A visibly shaken and emotional Scotland captain Stuart McInally faced the media in Kobe today and admitted the barrage of criticism aimed at the national team in the wake of Sunday’s Yokohama horror show was justified.
The 29-year-old skipper was still clearly struggling to come to terms with how his team had performed quite so badly in the 27-3 pounding by Ireland in their tournament opener after weeks and months of meticulous preparation.
Asked if the widespread condemnation of the lifeless display, which has been strong in the media but sometimes verging on the hostile from the public on social media and online comments sections, was fair, the captain replied. “Probably. Based on the way we played yesterday, I don’t think we are not due any criticism.
“It’s a professional sport. We are expected to play well and we didn’t play well. We criticise ourselves really heavily as well, and that criticism comes from within, from what the coaches say about our performances and what we demand from each other.
“We are hard on each other, and we are desperate to do well in this tournament.”
McInally revealed the players were aware of the appalled reaction back home to the meek surrender to an admittedly highly impressive world No 1 Ireland side.
“We can’t ignore it. It is all over social media. It isn’t something we go looking for,” said McInally.
“Unfortunately it is the way it is. You do stumble across it. We know we didn’t play well yesterday. It was not through lack of effort or through lack of preparation.
“Everyone took the field and everybody did all they could to win that game. Sometimes you don’t play well and we didn’t play well. They played really well and beat us.”
McInally would usually face the media alongside his head coach in the after match press conference but Gregor Townsend gave his apologies saying McInally was “out of breath”.
“On the way to the media room I had a case of very bad cramp. Both my quads and groins started cramping. I had to go back to the medical room and get some medical attention,” explained the Edinburgh hooker.
In the early hours of the morning UK time, meanwhile, the SRU confirmed the worst everybody sensed was coming - that star flanker Hamish Watson’s tournament is over after he was stretchered off with a knee injury late in the first half on Sunday. He will be replaced by Magnus Bradbury, who has been with the squad in Japan on standby.
Watson boarded the bullet train south from Tokyo to Kobe, where Scotland face Samoa next Monday, but will soon return home. Scrum-half Ali Price was also on crutches at the capital’s Shinagawa Station with a “foot/ankle” problem, the severity of which is yet to be established.