Gregor Townsend said he was more than happy to see the back of replays from Paris 1999 after his Scotland team ended their 21st century barren run in the French capital with a gutsy 27-23 victory on Friday.
Townsend scored a try in that win that secured the last Five Nations title, the last time they topped the table, and though Friday’s success left them still only fourth in the 2021 standings, he could hardly have been happier.
“Yes, put it away now,” he said when again reminded of the 22 years since that last triumph.
“I’m so proud of the team. We’ve come here with a bit of adversity, not a full squad, got an injury on Wednesday, got a red card, a yellow card and we’ve had to come back against a very, very good side.
“They showed courage, togetherness, determination and skill to win. So it was a great end to a really promising season for us.”
Scotland looked to have come up just short as they trailed by three points with the clock in the red but they were gifted another opportunity when France’s Brice Dulin inexplicably kept the ball in play and enabled them to regain possession.
After a relentless forwards assault of more than 20 phases they eventually shifted the ball wide to Duhan van der Merwe to score his second try of the night – his eighth in his 10 appearances – to secure the famous win.
“It took a lot of knocking on the door, which is credit for France’s defence, but the players found a way,” Townsend said.
“I’m so proud of them and even though we’ve finished fourth it feels like one of our best-ever seasons with the victories we’ve had and the performances, tonight especially. Over the last two years we’ve been competitive in every game and the players will take confidence from that.”
It has been a great year for statistics fans as the Scots won in both Paris and Twickenham for the first time since 1926.
As well as their first Paris win in 22 years, they triumphed at Twickenham for the first time since 1983, having also ended a 19-year winless streak away to Wales at the end of the 2020 Six Nations.
“To break one record is great but to do three in our last three away games shows what a group of players we have,” Townsend said.
“We’ve bookended the championship with two excellent performances. We had a bit of adversity prior and during the match today so that win means a lot for them and the Scottish nation.”
Captain Stuart Hogg said he was absolutely delighted despite picking up a yellow card before fly-half Finn Russell was given a red as the game seemed to be slipping away.
“We know what happens when we get things right and it showed again tonight, we were hugely excited about the challenge and we managed to deliver,” he said.
“Some results were outstanding and performances very good and we’re probably going to kick ourselves after a couple of losses but we are going to enjoy this moment and build towards something memorable,” said the fullback.
“I’m captain of a very proud nation.”
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