Tommy Seymour, as much as anyone, personified the general improvement in Scotland’s performance in Cardiff and is eager to step things up another notch in search of that acutely craved victory in the Six Nations.
“We need to start winning games, it’s as simple as that. Losing valiantly isn’t good enough. We need to turn the tide,” said the Glasgow wing ahead of this weekend’s clash with Italy in Rome.
No-one could argue with any of the sentiments expressed by the eloquent Nashville-born 27-year-old but he is the first to admit that the talking has to stop and a victory finally delivered after nine defeats on the bounce in the tournament.
“Everybody has said it – players, pundits and the media. There have been a lot of positives but they don’t mean anything if they’re not changing the outcomes of games,” said Seymour.
“We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re not giving ourselves pats on the back for the things we are doing well. Everyone in that changing room is fed up losing, we don’t like it and we’re done. We need to start digging out wins.”
Seymour was, like too many of his team-mates, below par in the opening match against England but bounced back superbly against Wales, producing a masterclass under the high ball and scoring yet another try in a Scotland jersey when he got on the end of Finn Russell’s perfectly-judged kick to the corner.
Any successful team needs a prolific finisher and Seymour has become one for Scotland with 12 tries in 24 Tests. Keep this up and he could soon be within striking distance of the national record of 24 shared by Ian Smith and Tony Stanger.
“Well, it was an improvement on England. I was really disappointed with how that went,” Seymour said of his personal display at the Principality Stadium.
“I like to have a big influence on the team and on the game. That didn’t happen against England but it was much improved against Wales.
“It was a step in the right direction but there’s still a lot more I can do, there’s still a lot more we can do as a team.”
Just like last year the Italy game is third up after two losses and is the hinge upon which Scotland’s Six Nations destiny rests.
Seymour insists there is no lingering trauma from that home loss to the Italians 12 months ago which acted as a collective punch to the solar plexus for Vern Cotter’s squad.
“There is no hangover about it – we let go of that a long time ago,” he said.
“There’s been nothing spoken about last year’s game in regards to what happened, but obviously we’re aware that Italy are a good side and they’ve improved since then.
“We’ll prepare for this game in terms of the quality of side they are, not really the events of last year – but if you need a reminder in your head that they’re a side who can turn you over, it’s there. It’s just about being aware of how good they are.”
Scotland have happier memories of their subsequent two meetings with the Azzurri and the back-to-back wins they racked up in the World Cup warm-up series, including a 48-7 rout in the August sunshine at BT Murrayfield.
“I think the game at home was a good example of how we want to play against any team, which was free-flowing rugby and looking to get turnover ball and use that as a weapon,” explained Seymour. “We’ve certainly looked at clips of that game in regards to how we’d like to attack, but as I said Italy have improved since then and they’ll be bringing new things to the table as well.”
Seymour has started in all 24 of his caps and is almost certain to be named in Cotter’s team this morning for his quarter-century.
Italy went toe to toe with England for a good chunk of their last game before falling away to a heavy 40-9 loss. Seymour agrees that Scotland need to test the Italian morale that was sapped by that last half-hour pounding from the English rather than let them build the confidence they had shown in the first 50 minutes. “I suppose you could put that down to any team, really, in regards to trying to dismantle their game as quickly as possible and trying to stamp your own authority on it as early as possible,” said Seymour.
“That’s always going to be key, but certainly the Italians play a passionate brand of rugby and they’re one of those teams that should you allow them to get their tails up in a game they can be very hard to break down in the end.
“So we’ll be looking to impose our game as early as possible and play the rugby we want to play. If we can do that we can come out on top.”
Scotland hold a slim 9-7 record in the Six Nations head to head with Italy and Seymour accepts that Saturday’s opponents will have had a big red circle around the this fixture from the start.
“Italy probably do target this game. They’ll fancy their chances. Like ourselves, they haven’t won many games but they’ve still won big games so credit to them.
“They’ve beaten France a couple of times and they beat us at Murrayfield last season.
“They feel like they could target anyone and they don’t play with any fear. It was unfortunate for them against England in terms of the points they conceded but I’m sure they’ll be going after us.
“They have the players to do it but so do we.”