“It would have been a significant setback if we had lost. There’s no denying that,” said Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend, who is not one to express his emotions extravagantly. His serious demeanor conveyed the truth in his words.
The history of Scotland and rugby has been a tumultuous ride, with both triumphs and disappointments. However, for Townsend’s team to not be able to break their 22-year losing streak in Cardiff, despite starting with a 27-0 lead in the second half, would have been an excruciating blow, even for them.
Even if it was an extreme result, it would have fit well with the troubled past. In 2010, Scotland had the same experience in the same city, leading 24-14 with less than five minutes left, only to end up losing 31-24. This time, Wales managed to narrow the gap from 27-0 to 27-26 with tries from Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe twice, but ultimately the young Welsh team completely dismantled Scotland’s lead with a full 10 minutes remaining.
Townsend stated that the team has put in a significant amount of effort towards handling adverse situations during games and maintaining unity. He clarified that the team did not simply defend against Wales in the final moments, but actively went out, strategized and successfully reached within a yard of the goal line. Duhan believes that he did, in fact, score the point.
Van der Merwe ended the game with a potential third score, but after review from the television match official, it was determined that he had placed the ball on an opposing player’s leg. Despite a strong finish from Scotland, it would have been embarrassing to lose such a lead to a young Welsh team. The atmosphere will be drastically changed in Edinburgh on Saturday, as a wounded France team comes to play. Scotland will be missing Richie Gray, but are expected to have Grant Gilchrist and co-captain Rory Darge back in the lineup. Darcy Graham is likely one more game away from returning.
It was a mix of emotions for Wales. The team’s comeback, highlighted by tries from James Botham, Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright, and debut player Alex Mann, should motivate such a youthful team. However, they appeared disoriented in the first half.
“We were just five minutes away from securing the win,” stated Wainwright, a key player at the No. 8 position.
“The game can be divided into two parts, which perfectly explains our performance. We showcased our potential when we started putting our skills together. This will give us a boost of momentum for the following week.”
The upcoming task? It is none other than playing against England at Twickenham, where Welsh boys are challenged to become men.