LONDON (AP) — So much for this being a new dawn for Scottish rugby.
“We were useless,” was the frank assessment of Scotland captain John Barclay after a 61-21 loss to England that may take weeks, months, even longer to get over.
This was supposed to be Scotland’s time, a chance to end 34 years of hurt at Twickenham and even — whisper it — go on to win the Six Nations for the first time.
Instead, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong on Saturday.
There was the second-minute sin-binning of hooker Fraser Brown, the first-half departures of Stuart Hogg and Mark Bennett to injuries, the kick into touch from a restart, the failure to find touch from a penalty. And that was just the first half.
The Scots went into halftime losing 30-7 and didn’t really know what had hit them.
“It just got away from us quite quickly,” Scotland coach Vern Cotter said.
Barclay’s words were stronger.
“We are trying to move away from the tag of plucky losers, but that wasn’t even that,” the flanker said.
“It will be a brutal review.”
Cotter must pick up his players for Scotland’s last match in the Six Nations, at home to Italy next Saturday, but first he must count the cost of this bruising encounter.
The New Zealander said the Scotland dressing room was like an emergency ward after the game.
“It’s two away games and eight concussions,” he said. “My biggest concern in the changing room was how many players we can put on the field for next week.”
Scotland’s wins over Ireland and Wales raised hopes the team could earn its first away victory over England since a side coached by Jim Telfer did so in March 1983. If the Scots had won on Saturday, they would have secured the Triple Crown and put themselves in contention to win the title heading into Round 5.
Instead, a whole load of soul-searching and introspection.
“It will be a test of character,” Barclay said. “But we are men, we’re not kids in there. No one is going to shirk blame.”