Blair Cowan: London Irish back row reflects on World Cup

Blair Cowan
Blair Cowan was initially overlooked for Scotland's World Cup squad

London Irish back row Blair Cowan says his World Cup experience with Scotland was a "rollercoaster ride".

He played in the narrow quarter-final defeat by Australia after originally being left out of the squad.

Referee Craig Joubert's "questionable decision" to give the Wallabies a late penalty was tough for Cowan to take.

"It didn't really sink in until a couple of days after. We were absolutely devastated," the 29-year-old told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"To almost have history that close in our own hands and then stripped away took some accepting."

Before the controversy of that Twickenham showdown and the following fallout over Joubert's decision, Cowan had to come to terms with being overlooked in Vern Cotter's initial squad.

Blair Cowan's international record
Tests: 15Tries: 2
Points scored: 10Debut: v USA (A), June 2014

"My whole career, I had never worked for something so hard and wanted something so badly," he said, after being overlooked for fellow flanker John Hardie.

"I knew it was going to be tight for my position and in the end Vern went for one man. But I had a lot of support from my partner and family to pick me back up."

An injury to lock Grant Gilchrist against USA handed Cowan a second chance and within days he was involved against South Africa.

He and Hardie were to play on opposite ends of the back row by the time the quarter-final came around.

"I got on well with John in pre-season and the lead up to the World Cup," he added. "We needed to slow down Australia's rhythm in that game and it worked well.

"Going forward, I think it could well be an option providing I continue to get the chance."

The New Zealand-born flanker has since returned to club action with London Irish, scoring a try on his first appearance of the season as a replacement against Exeter.