ONE swallow does not make a summer, and Scotland will not be content with a repeat of the last two years by failing to back up a morale-boosting Six Nations opening weekend win over England when they face Wales in round two next weekend.
Skipper Jamie Ritchie and head coach Gregor Townsend were both at pains to stress after their Twickenham success that it must be a stepping-stone rather than an end in itself.
Inconsistency has been a consistent frustration for the team and their supporters, with the most talented Scotland side in at least a quarter of a century failing to finish in the top half of the Six Nations table since Townsend’s first season in charge back in 2018.
“We will enjoy this victory but come Monday we are back to work and preparing for Wales,” said Ritchie.
“I’m proud of how we stayed in the fight and stuck to the plan which we wanted to play and create opportunities,” he continued. “But it was a bit clunky in the first half and the accuracy wasn’t quite there.
“We coughed up the ball a few times but when we looked to play we created a lot of good opportunities and we took enough of them to win the game.
“So, it wasn’t the perfect performance but that’s maybe a good thing as we know there’s so much more we can do better.
“It’s about taking the good bits and building on them, but there was also some things which weren’t so good today and we will get back to work on Monday to try and fix them.
“A strong tournament for us is five strong performances and we are looking for another one next Saturday.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 59)
Townsend added: “We have to be better because that wasn’t our best performance. That’s now the exciting thing for us, that we can grow more in this tournament.
“To win from behind, when you’ve only got five minutes left, and to score such a good try, makes it all the more special.
“But it will mean nothing if we don’t recover, train well and improve next week.
“England are a top, top side. Coming to Twickenham for any team is really difficult. You get belief from how you’ve gone against a team in the past. 2018 unlocked opportunities here.
“It’s great now as we can look towards next weekend with positivity and belief. In the last two Six Nations we have played Wales after beating England and we haven’t won, so we don’t want that to happen again.
“I felt a lot of emotion at the end, I don’t know whether it was the noise, the occasion or that I never came close to winning here as a player.”
Meanwhile, two-try hero Duhan van der Merwe spoke of his relief at hitting form at the right time after a tough couple of months
The winger was left without a club when Worcester Warriors went bust earlier this season, and while Edinburgh offered him a lifeline, he felt the upheaval negatively impacted his form, before being sidelined with an ankle injury at the turn of the year.
However, a trip home to South Africa a fortnight ago to get married helped him get back into a more positive head-space.
“It’s been really tough for me personally,” he explained. “I’ve not played very well for Edinburgh, I’ve struggled, and the pressure built up which I’ve never really experienced in my life before.
“So, the week away couldn’t have been any better. I felt refreshed when I came back to the Scotland camp I trained well and was buzzing to get back and get better.
“But having not played much and being injured, it was quite nerve-wracking, and I didn’t have much confidence – but after scoring that first try, I just felt the pressure lift.
“I’m just really happy, I’ve got a good mindset and I’m just enjoying my rugby again.”
Townsend added that van der Merwe’s first try reminded him of a famous compute console game of his youth.
“It was incredible, wasn’t it? It reminded me if you are a certain age of when you played [Jonah Lomu Rugby’ and suddenly one person can go quicker,” he chuckled.
“Duhan has not had much rugby over the last few weeks but has trained really well with us,” he added. “To play like he did today off the back of an injury and not playing for Edinburgh is a real testament to how he has got himself in this position both mentally and physically.
“It was almost a different side to Duhan how he stepped and accelerated away. His finish for the second try was similar to two years ago when he finished in the opposite corner. It was a brilliant finish but that first try was amazing.”