“For the first time in a long while Scotland go into the RBS 6 Nations with a great deal of confidence. Under new head coach Vern Cotter things have been better – a lot better – and after a summer tour which brought about three wins from four, and then an Autumn Test series which saw Scotland winning two of their three matches, he’s chalked up 5 out of 7 which isn’t bad at all.”
Those were my opening lines in my first column ahead of the RBS 6 Nations exactly one year ago.
There was so much confidence surrounding Scottish Rugby back then, and, of course, we all know what happened after that!
Five games and five defeats and Scotland were back to square one again.
At the end of the campaign I did say we were showing signs of rejuvenation and I suggested that we were peaking for the 2015 World Cup.
That was a prediction which I’m pleased to say I got right. Scotland’s rugby squad did themselves and their country proud, and ended up as the highest-placed northern hemisphere side, coming the closest to a semi-final place.
There are many who believe that had we got through against Australia we would have beaten Argentina to take our place in the World Cup final against the mighty All Blacks.
OK, that’s pure speculation, but I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if it had happened.
Our Borders trio of Stuart Hogg, Ross Ford and Greig Laidlaw (who I assume will be named captain this week – I am writing this on Sunday before Vern Cotter’s announcement) are shoo-ins to be in the starting team for Saturday’s opening match against England.
We are all proud down here to have three of the best players in the team and between them they are certainly adding to their total of caps at an amazing rate.
They will have a big influence on the way Scotland play, but game one of the five is so important. Not only is it England and the Calcutta Cup, but the loser will lose the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam by the final whistle.
That’s a big blow to your campaign! We simply HAVE to defeat the Auld Enemy on Saturday and hit the ground running.
Pressure? What pressure?