BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Greig Laidlaw has revealed how he has received uplifting letters of support from former internationalists following the heartache of Scotland’s devastating exit at the Rugby World Cup.
The Scotland skipper was left stunned by the controversial manner of the national side’s last-gasp loss to Australia in their see-saw quarter-final and struggled to put into words his disbelief and disappointment in the immediate aftermath at Twickenham.
However, almost a fortnight has now passed since referee Craig Joubert’s incorrect decision to award Australia a late penalty, from which Bernard Foley gave the Wallabies a dramatic 35-34 victory, and the 30-year-old has been able to put the Scots’ overall performance at the tournament into perspective.
Now back with his club, Gloucester, the former Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half has spoken of his pride at the way Vern Cotter’s men came within seconds of a semi-final berth the country has only managed once before.
But he also recognises the young team that succumbed to the pressures of trying to hold on to victory over Australia now has to prove itself all over again at the Six Nations, starting at BT Murrayfield against the Auld Enemy, England, on February 6.
Laidlaw said: “The World Cup was a great experience, made all the better by the way Scotland performed.
“We had a very good camp leading up to the World Cup and a very good World Cup itself, going through the pool stages.
“Unfortunately, we just came up short in that last game, which was tough to take.
“Of course there’s a lot of pride. In the time I’ve been involved with Scotland I’ve never felt this sort of reaction.
“I’ve been getting letters and things from ex-players and ex-players getting in touch with me.
“That’s good, but you want to drive on from here, now that the Australia game’s gone.
“The next time we play is against England at home, so we need to make sure we keep moving forward.”
Laidlaw remains on course to finish the World Cup as one of the top five points scorer, with his haul of 79 coming from that crucial try against Samoa, as well as 13 conversions and 16 penalties.
The nephew of the great Roy Laidlaw also displayed his leadership qualities in the heat of battle on numerous occasions and clearly had the respect of his team-mates throughout the tournament.
And the tough Borderer is determined to prove the experience of his first World Cup has made him a better player.
He added to GRTV: “It’s definitely improved me. You need to look back and look at all the different things that have happened.
“As players you are always learning and you are always finding out new things about the teams you play and about yourself.
“So, it’s definitely improved me as a player and, going forward, I look to show that on the field.”