From an infestation of parasitic worms churning up the Murrayfield pitch to key men absent injured and two of their players learning in midweek they faced a charge of assault, Scotland were not short of a hard-luck story even before taking on the formidable Springboks in Edinburgh this afternoon.
And you might think the man to put words and music to it would be Tommy Seymour, the Scots' recently-capped wing who spent the first nine years of his life in the country-and-western capital of Nashville, Tennessee. "I'd love to tell you I put on my Dolly Parton CDs when I drive home down the M8 but I don't," said Seymour, who scored two tries on his home debut against Japan last weekend.
So the Seymour business is rugby, not song-writing, but it is clear from his conversation that Scotland have been "working 9 to 5" or even longer on ideas to beat the Boks – after just two wins in 14 meetings during the open era, they could do with a few – while Scott Johnson, the interim head coach, has disobeyed any Tammy Wynette exhortation to "Stand by your man"; instead demoting the captain Kelly Brown from the team who beat the Japanese 42-17.
The Scotland back-row will now feature more of an orthodox openside flanker in John Barclay alongside Alasdair Strokosch and David Denton. And the loss of the hugely promising Matt Scott with a broken hand gives Saracens' Duncan Taylor a chance at inside centre; while the full-back Sean Maitland and bench prop Ryan Grant are among four players who will appear in court next month after an alleged incident at a kebab shop in Glasgow in October. This is all in addition to the injuries to Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser, which have usher Seymour centre-stage.
However, the name tugging at Seymour's heartstrings since last week has not been Kenny Rogers but Kenki Fukuoka, the left wing who caught him defending too narrowly in one first-half break before scoring Japan's two tries. JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, two Boks with world- renowned reputations, are up next. By the same token, Seymour was well positioned for his two finishes, tight to the touchline in the 32nd minute and in a load of space from the fly-half Ruaridh Jackson's long pass in the 55th, in between Murrayfield groundsmen angrily repairing troublesome divots.
"There might be some people out there who will take two tries and be very happy but the defensive side took the shine off it for me," Seymour said. "At the same time it is a great reality check. I need to make sure that come Sunday I can make those hits by making better reads."Reuse content