Gregor Townsend hailed yesterday’s 11-6 victory over England as one of the best results in the nation’s history.
It is Scotland’s first victory at the venue since 1983 and sets the team up for a long overdue tilt at the Six Nations Champ-
ionship. They have never managed to finish above third in the table during the 21 years since Italy joined the competition.
There is still, of course, a long way to go, but this is only the fourth time during that period
that they have got off to a winning start.
“I’m very aware of the
history,” said a beaming Town-send. “I’ve come down here a number of times as a player and as a coach and not come away with anything. It’s got to be up there with the best ever results in our history, certainly in my playing and coaching career.
“I still go back to three years ago when we beat England at Murrayfield, just because of the crowd, the atmosphere and the way the players played – but
today we were outstanding too in really tricky conditions.
“It was wet the whole game with really heavy rain in the second half, so to win in these conditions against a very good side with the record they have here is a fantastic achievement.”
The last 18 months have been a bumpy road for Townsend and his team, with their early exit from the 2019 World Cup and the public falling out between the head coach and star player Finn Russell before last year’s Six Nations leaving many doubting whether the team were heading in the right direction under his stewardship. But Townsend insisted that he was always confident that he was the right man for the job.
“No, it doesn’t feel like vind-
ication,” he said. “We all enjoyed last year and you learn in defeat. You grow as a team in adversity. We’ve had moments before, during and after the World Cup that have shaped us as players and as coaches.
“Today a lot of our success was down to what happened in Dublin last November. Over there, we came in at half time, having played really well but having picked up a yellow card just before half time, so today we were able to reference that [when Finn Russell got his yellow-card], having already reviewed how we could improve from that.
“It was so good to see the players play really well during that yellow-card period, and then we had the boost when we went back to 15 for the final 35 minutes. That was great for our team.
“It wasn’t just one way of playing. There was a lot of variety in our play and that was about working out where we were having success and maybe the opposition weren’t going as well, and then being accurate.
“There were leaders right through our team today. Finn leading the attack, with Stuart Hogg as captain leading at 15 and Ali Price inside him. In the defensive side of things, Chris Harris and Jamie Ritchie were in charge. And I thought Scott Cummings had a fantastic game against the best line-out in the world. The calling was really good, we put a lot of pressure on their line-out, stole a couple and didn’t give them quality ball. That gives us a lot of encouragement, not just the result but the fact that players stepped up and controlled the performance.”
Townsend had special words of praise for 21-year-old debutant
Cameron Redpath, who put in a
towering performance in both
defence and attack, which was all the more remarkable because he came up through the English system and has trained on occasion with Eddie Jones’ squad during the last couple of years.
“I thought it was an incredible
debut,” said Townsend. “To come into a squad that you’ve not trained with before, meet players for the first time and then integrate into our way of playing was excellent.
“We saw his skill-set, his confidence and his maturity in his games with Bath, but you don’t expect someone on their debut to have such an accomplished start against England of all teams, in a place where we have not won for so long.
“He showed his competitiveness, and it’s really exciting what he can achieve in his
career and what we can achieve with him in the next few years.”