Gregor Townsend will not dwell on the past and wants to see a brave Scotland
Gregor Townsend is adamant that Scotland’s current form is of far more relevance than their grim record against Ireland as the two teams prepare to lock horns in Sunday’s high-stakes Guinness Six Nations showdown.
The Scots have failed to win any of their last seven matches against the Irish and have won only once in the last 12 meetings.
Townsend is of no mind to allow his team to be burdened by talk of their past record against this weekend’s opponents, as he believes their improvement since they last faced the Irish in Dublin a year ago is more significant with regard to Sunday’s match.
“What’s more important is what we’re doing just now and what we’ve learned since the summer, since last year’s Six Nations when obviously one of those games was against Ireland,” he said.
What's more important is what we're doing just now and what we've learned since the summer
“What we’ve put in place since then is more important than how we’ve played against Ireland in the past. We will look at Ireland and what they’ve done in their past few games, stretching back to the New Zealand Tests.
“You do look back at games you play against them but we know what they are about. They are very well coached, the contact area is massive for them.
“They go through a lot of phases and can stretch the opposition and they have an attack shape driven by Jonny Sexton which is all set up to find a weakness, so we have to be together and alive in defence.”
Townsend admits it is unusual to see a Six Nations contestant arrive at BT Murrayfield with such a formidable aura but he is braced for the challenge.
“There have been other teams that have been dominant that have come here, such as New Zealand over the years,” he said. “It is maybe different to see it from a Six Nations team but that is the strength of European rugby just now, we have the number one and number two teams in the world in our competition.
“They have got a lot of things that lead to success at Test level, first of all cohesion. They know each other really well, a lot of them play for the same club and they all play in the same country.
“They have been together now for a few years and have built success through Joe Schmidt, and Andy Farrell has evolved their game as well which has led to even more success from them.
“They know what works for them. They have a full deck of cards this week with their players coming back and they will take confidence from that.”