Daniel Berkley looks back at a disappointing campaign for Scotland, using video evidence to highlight the problem areas to be addresses before the Rugby World Cup.
The optimism with which Scotland began the Six Nations Championship a mere seven weeks ago now seems an awfully long way away. Wins away in Ireland and Argentina and a rare Tri-Nations scalp against the Springboks had left most pundits feeling that Andy Robinson’s side were the best Scotland team in 20 years.
So where did it all go wrong? Clearly Scotland don’t score enough tries, but that’s nothing new. The question is what did they do wrong this year that they didn’t last year.
Slow starts and soft tries
Scotland need to start games strongly. Their whole game-plan is built on intensity and momentum and a poor start just drains that from them. They are also not a team who are well equipped to play catch up rugby. In 4 out of 5 games in this year’s championships they conceded a soft try in the first 10 minutes.
Here are the early tries Scotland conceded:
Scotland really missed the presence of Glasgow centre Graeme Morrison. He may not be the most creative rugby player on the planet, but Scotland’s midfield defence is significantly stronger with him in it – you could say that he’s Scotland’s Mike TIndall.
The Set Piece
Firstly, winning 83% of lineouts simply isn’t good enough, but it was the Scrum that was the major problem area. Scotland only won 71% of their own scrums and the ball they did win was usually scrappy and unclean.
Here are a few examples of the Scrum struggling:
In the end Scotland’s set-piece woes prevented them from building any kind of momentum and territory. Scotland had less than 50% territory in 4 out of their 5 games, and they are not a side who can score tries from their own half. They need to build sustained pressure in the opposition half or they cannot win games.
There are plenty of positives to take from this year’s championships. The development of Ruaridh Jackson and the (literally) stand out performances of Richie Gray certainly give silver linings to a cloudy tournament, but Scotland will need to improve significantly if they are going to make any meaningful impact on the World Cup in September.