#RWC2019: ‘We’re not going to sit in our hotel room and cry’ – John Barclay

Veteran flanker John Barlcay says the players need to remain positive after Ireland set-back as they look to turn tinbgs around against Samoa

John Barclay
John Barclay is a senior and sensible voice in the Scotland squad. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
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NOT for the first time in his long and distinguished international career (which stretches all the way back to his international debut against New Zealand the day before his 21st birthday at the 2007 World Cup), John Barclay has provided some valuable insight and perspective into a difficult week for the Scotland squad in Japan.

The Scots were left reeling after last Sunday’s heavy defeat to Ireland and have had extra misery heaped upon them by a furious backlash to the performance from fans, especially on social-media. No matter what they have said at various press conferences during the week, there has been keyboard warriors desperate to kick the team while they are down. The players have variously expressed contrition, defiance, hurt, exasperation and bewilderment – and none of it has been good enough.

A common theme from the critics is that the players should keep quiet and start doing their talking on the field – which is fair enough except Scotland are contractually required to make a certain number of players available to the travelling press over the course of the tournament. They’ve had to say something – which is pretty difficult after a game like that – but there is no time machine or magic solution to escape the situation they find themselves in, so all they can do is try to look forward as positively as they can.

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“We’re not going to sit in our hotel rooms and cry for a week,” was Barclay’s characteristically straight to the point assessment of the situation. “We can’t do that, so we’ve been out exploring.

“It’s an awesome place to have a wander around. It’s just so different to anywhere I’ve ever been. Most of us like the food. It is just good to get out there, especially after a bad game.

“I understand some people find it potentially frustrating to see us out. Some people see a snippet on social-media and it looks like we don’t care, which couldn’t be further from the truth. That hurts players and we take that on board, but we have tried to have fun.

“The reality is we do care, but we can’t stay in our rooms and just do nothing because that would be ridiculous and not good for the culture. The boys have got to move on, have fun and remind ourselves we’ve got a big game this week.

“We’re here at a World Cup, it’s a great opportunity and we’ve got another opportunity on Monday against Samoa.”

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This isn’t Barclay’s first rodeo and while he is far from content with Scotland’s chronic inconsistency, he argues that self-flagellation achieves nothing positive.

“The sad thing is we’ve done it before and it’s frustrating,” he said. “We played France away the first game of the season, didn’t play very well, and then next week we played well. It can be done.

“I don’t think it will happen again – [it] certainly won’t happen this week. You can over-analyse everything, try to find solutions, probably what’s more important is we prepare right for this week and get it right this week rather than keep looking back.”

There has been a lot of chat from the squad about Scotland’s execution being the big issue last Sunday, but there is a growing feeling from outside the camp that the overall philosophy – the desire to play the fastest brand of rugby in the world – is impractical against the top sides. Barclay said there will be tweaks for the Samoa game, but stressed that the baby will not be thrown out with the bath water.

“We’ll have to make changes in terms of how we play a little bit because we are playing a different opposition and we would do that regardless,” he said. “We’ve looked at ways of trying to get ourselves into the game a bit more, to handle the situations a bit better in terms of game management, but our philosophy of how we play the game is in our DNA so we don’t change that – we have to look at things we can do better.”

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About David Barnes 3384 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve a lot of respect for Barclay. He’s a stand up player and tough as nails. But he had a poor game and was marginalised. However, his attitude is spot on and thats the way they should look at this.

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