Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend attempted to draw a line under the disciplinary breach by six of his players last weekend after his team ended an underwhelming Guinness Six Nations campaign with a 26-5 defeat away to Ireland.
It emerged on the eve of the game in Dublin that captain Stuart Hogg, Sam Johnson, Sione Tuipulotu, Finn Russell, Ali Price and Darcy Graham went against team protocol when leaving their hotel to visit a bar in Edinburgh last weekend after returning from Scotland’s victory over Italy in Rome.
Townsend insisted the matter had been dealt with and was instead intent on focusing on how the squad responded to put on what he felt was one of their better performances in the tournament despite the scoreline in Dublin.
“Things happen,” he said. “What happened on Sunday was disappointing. So was today’s result. But in groups, in families, you have these moments where you can choose to come together and learn from it, and I believe that’s what the team did throughout this week with the way they trained and the way they fronted up today.
“Rightly, you’ll be talking about the result, which is the main thing, but I saw a performance that was better than most of our performances this year, certainly with the way we started the game and into the second half. I was proud of what the team did following the incident at the weekend.”
When quizzed further about the events of last weekend, Townsend said: “We’ve put a statement out already about this. It’s a private matter and private discussions and decisions have been made within the group. Anything on the back of that is just gossip.
“We’ve moved on from that and there’s nothing more to say. Nobody was ejected from the squad. We dealt with it in-house and had our best training week of the championship.
“I’m not going into details about something that happened with our group. Things happen in groups, rugby-related or non-rugby-related. It’s what happens afterwards that matters. I wouldn’t call it an incident, that’s too strong a word. But I was delighted with the reaction of the group and how we focused on our task.”
Captain Hogg was similarly keen to focus on rugby matters, although he did admit he and his team-mates were in the wrong.
“We held our hands up,” he said. “We knew we’d made a mistake. We just got on with preparing in the best possible way. It was a challenging week but we had one of our best weeks of preparation and really stuck together.
“We talk about staying connected as a team. The players, the coaches, the management is what matters. Everything else is irrelevant to me.
“I apologised. I held my hand up, I said I’d made a mistake. It’s something that hurt me for a long time. But the first 40 minutes was some of the best rugby we’ve played so I’d rather concentrate on that.”
When asked for more detail about what happened, Hogg said: “What’s out there, is out there. For us, we’ll just keep everything in house. We don’t want to concentrate on that when we’ve just put on a very good performance that we’re proud of for the large majority.
“I don’t know how many times I can say I apologised and put my hand up. I knew I’d made a mistake. As leader of the side I’m bitterly disappointed with what happened. I was annoyed and frustrated but I can’t go back and change anything but if you want me to dwell on it, I’m not going to do it.”