- Shortcomings need to be addressed following disappointing World Cup campaign.
- The team are looking to build on the 2019 Six Nations campaign.
- Coach Gregor Townsend is keen to make amends.
Scotland’s Rugby World Cup campaign was one to forget. A limp defeat to Ireland in their opening pool match and a loss against hosts Japan in their final game were the defining moments of a miserable few weeks for Gregor Townsend’s side. Scotland must bounce back as soon as possible, and the upcoming 2020 Six Nations Championship offers the perfect chance to make amends for their poor showing in Japan.
Scotland haven’t won the tournament since the final iteration of the Five Nations in 1999 before Italy joined to make it six. They’ll be outsiders once again in, but a couple of wins and some competitive performances will go a long way towards restoring a feel-good factor among fans.
Lessons to be learned
For Scotland to enjoy any measure of success in the 2020 Six Nations, they’ll need to address the shortcomings that led to such a disappointing World Cup campaign. While they played well in their games against Samoa and Russia, Scotland failed to do the business in the crucial fixtures against Ireland and Japan.
Every Six Nations match is a big occasion, so Townsend will need to find a way to get the best out of his players. It’s not an easy problem to solve, but striking the right balance in his team selections is a must. Scotland need a healthy blend of youth and experience to take advantage of the daring, exuberant qualities of young players, while trusting in the old heads who have been there and done it.
The World Cup was a massive occasion, and Scotland seemed to wilt slightly under pressure. The Six Nations will be a more familiar experience for most which should allow the team to play with more freedom. Their opening game against Ireland offers an immediate chance for Scotland to take revenge for their World Cup defeat to the Irish and prove that they’ve learned from the failures of that campaign.
Drawing from previous tournaments
The 2019 Six Nations was something of a disappointment for Scotland, all the team had to show for their efforts was a win over Italy and a draw with England. But the 38-38 result against England showcased the fighting qualities Scotland need to achieve success in 2020. They recovered from a 31-point deficit to take the lead in the match, only to be pegged back again by a late England try.
The team might also draw inspiration from Scotland’s performances in 2017 and 2018. In both campaigns, the Scots won three matches and finished in a respectable position in the final standings. A famous win against England at Murrayfield defined the 2018 campaign, and with Scotland undefeated against the Red Roses since the 2017 Six Nations, they may fancy another crack at upsetting the World Cup runners up.
Motivation for Townsend
Townsend’s coaching reputation was dealt a blow by Scotland’s disappointing World Cup campaign, so he’ll be fired up to silence his critics and restore a more positive atmosphere around the Scotland setup. He has vast experience of what it means to play international rugby for Scotland and was part of the squad that won the Five Nations in 1999.
“I believe we have the makings of a very good team that can compete with the best in the world,”after the World Cup defeat to Japan. “We are running to keep up with these teams but I believe in this group of players.”