Japan v Scotland: Post-match reaction
Following Scotland's 28-21 defeat to Japan in their final Pool A fixture, Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend and players Greig Laidlaw and Jamie Ritchie reflect on a disappointing conclusion to their Rugby World Cup campaign.
Before getting underway, Townsend began his post-match press conference with word on those affected by the typhoon.
“On behalf of the Scotland rugby team, I would just like to pass on our thoughts to the people of Japan for the devastation caused by the typhoon. Our thoughts go out to those who have lost anyone close to them.”
What’s your immediate reflection on the result?
“We are disappointed we weren’t able to win by more than eight points. We started really well but then we didn’t see much of the ball for the rest of the first half.
“Part of that was down to what Japan were doing when they had the ball, but the two tries we conceded were soft, one from our possession and another from a re-start.
“The players put a huge effort into that period after half-time and after 58 minutes we were only seven points behind. But we didn’t do enough in that last 20 minutes to get the win.
“We came here with high aspirations and getting out of the pool was stage one of that.
“We have worked really hard over the last four months and throughout this tournament to get further than we have. It is very disappointing to not make it out of the pool.”
Do you think this group is capable of developing into a stronger side?
“There is a lot more in this team. Experiences are what make you as a group, and how you react to these experiences. That was a unique situation we were in tonight.
“It was always going to be a challenge given the way Japan were playing and the (three-day) turnaround. But we had the team and the ability to go on and win by the necessary amount of points. That we didn’t is a huge disappointment.
“The players showed in the second half their physical level in the way they came back. The bench did really well and I am proud of the effort. But we needed to be more accurate in that final 20 minutes.
“We have shown already this year we can come back from big deficits, even if it is not a great position to be in. We had an opportunity to win tonight and we didn’t take it.
“You don’t get another shot in a World Cup, but we have got to improve as we hit our next tournament in the Six Nations in a few months’ time.”
What did you make of Japan?
“They are a very cohesive group. You can tell they have been together for a long time, they know their own game and play to their strengths.
“They play a really fast game and create quick ruck ball at the ruck and they execute their set piece really well.”
Captain Greig Laidlaw shared that view…
“We know Japan have really improved as a team over the last four years, and since we were here in 2016. You have to give them credit for the way they have progressed and the way they have performed tonight.
“But as always in defeat you have to look at yourselves and we gave away two soft tries. In a Test where you need to win by eight points, giving them 28 is way too many.”
As one of the stand-out performers on the field (and indeed this campaign). How did Jamie Ritchie view Scotland’s performances?
“Any test match that you leak 28 points is going to be a tough one to win. The start of the second half we showed what we’re really about.
“I thought we started really well, that sort of first 10-15 mins we came out of the blocks firing, we put them on the back foot with our defence.
“They started getting quick ball, they started using the short side quite a lot and were getting yards on us.”
What inspired Scotland’s fightback in the second half?
“After that try (Scotland’s first in the second half) Greg (Laidlaw) pulled us and in said, ‘We’re all out attack here, we’re attacking in defence, and we’re attacking with the ball in hand.
“If we’d played like that for 80 minutes it’d be a different story, but we didn’t, and I’m afraid that’s the nature of the beast in these knockout tournaments. If you don’t play well for 80 minutes, you’re on your way home.
“They (Japan) are full of confidence and they’re at home. They (Japan) play a great brand of rugby, and I wish them all the best.”