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Belief may not be enough for Andy Robinson

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Ben Dirs | 22:11 UK time, Sunday, 26 February 2012

Andy Robinson is a man who should be drowning in statistics. Scotland have now lost five Tests in a row and won only two of 13 Six Nations matches since Robinson took over as head coach. Yet, not only does Robinson stay afloat, he retains the luxury of choice: not whether the Scots can put up with him any longer, but how much longer he can put up with them.

“I can’t hide away from what you’re saying and you’re right to bring it up,” said the former England coach when reminded of the stark facts following his side’s 17-23 defeat by France in Edinburgh. He could have added: “And what are you going to do about it? Sack me? Who else is out there?”

Robinson is right when he says his side are on the right track, almost there. “I have total belief that we have the ability to win and that belief was strengthened even more today,” said Robinson, before adding: “As it was against Wales, and in the England game.”

But believing you have the ability to win and actually winning are two different things. Which is why the France defeat might be the beginning of the end of his tenure. It further suggests his belief, however sincere, is not seeping through to his players, at least not as a team.

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson coached England from 2004-2006, before taking over Scotland in 2009. Picture: Reuters

Scotland should have won on Sunday. For the first half an hour, they played a high-octane brand of rugby that had the visitors, by France skipper Thierry Dusautoir’s own admission, in a state of shock and awe.

The Scotland back-row of John Barclay, Ross Rennie and David Denton was immense. When it was suggested to Robinson that it was the most intense display ever by a Scottish back-row, the Englishman grinned, before recalling the triple threat of Calder, Jeffrey and White. “Ah, but not far off.”

Rampaging lock Richie Gray once again looked like a British and Irish Lion in the making, but it was the flashes behind the pack that were perhaps most heartening, given the Scottish backs’ inability to score tries of late.

Before he was forced off with an injury, the recalled Mike Blair was a pinball of energy at scrum-half, while full-back Stuart Hogg, the first teenager to start a Test for Scotland since Jim Renwick in 1972, was perhaps the most potent attacking threat on either side.

Aside from the Hawick man’s first-half try, one moment, when he left Dusautoir clawing at thin air with a vicious step off his left peg, had them purring in the stands. Hogg is a bar-emptier, and you could argue Scotland have been lacking a bona fide bar-emptier since the days of Gregor Townsend.

It was small moments – with big consequences – that let Scotland down. Greig Laidlaw has talent but the ease with which he was ploughed into the turf by opposite number Francois Trinh-Duc before Wesley Fofana’s try suggests the Edinburgh man needs to stack on a fair few pounds.

Lee Jones, too, despite scoring a first international try, was trampled over by the imposing Julien Malzieu before Maxime Medard’s crucial second-half score.

While Scotland, who managed one try in their previous five Tests, managed two against France, there should have been more, with Blair and skipper Ross Ford becoming isolated when there should have been support on their shoulder. Scotland paid for their lack of accuracy after the break, when France, having rolled with the first-half punches, tightened things up, began to boss the breakdown and demonstrated the merciless nature their hosts had lacked.

“I played in Scotland,” said France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre. “I lost a match after we had burst like popcorn and we never came back into the game. Today I saw a real squad. Coming back from 10-0 down in a full stadium, without panicking, it proves that this squad has guts.”

Formidable as this France outfit looks, they face a huge task to win the Championship. The cancellation of their game against Ireland a fortnight ago means they must play the Irish and England at home before a potential title decider against Wales in Cardiff, on consecutive weekends. “That’s three out-of-category climbs,” said Saint-Andre, using a cycling analogy.

Saint-Andre was effusive in his praise for Scotland – “if Scotland continue like this they will beat any team in the world” – which may or may not please Robinson to hear. Praise sounds great when you are winning; when you are losing, it can often seem like a patronising pat on the head.

