AS his players work out how to bounce

back from their shock showing in Wales,

Dan McFarland, the Scotland forwards coach, insists they have not lost hope of winning the NatWest 6 Nations Championship. He accepts they will have to win all four remaining games, however, but is taking inspiration from the Welsh, who did precisely that in 2013.

Loading article content

Then, as happened to Scotland last weekend, they misfired badly on the opening weekend but recovered to win every other match, culminating in a devastating 30-3 win over England on their home patch to win the trophy on points difference.

“As far as we’re concerned, as long as it’s statistically available for us to win the championship then, yes, we can,” McFarland added. “We’ll look to win every game from here on in. That will be the mentality. If I said anything less, you would think it extremely odd, wouldn’t you?”

Nor are the coaches planning any root

and branch changes in the way they play despite all the accusations that their organised chaos was all chaos and no organisation. As McFarland pointed out, it did bring breaks that would have changed the game if the players had exploited them better.

“I don’t see why we would [change], it has brought us success,” he insisted. “I don’t know if there is a perception there that this a game of flinging the ball around like a bunch of ‘darlings’ but to me we have tremendous variety in our game.

“We can be direct; we can move the ball if we believe there is space. At the weekend, there was space – that was demonstrated when we broke them on numerous occasions – but we just weren’t accurate enough when we did that.

“We can score tries from mauls. We can kick and we can chase. There are plenty of ways for us to play the game, but it doesn’t matter what way you’re playing – if you are not accurate then you are not going to get a foothold in the game.”

That inaccuracy was the real problem; players in the wrong places after a break, leaving holes in defence, and loose passes being dropped.

“We did a review, we sat in the changing room and we had a chat after the game. How intense was it? Well, I can tell you that the changing room was pretty intense,” McFarland added

“Composure – that was important. Those kinds of situations that do happen, where you are put on the back foot early but are doing pretty well in a helter-skelter start.

“Little things can go against you – like we chase back to stop a try, they knock on, we get a scrum and get

a free-kick against us for a feed at the scrum. Little things like that are knocking you. We’ve got to be able to wash those out and move on. We focus on that.

“There are other details in the game, obviously, that we’ll be addressing this week, ready for France.”

That is the big test for this side and its coaching team. There is nothing they can do about the Wales game but they can take the lessons from it and use them to put in a far better performance against France.

“Determination is at the forefront of my mind about this week. We know we let ourselves down. We know we didn’t play to the level we have demonstrated we can play at. There is a determination to show that,” McFarland continued.

“These are confident young men.

Gregor [Townsend, the head coach] leads an environment where they are very positive. The standards are high so there is always going to be disappointment but, as I say, there is a determination this week to play well against France, who came within a cat’s whisker of beating the third best team in

the world.

“There were two teams – Wales played very well. They came with the passion you would expect, they were extremely physical and their defence was excellent. They made the most of their opportunities. They got us on the back foot early on and the momentum that comes from that 14-point lead in front of their fans is very difficult to come back from. We all felt it was not impossible, we felt at half time we could still win that game.”

One thing he insists is not an issue is raising the morale of the team. Even though there was an obvious air of gloom around the players as they made their way home from Cardiff, they have put that firmly in the past and are ready to fight again.

“Raising spirits is about the easiest job in the world; if you are playing Six Nations and lose to Wales away from home but your next game is in front of 67,000 of your own fans – what a motivator that is!” McFarland said. “You go through the catharsis of review, look at where you went wrong, look at the opportunities, look at the things you did not do right; you understand those and address them in training.

“Your stay positive, understanding that we created opportunities that, if we had taken them and had not made so many errors, meant we could have been competitive.

“That is done and everybody’s eyes are wide open on what is coming at the end of the week, a France team that put up a fantastic fight against Ireland.

“It is the same in all professional sport. You get knocked down but you need to have the strength of character to stand strong, get back at it the next week and find an answer.”