Craig Chalmers has told Scotland they must ensure the sense of injustice at not winning Saturday’s controversial Guinness Six Nations match against France does not derail the remainder of their championship.
The 55-year-old former fly-half was as exasperated as anyone while watching from the Murrayfield stands as referee Nic Berry and TMO Brian MacNeice decided they were unable to award the Scots a match-winning try when the ball appeared to have been grounded on the line by substitute Sam Skinner in the last action of the game.
It meant Les Bleus clung on to win 20-16, ending any hopes of a Scottish Grand Slam and ensuring bitterness and frustration in the home camp over recent days.
“I just don’t understand how the referee didn’t see it,” Chalmers – speaking to promote Prostate Cancer UK’s Big Golf Race – told the PA news agency.
“The big mistake he made was saying on-field ‘no try’. Inside the stadium, it 95 per cent looked like a try to me. He should have got in closer to it and put his hands in and had a better look.”
Chalmers knows from experience how such moments can sting, but he feels the Scots – with one win from two matches – must park their anger and focus on getting back up and running at home to England a week on Saturday.
He also believes they must look inwardly at some things they could have done better, such as kicking for the posts when they were on top instead of playing for tries.
“It’s frustrating because Saturday was a game we should have won but the players and coaches have to get over it now,” said Chalmers.
“There’s nothing they can do about it, it’s done. We’ve all been there before when things have gone against us but you can’t change it.
“Some of these things you never get over, look at the 1991 World Cup. We all still wish Gavin Hastings kicked that (penalty in the 9-6 semi-final defeat by England).
“You probably remember these kind of things more than some of the good things that happen.
“When you get beat like that, you want to get back playing but it’s probably a good thing that they get a break this weekend, and also a chance to look at the decisions they could have made better.
“I think we should have taken our points at times, especially at the end of the first half, just get the three points over the bar and keep the scoreboard ticking.
“Scotland were testing the French all the time but we just didn’t take our chances.
“You’ve got to do that at this level, especially when France are missing their two talisman players at half-back, (Antoine) Dupont and (Romain) Ntamack.
“France were poor and the Scottish coaches and players know that’s one that got away, especially considering we were all talking about potential championships and what we could do this year.”
England have won only one of their last six meetings with Scotland and Chalmers feels the Calcutta Cup match a week on Saturday gives Townsend’s team a good chance to banish their disappointment.
“We’ve just got to try and focus on England and winning that one because we can still win a Triple Crown and the championship,” he said.
“England have become a team we like beating over the last five or six years, and I don’t think this year should be any different.
“I think Scotland know what they’re trying to do, they’ve got a way of playing that they all buy into, whereas I don’t think England have really worked that out yet.
“They’ve got a lot of new guys in and they’re in a bit of a transition but they have won eight of their last nine games so they will have a little bit of confidence on the back of that.”
Craig Chalmers was speaking to promote Prostate Cancer UK’s Big Golf Race, which launches on 28 February.