The fact Murrayfield was a 67,000 sell-out for this fixture for the first time since its redevelopment in 1994 tells you the Scottish fans have faith in what Robinson is trying to do. But how long will Robinson keep faith his players can achieve what he believes they can?

Much might depend on Scotland’s final two games against Ireland and Italy, both away from home. Turn promise into results – what you might call sporting alchemy – and Robinson may decide it is worth continuing with his project until the World Cup in 2015, as is the plan.

But if results go against him, he can walk away with Scotland’s players, pundits and journalists pleading for him to stay. Knowing he gave his best – knowing others know he gave his best – but that his best simply was not good enough.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    As a Scotland fan you are right I really hope Andy Robinson does not go. I have real faith in this scotland squad we seem to be really close to a class act. I also don't think some of the ref's calls helped today but that is beside the point. Don't think there will be any talk of Scotland going for the wooden spoon next year if Robinson stays. Maybe even win it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Slightly barbed last paragraph there. Scotland were very good today and deserve a lot of credit. The handling errors that have dogged them for the most part of previous campaigns were absent today and it was a joy to watch for the most part. Up front the pack fared well against a strong French pack (although the scrum was very suspect); and that was as good a running display from Scotland as we've seen in a long time. Disappointed to see Mike Blair going off. Cusiter just doesn't deliver the ball quickly enough and that showed in the second half.

    However, this wasn't the game on which to judge Robinson or his chances of staying in charge (or, as the article implies, the chances of his deciding that he wants to stay in charge). This was a solid performance against world-class opposition and Scotland fronted up well. The most disappointing aspect of the day? The refereeing from Barnes. Don't know what game he was watching but he seemed determined to give Scotland nothing from today. From off-the-ball tackles before the first French try to blatant offsides, to giving Scotland a penalty, playing advantage, and then revoking the penalty once advantage was over, I've no idea what Barnes was on today. Dreadful display from the referee. If this is as good as he gets, he shouldn't be refereeing test matches. Second game in a row where we've been the victim of some bad refereeing. This is test rugby. Time to get the referees up to standard.

    G

  • Comment number 3.

    Andy Robinson is doing a fantastic job and, without a doubt, Scotland are progressing. If it is all about winning then follow the 'All Blacks'. We are a relatively small nation without immense amounts of cash, and are still punching above our weight. We played expansive, exciting rugby against France but lost. Somebody has to lose but we were exciting and I would rather lose playing 'champagne rugby' then 'kick to win'. Onwards and upwards!

  • Comment number 4.

    @ 3

    Are you really claiming you would prefer your team to lose but look nice doing it, than win every game they play but without the free flowing rugby?! That seems absurd to me.

    Surely winning is everything and performance is second?

    It's nice to have that good-looking rugby but points are what matter at the end of the day.

  • Comment number 5.

    @1

    It really does seem absurd to be suggesting already that Scotland will be looking to win the six nations next year. We have been saying that since 2009, when Robinson took over, and what has come out of it? No higher than 5th place. The last time Scotland weren't lumped in the bottom two was 2006. At which point incidentally they came 3rd. Only 4 times in 11 years, since the six nations started, have scotland been out of the bottom two, and the best result being 3rd. Yet every year they talk about winning it, and it has never yet happened.
    So nonsense about winning it next year has to stop, as yet again it is all mouth and no evidence to back it up with.

    It's the same old story with the Scots I'm afraid. Plenty of buzz, and enough class to get there, but they just don't put it together.
    In my mind, if there was any available coach better than robinson, they should be taken. If this was a manager of any other side with as much potential, they would be gone in a heartbeat. Robinson continues to work with the "project" that he originally set out to use, but it has got them nowhere.
    Just look at the world cup, and the story is the same. Should have beaten Argentina and England, yet didn't due to errors and inability to kill a game off. There is no progress from then to now, and that is the worst thing about the situation.

  • Comment number 6.

