2020 - a snapshot of Scotland's Year
The inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, which brought a return to elite level rugby in a year like no other, culminated on the weekend of 5 December with a full programme of matches, signalling the end of a seven-week period of international sport.
Scotland faced Italy, France and Ireland in the new-look tournament, as well as Georgia and Wales in the preceding weeks, registering three wins including a first triumph on Welsh soil in nearly two decades.
Gregor Townsend’s squad came up short in Dublin in the Autumn Nations Cup 3rd/4th play-off match, and finish 2020 with five wins from their nine international fixtures for a win rate of 55.5%, having not had the opportunity to play Fiji on account of the cancellation of that match through Covid-19 measures.
Scotland, followed up wins over the aforementioned Georgia and Wales with a 28-17 victory over Italy in Florence, scoring four tries through Duhan van der Merwe, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings and George Turner to get their campaign off to the best possible start.
The cancellation of France’s tie with Fiji meant Fabien Galthié brought a full strength team to BT Murrayfield [although their supposedly second tier side ran England mightily close at Twickenham in the final round] seeking revenge for defeat in March’s Guinness Six Nations encounter – the last match played before the pandemic put paid to professional sport for a few months.
Les Bleus were as clinical as they were combative the second time around, avenging that result with a 22-15 win in Scotland’s final home international of the calendar year.
A trip to Dublin, where the Scots were seeking a first win since 2010, proved a step too far after a nearly two months in camp. Despite a positive start, which brought about a twopoint half-time deficit, Ireland pulled out of sight with two quickfire second half tries to ultimately ease to third place in the Autumn Nations Cup, leaving Scotland to take fourth and with it a reasonable final position.
It was a Guinness Six Nations of some length, with the championship having to be resumed in October once conditions were safe to do so. That notable win over Wales at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli represented the big away scalp that Scotland had been seeking and added to a duo of successes in Italy in February and then November.
A year on from their Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, Scotland finished 2020 having blooded several new faces, using no fewer than 39 players across the entire autumn programme and rising up to seventh in the year-end World Rugby rankings, an improvement of two places on the same time in 2019.
CALENDAR YEAR STATS
TOTAL TRIES: 20
TOP TRY SCORERS: Duhan van der Merwe, Stuart McInally (both 3); Sean Maitland, Darcy Graham, Fraser Brown (all 2)
POINTS FOR: 184
AVERAGE POINTS PER GAME: 20.4
POINTS AGAINST: 136
AVERAGE POINTS PER GAME: 15.1
MOST POINTS: Adam Hastings (49), Duncan Weir (23)