Defence coach Matt Taylor takes the blame but vows Scotland will ‘front up’ in France rematch

Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor has shouldered the blame for the calamitous start to the World Cup warm-up Test series and vowed things will be put right in Saturday’s rematch with France at ?BT Murrayfield.

Scotland defence expert Matt Taylor, right, with head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Head coach Gregor Townsend’s assistant fronted up at the Scotland training camp yesterday and said he was the most “gutted” man in the country after the national team leaked five tries in a humbling 32-3 defeat in Nice last weekend.

It continued a recent trend of poor defensive displays this year, in which the Scots have conceded an average of four tries per Test in 2019, and Taylor held his hands up and admitted it wasn’t acceptable as the World Cup in Japan looms ever closer.

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“I’ll focus on the area which I’m involved in – defence – and that’s the area where we need to front up,” said Taylor as he assessed the five tries to nil rout at the Allianz Riveria 
stadium.

“All the best teams in the world are the best teams defensively, and we didn’t show that on the weekend, and I’m the most gutted out of anyone in the team, or probably in the country, because that’s my job to make sure we do that.”

Taylor hinted that harsh words had been spoken and insisted there would be no repeat on home turf this week when a buoyant French side, who yesterday named a team with four changes including the return of skipper and hooker Guilhem Guirado, pitch up in Edinburgh.

“I made it pretty clear [to the players] that we fell below the standards, including myself, and I’ll take that on the chin. I need to make sure the boys are up for it this weekend,” said Taylor.

Scotland were put on the back foot all evening in the south of France as Les Bleus bullied them into submission up front but Taylor refused to accept the premise that attack coaches take credit in victory and defence coaches carry the can in defeat.

“Whether you’re an attack coach or a defence coach if you do a good job you get credit, if you don’t, you get criticism.

“You know, every opportunity I get to coach or represent Scotland in terms of my job I want to do a good job and we didn’t. I’m disappointed in that.

“I’m disappointed in myself. I told the players that, I didn’t get them to where I needed to get them psychologically. I will make sure I do that this weekend, but they have to do their part as well.

“We all have to do our part. We’ve let ourselves down but we are looking forward to getting back on the park and doing a good job this 
weekend.”

Townsend will name his team for the second warm-up Test of four, with away and home games against Georgia to come, today.

Taylor revealed that flanker John Barclay had been “eased back” into training following the knock he took in Nice, which has led to France lock Paul Gabrillagues receiving a six-week ban which rules him out of the start of the World Cup, after he was cited for foul play. The Stade Francais forward flew head first into Barclay above the shoulder in a ruck clear-out and was handed the sanction at a World Rugby disciplinary hearing in London yesterday.

Taylor added: “John didn’t do the contact today but he ran around and will get better as the week goes on.

“There will be some changes within the team this week. There were a lot of guys this week who didn’t have contact [last week], they’ve done a bit more today.”