I REALLY felt confident that Scotland would do well in the World Cup – alas this squad, ironically probably the best group of players we have ever assembled for a World Cup, have become the first not to make the quarter-finals of the competition.
The match against England was a historic encounter, being the first time the two countries have met on neutral ground in 140 years of playing each other. But despite the backing of many Scots who had travelled to support the team, and the neutrals in the crowd who seemed to adopt Scotland, it was not the result we needed.
I went along to a press conference with Andy Robinson the day after the English game and he was able to take that opportunity to rubbish the claims from one newspaper that he was going to resign.
He may be the first coach to be in charge of a Scotland side who have not qualified for the World Cup knockout stages, but he is the right man for the job.
We could easily have ended up at the top of the pool if we had that little bit of luck we needed.
We weren’t hammered by anyone and we played some good rugby.
Ok, we didn’t get the results and that is the bottom line, but with the margins being so close it would be wrong to axe a coach for that.
There will be a debriefing with all parties ahead of the Six Nations in February, but Scotland, I and many others believe, are moving in the right direction and this squad is one of the best and most talented we have. Bringing in a new coach at this point would be disastrous and very wrong.
There have been questions over Andy’s selections, especially with the way he axed two captains during the campaign, and no-one will ever agree about every selection any coach makes, but I would certainly be happy with Andy at the helm into the future.
I also believe that we will also get the rub of the green in the near future in games which will see us scoring tries consistently.
Call me an optimist if you like, but I honestly believe Scotland are about to turn the corner and begin a new era. The Six Nations will hopefully see the fruits of all the hard work coming through.
New Zealand was a disappointment for Scotland, but everyone involved can hold their heads up high.
As for New Zealand itself, the country and the people are amazing.
It was a month I will never forget and anyone who loves rugby must visit at least once to realise what it is like to have rugby as your number one sport – and you will not meet a friendlier bunch of people.
To coin a New Zealand much-used word – awesome!