Better is yet to come from Scotland rugby team, insists captain Stuart Hogg

Outstanding though Scotland were at times during rugby’s 2021 Six Nations, better still is yet to come, insists team captain Stuart Hogg.

By Darin Hutson
Saturday, 27th March 2021, 5:12 pm
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:56 pm
Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg celebrates with team-mates after Scotland's win against France last night (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images)
Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg celebrates with team-mates after Scotland's win against France last night (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images)

A last-gasp try by Duhan van der Merwe last night, March 26, secured the Scots their first win, by 27 points to 23, at the Stade de France in Paris since a team featuring current head coach Gregor Townsend got the better of their hosts there 22 years ago by 36 to 22.

That was the second away duck they broke during this year’s championship, the other being their first Calcutta Cup victory against England in London for 38 years.

Scotland won three of their five games and only lost the other two, at home to Wales and Ireland, by a whisker, and former Hawick star Hogg says he is pleased with the progress his team is making and believes they’ve got what it takes to go further.

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“Results at times at times have been outstanding and the performances at times have been very good, but we’re probably going to be kicking ourselves in the foot with some of the losses,” said the 28-year-old.

“We’re not going to get carried away. We’re going to enjoy this moment and start building towards something memorable.

“I’m the captain of a very, very proud nation, and we’ll continue to work hard.”

Scotland finished fourth in the Six Nations table, level on points with third-placed Ireland and just one behind runners-up France.

Former Gala hero Townsend, 47, agrees that Scotland have the potential to challenge for titles in years to come, saying: “We have challenged in every game we have played in the last two years.

“We have won six, and we have had four games where we have been within seven points, so that's in a position to win every game.

“Stuart spoke in the huddle after the game and again last night, saying that this has to be more than just the start of the journey of what this team can achieve.

“We play this wonderful tournament every year and we have a world cup in two years in the same stadium we played in on Friday night.

“Performances like that will give them confidence. Winning against England will give them confidence to take on any team we face, whether that's teams in the Six Nations or South Africa, who we play in the world cup, that we can win when we get our best performance out on the park.

“I think the character they showed to come back from behind to win when we're a man down, to get that response when we had a red card, was superb.

“And obviously just to win here in a stadium we have only won in once before, it showed this team will keep trying, and even though we have had two defeats this year, in all our games we have shown that same spirit.

“It's credit to the players they have the physical capabilities through their effort to keep going, but they have got the togetherness to adapt and overcome anything that comes our way.

“At half-time, we talked about being here before where we have lost a key player to a yellow card. The same happened at Twickenham when Finn got yellow-carded.

“I felt we showed almost the same togetherness and control as we did at Twickenham. France did score during that period, but up until then I saw a team together and managing their way through that 10-minute period, and obviously they managed their way through the red card really well. Those are really encouraging signs.

“It's not going to be perfect. There will be times when other teams have the upper hand, but to see the team adapting and learning from previous games is something you want to see from a coaching perspective.

“We are delighted but disappointed that it's not better than fourth place.

“The effort they put in here in the last game, and the first game in particular, I feel deserves more than fourth place."

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