At 31, Tim Swinson is one of the most experienced members of the Scotland squad, if not exactly a veteran just yet. And one of the benefits of experience is the ability to put setbacks into perspective, no matter how tough they may seem at the time.
When you witness your team lose as narrowly as Scotland did to the USA on Saturday night, it can feel frustrating and disheartening. When you are playing in the game yourself, it must feel twice as bad, given the knowledge that you had a chance to affect the result in a way that supporters never can.
Even so, it did not take Swinson long to be able to put that 30-29 loss in Houston into context, and to insist that the squad still have the chance to make an overall success of this tour with a victory over Argentina on Saturday.
“If we have a bad weekend next weekend you could probably point to this and say this is where it all went wrong,” the Glasgow forward said. “If we have a good performance it shows we can bounce back. Got to take positives and learning points from it. They tend to happen more in a loss than a win.
“Disappointment,” Swinson continued when asked if he felt “devastation” at the end of the loss in the BBVA Compass Stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo. “Devastation is a tough word. Disappointment in that we knew it was within us to win it. America played really well, some of their really good players had very good games, but there was capability in us to win that game and to win it in the first half and to put it out of contact in that third quarter and it’s disappointing that we didn’t do it.
“I wouldn’t say it was a risk. Everyone deserves their place here, everyone who on that pitch tonight has played fantastically well for their club throughout the year. It’s not like we’re trying out guys we haven’t seen before.”
“We need to improve the depth in Scottish rugby. I’m not saying the young guys didn’t perform, a lot of them were outstanding. Blair [Kinghorn] was unfortunate to miss that kick at the end and it was by no means his fault – I wouldn’t want to kick it.
“We tried to impose ourselves on the game in the first 20 and, in the 20 after half-time, I don’t think that happened. We talked about getting our depth a bit more so we could use the space out wide. We did it a couple of times in the second half, unfortunately once with me on the wing. I’m quite a good finisher from a metre out.
“We didn’t get our depth to go wide, which was a shame.”
Kinghorn, who had scored the first try of the game 79 minutes before sending that conversion attempt wide, insisted the squad could learn a lot from their loss to the Eagles.
“It was a brilliant start by us,” the Edinburgh full-back said. “I was really happy with our start as a team. I thought we executed what we wanted to do and it was a shame we just didn’t kick on after that. We made too many mistakes and our discipline cost us in the end.
“I’m not too sure [why]. It’s hard to say. I think a lot of it came from our indiscipline and we gave away too many penalties on the trot, which hurt us at the start of the second half.
“But we’ve still got another week on tour. It will be a massive game against Argentina. We will have a good week and look at what we can improve.
“If you look at the positives it was a young team tonight. We had two new caps, Matt Fagerson and George Horne, who were both outstanding. A lot of boys were getting their first starts, so everyone will learn from this. We’ll come away better for it.
“I think we learned how cruel international rugby can be. If you’re not on your game you pay the price, and on Saturday we paid the price and we lost.”
Asked how he felt about missing that conversion, Kinghorn added: “That was my role. I was the kicker on the day. I felt confident stepping up to it.
“It’s just one of those things – I’ll look at it and learn from it. It’s a massive development curve and I’ll learn from the experience.
“The USA were a better team than us on the day. They deserved to win. If we had won that game it would have been a real get out of jail for us. We didn’t deserve to win and the right team won in the end.”