IT may not have been the result Scotland wanted on Saturday, but there was certainly a number of positives with which Gregor Townsend was able to depart Dublin, notably the defensive performance of the side.

And despite Finn Russell being left out of the squad to face England this weekend, defence coach Steve Tandy revealed that the head coach and the absent fly-half have had “discussions” in the past few days, which came on the back of Townsend’s comments late last week that there had been no contact between the pair.

The Scots squandered a number of chances against Ireland throughout their 19-13 Six Nations loss at the Aviva Stadium but a number of individuals impressed, and as a collective, Scotland’s defence came away with considerable credit.

It may be too simplistic to attribute that to one single man, but it would also do Scotland’s newly-installed defence coach, Tandy, a discredit to suggest he had minimal impact.

The Welshman joined Townsend’s coaching set-up at the start of the year following the departure of the long-serving Matt Taylor, who left the international side to join the Australian national team. Taylor did a good job in his time with Scotland but there are few who would disagree that a fresh set of eyes and a new set of ideas can be as useful as any coaching advice when it comes to elite sport.

With only one game played in this year’s Six Nations, the early signs are that Tandy has had a hugely positive impact. And while he has not, he says, made any sweeping changes, the tweaks he has made so far appear to be paying dividends.

“It wouldn’t have been a smart move to rip up everything,” said Tandy of his past few weeks working with the players.

“There were a lot of good principles in play and a lot of good defenders in the team.

“There have been a couple of tweaks in terms of how we want to defend but certainly not wholesale changes.

“We will make some more tweaks as we move along, but we’ve only had six or seven sessions.

“I am just trying to change a little bit at a time."

The Welshman has been hugely encouraged by how the players have reacted to his new ideas although, if anything, they will need to perform even better this Saturday if they want to get their first win of the tournament on the board when England visit Murrayfield.

“The boys have been excellent. They have responded to every subtle change that has been made,” he said.

“The energy in the group is very positive and they want to learn. They want to ask questions and they want to know how to improve.

“I’m very fortunate to be able to coach a group like this, they are very stimulated. They don’t just sit there and nod their heads, they ask questions.

“I thought they defended well in Dublin, but there are improvements to make.”

Tandy is well-respected in the game having coached Ospreys before moving to Australia to coach the Waratahs, where he spent the past year. He was hugely enjoying his time down under but when the call came from Townsend to join his coaching set-up, it was, he says, an easy decision to make.

“Me and my family were looking to stay (in Australia) for a bit longer,” he said.

“But when the opportunity came up to coach Scotland - I think there’s something really exciting with Scottish rugby and as a package, it was an amazing opportunity. It was too good a chance to miss.”

One player who emerged from Dublin with considerable credit was Adam Hastings, who was thrown in at number 10 following Russell’s departure from the squad. And Tandy admits he was hugely impressed with how the Glasgow Warriors man dealt with the pressure upon his shoulders.

“I thought he played really well having gone into a difficult environment in Dublin,” the Welshman said of Hastings.

“I thought he drove the team around the park really well.

“He defended pretty well and with regards to this weekend, it’s more about what Scotland want to bring as opposed to what England will bring.”

Townsend may not have named his starting line-up for the England clash yet but off the back of yesterday’s news that Russell had been omitted from the squad for this weekend, it seems almost certain that Hastings will get the nod once again.

However, there has been a development in the Russell saga, which could potentially open the door for the Racing 92 man to return to action before the end of the tournament.

“Finn is not with us, but I know Gregor has had some dialogue with him,” said Tandy.

“Gregor is after a lot of cohesion, which you have seen with the boys who have come in.

“He won’t be involved at the minute and all I know is there has been some dialogue.”