Scotland’s Six Nations campaign a ‘massive achievement’, says national rugby team head coach Gregor Townsend
Scotland might have had to settle for fourth place in rugby’s Six Nations but historic away victories against France and England meant their campaign was still a “massive achievement” belying that third-from-bottom finish, according to head coach Gregor Townsend.
The Scots’ 27-23 win in Paris last night, March 26, thanks to an 85th-minute try by Duhan van der Merwe, was their first in the French capital since a 36-22 victory in April 1999 secured by a try by Townsend and two by fellow Borderer Alan Tait, along with two by Martin Leslie.
That first win in France for 22 years followed long-awaited triumphs in Wales in October at the end of last year’s delay-hit Six Nations and England in February for their opening match of this year’s.
They had been waiting 18 years for an away win against the Welsh and 38 years for one in London.
“It's incredible," said former Gala and Border Reivers star Townsend.
“To break one record is a massive achievement, but to do three in our last three away games in the Six Nations shows what a team we have and what a group of players we have.
“We have been really competitive in the last two years in every game we have played in the Six Nations.
“We have won six games and lost four that have been very close.
“To keep that going in a bit of adversity prior to the match and during the match shows that this team has spirit, has togetherness.
“That win means a lot. It means a lot to them. It means a lot for Scottish rugby and hopefully for the people in our nation, like the win at Twickenham did."
Scotland ended the tournament with 15 points from their five games, level on points with third-placed Ireland, one behind runners-up France and five behind champions Wales, as well as being five ahead of fifth-placed England and 15 up on wooden spoon claimants Italy.
Townsend, 47, added: “I’m so proud of the team.
“They came here with a bit of adversity with not our full squad, an injury to one of our starters on Wednesday, a yellow card, a red card.
“We had to come back against a very good side, but they showed courage, effort, togetherness, and skill to win.
“It was a great end to a really promising season for us.
“Even though we finished fourth, it feels like one of our best-ever seasons with the victories we’ve had this year and the performances tonight especially.
“That’s now been the last two years we’ve been competitive in every game.
“We’ve grown a lot this year, grown a lot this campaign, and we’ve got to continue to grow over the next few years.”
French head coach Fabien Galthie also congratulated his visitors on their performance, saying: “We had control at times, but we have to applaud Scotland's performance.
“They knew exactly what they had to do and what they had to invest."
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