THERE was a time when beating England would be enough for Scotland. When, no matter what happened in the other matches in the Five or Six Nations, victory over the Auld Enemy would be enough to rekindle some self-respect.

Not any more. Yes, of course there was a lot to celebrate in last week’s 29-23 triumph at Twickenham, but a squad who can achieve that result in such style have to set their sights a whole lot higher.

Jamie Ritchie certainly believes so. Along with head coach Gregor Townsend and scrum-half Ben White, the Scotland captain insisted in the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s match that there was no reason to indulge in undue self-congratulation. And he re-emphasised the point yesterday after the home team’s final training session before today’s game against Wales at BT Murrayfield.

“We know that winning one game is not enough for us,” he said. “We want to do well. And like I said before last weekend, what does a strong tournament look like for us? It’s five good performances.”

Putting in two or three good performances back to back, never mind five, has often been beyond Scotland teams of the past.

But Ritchie believes that a conscientious attitude by each team member and a meticulous attention to detail by the squad as a whole can at least make consistent success all the more likely.

“For us, it’s just a case of making sure we stick to our fundamentals,” the Edinburgh flanker continued. “Every week is a new week and you treat it as such, making sure you get all your preparation right, everyone gets their individual bits right and just making sure that’s how you prepare all the time.

“If you’re doing something that works well, then looking to change it is a bad idea. So for us it’s making sure we use every opportunity we can to get better – in and around training, how we recover and things like that. We’ve spoken a lot about things we’ve done well, and the things that we did well [at Twickenham] we can do better. It’s not just a case of ‘it wasn’t a good performance and we need to do much better’. Yes, it was a good performance and we can be much better. There has always been that positive spin on it and we’re excited to get going again.”

For their part, Wales will surely be just as excited to get going. Not only will the team be out to redeem themselves after last week’s heavy defeat by Ireland, the rookies drafted in by head coach Warren Gatland could bring a lot of individual energy and excitement to the side.

Gatland’s first spell as Wales’ head coach was a huge success as he became the first coach to win three Grand Slams in the Championship. But his second time in charge began with last week’s 34-10 defeat to Ireland – a reminder, if any were needed, that Welsh rugby does not have its problems to seek.

However, if there is one person who can at least begin to identify solutions to those problems, at least at national-team level, it is surely the New Zealander. And, asked if Gatland had lost his lustre, Ritchie insisted that it would be a mistake to even consider such a verdict.

“I don’t know, is the honest answer. It would be naive of me to say I think that. He’s obviously a great coach and has been a great coach for a number of years and has had some great success.

“To say anyone has lost it would be silly. He’s obviously got a huge amount of experience, especially at this level. We need to be well prepared for any team that he coaches.”

Anyone who has scrutinised Gatland’s record against Scotland would certainly appreciate that word of caution: to date, he has been in charge of Wales in the fixture 11 times and won every one. Even so, when reminded of that record, Ritchie had a ready reply.

“Was that not in his previous tenure? It’s a new tenure, so for us it’s just about what we do now.”

The two teams have competed for the Doddie Weir Cup since the 2018 Autumn International, and Wales have won four of the five meetings to date. This afternoon’s match will be the first meeting since the death of the Scotland forward late last year, and for Ritchie that will be an extra source of motivation this afternoon. “For me personally the Doddie Cup is something special, and especially in this game, the first one back at Murrayfield since he passed. It would be a nice one to get our hands on.

“We found Doddie and we find his family truly inspirational in the work that they’ve done and we want to make them proud of us.”