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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

The pain of Six Nations defeat

Scotland flanker John Barclay
By John Barclay
Scotland flanker

Some 22 exhausted men looking down at the floor... the aftermath. It's deathly quiet. We lost 18-9 at home to France in the first game of the Six Nations championship.

We had been building towards the opening game for a few weeks and the physical and emotional pain of losing at home on the opening weekend of the championship hits you right in the face.

In the dressing room Andy Robinson and Chris Cusiter said what they had to say. The disappointment was etched across everyone's face but the reality of it was that we didn't play well enough and ultimately deserved what we got.

We conceded two soft tries and played in the wrong areas of the pitch, and this is the gist of what is said.

John Barclay
Barclay tries to stop French sub Vincent Clerc in his tracks

The final point was made and that was the importance of dusting ourselves down, and picking ourselves up for what will be another massive test against the Welsh this weekend.

After the morgue-like silence, the dressing room starts moving again and guys go about their recovery, shower, physio, then talk to the family and chat with the other guys about the game.

We all take defeat in different ways. My girlfriend says I'm a grump - at least for 24 hours.

I didn't sleep well on Sunday night. I never do after a game. Analysing and re-analysing what happened and sometimes what didn't happen.

It always takes a little bit of time before the physical pain begins to kick in but by Monday morning sore neck, sore legs, sore everything... and most of it because of the increasing physicality of Test rugby.

Thankfully, Monday was a relatively light day with a bit of physio in the morning and then swimming with some games in the pool just to loosen up, then the debrief.

You know as soon as you come off the pitch how well you've played but, regardless of your personal performance, the debrief is always tough after a loss.


The debrief is honest but it's not a witch-hunt. We let the supporters down and ourselves - we believe as a squad that we are in charge of whether we win or lose and that if we perform well throughout the game, then we will win.

We always try to take some positives out of the game. We have a lot of belief within the squad and we know that you don't become a bad team on the strength of one result.

A lot has been made of our scrum at the weekend and whilst we are disappointed with our performance there, we have a lot of faith in our scrummaging. I feel for Moray (Low), who has been outstanding for us this season at Glasgow, and I also know that Euan is a world-class prop.

We treat the scrums as an eight and no single player is responsible for the outcome of that facet of play. Scrummaging sessions this week have been intense as we look to correct a few small problems and leave ourselves confident going into the game on Saturday.

The back row had a separate analysis session with Andy Robinson, myself, Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie having a chat to see the way the game went from our own perspective. Some positives and some areas for improvement are highlighted.

It's a quick turnaround this week so Wednesday was another relatively light day. Weights in the morning then lunch. Our nutritionist, Richard Chessor, is all about plenty of good food; constantly fuelling.

So there was a choice of fish, barbecue ribs or chicken fajitas. There were also salads, roast veg and, of course, fruit.

Most of the guys are conscious of what they eat - they have to be. I have to eat to keep my weight up; at the moment I'm about 100kg.

John Barclay and Sean Lamont tackle Thierry Dusautoir
Barclay and Sean Lamont tackle France's Thierry Dusautoir

Then there's a leaders' meeting and a team meeting. Our defensive coach, Graham Steadman, took a session on what to expect from Wales and how we go about our business against them.

We have the afternoon off. Some guys take this chance to nip home and see family but the Weegies (Glaswegians) amongst the squad stay through; all except Al Kellock who makes the rest of us look bad by going home to see his wife. There's always one.

Chris Paterson wins his 100th cap on Saturday. His achievement is incredible, a Scottish rugby first.

There is a slightly clichéd phrase in sport in that getting selected is the easy part, but keeping your shirt is the hard part. Since Mossy first got capped, rugby has changed somewhat and to evolve with the game and still be performing at the highest level is testament to his ability and his professionalism on and off the pitch.

The centurion - a truly outstanding achievement.

And what a place to win that cap, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. I played there two years ago and genuinely believe that it is the best place to play rugby in the world. The crowd noise in the stadium is absolutely incredible.

Let's hope it's Scottish fans who are making most of the noise on Saturday.

John Barclay was talking to BBC Scotland's Jim Mason and will be contributing throughout the Six Nations.

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see also
Robinson defiant over roof spat
11 Feb 10 |  Scottish
Hamilton replaces Hines for Scots
10 Feb 10 |  Scottish
Cusiter tips Parks to hit heights
10 Feb 10 |  Scottish
Paterson signs new Edinburgh deal
10 Feb 10 |  Edinburgh
Proud to wear the Scotland shirt
04 Feb 10 |  Scottish
Bastareaud back to face Scotland
04 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Paterson and Brown in for Scots
02 Feb 10 |  Scottish

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