WHO would be a Scotland defence coach? When it comes to Scottish sport right now, finding yourself tasked with keeping a clean sheet is only slightly less thankless a job description than being SFA compliance officer.

Football, where our coaches bemoan a historic lack of central defenders, is bad enough. But in rugby yesterday Matt Taylor was being asked to pick the bones out of the first of four warm-up matches ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, a performance where Scotland’s defence was unable to stop a rampant French side scoring five tries to nil. And all this despite defence being made the main focus of the national team’s eight-week training camp.

Even worse is the sobering fact that for all the attacking chutzpah of Gregor Townsend’s team, you had to think back to a 14-9 win against Argentina in November 2018 for the last time Scotland have kept an opponent try-less or down to double figures. That was six matches ago, six matches during the calendar year of 2019 where the least they have conceded is 18 points.

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As for defending well AWAY from home, well the two matches Taylor alights on when asked if he was genuinely happy with the defensive display were a 44-15 win against Argentina in the summer of 2018, and the 24-19 win against Australia in Sydney in the summer of 2017. In other words, not for a while.

In particular, Taylor bemoans the lack of intensity the Scots showed to defend against the French. And is beating himself up for not doing more to whip them up in a frenzy. There are unlikely to be the same mistakes as Scotland attempt to atone for that reverse in France at BT Murrayfield this Saturday lunchtime.

“Sometimes, as a defence coach, I’ll sit back and think we’ve covered what we need to cover and they’ve gone and done a really good job, but at other times they haven’t,” said Taylor. “On reflection, we were away from home on Saturday – we had done a lot of work on our defence, we had done a lot of work on everything – and we just left it up to the players to get themselves in the right frame of mind. With it being a warm-up in a nice place like Nice, we just assumed that level of intensity was going to be there, and it wasn’t.

“Listen, whether you are an attack coach or a defence coach if you do a good job you get credit, if you don’t, you get criticism,” he added. “You know, every opportunity I get to coach or represent Scotland I want to do a good job and we didn’t do that. I am disappointed in that. And I am disappointed in myself. I told the players that, I didn’t get them to where I need to get them psychologically. I will make sure I do that this weekend, but they have to do their part as well.”

While the fervour of a home crowd will help Scotland in the battle this Saturday, the vibe will be different on the other side of the world. The match in Georgia, likely to be played in front of a large, febrile crowd at the national stadium in Tbilisi, is viewed as a taster of what the Scots can expect in what – pretty much whatever happens – is likely to be a pivotal match against the hosts in Japan.

“If you take the Australia and Argentina games away from home, we did well there,” said Taylor. “Against some of the Six Nations opponents we haven’t done so well.

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"The Georgia game over there is going to be extremely tough,” he added. “It is going to be hot, it is going to be the first time that Tier One nation goes there so they are going to be pumped up – it is the type of game that we as Scotland should be saying: ‘Let’s puff our chest out and dominate this opposition.”

The Scotland camp at Oriam was a different place yesterday than it had been last week. While Taylor accepts it was hard to make hard and fast judgements on players on the strength of Saturday night given that backs were frequently on the back foot before they even got the ball, not only did most on the fringes of the squad fail to take their chances, just perhaps some of the mainstays aren’t as undroppable as we first thought. The selection picture isn’t much clearer now than it was on Friday.

“Listen, it IS difficult to gauge at times when you don’t have that dominance or there’s not much periods of dominance in the game,” she said. “Some of those backs operated in an environment where they weren’t on the front foot and were doing their defending on the back foot. So it was hard to assess. Although I suppose you can assess people’s desire or want, their ability to stay in the fight or contest. Some of the guys in the team showed that, some of them didn’t.

“We all had one-on-one meetings yesterday and I think the message to the boys is you may only get one chance to show how good you are," he added. "To be on the plane to Japan. If you don’t take that chance, you either don’t go or the pecking order might change."

Townsend is likely to stick with his plan of naming a largely different starting XV for the second meeting with the French in seven days, with Fraser Brown, Sam Johnson and Magnus Bradbury all still thought to be on the injured list. John Barclay, cleared out illegally at a ruck by France’s Paul Gabrillagues, wasn’t involved in any contact yesterday but is not in concussion protocols.