Losing at least seven bona fide starters, including the only two genuine world class players, is too much for a country of Scotland’s limited playing resources to absorb and remain genuinely competitive.
Scotland were lucky that they only lost by 17. The TMO was absolutely correct to chalk off four more French tries, but the fact he was called into play so often gives an indication of the overall tenor of the match.
Mistakes were costly for Scotland on Saturday but they didn’t happen in isolation. They are a function of a team’s technical proficiency and ability to cope with pressure. To suggest that improved performance and results can be achieved by simply reducing the error count is to ignore the fundamental factors which contribute to those errors.
Peter Horne is no Finn Russell. Okay, so we already knew that, but we did seem to expect him to transmute into the mercurial playmaker for this occasion so that Scotland could carry on their high-speed game-plan without missing a beat. He couldn’t imitate the great conjurer, and, hamstrung by slow ball and France’s impressive line speed, Horne was left trying to pull rabbits out of an empty hat.
Nick Grigg is a great club player and makes the most of what he has got – but he has not yet got enough for international rugby.
Rumours of France’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. It was not the fully polished performance they will require to scalp one of the real big boys of the international stage, but when they hit their straps they were a formidable proposition.
This Six Championship is now wide open, with Wales firmly in the box their lack of bonus points may cost them, especially as they face a much trickier run-in than previous favourites England. Meanwhile, Ireland are building momentum on the inside rail after a slow start.
Welsh regional rugby might be in crisis – but the general health of the game in The Principality clearly isn’t that bad!
England are not yet the finished article. They played it wrong against Wales by going for a kicking game, which Liam Williams destroyed – and it turns out Owen Farrell is human after all, because he couldn’t change it.
Scotland have managed just one win from nine matches in total so far in the three Six Nations competitions (Men’s, Women’s and Men’s U20s), leaving them detached by some distance at the bottom of the cumulative league table.