    Robinson deserves to stay and hopefully Johnson can help with our skill levels when he joins, especially in the backs. Don't think Townsend has done enough with our attack in three years, granted with little resources. A new defense coach will be required during the summer; Alan Tait or possibly Dave Ellis?

    We're not far away from being a good team and if we can sort out the midfield combination we'll be a hell of a lot closer.

    At full strength our pack is a match for anyone and the nucleus of our pack is forming around Ford, Gray, Hamilton, Rennie, Denton, who have all been superb. There are a number of players out right now that could be in the squad (Thomson, Low, Brown, Strokosch, Beattie, Jackson, Ansbro, Evans, Grove, Walker).

    Plus plenty of guys coming through that I hope Robinson looks at during the summer (WELSH, Grant, MacArthur, Walker, GILCHRIST, McKenzie, Harley, McInally, SCOTT, Shingler?, VISSER)

    Amazing how much confidence Hogg has provided, genuinely can't remember the last time I was so excited about a Scottish back. Hopefully Robinson experiments during the summer and decides on a midfield combination to take us forward, with Hogg and Visser out-wide we need to get them in space.

    Summer Tour XV: (Age : Caps)

    15 Hogg (19 : 2)
    14 Visser (24 : -) *
    13 Ansbro (26 : 9)
    12 Scott (21 : -) *
    11 Jones (23 : 3)
    10 Laidlaw (26 : 5)
    9 Blair (30 : 78)

    8 Denton (22 : 4)
    7 Rennie (25 : 14)
    6 Brown (29 : 49)
    5 Hamilton (29 : 37 )
    4 Gray (22 : 19)
    3 Low (27 : 15)
    2 Ford (27 : 56)
    1 Welsh (25 : -) *

    16 MacArthur (24 : -) *
    17 Cross (29 : 11)
    18 Gilchrist (21 : -) *
    19 Beattie (26 : 16)
    20 Cusiter (29 : 58)
    21 Weir (20 : 1)
    22 De Luca (28 : 32)

    We've not got a big enough player base to be consistently one of the best teams in the world but we've definitely got the potential to have a team capable of winning the tournament. Currently a couple pieces short but not far off in my opinion.

    Need to win at least one of our remaining matches but feeling good about the few years.

  • Comment number 7.

    Robinson's doing a great job. Scotland look a classy and dangerous team. They've been unlucky in all their matches thus far. He can't be held responsible for the individual errors his players are making surely?

  • Comment number 8.

    @7 DaveyB
    Whether or not Robinson should be responsible for his players' failings is a moot point, since he carries ultimate responsibility for their performance. In Scotland's three matches so far, I have seen players commit a large number of unforced errors, far too many for the team to have any hope of winning close matches. If what they have done is the very best that they can manage, then fair enough, but if there is a head coach who is able and willing to get more out of the players, then some thought should be given to Robinson's position. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but professional rugby is a cruel and unforgiving world. Andy Robinson is a very driven man. Many of the Scottish players look frightened when they play. I wonder if there is any connection ...

  • Comment number 9.

    2nd half the ball carrying was poor after Scotland's 2nd try, just kept making errors and even though this French side are not really RWC runner-ups you still cant make that many errors in a game. Something missing on the training field there as they dont do that at club level or they wouldn't be wearing the shirt in the 1st place.

    Robinson wasn't the answer for England and on results doesn't seem to be for Scotland. But good sides do take time to build. South Africa were awful in 2005/6 but were building for 07 when they won the big one and England disintegrated after 2003 as they had built for that moment. So you have to lay the foundations for things to grow and its interesting to see some Scottish fans on here who are happy with their progress, so they must be improving (not on results) somewhat. Just little errors seem to be the difference, if they are a little more composed they can find that cutting edge. Really liked the scrum half in the 2nd half he was exciting to watch.

    As a Welshman I support the Scots in every game they play and it would be good for European Rugby to have a good competitive Scottish side again. I grew up watching Calder, Hastings and co. Good times, just seem all too distant these days.

