Six Nations 2015: Greig Laidlaw aims to cure Scotland’s penalty problem
Dark Blues captain plans referee meeting ahead of Wales game after indiscipline issues cost them victory in France
Greg Laidlaw plans to talk to referee Glen Jackson ahead of Scotland’s match against Wales on Sunday.
The Scotland captain is determined to avoid a repeat of a high penalty count that cost his side in their 15-8 defeat to France in their Six Nations opener last week as Camille Lopez kicked Les Bleus to victory.
We’ll speak to the referee before the game and get his interpretations, make sure we’re on the right wavelength and hopefully I can talk him round if needed.
Indiscipline has been a problem that has cost both Scotland in recent years and the Gloucester scrum-half knows that the Dark Blues can’t afford to repeat their mistakes with Wales boasting two of European rugby’s leading marksmen in Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar, who will be happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over if the chances arise.
While Scotland director of rugby Scott Johnson admitted last year that he had been compiling a dossier on the tournament referees, the man in the middle at BT Murrayfield on Sunday will be former Chiefs and Saracens outside-half Jackson, who is taking charge of his first Six Nations game after four previous appearances as an assistant.
“There was a couple of things that went wrong with the penalty decisions in Paris,” Laidlaw said.
“We got caught in a ruck sometimes and the referee gave them a penalty.
“Some of their decisions were debatable, some of them were tough. Some of them he gives, some of them are 50/50.
“As the game went on, France were able to chip away at us and that cost us the game.
“So looking ahead to this weekend we’ll speak to the referee before the game and get his interpretations, make sure we’re on the right wavelength and hopefully I can talk him round if needed.
“We will just try to be squeaky clean while we can, but the best way to deal with it is not give the referee a decision to make.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made just one change from the side that started in their 21-16 defeat to England in Cardiff last Friday with Northampton Saints wing George North sitting out after the concussion saga which has engulfed the tournament.
In his place is Scarlets full-back/wing Liam Williams, but Laidlaw believes that Wales aren’t weakened by the move.
“He’s a very good player in his own right, so they’re strong across the board,” he added.
“Liam’s form in the PRO12 for Scarlets has been fantastic.
“He’s a good player and has a similar sort of stature to North so not much will change in their game plan.
“It’s very important that we get a result.
“Coming back here to Murrayfield, if we want to do anything in this competition we need to win this weekend. Everybody’s 100 per cent focused on that.”
The Dark Blues’ last win over Wales came on the corresponding weekend in 2007 as Chris Paterson landed seven penalties in a 21-9 win at Murrayfield.
But Laidlaw insists the Scotland players will have last season’s record seven-try 51-3 defeat to Wales in Cardiff on their minds as they look to get back to winning ways.
“The last time we played Wales, we were on the wrong end of a thumping so really that’s the focus of our minds this weekend,” Laidlaw said.
“We need to turn that around and get across the line for a Scottish win.
“That defeat last year was a painful day for all involved but we’ll use some of that emotion when we take the field.
“It was a bad day for all in a Scotland jersey so we’ll need to right a few wrongs.”