Scotland more than just the Bravehearts

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Scotland have long been scrappy, they’ve often been described as ‘brave’ but captain John Barclay says they showed there’s another word they can add to that list.

Their win over the Wallabies in Sydney showed off some of those dogged traits, but Barclay said the elements that make a rugby team a force revealed more.

“We talk about how the Scots are brave and all that sort of stuff but I don't think we speak enough about the skills that the guys have,” he said.

“Look at the tries we're scoring and I think it's brilliant.

“I think it's underplayed sometimes, the skills the guys and the guys who work extremely hard and Glasgow have done it for years and we're scoring tries that any team would be happy with.

“That takes a lot of skill, that's not bravery, that's skill and that's something you work on at training.”

The match-winning try for flanker Hamish Watson showed that skill off in spades, the openside finishing off a defensive overlap to put the Scots back in front, with what was ultimately the final score of the match.

The final minutes were a passage that showed the newfound composure of this team, holding out the Wallabies even after conceding a penalty deep in their own territory in the final minute.

Barclay said he felt it was just the beginning for the Scots, with a strong resilience coming through from club success.

“You can't deny the fact that we've been on the wrong side of a couple of these against the Aussies the last couple of years, so it's nice to close one out,” he said.

“I think in the Six Nations we closed out a couple of really important games, tight games - the Ireland game, the Wales game - I think we're getting better at closing out games.

“Today was tit-for-tat a little bit right til the end but we take confidence from it.

“We've got a few guys missing and Gregor (coach Gregor Townsend) mentioned we feel like we're just scratching the surface here.”

It might be easy to say the Wallabies were complacent, but the Australian camp were having none of that heading into the game or in post-match.

By Monday, rankings would indicate Saturday’s result was no upset, with Scotland maintaining their fifth spot and the Wallabies as low as sixth.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was quick to stamp out the notion that Scotland’s quality surprised the home team, when the question was put to him by a Scottish journalist.

“We think Scotland are a top team,” he said.

“We never said anything about that, you guys (the media) say it, and then you perpetuate the story through us somehow.

“The only people who are saying Scotland aren't up to it is the Scottish media - definitely not ours.”

It was announced late on Saturday that flyhalf Finn Russell would be rewarded for his form, one of six players called up to the Lions tour ahead of the Tests beginning next week.

Russell was a clear man of the match for Scotland, guiding his team well, earning Townsend’s praise.

“He leads our attack but I thought he led our defence well,” he said.

“The amount of tackles he put in, body on the line stuff, and if you've got your halfbacks playing really well then that helps you in your attack.”

Scotland heads to Fiji next week for its third June Test.