Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is out of the remainder of the Six Nations and possibly the rest of the season after it was confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage in Paris on Sunday.
The 56-times capped skipper underwent a scan at his club Gloucester which confirmed the suspicion of the Scotland medical team that serious ligament damage had occurred at the Stade de France, enough to rule the 30-year-old out of the remaining three games of the championship against Wales, England and Italy.
It means that Laidlaw will be forced to miss a Scotland game for the first time in five years. His only absences have been when he was rested, twice on the four-test tour to the Americas and South Africa in 2014 and in two of the warm-up games of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The captain’s run without injury ended in ironic circumstances, by an accidental collision with one of his own players on a play that was about to whistled dead for a scrum penalty against Scotland. Laidlaw went into assist Alex Dunbar on a tackle of French centre Remy Lamerat and Dunbar landed on top of him, twisting his ankle in the process.
The skipper stayed on for another couple of minutes before being helped off by team doctor James Robson and replaced by Ali Price, who played the remaining 55 minutes of the 22-16 loss.
Scotland now have a serious decision to make about three pivotal roles given Laidlaw acting as captain, scrum-half and goalkicker. John Barclay originally replaced him as captain in Paris only to suffer a head injury himself, going off barely 10 minutes after Laidlaw departed.
Jonny Gray, at 22 the second-youngest Scot on the pitch, took over the captaincy for the remainder of the match.
At scrum-half Vern Cotter has to decide between the speedy and inventive but inexperienced Price, and his more experienced if less flamboyant Glasgow clubmate Henry Pyrgos.
Pyrgos could also contribute to the placekicking game but it seems likely that Finn Russell will keep that job – despite his embarrassing hurried miss of a straightforward conversion in Paris – with Stuart Hogg in reserve if long-range attempts are required.
At Scotland’s public training session at Oriam yesterday several players took not part, including Fraser Brown and Dunbar both of whom are still undergoing head injury assessment protocols. Zander Fagerson was among who sat out the physical part of the session, but with the bye week is expect to be ready for the Welsh next week.