After making six changes to Scotland’s starting line-up for Sunday’s visit of France, Gregor Townsend yesterday admitted that last weekend’s calamitous opening day in Cardiff had forced the team management to re-examine what they have been doing.

It was a brutal introduction to life as a Six Nations Championship head coach for the man who was previously the national team’s attack coach during a challenging period under both Frank Hadden and Andy Robinson.

Changes consequently looked inevitable and no department of the team was untouched as players were re-introduced to the front, second and back-rows, at half-back, at centre and in the back three.

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The one player who is entitled to feel hard done by is tighthead prop Jon Welsh who put in a strong performance on his first appearance since the World Cup quarter-final in 2015, but Townsend explained that the switch is essentially down to partnerships with Edinburgh’s Simon Berghan now available to play again after having been suspended for kicking fellow international Fraser Brown in the head during the first of the derby matches over the festive period.

"He had been with us in November and trained with us all through that time. We believe the scrum went pretty well at the weekend but the blend with Simon, Gordie (Reid), Jamie (Bhatti) and Jon is a better mix,” Townsend explained.

Behind them Townsend admitted it had been an extremely close call between Edinburgh clubmates Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist, the latter getting the nod this time, while in the back-row Ryan Wilson, who had not played a match after a seven-week injury lay-off would almost certainly have returned to the starting XV after getting back into action as a replacement last weekend, but Dave Denton’s recall to the bench reflects a poor performance by another of Scotland’s African-born players, Cornell du Preez.

In an apparent bid to ensure that there is stronger leadership on the field, providing support to skipper John Barclay, Glasgow Warriors captain Wilson, renews a partnership with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, the man who has capped Scotland more than any other.

“Ryan and Greig showed energy when they came on, played well, have a lot of experience,” said Townsend.

“If these guys are on form it's a good thing for the squad. Cornell probably didn't grab his opportunity last week so Ryan and Dave get that opportunity.

The gamble of shifting Huw Jones infield to accommodate Chris Harris at outside centre having backfired badly, he returns to his specialist spot with Pete Horne, who scored Scotland’s only try in Cardiff, between him and their fellow Glasgow Warrior Finn Russell, while Sean Maitland looked a certainty to start on the wing this time, even had Byron McGuigan not succumbed to injury and uncapped Edinburgh youngster Blair Kinghorn gets his first taste of international match day.

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“With Peter's involvement on the pitch last week, we thought he played well. Alex Dunbar's injury means he's out for the weekend and Blair Kinghorn gets the opportunity with Byron McGuigan injured," said Townsend.

The need for so many changes after just one match reflects how badly Scotland got things wrong last weekend and the coach admitted to having been forced to look closely at the cause of that.

“We look back and say why, why did that happen was it our coaching emphasis, was it selection, was it the occasion. Why didn’t we perform at the level we’re capable of. You then break that down and discuss it with the players, how would we cope with situations if they presented themselves again,” said the man who decided that a team packed with players who had never been to Cardiff before, would turn down the chance of a pre-match visit to the stadium and instead train in Scotland before travelling down on the eve of the game.

However, while he acknowledged that the buck stops with him, his conclusion seemed to be that the 34-7 loss was essentially down to on-field failings.

“The underlying theme and message is how we have to be more accurate, it was the inaccuracies that cost us opportunities we created but also gave the ball to Wales and gave them good positions to attack against us and put us under more pressure.

“The responsibility lies with the coaches and me as head coach. We put a team out to perform, whether it is selection or how we prepared, the first thing we look at is how we could have done it better.

“Then we look at the performance of the players and the groups within our team, and there are certain things we didn’t do which we should do naturally – whether it is working round the corner in defence, scanning what the opposition are doing, we’ve spent a lot of time reinforcing that this week.

“We, as a coaching group, and especially the players, believe that what we showed at the weekend wasn’t a true reflection of what we are capable of and what we have done throughout 2017.”