Scotland v South Africa reaction: ‘We shot ourselves in the foot,’ says Stuart Hogg

Home skipper that team have only themselves to blame for home defeat to world champions

Two tries against South Africa and a couple of major records achieved could not lift Stuart Hogg's spirits after painful defeat. Image: © Craig Watson -
Two tries against South Africa and a couple of major records achieved could not lift Stuart Hogg's spirits after painful defeat. Image: © Craig Watson -

STUART HOGG was in no mood for playing along with any hard luck narratives after his team’s defeat to South Africa earlier today, insisting that Scotland, and not the world champions, were the architects of their own downfall.

“I‘m bitterly disappointed with the result,” said the Scotland captain. “For the first 20 minutes we defended like our lives depended on it. We kept them out and went down the other end of the field and scored three points. That was huge for us.

“We felt we were in control at half time. We had the choice then to sit back and expect it to happen or go out to make it happen. At times we looked good, played in the right areas and were in control of the ball and defended really well. But we missed vital clear-outs and that was the thing that killed us.

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“The boys are absolutely devastated with the result. The second half was far from where we need to be and where we want to be and that has cost us.

“You could say the Springboks would have won anyway but I’d probably disagree. We shot ourselves in the foot at times. We didn’t get to vital clear-outs and our set-piece didn’t function. We just didn’t control the game as we’d like to.

“Yes, we were put under pressure but at times we didn’t help ourselves.

“We allowed South Africa to get into their game. They wanted to slow it down and kick to the corner and get their set-piece going. We gave them an avenue into the game at times and that’s not what we’re about.

“There are large parts of the game that we felt were really good and others that we are frustrated about,” he continued. “But it’s done now and we need to move on. We have an opportunity to learn and grow individually and collectively. Next week we’ll get back on the horse and go again [against Japan].”

Hogg played down the two personal milestones he reached in this match, of becoming the male player who has started the most tier one international matches at full-back in the game’s history, and of matching Ian Smith and Tony Stanger‘s 24 tries for Scotland record.

“It’s not about that,” he shrugged. “It’s about winning Test matches. It’s about being in a position to keep the momentum going as a national side. That’s what we’re about. We talked in the changing room about this being a minor blip, a bump in the road.

“I think I might think back in a few hours when I’ve calmed down and settled down. My focus now is to make sure I recover well so that we are in a great place physically and mentally come Monday.

“We have an opportunity to learn and grow and be better. It’s not going to be pretty viewing at times when we look back but we will get excited about the next challenge.”

Next week’s opponents, Japan, coughed up 60 points in a heavy defeat to Ireland last weekend, but Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend insisted that he and his team won’t be reading too much into that.

“They came close to beating Australia [last month], and they beat us two years ago [at the World Cup], so we know what a difficult team Japan are,” he reasoned. “If you give them ball, they will cause you problems, so that will be a very tough game for us.

“And it will show the resilience of the group if we can bounce back after a painful defeat. We want to put what we’ve learned over the last three weeks into the best performance of this Autumn Nations Series – that’s all we’re working towards.”

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About David Barnes 2761 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. I think it’s fair to say the autumn internationals are the time to blood new players. Our weakest areas are tight head second row and number 8. Consequently it appears odd to me that the fagersons started every game. Giving alternatives 15 minutes at the end of the Australia game is completely pointless. It is clear from his selections that Townsend thought we could win the australia game but not the SA game. Backed up by his selections of Scott and Haining. I find his selections , future player development and man management at times utterly bizarre.

  2. We were very competitive the first half and could have done with Finn kicking the points before half time. 2nd half the basics fell apart. What a difference compared to Ireland who made few errors, were comfortable with ball in hand and fought tenaciously to the end. There wasn’t a great deal in our game but it felt like SA were in total control. I’m sure Toony will have learnt a fair bit from that.

  3. the don’t experiment/play your best team is ok, except that with 3/4 tests on consecutive weekends its not that wise. And if we want to develop players at test level running up to possible inclusion in the next RWC, when do you do it? Unfortunately we lost this summer’s fixtures.
    There wasn’t much experimentation anyway.

  4. This wasn’t a game for experimenting with new combinations and players new to Pro rugby, let alone test rugby. We got bullied, and made too many basic errors and that’s what loses you test matches. Hogg is right to be raging, that was not a performance to be proud of.

  5. Shot in the foot or just plain unable to deal with the bomb squad, who are world champions after all? Finn does great for a part-time kicker, but it is huge pressure and it worries me that he doesn’t do it week in week out for his club. Hoggie – despite being brilliant in so many other ways – is a wayward back-up and likewise doesn’t kick goals for his club. What other top tier test nation finds itself in that position? It’s not exactly back to the drawing board for the front five, but there is need for continued improvement and a reload against Japan is essential to get back on track for the Six Nations. Confidence has been dented, not destroyed.

    • Ross Thompson is a metronomic kicker and so is Adam Hastings, perhaps we need to play Hastings and Russell together. I appreciate we missed 8 points from kicks and that keeps you in the game but I felt we needed to get on the right side of the ref and we didn’t and he was on our case from the start, our forwards have to learn how to scrum to satisfy refs because our penalty count in both recent games has been too high and we end up playing in our own 22

      • I know Tom, it’s a real conundrum. Psychologically what difference would it have made going in at the break 13-8 up and knowing that if you got the next score it would give you a defendable lead in the second half? Hoggie and Finn are two of our brightest stars and not playing either of them them would be utterly unthinkable. So what is the solution? Hastings at 15 (he is better defensively) and Hogg as a superbly gifted inside centre – something Toonie has always looked for? And young Thompson on the bench? For me the Glasgow lad is the most reliable goal kicker of all of them, but he’ll find it hard to push ahead of the more established names in Toonie’s mind – especially when he gave Kinghorn the trip at 10 against Tonga (Jeez, what an opportunity spurned that was). It is ironic considering we are so blessed with talent that we have this structural problem. Any solution involving change would be absolutely radical. What to do? Hope Finn gets lot of practice off the tee and has a better day next time? Maybe, I really don’t know.

      • I agree. Hastings at fullback Hogg inside centre. Thomson on the bench. Horne is getting a start! Yes!

  6. it might also be said that the selection gamble of fresh unfamiliar partnerships in the back row and in midfield cost did not work – the established Russell, Johnson & Harris and Watson, Fagerson & Ritchie partnerships would surely have developed a more coherent attack and tighter defence

    • Harris seems to be the key cog in our defence. Unfortunately he is also a key cog for the opposition’s defence. Poor acceleration into gaps (when he occasionally hits one), not enough pace to make an outside break, enough to crab across and cut down our space, poor hands and no vision.
      There were good reasons t pick him when we had better attackers but weaker defenders exposing us in defence, but we have to find a way to move on. It’s obviously Harris is the most one dimensional attacker we have had in many many years

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