The Ben White verdict on where Scotland got it wrong against the Boks

Ben White is adamant Scotland have learned plenty of lessons from their defeat by South Africa and, as a result, will become a better team for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup.

The scrum-half was “absolutely gutted” by the way the Scots started the tournament, losing 18-3 to the defending world champions in Marseille on Sunday.

It was the first time Gregor Townsend’s side had failed to score a try in a match since November 2020 – the 22-15 defeat at home to France – and was also their lowest-scoring outing since their first game of the 2019 World Cup when they lost 27-3 to Ireland.

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Scotland must now win all three of their remaining Pool B matches against Tonga, Romania and Ireland if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

White believes the intense test they were handed by South Africa will stand them in good stead for the rest of the campaign. “It is a World Cup and we are not out so we have to regroup,” said the 25-year-old.

“Playing a team of that quality is only going to better us going forward in this tournament. There is going to be a lot of learning from it. I know Gregor is really big on us developing as a team and learning from these situations so we will improve and get better and we will come back better against Tonga.

“We have got to make sure now that we are even more accurate, that we are better in every moment and we will do that. We will learn and get better from it and we will give ourselves a chance of getting out of the group.”

Scotland went into their opener against South Africa with a genuine belief that they could beat them. And although they never got their renowned attacking game properly up and running on Sunday, they went in at half-time buoyed by an encouraging finish to a tightly-contested first half that ended 6-3 to the Boks.

South Africa took control in the second half, however, and the dejected Scots have been licking their wounds over the last few days, trying to reset and regroup ahead of their next game against Tonga in Nice on Sunday, September 24.

“It was gutting, absolutely gutting because you prep for 12 weeks and when you get your foot in the door as we did, you want to try and kick on from that,” said White, who will join Toulon after the World Cup.

“They are a top side and if you give them a sniff, they will take their chances. They were the better team on the day. We missed quite a few chances and when we got good field positions we weren’t good enough at all. That’s on us to improve.

“Some of it was down to South Africa though. It’s a great challenge playing the world champions. They are a top team and for 50 minutes we were in it and had weathered a fair few storms in the first half.

“I felt like if we could have just come out in the second half and built a bit of pressure through our possession game and looked to get the ball a little bit wider into Darcy (Graham) and Duhan (van der Merwe)’s hands, we could have caused them some troubles but credit to them, they stopped us doing that. It felt like they were slowing us down and we have to learn from that.”

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