It matched the best of Scotland’s Six Nations’ results sequences, but included its worst beating at the hands of its oldest enemy.
For Vern Cotter the extremes of a very strange four year adventure were encapsulated in the tale of his last trip between the two rugby cities in which it all began in the 19th century. This was, however, a championship that once again saw drama spread across six European capitals.
Admittedly the entertainment level on its final day was not quite that of two years previously. However, that bonus points would have made no difference to the final outcome in 2015 and did not do so this year either may well be seized upon by those who opposed their introduction after fortunes once again fluctuated thrillingly from week to week, exemplified by the most disappointed team on the final day being the one that was handed the trophy as tournament winners.
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For the Irish, who denied England a second successive Grand Slam with a performance that was summed up by the presentation of the man of the match award to Peter O’Mahony, a Celtic bruiser in the grand Munster tradition, it was a worthy end to what they are entitled to consider a strange old season.
They have bookended it with two of their greatest ever victories, the first in the unlikely setting of Chicago’s Soldier Field, the second on their beloved Lansdowne Road, both times beating teams seeking to set a new world record mark of Test wins. If the All Blacks were shocked during a spectacular encounter that can only have won the sport many American fans back in November, England knew exactly what was coming at a venue from which they have returned home just twice with championship wins this century.
Perhaps Nathan Hines, the Australian who has become a hugely popular figure in the rugby communities of France and Ireland, as well as in his adopted Scotland, was ultimately proven right when observing ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash, that England would increasingly succumb to the pressure of seeking to avoid being part of the first team to lose under head coach Eddie Jones. There could, however, have been no worse place, certainly in Europe, for them to have to go in pursuit of that 19th successive victory and the Ireland they met was very different to that which tried, but failed, to persuade itself that Scotland had become worthy opponents at the beginning of this campaign.
The difference one man can make was ultimately telling, too. Paddy Jackson may be much improved since he contributed so significantly to Ireland’s previous loss at Murrayfield, but it remains clear that the Ulsterman cannot match the generalship of Jonny Sexton, who took another physical battering on Saturday, but steered his team to another momentous win.
Second place in the table behind that fine England side that had won the tournament the week before, accurately represents Ireland’s current status as second best in Europe, but this competition also offered notice that six years after they last finished in the top half of the table, France’s long sommeil is over and under old master Guy Noves they are ready to re-establish themselves.
There have been flickers of evidence of the old verve, while they found, albeit amidst considerable controversy, a way of winning in the 100th minute of Saturday’s clash with Wales, suggesting the fitness issues that have blighted them may be on the way to being resolved.
Wales can meanwhile be summed up by two statistics. Only England conceded fewer points (81 to 86), yet they finished second bottom because only Italy scored fewer. They must find more weaponry than George North who, even more than the aforementioned Sexton, has paid a high physical price for his willingness to take the game to opponents.
As to poor Italy, the near despair expressed by Conor O’Shea, their coach of less than a year, in trying to work out how they could have generated as many chances to score points, not least during a spell of around 15 minutes camped in the Scottish 22, yet failed to score any at all in losing 29-0, summed up their plight.
Six Nations participants for close to two decades they must, as he has repeatedly observed, sort out the mess that is their domestic set-up if they are to harness the talent that a country of their population and footballing history undoubtedly possesses.
And so to Scotland under Cotter, his contribution summed up by a player whose qualities he finally recognised when lesser men had overlooked them.
“The guys are on the right path. I've been involved for the last 18 months and you can definitely feel that it's a different group now,” said John Barclay, Saturday’s captain who has survived some grim times since making his debut under Frank Hadden, the only coach to have had a better Six Nations campaign with Scotland.
Only time will now tell whether the job the New Zealander undertook in good faith when taking pity on what he saw as a once proud rugby nation that had fallen from grace, has truly sparked a revolution or he has merely been a fall guy whose gesture, in bidding to do the decent thing, has been futile.
In terms of the potential importance of the task, though, as he wiped away the tears before being persuaded by his players to join them in a slow lap of honour while the seats emptied at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon, Cotter could reflect upon having almost certainly done a far, far better thing than he ever will again.