'I think it went well': Jamie Ritchie reacts to first game as full Scotland captain

It was a proud day for Jamie Ritchie but it ultimately ended in frustration as the new Scotland captain saw his team pipped by the narrowest of margins in the opening match of the Autumn Nations Series.

Jamie Ritchie was captaining Scotland for the first time.
Jamie Ritchie was captaining Scotland for the first time.

Australia fought back from 6-15 down midway through the second half to win 16-15, their first victory over the Scots since 2016.

Ritchie, who has taken over the captaincy from Stuart Hogg, felt his side created more opportunities than the visitors and they had a golden chance to regain the lead at the end only for Blair Kinghorn to miss with a last-minute penalty.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s frustrating,” said Ritchie. “We talked a lot in the week that there would be moments in the game when we might go behind and be under pressure and we spoke of fighting to get those moments back. I think we did that well throughout the game. At the end we gave ourselves an opportunity to win it, but unfortunately it didn’t go over. I’m proud of the boys and the way they performed. I’m confident we can learn lessons.”

Ritchie had a brief taste of being skipper last autumn when he was co-captain with Ali Price against Tonga but this was his first time flying solo and the Edinburgh flanker enjoyed it, the result notwithstanding.

“I think it went well. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I said from the get-go that I didn’t want to change anything. I speak a lot as a player as it is – just maybe people listen more to a captain. I enjoyed the experience and I will be looking to get some learnings moving forward.”

He said the overriding emotion was one of frustration rather than hurt. “You never want to lose a Test match but all we can do is control the way we perform.”

Ritchie and his team-mates will rally round Kinghorn in the days ahead but he expects the stand-off to pick himself up.

“Blair will bounce back, I know he will,” said Ritchie. “It’s important that we get behind him because he did lot of stuff really well. I back Blair. I’ve seen what he can do week in and week out. I’m confident he will bounce back and be great next week.

“I thought he had an outstanding game all over the park. Then he missed one kick. Everyone makes mistakes and we had opportunities to win the game before that so it shouldn’t have come down to it. I told him to keep his head up and be proud of how he performed.”

The next game for Scotland is Fiji at Murrayfield on Saturday and they may have to do without the services of second-row forward Sam Skinner who injured his foot and had to go off in the first half. He is the third lock to be crocked in Gregor Townsend’s autumn squad, with Scott Cummings ruled out of the entire series with a broken toe and Richie Gray recovering from a head knock.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Townsend is hopeful Gray will return this week but is unsure about Skinner.

“He had a foot injury. He’s in a boot and we don’t know how long that will keep him out,” said the Scotland coach..

“We’ve had three second-rows injured since we announced the squad, with Richie Gray and Scott Cummings during the week, and now Sam Skinner.

“Richie Gray should be full training next week. He’s gone through the protocols up to Friday and let’s hope Sam is available for these games as well.”