Scotland fly-half Duncan Weir rued his side’s errors as they slumped to a 28-0 defeat to South Africa at Murrayfield on Sunday. Over the past two weeks the Glasgow Warriors 10 has injected some much-needed verve and urgency into the Scottish attack during his second-half cameos replacing counterpart and club-mate Ruaridh Jackson.
While his spell against South Africa was marred by a couple of nervy errors, the game against Japan saw him score his first try for his country, a memory that brings a smile to his face.
“It was an amazing feeling, one that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life and I’m just delighted it was here at Murrayfield as well.”
Although from very short range, it wasn’t the easiest try to score with a diving reflex catch required to snatch the Sean Maitland’s offload as it bounced off a defender’s shoulder.
“I’m pretty confident with the zero-metres gained ball carry sort of try,” he jokes. ” I’m just delighted I followed up my pass and got on the good end of it for the try.”
Weir traditionally had a reputation as more of a kicking standoff, but over the last few seasons he has invested a lot of time shedding that image.
“I feel over the last couple of seasons my running game and passing has been improving with every chance that I’ve been on the pitch. Especially with Johnno being a standoff himself, he really drives us hard and it’s really reaping the benefits on the pitch. [He’s] pretty certain on what he wants from his ten,” adds Weir.
“It’s just a matter of who can take their chance in the jersey, and put what he wants into practice.”
“It’s all about taking the opportunities he gives.”
Weir was given another opportunity with twenty minutes against South Africa that saw a mixture of good and bad, much like most of his teammates. He did vary the game nicely and showed those kicking boots with an intelligent cross-field grubber kick that almost saw Max Evans touch down in the corner.
Though it would have restored little more than a shade of respect to the scoreline, Evans’ effort was ruled out by the TMO, consigning the Scots to their first pointless defeat since a 40-0 loss to New Zealand in the 2007 World Cup.
And while crediting the physical Springboks’ defence, the 22-year-old stresses the importance of stamping out the mistakes that so hampered the hosts’ go-forward.
“We’re all good enough rugby players not to make silly mistakes like that,” Weir tells us post-match.
“But that comes down to South Africa’s pressure as well. It’s something we can look and learn from.
“Under that amount of pressure, there are going to be mistakes from the attacking side, and that was certainly the case today.”
With poor weather conditions and a playing surface afflicted by parasitic worms, Weir praises the way the Boks rearguard suffocated their hosts’ attack.
“In the first half, they played the conditions really well, the pressure mounted, and we couldn’t get anything going,” says Weir.
“When I came on, although we had the majority of the territory, their defence was just outstanding.
“Everybody was getting lined up pretty well; they’re hugely physical in the tackle area.”
Weir came on with the Scots already staring at a 28-point deficit, and while he was largely satisfied with his own performance, admits the team struggled through a lack of cohesion and ruthlessness.
“Personally, there were mistakes in there, but a few nice touches off the boot,” acknowledges Weir.
“As an overall team performance, we couldn’t execute anything – on that front, it was disappointing.”
The diminutive fly half has come through the ranks at Cambuslang and Glasgow Hawks to find himself one of Scotland’s top choices in the pivotal ten shirt, and is taking nothing for granted. And his chief rival is also his clubmate.
“Me and Jacko have a good relationship, we’re not bitter in our relationship at all. We’re both driving to be the best players possible. You can only take your opportunities when they come, because you know there is a guy sitting on the bench who is going to fill the jersey and compete for your place. It’s really up to you to fulfil it because if you don’t perform you know you’re not going to get the jersey next week.”
Fresh-faced even at 22, the only area Weir concedes ground to his rival is in the facial hair department, with Jackson currently sporting a colonial era set of whiskers.
“No unfortunately he can beat me on moustaches, I’m trailing a long way behind on that front.”
Additional reporting: Rory Baldwin