Rugby World Cup: Gregor Townsend admits questions being asked why Scotland failed to show up
Head coach Gregor Townsend said “that’s what we’re asking ourselves” when questioned how, by his own admission, there was no “energy, accuracy or aggression” at the start of today’s 27-3 hammering by Ireland in Yokohama which has got Scotland’s World Cup campaign off to a nightmare start.
Early tries conceded were yet again a killer as the world No 1 Irish produced an opening quarter that was as intense and focused as the Scots’ was lacklustre.
To add to the pain, star forward Hamish Watson was stretchered off close to half-time.
“He had a knee injury that we’ll be hopefully getting more information on tonight with a scan. It doesn't look good when a player is stretchered off the field, so hopefully we'll know more later tonight.
“It would be bad luck for any player if he misses the World Cup. But we have always presumed that there will be people who will miss the [rest of the] World Cup after each game that we play. Let's hope that's not the case with Hamish.
“The good news is that Jamie Ritchie will be available for our next game after returning to full training so it Hamish does miss that game Jamie's available, while I thought Fraser Brown did a great job when he came on too.”
On why there could possibly be a lack of energy in the opening match of a World Cup in a spectacular setting against the top-ranked team in the World, Townsend replied: “That’s what we're asking each other. The energy wasn’t as high as it has to be to beat a team like Ireland.
“Whether that wasn't there in the warm-up or a few players hadn't played in two or three weeks, we just missed the start of that game which was very disappointing.”
Given Scotland’s ever-lengthening list of poor starts in recent years, Townsend was asked what the problem is?
“I would say there are examples of us starting well in games,” he said. “If you go back a number of years you can look at anything really. Today we missed that first 20 minutes and credit to Ireland they started really well and got points on the board.
“They’re one of the best teams in world rugby and if you give them a 15 to 20 point start it's going to be very difficult to come back.
“They just converted mistakes into territory, mistakes into points directly. They've got a template we all know about. If you do give them chances in your third of the field they often take them.”
With Ireland and Japan now on four points and Scotland none, Townsend was asked how he felt it leaves the rest of the pool campaign.
“We need to win our next three games, whatever the result was today we needed to win the next three games,” he said.
“We have to bounce back play a lot better against Samoa, then carry that into Russia and especially Japan who have started the tournament well.
“Now the World Cup has just begun and we have to play much, much better in our next three games if we're going to make it out of our pool."