Mayer apologises to Scottish fans
February 6, 2000

Embarrassed Scotland centre Jamie Mayer has offered his apologies to the 8,000 fans who travelled to Rome only to see their team humbled by Italy.

The 34-20 defeat at the hands of the 250-1 Six Nations outsiders left the vast Tartan Army stunned. After holding a narrow lead close to the interval, Scotland disintegrated amid an almost faultless goalkicking display from Diego Dominguez.

The Italian fly-half booted 29 points to set a new individual points scoring record for the competition and leave last season's Five Nations champions searching for explanations.

``We are frustrated, surprised and in many ways embarrassed,'' admitted Mayer.

``As a team we have let ourselves down and our supporters down and we are not ashamed to say it.

``We understand that is the situation and we need to sit down and try to find out why it happened.''

The loss of skipper John Leslie with a hip injury after 14 minutes and four crucial penalty misses from Kenny Logan were both major factors in the shock reverse.

But Mayer refused to blame either incident for the defeat and admitted that the rot had set in almost from the first whistle. ``Kenny is the goalkicker and shoulders that responsibility,'' he said.

``It was unfortunate for him when he missed those kicks but I don't think it contributed to us losing the game.

``John Leslie's injury is the same. James McLaren came on and did well.

``It was obvious even in the first 10 minutes that there were going to be problems and they came out later in the game.

``Without taking anything away from Italy, you have to say Dominguez had the game of his life.

``He said he was going to retire after the World Cup and now I certainly wish he had.''

Hooker Gordon Bulloch was also at a loss to explain the reasons for such a dreadful Scotland performance. And it was little consolation to the Glasgow Caledonians man that he at least got his name on the scoresheet with a disputed first-half try when the entire Italian defence stopped waiting for referee Jon Kaplan to award a scrum for a knock-on against Glenn Metcalfe. Television replays showed Kaplan was correct in allowing play to continue but it didn't improve Bulloch's mood.

``It wouldn't feel so bad if we had lost to a side who played really well,'' he said.

``There are some games you lose and when you come off the field you know there is nothing you could have done to change the situation. But this is not one of those.

``Italy are a lesser side and they will struggle away from home. If we had got going early on and stuck to the game plan we would have been able to grind them down.

``Everyone knows that we didn't play even halfway to our capabilities and it
so desperately disappointing. `The forwards did get a bit deflated when Kenny missed those penalties at the
start but you can't pin all the blame on him.

``It is a collective effort and in the end it just wasn't good enough.''

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