Winning his first cap in a Scotland win was a magical experience for Huw Jones, the young centre the coaches plucked out of South African rugby, but he admits he is still not sure if he will be available for the next set of games.
“It was a huge honour to get on and be capped for Scotland and the proudest moment of my life,” Jones said after the 21-16 win over Japan in Tokyo. “It was maybe a tough time to get on as we were defending a lot. To be honest, I am not sure I touched the ball in attack.
“I was switched on from the moment I got on the pitch as that was a really tough match in tough conditions. To win in the end was fantastic and gives me an extra reason to remember my first cap. I was presented with it on Saturday night and it was a fantastic moment for me.”
The problem is that he does not know if the next set of Scotland games clash with Super Rugby fixtures at the Stormers, with whom he is still under contract. “I will be hoping to return for the autumn Tests but I am not sure what will happen. Obviously I would like to be involved but will have to check the dates of the autumn Tests and the rest of the Stormers fixtures,” Edinburgh-born Jones added.
As for the game, Mark Hammett, the Japan coach, reckoned that the big battle for his side is to start to be seen as a top-level team, capable of competing against the big boys on level terms. Until then, he believes they will always risk getting the rough edge of crucial decisions.
“I don’t think the best team won and even talking to the Scottish coaches, they agree,” he said. “At the end of the day the score is on the board and it will go down as a lost Test match and we are obviously very, very disappointed.
“I feel that perhaps in the last two Tests we have been slightly disrespected as a team and what we can achieve. In all that attack, particularly in the second half we did not get the reward. There was obviously a reason the ball was being slowed down. We worked really hard for that but did not get the outcome we believe we should have had.”
Vern Cotter, his opposite number, accepted that it has been a tough night for Scotland. “We weathered a very difficult first half, they flew into us and lifted the intensity from last week, we felt that,” he said. “It took us a while to wear them down, but we are happy with the result.