Vern Cotter’s players did everything they could on the final day to ensure that he left having taken them to new heights in the Six Nations Championship. Results elsewhere, however, meant his Scotland team once again finished in the bottom half of the table.
In competitive terms their victory over Italy was a model of efficiency as they shut out their opponents and scored the four tries required to earn a bonus point in the course of a 29-0 victory. At that stage, it moved them from second bottom of the table to second top. They would have stayed there if Wales had won without a bonus point in Paris and England had completed a second successive Grand Slam in Dublin.
However they were pushed back down to fourth after a controversial win for France, with a try scored in the 100th minute of an extraordinarily extended match, and a rousing Irish performance. For the second time this season, they stopped a record run of consecutive Test wins, this time by beating England after they had won their previous 18 matches, just as they had defeated the All Blacks in the autumn.
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For the Scots it was only the second time they had won more matches than they lost in a Six Nations campaign, matching the achievement of Frank Hadden’s side when they finished third in 2006, while there was the added consolation of registering their best ever haul of tries in the course of the championship, 14 in all.
The key task facing their Kiwi coach was, however, to bring about the cultural change required to help transform a team that had become perennial losers under previous coaches Andy Robinson and Scott Johnson into one that knew how to win. John Barclay, who took over the captaincy after Greig Laidlaw was injured during their second match in France, gave every indication that lessons had been learned when invited to pay tribute to the out-going head coach.
“I think we have had some good wins, particularly the Irish win and Wales. I think we are on the right path, (but ) if you want to look at records then look at England with their 18 games, whatever, unbeaten,” he observed.
“These are the kind of records you want to be making. We are very proud of what we have achieved but I think there is more from the group.”