I’m getting over it now. And starting to see some learning possibilities. The shock and disappointment at the time though were hard to deal with and it was difficult not to be really angry and full of quite personal invective. The Spitting Image song from the 80s sprang to mind, except I have met and know some very nice South Africans.
At the end of a day, rugby is just a game, but for the 80+ minutes we were watching it was all-engrossing and emotions were running in all directions; up, down and round and round it seemed. To lose at the end, to an apparent miscarriage, was not nice but looking back a little more objectively, sport is sport, referees are only human and we all make mistakes.
Let’s look at the positives though. In the Six Nations at the start of the year, Scotland didn’t win a game and were easily bottom. Yes, we came close to winning several games (sound like an ongoing theme?) but the results are the long term future memory, stark as they are. Six months on, we have achieved what we set out to do and came very close to pulling off the upset of the tournament and going even further. There has been growth and development, learning as a team and lots of tries scored (seventeen!), mainly it seems by my heroes from the Glasgow Warriors. A Scot currently tops the total points table, penalties scored and tackles made.
Looking forwards to the next Six Nations, we will do better than 2015. If we can almost beat the Australians then we can surely actually beat some of the northern hemisphere sides, even when they get their full squad re-assembled and pick their best players. It certainly beats looking back and bemoaning any lack of progress we can spot, like some are doing.
At an endpoint of reflection like this is, it’s good to stop and consider what progress has been made, to see the positives and celebrate them. We need to be realistic about it, not just put losing-coach-spin on things. Now we have got somewhere, how far are we already from our start point and what have we gained along the journey since we set out towards our goal? Maybe we haven’t achieved as much as we would have liked by this point but that doesn’t mean we have got nowhere. Perhaps our future plans for moving onwards will need to be tweaked because we had hoped to be further along the way. If we fail to notice the small successes though, we will become demotivated, miserable and maudlin, spiralling down and even abandoning our achievable end goal.
Instead, appreciate the already-accomplished bits and use that as motivation to get up and carry on. Scottish Rugby fans are disappointed and it’s easy to want to blame Craig Joubert and rationalise the defeat as not being our fault. But at the end of the day we came within a whisker (on an admittedly rather fat cat) of beating one of the best teams in the world. My team played brilliantly at times, scored some super and exciting tries and made people of many nations happy. The future is brighter than it was and I’m holding on to that. Tightly.