Bad start, but a heartening resilience

editorial image

WE could not have got off to a worse start when, in two minutes, France had gone over for a converted try followed by a drop goal soon after.

10-0 down in Paris in front of a passionate noisy French crowd was not ideal to say the least, and with the French players playing their best rugby for years, it was surely going to be a one-sided cricket score.

But Scotland had other ideas. Unlike the match against New Zealand in the autumn test when we buckled, the character of the team came through.

Up against it big time in the scrum and losing line-outs it was not going to be an easy task, yet we managed to get a try, thanks to Ally Kellock, to reduce the deficit.

We weren’t blown away by the interval – indeed we were still very much in the game – but it was going to be a big ask to get anywhere near the fickle French when they were in the mood to play open expansive running rugby, a far cry from their humiliating defeat at home to Australia a few months earlier when they leaked 60 points.

Traditionally, of course, we have the habit of making the most of the boot of Dan Parks or Chris Paterson and trying to stop the opposition from scoring tries so that we are still in with a shout of pinching a game at the death.

We are not in the habit of running in tries.

Having said that, it was Paris where we scored five tries in 1999 in the first half-hour, so it can happen, only not that often.

But to score three tries from Kelly Brown, Ally Kellock and Sean Lamont – all converted by Parks – was a big plus on Saturday and to go down 34-21 to a side as good as the French was no disgrace. I have always said that all we ever ask from our Scottish team is for them to play with pride and give their everything, and no-one can have any complaints in that department despite the loss.

Andy Robinson is a man who hates defeat and he rightly said, despite the brave performance of our boys, that he is here to win test matches.

That is the high standard he has set and that is what he wants. OK, the Grand Slam has gone, but the Championship and the Triple Crown are still there to be shot at.

If we play to this level on Saturday against Wales there is no doubt we can win, and we should take Ireland and Italy at Murrayfield as well.

England will be difficult at Twickenham, but I think we have got the hardest game out of the way and this Saturday is going to be very interesting.

z Southern Reporter rugby writers have the knack of jinxing Scottish rugby sides away from home.

Stuart Cameron said last week that he has seen just one win away from Murrayfield, and Laing Speirs’s travelling record is even worse.

He has now seen Scotland lose away from home no fewer than 39 times, with only one draw to cheer him up.

But he was at Twickenham to see the late Tom Elliot of Gala score what might have been the winning try against England in 1955.

The trouble was the referee didn’t see it!