Saturday? It would cap a great week for Scottish sport and that’s our aim.”

Gregor Townsend’s Scotland side beat Wales in their last game in the Six Nations championship and are targeting a fourth straight win. They also face France and Fiji in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger