We did not have a good trip to South Africa.
We did not win, which was what we went for.
We did not take our chance to continue adding points and establish ourselves in our Conference’s second place.
Guest Column by Edinburgh Star JP Socino
After what was a great week of preparation in Port Elizabeth, very warm but with a lot of intensity, we reached the game ready. Even if we had some of our players with Scotland ahead of the Guinness Six Nations, the coach gave opportunities to a number of players that had played little rugby in the season. We knew the weather would be a factor – we were playing in -2C at home and the game was played in 23C – you do feel the difference.
We did not start the game as expected; they managed to score in the opening minutes and because of our own frailties we failed to play to our game plan.
Our own frustration spurred them. When we played against them in Murrayfield we won 38-0 so when they went to the break leading, they were in a good place.
Our coaches remained calm, telling us that we had not done what we can do as a team, failing to play the brand of rugby we offer each weekend.
The strategy was simple: trust and execute the game plan, lower the turnovers and score with every opportunity – basically our game plan.
We were more dominant at the start of the second half and despite a few errors, had a different attitude.
We turned the game around and even though still uncomfortably close in the score, it seemed as if we would take it home.
But rugby can be cruel; it doesn’t always go to script. From a restart, they ran 80 meters and the Kings managed to turn the game around and win 25-20.
We threw away all the effort put into this trip, and the truth is that we did not play well and we did not deserve to win.
Back home in Edinburgh we got a week off because of the start of the Guinness Six Nations, a tournament that motivates all of Europe and captivates the rest of the world.
Playing in the Guinness Pro14 and the European Cup allows me to be able to have a feel about how each team is doing.
I see Ireland as the favorite; they are playing very well, proving themselves in test rugby, but also their four provinces (Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster) are playing very well.
Despite what they might have shown recently, you can never underestimate England. They have a squad full of stars that play in one of the most important leagues in the world.
Wales is the surprise package, showing that they can mix it with the best.
Scotland, after good wins against Argentina in June and November, want to surprise the world, showing they can play on equal terms with the best in the world, more so with the good standard of its players in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the Guinness Pro14.
France’s is surprisingly inconsistent, with flashes of their champagne rugby but with mistakes not worthy of their history and the standard they should be in.
Always in the background is Italy, with a squad that has not been revamped and the eternal Sergio Parisse. They are not expected to do much.
It is not the only tournament that starts this weekend. The Americas Rugby Championship, available in North America on FloRugby, is one that grows season to season.
I left Argentina before it was born, but for a region that had an issue with lack of competition, this is a great opportunity for players and teams to grown in the high tempo of international rugby.
Fortunately, scheduled between both tournaments don’t clash so I hope to catch some of their games on streaming.