Scotland No 8 David Denton has warned his team-mates about keeping on the right side of referee George Clancy on the eve of today’s big clash in Cardiff because a sorry run of indiscipline has undermined their efforts here over the last ten years.
Scottish players have been shown a total of seven cards in their last five visits to the Welsh capital, two of them red. Ten years ago Scott Murray was arguably a little unlucky to be dismissed after kicking out at Ian Gough when the Welsh lock tackled him without the ball. The last time Scotland visited Cardiff in 2014, Stuart Hogg hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons after clattering into Dan Bigger whilst the Welsh fly-half was airborne. The initial yellow card was quickly upgraded to red.
“I was involved two years ago and it’s something we have spoken about,” said Denton when asked about Hogg’s dismissal. “We don’t want anything like that happening again. Playing with 14 men is never ideal but we need to control our own destiny. We are a better team than we were two years ago and we are a closer team, which is important.
“We haven’t discussed the specific moment. You can’t dwell on things like that. It’s about focusing on what we can do as a collective regardless of whether we have 15 or 14 men on the pitch. We need to put in the work as it’s going to be a battle and extremely hard.”
In addition to the two red cards, Scotland have earned a slew of yellows, including one each for Scott Lawson and Phil Godman in that infamous collapse in 2010 when the Scots threw away a winning position in the dying minutes.
The current forwards coach Nathan Hines will be asking the players to do as he says, rather than copy what he has done, because the former lock, the first Scot to see red in the international game, was shown a yellow card here in 2008. In the 2012 fixture both Rory Lamont and midfielder Nick de Luca earned yellow cards that saw Scotland reduced to 13 players for two minutes.
Cardiff is a tough enough place to win with 15 men so attempting the feat with any fewer seems like a clear case of Hara-kiri as Denton underlined.
“Discipline is something we always speak about as it’s so important in international rugby as three points can be the difference between winning and losing,” the Scotland back-row forward said.
Scotland are looking to arrest an eight-game losing run in the Six Nations. They opened this season’s campaign with a 15-9 defeat by England at Murrayfield last weekend. They have not won in Cardiff since 2002. Wales drew 16-16 with Ireland in Dublin last week.