    Good luck to them, I think there are some very solid players in that squad. You have to judge a coach on his ability to turn their ability into results though and there is something missing, unfortunately that is the coaching teams responsibility to find that 'something' if they cant do it then there may well be someone else who can and he should no be so brash at saying what he said about 'who else is there'.

    Look at the job Lancaster has done for England in such a short space of time......there is always someone else out there that can implement systems and belief that you haven't even thought about.

    Good luck to the Scots you deserve better times.

  • Comment number 10.

    I've been through this with Wales. Sometimes losing to NZ by 30 something points and people claiming that Wales played well and so and so was great and ifs and buts................. Look Andy Robinson has a dreadful record. Do something about it. A failed Ospreys coach might not be the answer.

  • Comment number 11.

    Scotland were well in the game until they lost Mike Blair and Lamont. Richie Gray is the best young 2nd row in the UK, and the Scots back row were excelent.
    I think that the backs will benifit to a huge degree with the arrival of Scott Johnston, in my opinion the best backs coach in the world.
    The French looked a more complete side than they were at the RWC. A new coach that players respect must have had some impact here. Their scrum, for which they were confident to the point of arrogance, when they often opted to take in their own half whilst ignoring penalty kicks to touch where their lineout was functioning very well, was incredible - in fact their scrum looked frightening.
    As the match went on, as a team they seemed to be playing well within themselves, choosing only to step up a gear when they had too.
    Proof of all this will be more apparent when they come up against Ireland and England in Paris, and Wales in Cardiff - but as a Welsh supporter, I think that they are now are favourites to take out the "Grand Slam", but I'll be more than happy to be prooved wrong.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ben,
    As a pundit, you love to make it dramatic. I recall not too long ago, how all the focus was on our inability to score tries. Well, the focus is failure to capitlise on line breaks or new caps, being taught a lesson. O ye of little faith.

    Now Scotland is showing real game on game progression and you want to ask how long before Robinson quits? So that is what you think of the Andy Robinson as a man. O ye of little faith.

    Don't forget, he came to Scotland in tatters after the English system and their impatience at results let him down. There is no reason why with a bit more patience both the manager and the players will get results from their hard work. Andy Robinson, cannot hide his frustration, at least he cares and he has a little faith.

    I remember when Ireland and Wales would play for similar results, so I am very relieved to see the team develop. It was a shame to see France get a win, there is still work to do, but not an impossible chasm to fill. I believe the team should be positive ahead of their last two matches. I have a bit of faith.

    As for your article focusing on the Andy Robinson, perhaps you should have focused on the RFU and the real dilemma, I would rather let the Lancaster, an Englishman, lead the team to the RWC, than bring in Mallett. Surely that is the real hot debate. The RFU should have a little faith.

    Lancaster is a good man, some one the RFU would do well to get behind, it is about time we backed managers rather than doubt them after every game.

    Have a little faith!

  • Comment number 13.

    Fully agree that Robinson should stay with Scotland. I am english, and every english fan was mightily relieved when he left. We wouldn't like to think there was any chance of him coming south again.

  • Comment number 14.

    Andy Robinson had a lamentable record with England, and he is continuing that legacy with Scotland. One win in 12 Six Nations matches. A dire World Cup. The bottom two for the last 5 years. How much longer is this bloke going to run Scotland into the floor?

    He clearly has issues managing an International rugby team. A good club coach he may be, but even though the players are making silly errors, the responsibility for the overall performance through a Championship lies with the coach. It always has done and it always should.

    One or two games you can forgive, but this Scottish side would struggle to get results against Southern Hemisphere club teams.

    "Teflon" Andy!

