Nobody in the Edinburgh Rugby squad knows better than Allan “Chunk” Jacobsen just how quickly fortunes can be turned around.
The venerable prop forward, 34, was part of the Scotland squad who, two years ago, went down with all hands as the All Blacks romped to a 49-3 Murrayfield victory – an even bigger margin than the 45-0 whitewash inflicted on Edinburgh by Saracens in the Heineken European Cup five days ago.
Yet, rather than dwell on their misfortune, that Scotland squad, which also included current Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford, bounced straight back and delivered a knockout blow to reigning world champions South Africa a week later.
Beating those Springboks was surely the equivalent to the task now confronting an Edinburgh side whose next assignment is away to twice winners Munster on Sunday. Again, Chunk can draw on experience to point out that winning there is possible having been part of the Edinburgh team that brought home the bacon, by 28-17, in 2004.
“Somebody said to me after Saturday’s game that surely the last place you want to be going now is away to Munster. I actually think Munster is the best place to be going because you don’t win across there without taking them on, without matching that opposition up front,” reflected Jacobsen whose disappointment at the Saracens result was intensified by the hamstring strain that forced him out of the squad shortly beforehand.
“It was hard for me to watch at the weekend, as it was for everyone. To be sat there and not be involved, not do anything . . I was shellshocked.”
Jacobsen was part of the Edinburgh squad in 1999 as they suffered a previous record defeat (8-47) at home to Northampton before immediately bouncing back with a win over Neath. And he stressed: “It can definitely be turned around quickly.”
As regards the latest setback for Edinburgh, Jacobsen said: “I’ve been over and over it trying and work out what went wrong. At the end of the day, it is done. You have to get on to the next job.
“I guess when things haven’t gone well and you’ve made a lot of mistakes, you go back to basics.
“That’s a cliche but it’s true; you have to do well in scrums and line-outs, mix the game up and give your forwards targets. It’s a simple process.
“But it was hard to watch and what’s needed now is to reel things in, take a few steps back, concentrate on simple things.
“It really was the simple things that let us down and that put more and more pressure on everything else.
“We dropped a lot of balls and losing balls in contact all comes from pressure.
“When your phase attack isn’t good, you put yourselves under pressure.
“Pressure mounts and, at the weekend, we fell apart a bit.
“But I don’t believe Edinburgh became a bad team overnight. We have to prove it was a really bad day for everyone.
“I really do believe we just had a bad day and a win this weekend away squares things.
“It’s no secret you have to win your home games and sneak a couple away but there are still five games left in our pool. We are not out yet. We have to go to Munster and prove that Saracens result was a one-off.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on our drills and our game, get our job right first.”
On a personal level, Jacobsen has every intention of elevating his Euro appearances beyond the current club record of 70 while retaining a desire to adapt his game.
He said: “I want to go on as long as possible. A lot of people get hung up on age but I feel fine. Pre-season was hard and, for the past couple of years, training six days in a row was hard.
“For me, now, it is about training smarter helped by our fitness coaches.
“I could have gone on Scotland’s summer tour but the decision to rest me was right. I’d have been struggling now. The benefits outweighed the negatives.”
Instead, Jacobsen is looking to get back into action with Edinburgh as soon as that pesky hamstring allows. He admitted: “I tweaked it and found I couldn’t accelerate my running the way I had to and, although I haven’t been played as much as I would have liked due to squad rotations, you can find positives in that situation.”
One, undoubtedly, will be to use his extra freshness as the catalyst later this year to become part of a rare group who have played international rugby over two decades having gained the first of 64 Scotland caps back in the summer of 2002.
n MUNSTER will be without the Heineken European Cup’s all-time top points scorer on Sunday after Ronan O’Gara was ruled out with a hamstring strain.
O’Gara, who took his appearances tally to 107 against Racing Metro when his point tally increased to 1322, is also doubtful for Ireland’s Autumn international series.