No repeat of Scotland’s Six Nations horror show in Wales, vows Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend insists lessons have been learned from Scotland’s opening weekend horror show in Wales last year and his players are determined to get this year’s Guinness Six Nations off to a flier at home to Italy.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Bruce White/SNS/SRU

The Scots went into the 2018 tournament with high hopes but were blown away 34-7 by Warren Gatland’s Welsh side. However, head coach Townsend is confident of a more positive start at Murrayfield a week on Saturday.

Townsend, who was joined by skipper Greig Laidlaw at yesterday’s Six Nations launch in London, said: “That game showed us the Six Nations is tougher than the November Tests and the quality of opposition we are facing is very high.

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“When you see the world rankings, we are facing some of the best teams in the world.”

Scotland bounced back from the Cardiff rout with three wins in the competition, at home to France and England and away to Italy.

Townsend added; “What we also learned was the resilience of our team to come back and in our next two games we won against two very good sides in France and England.

“Our players quickly bounced back to perform much better in the following weeks.”

Townsend also conceded that his decision 12 months ago to take his squad down on the eve of the match had backfired.

“A little,” he said. “We obviously hadn’t had a great away record travelling two days before. There’s things you can do more coaching wise when you travel the day before because you have longer at your venue for longer.

“The habit the players have with their clubs is to travel the day before. This year we are tweaking our weeks and traveling two days before and allowing the players to be a bit fresher for game day.”

Laidlaw, who replaced Ali Price off the bench in Cardiff last year and reclaimed the scrum-half starting jersey, admitted that the players had possibly bought into the hype from a successful 2017 November Test series.

“We had a lot of confidence surrounding the squad,” said the Clermont Auvergne man. “That display against Wales shows it counts for nothing unless you deliver. The ultimate goal of this team is to win our first game this year and then we start building on the top of that.

“The first 80 minutes of this championship is vital to get off to a good start and build our performances from there.”