Six Nations Match Analysis
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SCOTLAND ended a disappointing season with disappointing performance, losing to a French team that was highly motivated to make amends for their failings last time out. The Scots raced into an unexpected lead only for France to catch, overtake and then threaten to overwhelm the visitors altogether. That did not quite happen, and the men in blue deserve some credit for not folding under the onslaught and responding with three touchdowns of their own.
FRANK Hadden is in the habit of making a few opening remarks at the beginning of every press conference. It may be that the Scotland coach is attempting to set the agenda for the assembled scribblers, or maybe he just likes to get a few things off his chest,
IT WAS quite an extraordinary finish to a remarkable rollercoaster of a Six Nations Championship. For the destination of the title to come down to scores in the 80th minute in Paris and 82nd minute in Rome says everything about the excitement of a memorable few weeks.
IT WAS clear from the French attitude before the match that they knew they had to score a lot of points, but we genuinely did not know the result between Ireland and Italy.
FRANCE had just pipped Ireland to the Championship by the narrowest of margins, so this game was after the Lord Mayor's Show, right? No way. No match is more keenly contested in the entire Six Nations cycle than this one, in Cardiff. All to do with history you see, 'boy'. They came over Offa's Dyke all those years ago, captured Owain Glendower, built all those castles and so on. This fixture holds huge bragging rights.
THERE isn't an official time on it - it didn't come through on the match stats - but observers reckon it was sometime in the last quarter at Murrayfield last weekend when the Mexican Wave started. Scotland were chasing the Italians in the way a man late for a job interview pursues a disappearing bus. And the crowd had tuned out. They were already in la la land.
IT MUST be something to do with the job. Towards the end of his second stint as Scotland coach, Ian McGeechan's press conferences were less an exchange of information and more a foreign language lesson. The coach used to leave thoughts, even sentences, half finished on the basis that the journalists could fill in gaps themselves. That old codger who used to pop up on television talking backwards made more sense than the Scotland coach.
IT IS not known whether Chris Cusiter considers himself a disciple of Vince Lombardi, but the noted American football coach had a saying that seems appropriate for the Scottish scrum-half right now. "The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling," said Lombardi, "it is rising up again afterwards."
IT MAY be unreasonable to expect Scotland to win every game, but it is surely not too much to ask that, if and when they do lose, they should do so after playing coherently and to their strengths. In their two defeats to date in this year's Six Nations Championship, however, they have failed to comply with that modest request.
FRANCE could well be gunning for a Grand Slam when Scotland come calling on the last Saturday of this year's championship. If the French manage to win at Twickenham in a fortnight they will be odds-on to complete their ninth clean sweep when the Scots visit Stade de France on 17 March.
SCOTTISH rugby suffered one of its most embarrassing defeats on Saturday, and the bad news is that the gloom could become even murkier before we see blue skies again.
LAST year's thrilling wins over France and England seem a distant memory in the wake of one of the most shocking defeats witnessed at Murrayfield in recent years, with Scotland's campaign in the 2007 RBS Six Nations Championship derailed after just six minutes of Saturday's 37-17 record defeat to Italy.
IRELAND'S stunning victory over England at an emotional Croke Park on Saturday night confirmed beyond doubt their current status as the leading home nation.
SUCH joy and such despair.
WHAT an improbably, desperately disastrous day that was - scarcely credible! No wonder a haunting hush went round Murrayfield as that early triple whammy put Scotland unbelievably 21 points down at home with barely six minutes gone on the clock.
THAT was not the way that I wanted to break any records, or the way I want to play for my country. Admittedly Gregor Townsend probably had a few bad days on his way to collecting his 82 caps, and I have had a few bad ones myself, but the feeling after this match is down there with the worst of them.
AHEAD of yesterday's match, Frank Hadden had yet to lose a Six Nations home game and the visitors had never won one outside of Rome. Both records were broken as the Italians ran out comprehensive victors at Murrayfield largely thanks to three tries inside the opening six minutes.
WALES face a desperate battle to avoid the Six Nations wooden spoon after France powered to a comprehensive victory in Paris.