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Scotland held ‘hard-hitting’ review of crushing defeat - Steve Tandy

By PA
ROME, ITALY - MARCH 09: Italy player's celebrate the vicotry of the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between Italy and Scotland at Stadio Olimpico on March 09, 2024 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images)

Steve Tandy revealed Scotland have held a “hard-hitting” review into Saturday’s damaging Guinness Six Nations defeat by Italy as they bid to summon a response away to title-chasing Ireland this weekend.

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The Scots’ championship hopes went up in smoke in Rome as they squandered a 22-10 lead to lose 31-29 against an Azzurri side who, for all their perceived improvement, had not previously won a match in the tournament since 2022.

Defence coach Tandy revealed the players and coaches had a frank debrief on Monday as they attempt to iron out the issues that cost them so dearly at Stadio Olimpico.

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“Obviously huge frustration and disappointment, a lot of looking at ourselves and what we did,” he said on Tuesday afternoon as he gave an insight into the mood in the Scottish camp since their collapse in the Eternal City.

“Italy are a good team, but when you look back at it, there are definitely things we could and should have done better so there’s been a lot of looking inwards.

“It was a pretty quiet place after the game and then coming in on Monday, the review was hard-hitting. The boys have reflected, they’ve looked at the footage, they’ve fed back themselves.

“We had a pretty good meeting – as much as it could be good after a loss.”

Tandy felt Scotland were uncharacteristically “soft” defensively in Italy, but he refuted the suggestion they lack the mental strength to deal with periods of adversity.

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“We’ve shown moments of regathering ourselves, such as in Wales when we got that momentum back at the back end of the game to get the win,” he pointed out.

“Against England we were 10-0 down after the disappointment of the previous game against France, where everyone said we should have won the game, so getting over that to beat England shows we’ve got the mental capacity to do those things.

“But it’s always a work in progress, there’s always space to learn and grow. These losses hurt and they make us ask questions around certain things, but at the end of the day we’ve got a huge game on Saturday so we can’t dwell on it for too long.

“We’re going to lose momentum in Ireland. No team goes there and dominates. We’re going to be under pressure for a lot of the game and we’ve got to deal with that.

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“In a lot of the competition we’ve dealt with it. There are moments when we haven’t dealt with it, but we’re learning all the time to try and deal with those situations more consistently.”

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
5
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
26
13
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

Scotland’s defeat in Italy effectively cost them the chance of a title decider against Ireland in Dublin, but they still have the chance to claim a Triple Crown for the first time since 1990 if they can defeat the side that dismantled them 36-14 at the World Cup in October.

“I forgot about that (the Triple Crown) after Saturday night, to be honest,” said Tandy. “But we’re playing for a trophy – I don’t know how many years it is since we have been playing for a trophy.

“That’s the beauty of sport, the fact you can be down at the lowest of lows, but now we have the potential to be at the highest of highs, which is exciting for us.

“We know we’re going to have to play really well to get what we want, but it’s a game, anything can happen.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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