This week brought a reminder for me that in sport you don’t always get the chance to put what you’ve practised into action because all three couples who reached last night’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ final were rehearsing their versions of Torville and Dean’s iconic Olympic winning ‘Bolero’ routine but only the last two were getting to perform it.

It’s been a real pleasure and a privilege to work with such legendary skaters which only makes you all the more desperate to show what you can do when that chance arrives, but in the same vein Scotland’s backs will probably have been kicking themselves a bit, because they let a few opportunities slip on Saturday.

I was so excited for the game on what was another great day to play rugby and I really felt the score at the end didn’t reflect how close the game was. There were a number of moments that could have changed the nature of the game and obviously Jacob Stockdale’s interception in particular completely changed the momentum.

I loved the phase of play early on when there was a bit of inter-change in the wide channel and one off-load especially from Blair Kinghorn that was a real moment of brilliance and he took his try so well, too, which suggests that we’ve added yet more fire-power.

The bit of skill from Huw Jones to put in the chip and re-gather was typical of him too, but it’s criminal at that level not to give the pass much earlier because Stuart Hogg has the pace to get in from there. There were other opportunities, too, to seize the initiative, after we defended so well in the first half and asked questions of the Irish defence and Hoggy and Pete Horne will both feel they could have done better with potential scoring passes.

As the second half went on, though, Ireland were just relentless and demonstrated why they are competing with the very best as consistently as they have and they are genuine champions this year and clearly fully worthy of their place in the top three in the world rankings. To win such a competitive Six Nations with a weekend to spare is quite an achievement and they deserve to go on and complete a Grand Slam.

They have a method that they almost suffocate teams and they have been developing that for many years so are a long way down the road, while Scotland have further. Whereas Ireland now have the capacity to expect to get results against the bet teams in the world on a consistent basis, we now look as if we have a team that is capable of upsetting those top teams, but we are heading in the right direction and it’s very exciting to watch.

They will now go into the Italy game and not just want to win it, but dominate it and put on a huge amount of points. If they come away from that game with just a moderate amount of points I think they’ll be disappointed and that’s a great way to be feeling as a supporter, as a fan on the basis of what you’re seeing from the lads because they are poised to match our best ever Six Nations campaign when we won three of our five matches in 2006 and finished in the top half of the table.

Last year under Vern Cotter we won three of our matches for the first time since then, but the way things worked out we still only finished fourth and in many ways it places the achievements of Frank Hadden, the coach who gave me my first caps, into a bit of perspective that it has taken us 12 years to get within touching distance of matching what he did that season when we beat France and England at Murrayfield, then won in Rome.

Frank has probably never fully had the credit he deserved having taken over the Scotland job at an extremely difficult time and on a personal level I owe him so much because of the way he believed in me and backed me when he gave me my start.

We are fourth in the table at the moment but if Ireland complete their Grand Slam then with Wales facing France on the last weekend something has to give there, so we could still finish third if we get the result we are all now expecting from the visit to Italy.

Gregor Townsend is the first homegrown Scottish coach since Frank and I have had nothing but praise for him either since he came in as the backs coach for Scotland when I was in the squad.

He has just gone from strength to strength since then and I think he would really appreciate having that comparison with Frank and also the chance to match what he did in his first season in charge by doing as well in this Six Nations, because it is a great achievement to beat the likes of France, England and Italy and finish that high up the table.

I think the best I ever finished in the Six Nations was third and I never beat England, so I think they can be really proud of themselves if they go to Italy and beat them fairly confidently. They could then put that down as an extremely successful campaign albeit the challenge will be to use that as a platform for even better things this time around.