Jim Hamilton is one such figure, at the heart of a good pack display in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match, and his frustration was all too evident after the match. He said: “This is our lives, a dream for guys to be out there playing, and we all have belief that we’re going to win the game.
“You go out there with 60-odd thousand people screaming, get a real buzz before the game, and we’ve picked up knocks and have battered bodies, and for nothing.
“But one thing I know being involved with Scotland is that there will be a reaction. There has to be a reaction. We have to go down there and we have to produce for Scotland as a nation, the supporters, us as players and everyone involved with us.
“You can see, everyone watching can see that we’re making chances; that we want to win and are putting in the hard work, but are just not putting the chances away. Until we address that and the tries happen, the same is going to keep happening.
“I said in Saturday’s Scotsman that I was really confident coming into this game, individually and as a team, and there’s no doubt that had we finished our chances we’d have won the game.”
Even debutant winger Lee Jones emerged sure that his team-mates had the beating of England. “I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said. “Without a doubt that was a step-up from Heineken Cup, less space and time, and the hits came hard, but I enjoyed it and know we could have won. Our defence was very good – I can’t recall any line-breaks from them and their only try chance came from our mistake – and that’s a positive. We need to stick together now, put that game to bed, and look forward to Wales, and make sure we put away the chances there.”
Hamilton was pleased to see Jones and man of the match Dave Denton perform well on their first Six Nations appearances, but cautioned against changing the team. “There is a lot of talent in Scotland, as you see with Lee and Dave, but I don’t think it’s about chopping and changing all the time. We saw that in the World Cup and guys were unsettled,” said the lock.
“I haven’t got answers for the questions that people are asking, but when you’re in positions of two-on-one you’ve got to finish it off. The coaches are giving us the tools. We’re not an under-21s team, we’re not a team full of kids. We’re a team of professional rugby players and we know how to score tries, but for some reason when we come to play for Scotland we’re not doing it.”
He added: “We’re not in it to make up the numbers. I’m not in it to accumulate caps; I’m in it to win. That’s what a game is about. We talk about tries, and want them, but I’ll take any win in Wales.”
Ross Ford, the Scotland captain, added: “England’s gone now and we move on. There’s no point in going into our shells. We have to make sure we keep doing the good work, but that we execute much better. There is a belief within the squad. We don’t go out there to come off second best, but now it’s about making sure we convert chances.
“I enjoy playing in the Millennium Stadium. It’s hard to win there, but we’ve shown we have the ability to win away from home and we just need to keep confidence in the way we’re playing, but nail it down this time. I know we can.”