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks to Andy robinson, the coaching team and the Scotland Players for a magnificent game of rugby.
    If you can't see progress then you are blind!!
    Great expansive play, bursting through the French line on many occasion and 2 tries.
    Extremely unlucky to loose pivitol players at a crucial time in the match and add to that a blatant high tackle against not given, and the result could have been different.
    there is a thing called luck and Scotland are not getting their share of it for now, but that will change and when it does the slies the limit!!!
    i wouldn't bet against at least a triple crown in 2013!

  • Comment number 16.

    @14

    I totally agree, but the problem as i see it is that Scotland seem to be doing so many things right at the moment. It must be so frustrating for Scotland because it always seems to be stupid mistakes that are costing them. They played some good rugby again yesterday but 2 silly missed tackles have cost them dear. Unfortunatley at test level you can't afford those mistakes.

    If it doesn't start coming together soon, no matter how much promise they are showing, he'll have to go.

  • Comment number 17.

    would be stupid to get rid of him now - at some point obviously the question needs to be asked why the players are not executing at the business end of moves, but I would stick with him through the summer tour

  • Comment number 18.

    @9 Jasetheace

    In fairness to Andy Robinson, if you read the article again it's clear the "who else is there" comment isn't actually a direct quote...

    I hear all the comments about how the final responsibility has to rest with the coach, but I think that's a bit of an over-simplification. IMO if a defeat can be put down to one or two isolated errors, then the individuals concerned have to accept responsibility. On the other hand, the blame should lie with the coach if it's the overall performance of the team that is at fault. In Scotland's case I'd say it's the former rather than the latter that applies at the moment. As reallybored points out (@6) there's a lot of very inexperienced players in the Scotland side, and it's just going to take a bit of time for them to get used to playing at test level. No amount of coaching drills or inspirational team talks from the coach can be a substitute for experience gained by playing quality opposition at this level. Thankfully for Scotland there's plenty of time before the next world cup, and I hope they give Andy Robinson one more season to try to turn it around.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Progress, turning a corner, unlucky, doing things right, heading in the right direction"

    How often do we hear these 'positive' words? All of which mean nothing when Scotland are lying a distant 5th and are conceding an average of 20 points a game. Sure Saint-Andre praised them but what else do coaches say about the opposition after games? (unless they are Andy Robinson, of course).

    Will this Scotland side beat Italy in the new cauldron of the Olimpico? If they don't, Robinson has to go, if they do, he still has to go for the future of the side.

    Robinson was dire with England and is only slightly less so with Scotland who need a young forward looking coaching team to lead them to 4th place and beyond

  • Comment number 20.

    #6
    Good point about Robinson,
    However the big issue in the near future is not the midfield combination, but a strong pair of props!

  • Comment number 21.

    How can Scotland ever hope to compete in the professional era with the numbers that are playing rugby in the country. Rugby is not a "national" sport as in Wales, N.Zealand, Pacific Islands. Football is the game and passion in Scotland not Rugby. There are only 2 pro club teams there. This is about as good as it gets and we should accept this and move on. I'm sure Sctoland will win a game sooner or later but that will be it. It's pointless talking about the detail of the Scottish team untill they tackle the wider picture.

  • Comment number 22.

    Keep the faith!!
    We're almost there, and could have (read should have) won 2 of our first 3 games.

    Please, please, please lets not change the most exciting Scotland side (and be extension management team) that we've had for 20 years.

  • Comment number 23.

    For a start I agree that Scotland played well for a bit, but they never looked like beating France. You could see that France had them extra gears to go. Andy Robinson is deluded! His team were spreading the ball out wide well behind the gain line on the odd occasion that a Scottish player used a little bit of improve they looked decent(well the individual did) however there was no support!
    Andy Robinson is a deluded man! Blaming the ref, France slowed the ball down of course they did, as did Scotland, it’s just the French were clearing the ruck a lot better.
    Anyway whoever said that Scott Johnson is the best attacking coach in the world, needs to watch the Ospreys over the last few seasons since he’s been there absolutely awful.
    Robinson out!

  • Comment number 24.

