May 21, 2024

Craig Chalmers urges Scotland to exploit frustration over France's loss to England

The 55-year-old former fly-half was as furious as anyone watching from the Murrayfield stands as referee Nick Perry and TMO Brian McInnes decided they could not give the Scots a match-winning try when the ball appeared to have been grounded. On the line by substitute Sam Skinner in the final action of the match.

This means that the French team clings to victory with a score of 20-16, ending any hopes of winning the major Scottish championships and confirming the bitterness and frustration in the local camp during the last days.

Referee Nick Perry (right) made the on-field decision to 'no try' for Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

“I don't understand how the referee didn't see that,” Chalmers – who was speaking to promote the Prostate Cancer UK Great Golf Tour – told the PA news agency.

“The big mistake he made was saying on the pitch ‘Don’t try.’ On the pitch, it looked like a 95% try to me. He should have gone closer, put his hands in it and had a better look.

Chalmers knows from experience how painful such moments can be, but he feels the Scots – after one win in two games – should hold back their anger and focus on getting back on a roll at home to England on Saturday.

Scotland
Scotland were left dejected after losing to France (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He also believes they should look internally at some of the things they could have done better, such as kicking the goalposts when they were on top instead of playing for tries.

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“It's frustrating because Saturday was a game we should have won, but the players and coaches have to get over it now,” Chalmers said.

“There's nothing they can do about it, it's over. We've all been there before when things have gone against us but you can't change that.

“Some of these things you can never get over, look at the 1991 World Cup. We all still wish Gavin Hastings had kicked that (penalty kick in the 9-6 semi-final defeat to England).

Scotland
Scotland felt they had chances to beat France (Jane Barlow/PA)

“You probably remember that kind of thing more than some of the good things that happened.

“When you get beaten like that, you want to get back playing but maybe it's good for them to have a rest this weekend and also a chance to look at decisions they could have made better.

“I think we should have taken our points at times, especially at the end of the first half, just getting the three points over the bar and keeping the scoreboard up.

Scotland
Scotland hope to retain the Calcutta Cup (Adam Davie/PA)

“Scotland were testing the French all the time but we didn't take our chances.

“You have to do it at this level, especially when France is missing their two outstanding midfield players, (Antoine) Dupont and (Romain) Ntamack.

He added: “France were poor and the Scottish coaches and players knew they had got away with it, especially considering we were all talking about potential tournaments and what we could do this year.”

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England have won just once in their last six meetings with Scotland, and Chalmers feels Saturday's weekly Calcutta Cup tie gives Townsend's side a good opportunity to shake off the disappointment.

England
England have won eight of their last nine matches (David Davies/PA)

“We just have to try to focus on England and win them because we can still win the Triple Crown and the Championship,” he said.

“England have become a team we love to beat over the last five or six years and I don't think this year should be any different.

“I think Scotland know what they are trying to do, they have a way of playing that they all accept, whereas I don't think England have achieved that yet.

“They've brought in a lot of new players and they're going through transition, but they've won eight of their last nine games, so they'll have a bit of confidence off the back of that.”

Craig Chalmers was speaking to promote the Great Prostate Cancer UK Golf Tour, which kicks off on 28 February.