Scotland determined to show true colours in Summer Test rematch
While understandably despondent in the immediate aftermath of Scotland’s opening Summer Test defeat to France in Nice, captain Stuart McInally believed his charges have the talent and resolve to bounce back in the return fixture at their BT Murrayfield home on Saturday.
The visitors were at the wrong end of a 32-3 defeat at the Allianz Riviera, with the French physicality and offloading game a major contributing factor to their five-try win, the first of the first of which came after just three minutes of action.
McInally, captaining Scotland for the first time since retaining the Calcutta Cup in March, acknowledged the side have ‘a lot of improving to do' for next week, when ‘Les Bleus’ come to town.
“In some game you concede early and it’s not the biggest thing, you’ve still got the rest of the game to put it right,” explained the hooker.
“We just tried to stick to our game plan and our processes, and we had good spell just after that, but they just seemed to get the better of us.
“We’ve got three more games and then we’re going to play Ireland, so all our focus is on trying to make sure we’re ready for that game when we get to Japan.
“We now have a starting point, and have lot to improve on, but we’ve put in a lot of good training over these last two months and we’re in good shape.
“We didn’t get it right on the night but I’m confident we’ll put things right next week before the Georgia games and then looking forward to the world cup.”
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend echoed the sentiment that the group had higher expectations as they led into the fixture in France.
He said: “We expected a better performance. There’s a lot of work to do.
“We go into every game – no matter the opponent – with the goal of winning and we believed as a coaching and playing group that we were well-prepared for that game, so obviously that wasn’t correct.
“We missed parts of the first-half just from not being in place quick enough to stop France getting quick ball, and then not capitalising on opportunities we did have in the first-half.
“We’ll be better for that experience, but we’ve got to be much, much better in terms of our performance over the next three games and obviously when we get to Japan.”
While Townsend had underscored the priority of winning when it comes to Summer Test matches there is an understood element of testing combinations and systems in anticipation of both selection for, and playing in, the Rugby World Cup.
Players new to each other or playing out of their ‘preferred’ position is a key consideration for the final 31 and remains so as the team’s attention turns to next Saturday’s rematch at BT Murrayfield.
“These games are, first of all, an opportunity to win for your country, and second to give players match conditioning and opportunities to make that final squad, but also to look at combinations that can be of benefit to the world cup.
“The team was going to change a lot going into next week’s game, so some players won’t get the opportunity to rectify it [the performance in Nice] next week.
“It’s a timely reminder to those who are playing their first game of the season how tough international rugby can be if you’re not switched on and you don’t make your tackles.
“That’s what happened a few times, so we’re demanding a reaction from our players and they’ll be demanding it, so let’s move on to actions and behaviours rather than words.
“That will be the target this week – to show a much truer image of what we’re capable of.” Head Coach Gregor Townsend