Six Nations Inquest: Scotland lost the battle but are winning the war

Scotland 24(17) – (8)25 Wales
Six Nations 2021, Rnd 2

Rugby is a quick sport, in all facets, including what happens on the pitch, the way opinion of the game shifts and trying to file a match report.

Five months ago it was heralded as a one of the great victories in Scottish rugby when the Scots went to Llanelli to complete their covid-extended Six Nations 2020 campaign beating Wales in Wales for the first time in 18 years.

With that victory came the glory for the players and staff of Team Scotland. The talent was showing, the players were maturing, the rugby was getting better, and smarter, the future looked rosy.

Twenty weeks on Scotland lose to Wales by a point at Murrayfield and the Scottish rugby world feels like it’s caved in.

You tell a Scot two years ago your side are going to become as good with 14 men as the Welsh are with 15 they would take the bottle from you and put you in a mental institution.

The defeat to Wales was unusually painful because the Scots should have really won it. Over 60% territory and possession at home, nine points to the good at half-time and multiple chances to get easy points on the board under the posts against a Welsh pack that was bust.

All of this combines to make the loss particularly sore and may go some way to explain why people are back on that old band wagon laying into the Scots for lack of discipline and mistakes.

Townsend’s view on Fagerson red
Referee Matthew Carley showed Zander Fagerson red for a shoulder to the head in clearing out. Carley is known to be a harsh referee. Townsend was unimpressed with the process that evaluated whether Fagerson should be sent off: “I didn’t think they had much of a discussion and I didn’t think they showed enough of the angles. They showed one slow-motion angle and then took ages to find another one. The TMO said because of the player’s late movement you should make sure there’s no mitigation there. It’s very serious when someone gets a red card and I felt there wasn’t the right angles or proper discussion. I thought the whole process could have been much better.”

More articles:
Scotland Lose By A Point In A Thriller Against Wales In The Six Nations: Match Report
Scotland Beat England At Twickenham In Their Opening Round Of Six Nations 2021: Match Report
Bayern And Arminia Bielefeld Play Out A 3-3 Thriller In Bundesliga: Match Report

For me, the change in Scotland’s rugby in the last year, let alone five months, has been extraordinary. In their two opening games the Scots have enjoyed over 60 per cent territory and possession against both England – at Twickenham – and Wales. You tell a Scot that’ll happen at the beginning of Six Nations 2021 two years ago they’d have thought you drink more than them.

Whatever’s going on in the Scotland camp, it’s working. All the blue’s stats are going in the right direction – territory, possession, scrum percentage, metres made (an extraordinary 443 to 184 against the Welsh on Saturday).

OK one stat went back – lineouts. Scotland fell to 81 per cent of lineouts won against Wales, a drop of 19 per cent on lineouts won against England a week ago (do the math, Scotland had a perfect record of lineouts against the English).

Even with Zander Fagerson’s red card Scotland looked like they could have beaten the Welsh – you tell a Scot two years ago your side are going to become as good with 14 men as the Welsh are with 15 they would take the bottle from you and put you in a mental institution.

It was a frustrating loss on Saturday in that it should have been a win. With the Six Nations being such a brief tournament mistakes are amplified which can easily cloud the bigger picture. But make no mistake, the bigger picture for Scotland is good.

The Hogg – Russell axis is a game changer, the progress under Townsend and Tandy astronomical. Scotland are most certainly still on the cusp of something great. If they don’t achieve with this talent then supporters and the media really will have a right to look back on this period with regret.

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