Mean defence delights Scotland’s Stuart McInally

Every player buying-in to the new ethos is paying dividends for Gregor Townsend's side.

Mean defence delights Scotland’s Stuart McInally SNS

The entire Scotland squad – from towering locks to zippy scrum-halves – are loving the team focus on defence, according to hooker Stuart McInally.

Scotland have the meanest record in the Six Nations with just four tries conceded in four matches – one each against Ireland and England, two to France and a shut out against Italy.

McInally, who is set to win his 38th cap against Wales on Saturday, said the squad’s dedication to defence has been best shown by the half-backs throwing their bodies in front of heavyweight opponents to do their bit for the cause.

And in the squad’s video debrief of the victory over France, McInally reported that the physical heroics of scrum half and fly half Ali Price and Adam Hastings was hailed by the coaching team.

The Edinburgh front row said: “One of the first clips played was Ali and Adam holding up one of the French players at the weekend. They are loving it!

“Our system now is very straightforward. Everyone is now on the same page of exactly what we are doing.

“We still have our focus on attack and Gregor [Townsend] loves to attack, we won’t be substituting any of our attack training for defence training, but we just seemed to be a bit more switched on to what we are doing and it is good to see everyone is enjoying it.”

The arrival of defence coach Steve Tandy, who replaced long-term Townsend coaching partner Matt Taylor, has been hailed as a key factor in Scotland’s improvement in that area.

McInally was keen to stress that the team is still out to entertain with attacking rugby but with a fresh perspective on keeping their opponents out.

He said: “I feel like we’re playing good rugby – first and foremost that’s how we look at it.

“Results are extremely important and we’re very aware of that but we’ve been more pleased with how we’re playing.

“I feel our biggest step forward has been in defence, we’re making it difficult for teams to score.

“So we need to make sure we keep to that standard against Wales.

“Coming off the back of a win is always nice, we always get confidence from not only the way we play but also the result.

“They’re changing their style under their new coaches but they are playing some really exciting rugby and they proved that in the first round when they put 42 points on Italy.

“We know how dangerous they can be but we’ve got a great opportunity.”

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