RBS Six Nations 2016 Review – Plenty of Positives for Scots.

Greig Laidlaw
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw was in great form during the RBS Six Nations.

The RBS Six Nations seemed to come and go in a flash.

From the moment Scotland were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham following late drama against Australia in the last eight back in October, all Scottish rugby supporters’ minds were on the RBS Six Nations.

Many got slightly carried away and thought that perhaps Vern Cotter’s men could win four matches against Europe’s best in February and March and even challenge for the title.

While that was always going to be a tough ask, particularly given that in 2015 Greig Laidlaw’s side had lost all five matches, the supporters were right to be feeling cautiously optimistic.

The team had moulded into a good unit by the start of the championship while there was competition for places in most positions which had not been seen for a number of years.

There is no way to sugar coat it, the opening defeat against England at BT Murrayfield was a huge disappointment.

Yes, England may have had their tails up and were out to impress new Head Coach Eddie Jones, but Scotland let them dictate crucial parts of the game and the hosts knew that it was one that got away.

Next up was Wales in Cardiff and although the Scots travelled more in hope than expectation they actually played pretty well.

Silly mistakes and dropping off tackles still occurred at key points, but the performance was more assured in general and Duncan Taylor showed that he was ready to become a star during the event.

Going away to Rome is always tough for Scotland, especially off the back of two defeats, and the Italian players always target that match as one they can win.

On the day Scotland came away with the win. There were some good parts and some bad parts to the performance, but the guys knew that they had to get a victory no matter how it came.

And it clearly gave them confidence heading into the France match at BT Murrayfield next up because the side played with a freedom not shown before that in the tournament.

Some great tries were scored that day and the atmosphere at BT Murrayfield was better than anything seen – or heard – in quite a while.

The thing at the minute is that there is a real connect between the team and the supporters. Mainly through Glasgow Warriors success and the way they have built up a ‘one team’ ethos at Scotstoun – the likes of Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and others have a great relationship with the fans and it is good to see.

The first half of the final RBS Six Nations match against Ireland was disappointing in Dublin and although Scotland performed well in the second half you always felt that they were chasing the game and it was always getting away from them.

Two wins out of five may not have been what some were hoping for, but there were a number of plus points.

The form of Player of The Tournament Stuart Hogg was the main one while Duncan Taylor showed why he is so highly rated at Saracens and in the pack the front-row, Jonny Gray and John Hardie were outstanding.

With so much rugby having been played by the majority of the squad over the last 12 months it will be interesting to see who is rested for this summer’s Japan tour – and maybe Cotter will use the trip to blood a few young players.