Turn cooker up; watch; flip; apply acid; repeat.
No, it’s not the Idiot’s Guide to Pancake Day, but the simplest way of describing how our national team has worked thus far in the 6 Nations.
At the start we heaped pressure onto ourselves, declaring it Scotland’s best chance to beat England. We stood by and watched the squad capitulate. Small tweaks were made –very small –and suddenly everything looked a little better. So it was easier for the coaches to pick out individuals, blaming singular errors for an international loss in Wales.
Now, though, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking everything is back on track. We cannot declare the famine over and ring the dinner bell after one OK performance. Yes they scored a try. Yes it could have been two. Yes several of the forwards were outstanding and Laidlaw and Hogg gave us something we’d never seen before. It cannot be England all over again.
The omens are there. The game is a sell-out. People are again getting excited about the old-school tail-gating party on the back pitches. We have several players that everyone in the tournament is talking about.
Scotland are not, it must be said, favourites this time. Rightfully so, too.
You can squeeze out your sigh of relief, believing Scotland now have more chance of winning with their shop worn underdog tag back in place, but the truth is that Scotland are facing a side capable of tearing them to shreds on Sunday.
I say this not to pessimistically write Scotland off days before the event, but to provide ample warning. The scrum has not been steady in magnificence and must buckle down for a hard day. France’s lineout is more than capable of matching Scotland’s, which has been a strength so far.
In the backs les Bleus have enough brawn to deal with the simplest of Scottish cuts and bunts from burly strike runners and enough of their own guile to make two short, flicked passes and scorch up the pitch.
There are dangers everywhere in this fixture and this can be said before the French even consider naming their team. They have that much depth and that much power that to consider them having a serious weakness anywhere is folly. You must beat the team when you play France. It is rare you get the chance to pick off individuals.
In the next few days I will consider the tactics that Scotland must make use of in order to take on the team, but it is important to point out what a gargantuan task this is. It is doable, but the tax on Scotland’s resources will be great if they are to turn things around.
The new guys? They are to go through a lot. They may get flattened, but this upcoming fixture is the sort to take the most naive and fresh of us and turn them into fully fledged international rugby players. We will know exactly what we have, when this game is over.