Gregor Townsend says his team will take time to savour Saturday’s historic away victory over England but is confident that, come Monday morning the players will be able to get their feet back on the ground and start putting the hard yards in towards preparing for next weekend’s Six Nations round two match at home against Wales.
Beating the reigning champions on the opening weekend is a major achievement – especially as Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and have only managed four victories there ever – but it won’t count for much if they come unstuck in their next match against a side which form dictates they should be getting the better of..
“We want to enjoy the moment – these don’t come around very often – and I’m hoping people all over Scotland enjoyed it with their families,” said Townsend on Saturday night. “We’re going to enjoy it because it’s a really tight group, I’ve seen the guys come together really well in the last couple of weeks.
“But we now have an opportunity that we’ve seldom had in the Six Nations – to build on a week one victory. It’s a quick turnaround and we’ll be well prepared for Wales. That will become our focus from Monday morning.
“Hoggy mentioned that to the players already in the post-match huddle – we’ve mentioned it – we’ve got a couple of days to get our feet back on the ground.”
Scotland have only won on the opening weekend on three previous occasions during the 21 years since Italy joined the party to make it the Six Nations, beating France in 2006, Ireland in 2017 and Italy in 2019. They ended up finishing third, fourth then third again in those campaigns, so this result is no guarantee that the team can go on to be serious title contenders, but they have given themselves a fighting chance.
“I don’t think we’ll be the favourites for the title. France now, I’m sure, everyone will be picking them as the favourites,” suggested Townsend.
“We just have to improve from this Saturday to next Saturday. There were a lot of good things to build on – but there is still a lot to improve, because the Six Nations is five one-off games against great teams. We know Wales will be very good next week.”
Scotland enjoyed 63 percent possession, 59 percent territory and dominated every other statistic used to measure the balance of the game, reflecting what any onlooker had seen with their own eyes. For his part, Townsend indicated that he would like to see a sightly wider game next weekend, weather permitting.
“It became a bit weather influenced against England,” he said. “We did have a couple of opportunities in the first half to move the ball wide, and obviously we had a kick to Duhan [van der Merwe]from Finn [Russell] that almost led to a try, but because of the weather and because of our opposition’s defence it had to go tighter.
“The work of the forwards was excellent. Zander was in double figures with his carries, Jonny Gray too, and it wasn’t just the forwards that were carrying, it was pleasing to see guys like Duhan still manage to get on the ball a lot, and Cam Redpath had a couple of good close carries.”
Townsend explained that flanker Jamie Ritchie and winger Sean Maitland had been replaced late on in Saturday’s match due to fatigue, adding that he had no fresh injury concerns immediately post-match, although there is always the potential for issues to emerge as the adrenalin subsides and muscles relax.