There’s only one word to describe that – smashed. I was sat there next to Martin Bayfield pitchside doing my TV duties and I said to him “I thought these kind of days were over.”
You’ve got to put a few things into perspective. An early yellow card to Fraser Brown put us on the back foot and then losing Stuart Hogg, our best player, then Mark Bennett too. Next thing, we have Ali Price playing on the wing which is not something you’d prep for in a million years. Ryan Wilson throwing into lineouts, England forging ahead on the scoreboard, and all of a sudden it had become a bit of a debacle before we had even had time to settle into the game.
On top of that, Finn Russell, who has been the linchpin when Scotland have done well, had a poor game. I’m sure he’d be the first to admit that.
Ultimately England played the best game of their whole Championship. That was in them. They looked hungry from the start and so physical.
I’m the last person who should point fingers at anyone who gets a yellow card, I got a few myself in my time, but I thought that was a silly thing for Fraser to do. Emotions are high and you want to exert yourself physically on the opposition from the start but that’s ended up putting a lot of pressure on us. Being 10-0 down after nine minutes was the worst possible start and makes what was already a tough ask start to look very tough indeed.
In the end, I don’t think any Scotland player will feel they did themselves justice on the day. Huw Jones added another two tries to his record and looked good in attack but, without being too critical of a guy who is still fairly new to Test rugby, I thought he had a few defensive lapses which cost us for a couple of those Jonathan Joseph tries.
The sad thing is that the game was gone by half-time and I don’t think even those who were predicting an England win would have thought it would be so comfortable for them. God knows I had some tough old days at Twickenham in a dark blue jersey but even I never walked in at half-time with 30 points against on the scoreboard. That must have been a real body blow to the guys.
I was really confident that Scotland could win this game, maybe that was a bit bullish of me, but you just knew at half-time that there was no coming back from this and things were just going to get even more messy as England emptied that bench of theirs. And so it proved as the score was doubled.
It’s deflating without a doubt and of course the lads are going to be downhearted, but it was one of those days and we have to focus on the positives of the past few weeks. Scotland are significantly better than Italy and we should be looking now to finish on the high – assuming that we can get enough bodies fit again and back on the field!
I think if after next weekend we are fifth in the world rankings heading into the World Cup draw and have finished with three wins out of five in the Six Nations, then that has to rank as a pretty successful international season.
Finally, despite the sense of hurt, it would only be sporting to say a hearty congratulations to England on retaining the title and equalling that Test winning record. They have been phenomenal under Eddie Jones and, having so many English friends at my club, I personally hope they do go on to beat the All Blacks’ mark of 18 and win the Grand Slam.
It won’t be easy as there is no more difficult place to go and do that than Dublin, especially against an Ireland side smarting from that loss to Wales.
But that pales in comparison with my belief that Scotland will pick themselves up from what was a very tough day at the office and go out to finish the tournament in the manner that they deserve to.