There is an unwritten rule in the post-match presser that coaches don’t criticise the opposition but England’s Eddie Jones is a law unto himself and even the most nationalistic Scot would have trouble arguing with his succinct analysis.
“I’ve got to say that the Scots didn’t defend well,” said Jones, stating the bleeding obvious. “We’ve got a power advantage over Scotland and we used it well.”
It was a day when records were equalled. Scotland equalled the largest ever losing margin in the Calcutta Cup, sharing the 40-point humiliation with the class of 2001 who lost 43-3. And it probably didn’t help Vern Cotter’s mood that every time someone entered the briefing room the raucous sound of England fans celebrating their own world record-equalling 18th consecutive Test victory wafted into the room.
Everyone is on the wrong end of a shellacking at some point but this Scotland team was supposed to have put those days behind them. They would, even the pessimists amongst us believed, be fully competitive for an hour against what is a very good England team.
Even the pessimists were overly optimistic as John Barclay more or less conceded immediately after the match. “We are trying to move away from the tag of plucky losers but that wasn’t even that. We were useless,” said the Scotland skipper in a rare show of raw emotion.
“I don’t know what to say to be honest, we just didn’t show up. We got off to a bad start and continued, our discipline was very poor and we gave away soft tries. You don’t win however many games in a row without being a good side so good luck to England. We will review it, which won’t be easy to watch.”
Cotter sat beside his captain with the pain writ large on his face. He has consistently touted a line of gradual improvement, baby steps, that Scotland have taken on his watch but yesterday’s performance blew that theory out of the water.
“There wasn’t too much to say,” said the Kiwi. “It was really about accepting that it wasn’t a great performance from us. We always say you win together and you lose together, so we’ll take this on the chin.
“My biggest concern of the championship was to see how many players I’ll be able to put on the field the next week. In two away games we’ve had eight concussions.
“We discussed the fact we didn’t start particularly well and we played against a team that got momentum quickly. We got caught out a couple of times in set-phase, they scored tries and the game changed.”
If there was any consolation for the Scots it came from the two-try performance of outside centre Huw Jones who was schooled at Millfield College alongside England’s own hat-trick hero Jonathan Joseph. Unfortunately the blue shirts in midfield parted like the Red Sea whenever the white shirt of Joseph was on the ball.
“We obviously did our analysis and looked at him,” said Jones. “He attacks well and a couple of system errors and we let him through softly. I don’t think they did anything different from what we expected we just made stupid mistakes.”
What was the overriding emotion in the dressing room, anger or sadness?
“A bit of both,” Jones replied. “Anger at ourselves for whatever that was and just disappointment that we have come down here with high hopes and got nothing out of it.”
And now Italy will watch the video and the self-belief will flood back into their bones.