Wing Tommy Seymour rejected the notion that there is a culture of fear when Scotland travel away from the home comforts of BT Murrayfield after their rotten record on the road in the Six Nations continued in Paris on Saturday.
It is now nine years and counting since Scotland registered an away victory in the championship outside Rome and, with England at Twickenham coming up after the visit of Wales, it would take a brave man to predict that dismal state of affairs will be ended during this campaign.
“I wouldn’t call it fear. I don’t think there is a fear that boys have,” insisted Seymour, whose hand was strapped up after the 27-10 loss to France.
“I may be speaking for myself but I don’t believe there’s any fear in going away and playing rugby. I just think that, for whatever reason, it’s a hurdle we need to get over. We’re desperate to do that.
“The frustration is, we believe, in our prep, that we’re in a good place, our knowledge and our role clarity is where it needs to be. But yet again we’ve let an opportunity pass us by. It’s something we’re desperate to correct.
“The next opportunity will be England away, another massive opportunity to correct it. But the focus is on Wales first. It will be a tie of the highest magnitude for us.”
It was clear that the pain Seymour was feeling in his hand was nothing compared to the agonies endured on the pitch as Scotland were swept away by a fired-up French side.
“There’s frustration, definitely. I’m just ridiculously disappointed, to be honest,” said the Glasgow player.
“It’s that old thing, it’s probably said too much, but we genuinely had a really good week in training. The boys were in the right spot. We just came out and didn’t execute. In the first half, in particular. We showed for parts in the second half but, collectively, we weren’t where we needed to be to get a win at a place like the Stade de France.
“That just boils into complete frustration. We now set our sights on two weeks’ time and refocus on that, because that’s all we can do. But there are a lot of learnings to be taken.”
For all the excellence at times of a French team smarting from media criticism following two defeats, Seymour admitted that Scotland had let themselves down with a performance that was well below par.
“Yeah, listen, we’ve talked about it. It’s been a focus of ours, getting into that finish zone area and completing,” he said. “We just didn’t do that today. Our completion rate in the finish zone is nowhere near what it needs to be to win an international game. We put ourselves in good positions but ultimately, if you don’t come away with points, it’s hard to win games. Unfortunately that’s what happened.”
When asked if he felt something needed to change in the preparation for games, Seymour replied: “You have suggestions?
“No, listen, I think it’s one of the worst things you can do, to stray away from your practices and try to do something dramatic, last minute. To be honest, we were in a good spot. It quite clearly didn’t translate on to the park. And that’s the important part.
“But with regards to the build-up, the preparation, the travel and everything, I thought it was all spot on. It’s just disappointing. These conversations are unfortunately part of being a rugby player – and they’re bitterly disappointing when you have to have them. I’m just absolutely gutted.”
Seymour accepted that France showed intense desire in the match but didn’t feel that would have been any different even if things hadn’t gone so badly for them at Twickenham two weeks previous.
“We spoke a little bit about them. When you’re in a Test match, there aren’t many teams you’ll come up against who aren’t emotional and desperate to get a result,” he said.
“We concentrated on ourselves, thought about what we would have to do to achieve a result here. We obviously knew they would be under the pump with what’s happened to them.
“After this, it’s our turn to take a bit of that. We react within our group and our coaching staff, put one foot in front of the other and concentrate on the next game in two weeks’ time. Back at Murrayfield, that is now a massive test for us.”