Ireland 27-3 Scotland: Talk is cheap for Gregor Townsend’s side
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From Tom English
It appeared that 100 times had passed since they first met up to prepare for the World Cup after Scotland completed their press conference in Takanawa at Tokyo on Saturday.
One hundred days of preparation to the opener against Ireland and training meetings and sessions, of course games and travel, of reviews and previews.
Sunday was 101, that was sort of appropriate given its connotations since George Orwell (an anagram of the name being Ell Gregor Woe) wrote about people being tormented in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four. You and you have Space 101 and Rugby 101; Townsend present and Orwell’s dystopian near future, respectively.
It’s difficult to know how many occasions Scotland’s players and management spoke during those 100 days, but it had been from the dozens. Fighting talk, too. They threw their shoulders back and gave it big about how good they can be.
Ahead of the Ireland game, they spoke about how hard they had been operating on defence, just how much they were planning to aim Johnny Sexton, the way the herd of rampaging wildebeest would not create them take a backward step from the Irish, the way they had been saving their own best stuff for your World Cup.
Of course the Scots have to back themselves in public. They had to provide a performance and they never came close, although they also pass a World Cup passing sentence and could barely don the cap. When they came on in the first location their lights moved out early.
Scotland are offered. They win a few games and everyone becomes giddy, including us in the media, after reporting on this group, that are starved of joy that each significant victory at Murrayfield is thought of as a turning point.
It only becomes a turning point when they flip, not if they approach the turn prior to going into reverse by delivering one win in five games in the most recent Six Nations. Against Italy in the home, they have a victory, from their six tournament games.
Following a few minutes in Yokohama, they surrendered the very first try. By the moment the Iain Henderson ran with Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally, you simply knew that the score was coming.
You would have bet the house on it since those minutes are always come in by the dent. The defence of scotland was dumb to have round the corner at the next ruck and James Ryan moved over. Easy.
After 14 minutes, then they conceded a second try off a driven line-out. Anyone who watches this Scotland team would have gone once again began to proceed. Some groups possess belligerence and the business to hold out teams in those vital times. Too often, Scotland fold when their defence is worried. Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt understands that better than anybody. He performed on it.
A one came after 26 minutes down the end of the area away a Scotland error. This one from Tadhg Furlong, A scrum, a few hard-running from CJ Stander slackness from Scotland and yet another soft touch attempt. Not even half an hour and the game was done. One hundred times of preparation – for this?
A view is on the market – shared with some of those players that Scotland have confronted in recent times – which when it comes to the talents of the group, a number of them have to say to themselves. About wanting to play the brand of rugby in the world, listen into the discussion from some Scotland players and coaches – a headline replicated after Sunday’s beating.
Scotland and Ireland are cousins but in rugby terms there’s no relation. This year has been brutally hard for these gamers, their form diminished, their confidence ruined, their critics and louder. No quantity of silverware out of their all-conquering 2018 gets shielded them .
They men, though. Relentless. Tough mentally and physically. Power of personality – and high quality of coach and player – looks to be receiving them during their slump. They’re quietly and a re-emerging force that will have drunk in the conversation of Scotland fed it off.
Only the hopelessly optimistic (or delusional) Scotland enthusiast would have predicted that the victory on Sunday. There was little evidence to indicate it was probable. Because Schmidt entered the spectacle as coach ireland had won five of the six meetings. They scored 21 tries in those games and won by an average of 14 points.
That win implied they were getting back to the things they were, although yes, their 2019 kind had been bad up over Wales in Dublin. It was a portent of doom because of the Scots.
Ireland were hot favorites and also there could have been small shame in Scotland losing to them provided that they made their enemies struggle for this, which they did not. They fell into a heap and talked the talk. The thing is not that Scotland dropped, it’s that Scotland never turned out.
Townsend’s entry in the aftermath they lacked energy and aggression at the onset of the match was a shocker even though we had heard, and found the same thing before. And recently. And more than once.
When passive in a 32-3 defeat France in Nice, the Scotland defence trainer, Matt Taylor, talked about the team’s lack of urgency.
“On reflection, perhaps we ought to have poked and prodded and fired the boys up more than we all did,” he explained.
They need prodding to get up themselves for a Test match and poking?
“We just left it to the players to get themselves in the right frame of mind,” he added. “With it becoming a warm-up match in a nice area like Nice, we just assumed that level of intensity was definitely going to be there also it wasn’t.”
It was not there in Yokohama for a World Cup match, it wasn’t there at Nice, it was not there in the opening half an hour in Twickenham when England scored four attempts, it wasn’t there against Wales and Ireland at Edinburgh or against France in Paris.
In their 11 games, Scotland have conceded 12 tries in the opening 14 minutes. At exactly the exact same period, Ireland have surrendered two. The lack of power and aggression is a weakness which Townsend has not fixed.
On Monday they go for Kobe, in which they play with Samoa per week after. Shorn of fund and with their gamers poached by other countries, the Pacific Islanders continue to be subjected to the most shameful treatment on the planet game. They’ve lost to Australia, Fiji and the USA in their previous three games, however there were signs against the Wallabies that they’re starting to put something together again. Four decades ago, the wits scared .
Nothing which Samoa, or even Japan, will probably have observed on Sunday will provide them some concern. The set of them remain underdogs but they will smack on a target on the backs of these players that are Scotland and go with intent. In the case of the Samoans, a venomous intent.
The nations have met on Townsend’s watch. It had been in the fall of 2017, a 44-38 win at Murrayfield. Scotland scored six tries daily. Samoa believed five. Scotland must win this game, but they will be battered in the procedure. This week will probably be grim. They’re in a hole today. A profound one.