After a campaign that started with so much promise during a sensational first half Cardiff, that Scotland finished with the same number of wins as Italy and only ahead of the Azzurri by virtue of bonus points can only be seen as a disappointment.  

A second half collapse in Rome was the nadir of a campaign that again showed Scotland’s inconsistency. When Gregor Townsend’s team play at their best, they are a match for anyone, but too often they let games get away from them.  

That was not the case in Dublin on Saturday when a spirited performance, particularly in defence, kept Scotland in the contest.  

England’s two losing bonus points in defeat to France consigned Scotland to fourth in the table, a regression on last year’s top-half finish.  

Townsend admitted frustration was his overriding emotion at the end of a long campaign.  

The Scotland head coach said: "We went into this Six Nations on the back of a painful defeat against Ireland.  

“A lot of what we’ve worked on since that game was about making sure we’d improved by the last game of the championship, specifically things around our gameplan, around our mindset and around an edge we can bring. 

“I felt we brought that through a lot of the tournament, in particular today.” 

Having started so well in Cardiff, Scotland fell to a controversial defeat against France before retaining the Calcutta Cup against England.  

Scotland Rugby News: Duhan van der Merwe sprints clear en route to scoring a try against WalesDuhan van der Merwe sprints clear en route to scoring a try against Wales (Image: PA)

Townsend acknowledged expectations have increased in the seven years he’s been in charge, and was disappointed his side weren’t in the running for the title. A woeful second half in Rome cost them that opportunity.  

He added: “The frustrations are – we didn’t get the win against France, which was partly decision, partly us being behind in the last few minutes, but we’re all frustrated with the performance against Italy in that third quarter.   

“We’ve played five games, and we’ve either won it or we’ve come within a score. I think that shows the competitiveness of the team, and also the expectations we have of ourselves we were frustrated we weren’t playing for the title on Saturday.” 

Townsend said given the nature of the Six Nations, there will be times his team – and all others – don't deliver their best performances. His challenge is to ensure the gap between Scotland’s best and worst is less noticeable.  

But he was pleased by the way the players bounced back from the defeat to Italy against the eventual champions in Dublin.  

“We knew we needed a big response from last week, and the guys showed it,” Townsend said.  

“There will be times we don’t play at our best especially in this tournament [and] when you don’t get it right, you won’t get the results.  

“It’s the great thing about the Six Nations – it's not a great thing for the teams who don’t get it right, but we know we have to be better than that game. Over the five games, that’s the one that I felt we dropped our performance in the third quarter. In the other games I felt our performance was really strong."  

Townsend’s next assignment will be to lead Scotland on a summer tour to Canada, USA, Uruguay and Chile.  

READ MORE: Scotland's summer tour schedule confirmed

He revealed he plans to take an extended squad to the Americas, and that might include some players who haven’t featured in this Six Nations, or who have limited professional experience.  

He said: “I think we’ll take a bigger squad but when we go to South America, we’ll drop down to nearer 30.  

“There will be some players who have not featured in this Six Nations squad who go on tour. 

The likes of Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe and Pierre Schoeman are likely to be given at least part of the summer off, if not it all.  

Townsend said he’ll consider those on a case-by-case basis. 

He added: “We’ll look at every individual and what’s right for them – that could be age, what’s ahead of them next year – we obviously want our players to have a massive 12 months.  

“We’ve got four Tests in the autumn, we’ve got Six Nations and some of them will hopefully be going to Australia with The Lions. That will be factored in when we put that squad together. 

Scotland Rugby News: Zander Fagerson will be one of those in contention for a big year with Lions places up for grabsZander Fagerson will be one of those in contention for a big year with Lions places up for grabs (Image: SNS)

“We’ll look at the players we want to see on tour. It might be that there’s a couple of players coming back from injury that haven’t had a chance to play, which if they are fit means we can not select someone else.  

“There will definitely be a group of players who haven’t been in with us before that will be on that summer tour."  

It will also give the Scotland head coach a chance to develop depth in some positions.  

“We have developed good depth but this gives us an opportunity to do it more,” he added.  

“During the Six Nations your goal isn’t to develop depth, it’s to get the best team out over the five games.  

“Tours do give you opportunities to look at people who have been off the bench in this campaign, or who haven’t played at all, or who haven’t played that much at pro level."  

Finn Russell and Rory Darge shared the captaincy duties during the Six Nations, and Townsend confirmed he’ll review that situation ahead of the summer tour.  

He does plan on using the four-match trip as an opportunity to further develop Scotland’s leadership.  

“I think the tour gives us a chance to grow our leadership depth too,” he said.  

“I don’t think it will be one person who is captain for the four Tests. There will be opportunities for people to be captain on tour."