The champagne has almost stopped flowing and the destination of this year’s Six Nations title is sealed, after Scotland’s 29-18 win over France on Sunday afternoon.
What, though, can we learn for the long-term about the manner in which Vern Cotter’s men eased France out of the latter stages of the game?
Scotland fans all know Stuart Hogg is a fabulous operator at full-back, and he’s announced as much to the championship this year and last, and we’ve waxed lyrical about the talismanic skipper Laidlaw’s influence from scrum-half.
But what of the other leaders in the Scotland side?
The set-piece has been dominant throughout, and put the French to the sword time, and time again on Sunday. Ross Ford has enjoyed a breath of fresh air in the test arena under Cotter – no longer with the captaincy to worry about, his lineout throwing has been much better and the powerhouse Borderer has formed part of a formidable front-row trio.
His place in the first-choice XV is assured for now, but Stuart McInally probably offers more around the field and is developing into a really classy hooker. He will take over in the long-term, and impressed off the bench for the final quarter hour on Sunday.
Jonny Gray was once more superb – the 22-year-old never seems to have a bad game and he was a defensive colossus for the Scots, but his brother Richie also joined him in making nine tackles and caught the eye with some barnstorming carries. He will be a miss against Ireland.
Perhaps the unsung heroes of the weekend win, though, were in the back-row. Josh Strauss was immense with ball in hand, making yards seemingly at will against, admittedly poor French fringe defence.
John Hardie has been one of Scotland’s stand-out players since his debut, and is surely already a Lions contender, but John Barclay is to the manor reborn in Test rugby. The Scarlets man was superb once more on the blindside, and has shown Cotter and his staff why he perhaps should’ve beaten Al Strokosch to the final back-row spot for RWC 2015.
For me, the last word can go to only one man after the three-tries-to-two win.
When Finn Russell went down, there were gasps all round the stadium, and even more when Peter Horne took the place of his fellow Glasgow Warrior – remember Italy in 2015?
Former Howe of Fife man Horne produced easily his best Scotland performance as he controlled the match superbly from stand-off, and played a big part in Hogg’s try, while looking assured in defence.
It was a display that restored faith from fans and helped end a decade of near-misses against Les Bleus. The biggest question now is, will he stay if Russell is fit to face Ireland?