SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend said he was deeply frustrated that his team had failed to produce the level of performance they needed to pick up a famous win over the world champion Springboks yesterday – but insisted that his players will learn from the defeat and promised that they will bounce back to produce their best performance of this Autumn series against Japan next Saturday. 

“I think we’ve got to take the defeat on board, use the disappointment we’re feeling as a team and learn from it,” he said. “We’ll play South Africa again [at the World Cup] in two years’ time and we’ll play other teams similar to them before so we have to be better for that experience. 

“You also learn from the opposition,” he added. “They are world champions for a reason so anything we can take out of that to make us a better team, we’ll take that on board.

“Obviously, the defeat will stick for a while because we didn’t put our best performance out there – and we felt our best performance would get us a win. So that will hurt for a few days.” 

Japan coughed up 60 points in a heavy defeat to Ireland last weekend, but Townsend said he won’t be reading too much into that. 

“They came close to beating Australia last month, and they beat us two years ago at the World Cup, so we know what a difficult team Japan are,” he reasoned. “If you give them ball, they will cause you problems, so that will be a very tough game for us.  

“And it will show the resilience of the group if we can bounce back after a painful defeat. We want to put what we’ve learned over the last three weeks into the best performance of this Autumn Nations Series – that’s all we’re working towards.” 

Townsend was quick to highlight that there is absolutely no shame in losing to a tam of the calibre of South Africa, especially with only a six-day turnaround after last weekend’s victory over Australia. It is a sign of the progress made that expectation levels are now so high.  

“I think in the first half the team performed so well with so little ball,” Townsend reflected. “We were getting penalised and had to go through a lot of defensive sets but did very well.  

“We were unlucky a couple of times, we turned the ball over and there was a knock-on, so we had to go through another few sets, but tactically I thought the players were very smart in how they kicked and attacked with ball in hand.  

“We weren’t accurate enough in the first half, but we did put the Springboks under pressure which was enough to go ahead at half-time.  

“The second half was really disappointing in that we gave them a quick way into the game, by kicking the ball through a ruck at the restart and that put us under pressure.  

“We had to work really hard to get back into the game and we didn’t really have enough ball to do that, so I was so proud of the way the team got into a good position to kick-on. 

“But, unfortunately, it wasn’t us who kicked on in that last 15 minutes, which was very disappointing – it is not who we are or what we are as a team.”  

Townsend did have words of praise for his captain, Stuart Hogg, who marked his achievement of becoming the male player who has started the most tier one international matches at full-back, with two tries which takes his career total to 24, putting him equal with Ian Smith and Tony Stanger as the nation’s most prolific scorers.  

“I think the first on of becoming the most capped full-back in world rugby history is the main one. That’s outstanding and shows what a great player Stuart has been on a consistent basis,” said Townsend. 

“And to equal the try-scoring record, we’re all confident that he’ll go on and break the record over the next few games or years – because he’s got a lot of years left in him.  

“He’s been a brilliant captain for us over the last two seasons, and he showed his quality again today.”