Wales v Scotland reaction: devastation but championship ambitions are still alive

Stuart McInally, Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg believe Scotland have only themselves to blame for loss in Cardiff

Stuart McInally says Scotland are devastated but determined to bounce back from their loss to Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -
Stuart McInally says Scotland are devastated but determined to bounce back from their loss to Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -

STUART MCINALLY said the Scotland dressing room was devastated at failing to end the country’s 20 year losing in Cardiff but insisted that the team are still targeting a first championship title of the Six Nations era this season.

“I’ve been in a lot of Scotland changing rooms and sometimes they have been on the back of losses because we’ve been out played by a better team, and that’s easier to live with,” said the hooker after Saturday’s 20-17 loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium. “But today, you look around the changing room and see the quality of the players and we know we are so much better than that.

“Although we give a lot of credit to Wales for playing well and seeing that game out, we really feel that we were sub-par today. So, it’s a great chance for us to connect and get tighter and we can’t wait to play France now – all eyes are on that.

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“It’s always the same after a loss – the initial feeling is devastation and disappointment because you want to do well for the group and for the people of Scotland,” he added. “It is a devastated dressing-room. We know the opportunity that we let slip there. It is heart-breaking. We prepare well, we respect the opposition – this is a group that works hard – but, ultimately, we just didn’t play well enough today.

“We saw last week how important for the whole of Scotland it was to get that win over England – the influence it has on our supporters – and we wanted to replicate that again today, so we are heartbroken that we couldn’t do it.

“But Hoggy spoke well after the game in the changing room. It is disappointing, but we’ll review it, and this championship is still wide open. We’ve got France at home and we’re going to go into that full of belief. They are obviously an excellent team, but we’ve had good some results over them recently so we can’t wait to move on now.”

France are on the hunt for the Grand Slam after their victory over Ireland in Paris this weekend, but Scotland have an impressive recent record against Les Bleus.

“My immediate feeling is that our discipline wasn’t good enough,” reflected McInally, when discussing his own team’s performance. “They were holding the ball well, they attacked really well in our 22, but the ref’s arm was going out too quickly because we weren’t disciplined enough around the breakdown.

“Ultimately, we stopped a lot of tries but they were kicking three [points] and keeping that scoreboard ticking over. So, we just couldn’t get away from them.

“I feel like our attack could have been a bit more fluid at times. We didn’t get through as many phases as we would have liked.

“They were better than us today, and that’s all that matters. They deserved their win, they’ve got a great record down here for good reason. It has been a long time since we won here, and we were under no illusion as to how hard it was going to be today.

“We were buzzing off the back of last week, but we knew we were up against an excellent team, so we have to give them credit for that.”


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Meanwhile, winger Darcy Graham insisted that the team’s confidence will not be seriously dented by the defeat. “We’ve got a week off so we can let our bodies recover,” he said. “We’ll review that game pretty hard, but we’ve got to back ourselves. We’ve got the potential here to do something very special. It’s one game and we need to get back on the horse and go again.”

Graham was a constant threat on the wing and scored his team’s only try, but says he takes little consolation from his individual performance.  “I’m just doing my part for the team,” he stressed. “I’m just really gutted that we lost that because it was there for the taking.

“We’ve got to back our defence. We can play good rugby when our defence is solid. We can stop teams scoring and go multi-phase. We just need to trust in that process.”

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg said that the team know they have only themselves to blame for this failure to build on their win over England last weekend.

“At times we will be beaten by better sides when things don’t go our way, but I think we gave them too easy avenues into the game today,” h said. “Cheap field position, cheap penalties, cheap knock-ons. Stuff like we didn’t quite work hard enough to get into good positions for. That’s the thing that bugs me most.

“We knew they were going to come out full of emotion and looking to give a reaction on the back of their performance last week. They did exactly that, but we managed to ride the storm. They got six points in the first six minutes, but again that was two little things by us.

“We previewed going into the game that the referee would favour the attacking side and he seemed to do that. At times, we didn’t get set defence quick enough and allowed them to get good momentum. But we managed to ride that storm, get ourselves in front, play our brand of rugby, play what we’re about. That was a true reflection of ourselves.

“The frustrating thing for me is that we didn’t back it up in the second half. We chose a game plan that was spot on to play against them, but unfortunately we didn’t execute.

“Wales didn’t really have to work hard to get good field position. We coughed it up too cheaply, giving away penalties and compounding error upon error.

“They are fine as individual [mistakes]. You knock on, you give a penalty, that’s fine, that’s rugby, that’s life. But if you compound it, that’s when you start getting frustrated. It’s something we’ve looked at over the last few years. Wales beat us last year by having four consecutive penalties and playing advantage. They did that twice and scored twice at Murrayfield, but that’s something we’ve managed to nip in the bud. So it’s frustrating that we’ve managed to give them easy avenues into this game.”

Wales v Scotland: heartbreak in Cardiff again

About David Barnes 3377 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. Wales did their homework – they saw that against England we didn’t commit many to the ruck – their counterrucking was outstanding. Other than that, Finn had one of his worst days – he didn’t look interested; kick out on the full, missed touch, passed to no one…

    And I have to work beside Welshmen… 😐

  2. That was a very good Scotland squad, maybe Chris Harris is the only question mark, Townsend surely has to go after next year’s world cup, he’s had long enough, I’ve said before, you don’t use the top job at the international team to learn you’re management trade.

