Gatland says 'no hard feelings' for Hogg
March 15, 2014
Rhodri Williams breaks through the Scotland defence © Getty Images
Gatland has jumped to the defence of Scotland's Stuart Hogg following his red card offence during Scotland's 51-3 loss to Wales on Saturday.
Hogg was initially sin-binned by referee Jerome Garces for a late hit on Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar, but upon reviewing the footage on the Millennium Stadium's big screen, decided to send the full-back off instead.
"You've got to feel sorry for Stuart because he is not that sort of player at all. It is a rush of blood, and he's made a mistake. From our point of view, we are not going to dwell on that," Gatland said. "I don't think you will see that from him again. He has made a mistake. It's a collision sport. From our point of view there are no hard feelings."
Hogg later released a statement, saying: "I would like to apologise to my team-mates, the Scotland management and all Scotland supporters for what happened today. I have let people down.
"I have said sorry in person to Dan Biggar and I have apologised to the referee, Jerome Garces. I always try to play hard and fair and what happened today was out of character for me. Once again, I'm very sorry."
Down to 14 men, Scotland struggled to get a foothold in Cardiff, and Wales capitalised on their advantage, proceeding to open their biggest-ever winning points margin against the Scots.
"You have got to be ruthless, and we were ruthless from that point on," Gatland said. "Even before that, I thought at 13-3 up we were reasonably comfortable with the way the game was going. We kept the ball, and kept it for long phases, and I didn't feel Scotland could handle our physicality in defence or in attack.
"We know in this tournament we've been a little bit inconsistent. I thought the players responded particularly well today, and it was a good display."
Defeats against Ireland and England mean that Wales were unsuccessful in defending their title, won by Ireland later on Saturday thanks to a 22-20 victory over France.
"We've done reasonably well in this competition. We've set massive expectations upon ourselves. The media put a lot of pressure on us, but in the last three years we've won 12 out of 15 [Six Nations] games. I don't think that is a bad record in this competition for a small country like Wales with such a small playing base as well.
"We are pretty happy with where we are at the moment, but as I said, there is no-one harder than we are on ourselves in terms of being critical - be it coaches or players - because we want to keep working and improving as a side.
"We have a really tough tour of South Africa in the summer. We will take a slightly bigger squad, and we are looking potentially at a midweek game against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth, so everyone is a part of the tour. We know how tough a place it [South Africa] is."
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