FRUSTRATION, déjà vu, that worry of “how many times are we going to go through this before we learn” was the general feeling after the England game, but today we have the chance to rectify the mistakes we made last weekend and we’ll be going all out to do so.
Unfortunately we are used to this situation, but in the Six Nations you do not get too long to worry or be disappointed about a defeat, you simply have to raise your spirits to meet the challenge of the next game. The mental side of it is tough but you learn to use the disappointment to drive you on, because you don’t want to experience it again.
On Monday, Dan Parks came in himself and told us in a pretty emotional way that he wasn’t going be playing for Scotland any more. That affected a lot of the boys.
We play this game and it’s a pretty fragile existence in terms of getting picked or not getting picked, and then you see someone like Parksy (pictured below) and how much it means to him – well, it took a lot of us aback.
I think it’s a shame that he has gone in this way, as to my mind, he was one of the best players I’ve played with, and he won a lot of games both for Glasgow and Scotland.
The sad thing is that no matter what Parksy did, there were always some people who were going to criticise him, but we all have weaknesses and strengths, we all have bad days as well as good ones, it’s just that he got singled out more than most for some reason.
I don’t know whether it was the press or other people wanting to cut him down to size, but I think the criticism contributed to his decision to quit, and that’s sad because he was one of the most enthusiastic players you could meet.
After he spoke, all the boys went up to him one by one to say thanks and wish him all the best as he continues to play. He was very popular in the squad and the boys will certainly keep in touch with him, so it wasn’t goodbye in that sense.
Since Monday we have trained hard and well, but now we face Wales who will be confident following their win over Ireland. It was a cracking game of rugby and I thought Wales scored terrific tries, but it proves that teams in the Six Nations can go away from home and win matches and that is what we now have to do to them.
At the time of writing, I don’t know if we will be playing under the roof at the Millennium Stadium, but I hope so. Nobody really likes a game in the miserable wet and cold, and all the boys want to play a good brand of rugby so we can only hope we get the conditions we would like.
Clearly, I’ve been thinking about our match against Wales two years ago when we lost 24-31 to Shane Williams’ last-second try. That was the most gutted I have ever been in my rugby career, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s one of the few times I have cried after a match, nor was I alone.
It was just the way everything happened – to score the first try, my second for Scotland, was just the most unbelievable feeling for me, but then to lose in that fashion was devastating. Even now I still get asked “how did we lose that match?”
I will be starting on the bench today, and I am trying not to get too frustrated at that situation. I was a bit down when the team was announced, but that’s only natural and I have to admit the back row is one of the strongest parts of the team at the moment with Dave Denton and Ross Rennie having done well against England.
I just have to hope that I get the chance to come on and if I do, I have to take the opportunity to show I’m worthy of a starting place.
It would be great to play and score another try in Cardiff, but the most important thing is that Scotland wins the match today.