  3. A bit unrealistic to have championship aspirations when a number of key players are not showing their previous good form and haven’t done for some time (Sutherland, Z Fagerson, Watson at least), or can’t back up a good performance with another good performance (Hogg, Russell). The defence is much improved, but the attack seems blunt most of the time. Games will be close and some they’ll win by a few points, some they’ll lose.

    One positive is that Scotland are now much better under the high ball.

  4. Defence good, set piece getting better, aggression poor, attack non existent, ruck discipline dreadful. We don’t leak tries like we used to but we don’t score them either. Great defence doesn’t have to be at the expense of great attack. We seem to be waiting for Finn magic as the only way to score. We desperately need a new attack coach and we need to work on the switch from defence to attack and back. Half the time there was no guile no dummy runners making defence for them easy as we only had one option. Scotland have become the new France we can’t travel and win. Forget last year there were no crowds so it was totally different.

  5. Passion in the context of scottishness has become a disparaged, a diminished, a forgotten word, surely not relevant to a modern scottish team with its defensive systems its Lions etc? Well Darcy Graham has passion in bucketloads, fleet of foot, talented yes but diminutive in stature and yet with the heart of a lion to tackle, be involved, get over the line against the bigger guy. Why was the relatively small for a number 8 Matt Fagerson man of the match last week sheer determination. The Welsh wanted it more yesterday. We have potential in this side but we have to match our systems and strategies with a will to win, a dare I say old fashioned passion. Let’s rekindle it v France and do what we do best play a cracker when we are written off. On another note David thanks for providing this forum which can spill over with negative comments better reserved for private consumption but written in the heat of the moment by folk who have a passion, who care deeply about scottish rugby at all of its levels.

  6. That performance was simply not acceptable, with the talent in the team it looks like to me they turned up waiting to role Wales over and got a good kicking from a limited team who wanted it more. We showed almost no attacking intent with ball in hand and given our wingers that is inexcusable. For all of the pre-match lauding of our bomb squad our forwards were second best to a strung together Welsh pack. I agree with the post earlier, professionals do not tear the arse out of it after a win, particularly not in Fingers Bar home to some of the most drunken nights in Edinburgh. We can take nothing of positive from this mess.

  7. Poor Stuart McInally, I cannae fault his optimism, ‘still chasing the championship’, well what else could he say, but realistically……..?
    I suggest Toonie sits them all down to watch the France v Ireland match, played at a level way above our capabilities, both sides with a super aggressive & mobile pack hitting the gain line at pace, Scotland are positively ponderous in comparison.

    This was effectively a Welsh 2nd XV shorn of god knows how many caps ( hundreds) yet they had a pack that gave us a lesson in controlled aggression and never say die attitude, you don’t need skill to do that, just a collective spirit to go at it for 80 mins and never let up.
    Scotland were, and to use Hoggies vernacular, a frustrated collective who were run ragged by a team with a very limited and simple game plan, they stuck to it, boring to watch maybe, but geez it was effective, and we did not have the nous, the leadership, the up front aggression to think on our feet and work it out for ourselves?
    If France play to there capabilities, and leave there fragile away team mentality at home we are gonna get a thumping, that’s not sour grapes, that’s not hysterical doom mongering, that’s an analytical cold light of day comparison of two professional rugby sides. I’m afraid we’ll struggle to attain the heady heights of the current French or Ireland sides, but live in hope as is usual for a Scottish rugger supporter, and hope I’m proven badly wrong???

  8. This might be an unpopular opinion, and perhaps it’s totally wrong, but is going out to get roaring drunk the way other top international teams are celebrating victory with another game in 7 days?
    I’m thinking specifically of Wales, who lead the way with sports science in rugby in the Northern Hemisphere. Cryo chambers etc. Sam Warbutton has said he would not drink a drop of alcohol mid six nations, our boys are “tearing the arse out of it”.
    I know it’s our sports culture, and beers on the bus and in the changing room has brought us all many a happy memory, but at elite level? Maybe I’m wrong and everyone is still at it.

  9. To my mind our centres are not really gelling. Everything seems to stop at Harris who is a fine defensive player but lacks creativity and threat in attack. Drop him and bring in Redpath and our attack might be much more potent. Today this led Russell into trying to force the game which worked for Graham’s try thanks to his cut our pass but did not otherwise.. Some of our out of hand kicking left a lot to be desired unlike last week against England. Definitely missed Ritchie.

  10. I’ve heard it! We’ve been here so many times.
    Wales were not better but were, as in some other recent encounters we should have won, way more physical. Also can somebody explain what we are trying to do tactically? I e beat England due to 2 superb bits of play but out attack is blunt. Focus is way too much on defence. We can’t simply ask the other team to play at us. We need to do more when we have the ball. Price needs dropping for a start. I’d as anticipated we lose to France and Ireland and hopefully beat Italy, that’s not progress. Toonie should go if that’s the outcome. We will be told the game was close but that doesn’t cut it, we need to win! We’ve been here too often, and sadly with a number of these players. There is little to no leadership when we need it in these situations and an inability to front up or adapt. Feel like an absolute gut punch. Can’t face watching the remaining games.


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