Gregor Townsend rues Scottish generosity with final pass
‘We all make errors but we certainly played some outstanding rugby today’
Scotland’s generosity with their final pass saw to it that Ireland’s job of setting up a Grand Slam day in Twickenham next week was more easily prosecuted than it might have been.
For Scotland it was what could have been or should have been.
Three times Scottish players butchered their final delivery high and low and forward with the tryline begging. As aberrations go at this level Scotland’s lack of accuracy even trumped Johnny Sexton’s four missed kicks against Wales last time out.
A philosophical Scottish coach Gregor Townsend saw those missed chances as the difference between the two sides.
“We obviously missed opportunities We all make errors,” said Townsend. “We played some outstanding rugby today, just disappointed we didn’t have one more two more three more tries on the scoreboard which would have made it a very interesting game in the last 10 minutes.”
Townsend said that Ireland might be four years ahead of Scotland in experience and know-how. But he was able to take something from the game and suggested that when the teams meet next year and during the World Cup in 18 months, Scotland will be a stronger team.
“We all make errors but we certainly played some outstanding rugby today and caused a very good side problems,” said Townsend.
“We are proud of how the team played but there is a realisation there is more work to do. We’re three or four years behind Ireland in terms of what they have done and achieved and their experiences of the last few years.
“We meet Ireland next year in the Six Nations and we play them in 18 months in the World Cup and we have to make sure we are a better team the next two times we play them.”
Turned up, played well and put themselves in a position to win the game was the positive side of an otherwise bad day for Scotland.
Captain John Barclay, downbeat and frustrated, chimed in with Townsend’s long-term view that Scotland are a building side. Still the botched chances hurt.
“The score line didn’t show the competition in the game,” said Barclay. “I think they had a few chances, an intercept and they took all of them. We probably had four chances, three clean two on one chances and we took one so . . . to me that’s the difference.
“They are a very good team,” added the backrow. “They are a fantastic side and we knew when we got chances we had to take them especially against a defence as good as theirs.
“Today the passes didn’t quite go to hand. It’s encouraging but also encouraging that we created those opportunities. We didn’t capitalise, we didn’t convert our chances and that was the difference.”
Asked is Ireland will win the Grand Slam Townsend was non-committal. “I don’t know,” he said. His pride in how Scotland performed came as much from the quality of the team he faced.
“Ireland are an excellent side,” said the Scottish coach. “England are an excellent side Wales are an excellent side . . . it’s a brilliant championship, competitive games and different styles and the quality of opponent is really high.
“Winning at Twickenham would be a huge achievement,” he added. “Winning it on the back of four games would be a huge achievement.”