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'We should have poked, prodded and fired up the boys more than we did'

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Assistant coach Matt Taylor says to blame him for Scotland's wretched defence in Nice (Photo by David Jones/Getty Images)

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Defence coach Matt Taylor has taken the blame for last Saturday’s horror show in Nice after admitting he failed to fire up Scotland before facing France.


Gregor Townsend’s team barely raised a hand to defend themselves as their World Cup preparations began with a feeble display at the Allianz Riviera.

The rampant Les Bleus ran in five tries in a 32-3 drubbing that has left the Scotland faithful fearing for their chances in Japan.

The Scots have now conceded 10 tries in their last two games and with less than a month to go before they jet out to the Far East, there is precious little time to fix the glaring faults in their defence.

Now Taylor – who is in charge of keeping the backline tight – has held his hand up and confessed he failed to sufficiently rouse the team before taking on Jacques Brunel’s powerhouse unit.

But he has vowed there will be no lack of motivation as they prepare to welcome the French to Murrayfield for Saturday’s return clash.


Asked what went wrong on the Cote d’Azur, the Australian-born former Scotland flanker said: “It’s a little bit about making sure we have the attitude and aggression first and foremost.

“I’ll take that upon myself in that I didn’t get the boys pumped up like we should. These warm-up games we have focused a lot on ourselves rather than the opposition. On reflection, maybe we should have poked and prodded and fired up the boys more than we did.

“System-wise we still need to make sure that under stress and duress that guys are sticking to systems. We did that in part but in others, we didn’t. The biggest thing was that we didn’t win collisions.


“We were away from home and we just left it up to the players to get themselves in the right frame of mind, and maybe with it being a warm-up game in a nice place like Nice, we just assumed that level of intensity was going to be there and it wasn’t.

“I’ll focus on the area which I’m involved in – defence – and that’s the area where we need to front up. All the best teams in the world are the best team defensively, and we didn’t show that on the weekend. I’m the most gutted out of anyone in the team, or probably in the country because that’s my job to make sure we do that.

“So, I made it pretty clear that we fell below the standards, including myself, and I’ll take that on the chin. I need to make sure the boys are up for it this weekend.”

Townsend is set to ring the changes to his starting XV and Taylor has seen evidence elsewhere that has convinced him Scotland can bounce back to beat Les Bleus.

He added: “We have spoken about it and used the recent example of New Zealand getting beat by Australia by 46 points and then the next week they turned it around and got a nil result.

“Wales against England was very similar this week. England put 33 points on Wales but they turned it around to win by six points and that’s what we’ve got to do. We have the opportunity to right the wrongs of last week.”

– Press Association

WATCH: Part one of Operation Jaypan, the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what the fans can expect to experience at the World Cup in Japan 

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