SIR IAN McGEECHAN has accused Scotland of panicking and playing as individuals as they turned in their ‘first poor performance in two years’ to suffer a Calcutta Cup mauling at the weekend.
The 61-21 thrashing at Twickenham allowed England to win the Six Nations, rack up a record-equalling 18th consecutive victory and continue their hunt for a Grand Slam.
It left Scotland looking a dishevelled bunch as they leaked seven tries and lost the inspirational Stuart Hogg, his replacement Mark Bennett, winger Tommy Seymour and number eight Ryan Wilson to injury.
With scrum-half Ali Price playing on the wing and replacement stand-off Duncan Weir finishing the game at full-back, Vern Cotter’s men ended up on the end of a record defeat to England.
However, McGeechan, the Grand Slam winning former Scotland coach, believes the damage was done early on with Scotland’s flustered reaction to Fraser Brown’s second-minute yellow card and the loss of Hogg and Bennett inside the first quarter as they went 20-0 down after 25 minutes.
He said: “I think Vern Cotter will be disappointed, mainly because I think that’s the first time Scotland have played badly for nearly two years.
“They’ve been very consistent and they’ve been building their game.
“But I think some players panicked after that first quarter, with some of the passes and some of the decision-making.
“They were quite indisciplined, which is unlike Scotland, picking little fights or whatever.
“The concentration and the focus had gone and you could see that. It became a team, almost, of individuals.
“Against a team playing as well as England, the last thing you want is to be trying to regroup and finding your game.”
Speaking to ITV, the legendary former British and Irish Lions coach added: “To be fair to England, they were ultra-precise and very clever.”
• Meanwhile, Scotland have clung on to fifth place in the rugby world rankings, despite Saturday’s record hammering from England.
The sorry Scots will now look to pick up the pieces in their final Six Nations match – and head coach Vern Cotter’s last game in charge – against Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
And they will go into that encounter still sitting fifth in the world – but only just.
The Scots lost pride at Twickenham but no ranking points, ensuring they hang on to their highest-ever place in the order put together by governing body World Rugby.
However, with 82.18 points, they are now just 0.02 above Wales, who have pushed South Africa into seventh and the Springboks’ lowest place since the rankings were introduced in October 2003.
The final rankings after the conclusion of the Six Nations this weekend will determine the seedings for the World Cup 2019 draw when it takes place in May, with the top eight nations being awarded seeds one and two.
1. New Zealand, 2. England, 3. Australia, 4. Ireland, 5. Scotland, 6. Wales, 7. South Africa, 8. France, 9. Argentina, 10. Fiji.