    "He could have added: 'And what are you going to do about it? Sack me? Who else is out there?'"

    Sean Lineen

  • Comment number 25.

    From this England fan's perspective, Scotland are very nearly the finished article - if not for the disruptions caused by the first half injuries, Scotland should an would have gone on to record a memorable victory over France.d

    On paper another loss, but in the context of recent performances a marked improvement in key areas.

    Only the scrum remains as a major worry - based on last year, Ieuen Murray's presence would have made little difference. Strange - as this is usually one of Robbo's areas of strength.

    Robbo and the SRFU should persevere - in the words of Owen Farrell on Saturday "if there is such a thing as a good loss, this was one".

  • Comment number 26.

    @3

    like your attitude: 'if it's all about winning, follow the All Blacks'.

    As an Englishman, I've felt more pride for this new England team in 3 games and especially against Wales than I managed during the last world cup + build up.

  • Comment number 27.

    Oh how Scotland wish they could play England again next week.

    A lot of things are coming together for Scotland but the front row is mediocre. Jacobson is a throw back to the amatuer era... or the earlier days of so called professionalism. To be wandering around with a gut like that is just unacceptable.

    Scotland need to cut out the unforced errors. They gift sides points out of their own mistakes.

    However I do believe that in Stuart Hogg Scotland have found the Northern Hempispheres new Brian O'Driscoll. What a player.

  • Comment number 28.

    Does AR have some embarrassing photos of the BBC Director General, or something? Last week it was John Beattie and now you are spouting the same nonsense. AR must stay, no matter how rubbish his record is? He must be the only coach in any sport for whom results just don't matter, it's all the players' fault. I bet there's a few Premiership football managers that wish the BBC would cut them the same sort of slack.

    As I said on JB's blog last week, AR is not a bad coach but Scotland are not a very good test side either, and after three years in charge, if AR bears no responsibility for that, who does? Where exactly should the buck stop? After failing to get out of the group in RWC11, a whitewash in the 6N (which now looks a distinct possibility in a season where three wins was a reasonable aspiration) can only have one consequence.

    I credit AR with enough self-respect to jump before he's pushed in those circumstances. The issue of who might replace him is frankly less pressing than ensuring that in sport, as in everything else these days, there should be no rewards for failure.

  • Comment number 29.

    Much better all-round performance because the best available team started.

    AR needs to stick with this team who were all available last season and for the RWC! If only .......

    The recent losses are all his doing - poor selection, unnecessary substitutions.
    This starting team can actually play a bit. They have a running stand-off and scrum-half. Even the substitute stand-off was good.

    Plus points - Vernon had a good RWC and thank goodness he's back in the reckoning with his speed and distribution. Blair's break and speed. Laidlaw's good leading up work to Hogg's try. Hogg! Forward effort. General team confidence.

    Minus points - Cusiter's lack of speed of pass. Team tackling. Team backing-up. Why substitute Ford, your captain with, respectfully, a much lesser player, when the game could still be won?

    A few who were on the field against France would have benefitted hugely from being in the RWC squad - Laidlaw, Hogg, Jones & Weir.

  • Comment number 30.

    Andy Robinson is doing a first class job. The improvement in the team since he took over is clear for all to see. Yes it is very frustrating not to be winning games that we are clearly capable of winning, however, the players are in my opinion giving their all, and I cannot criticise anyone for our lack of match winning through lack of commitment, skill or determination. I hope that AR does not get frustrated and decide to call it a day. I have faith in both him and the team, and the coaching staff, to turn this around and deliver the results which are deserved of the effort being shown by all. I don't profess to have all of the answers as to why we are not getting a return on our efforts, but I do believe we have one of the best Scottish teams in a long time, we just need that little rub of the green - I do believe it will come, as to when - I have patience and belief!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Andy Robinson must NOT go, I have real faith in him and what he has done with the Scotland squad - we need to get away from this “chatter”.

    This was a solid performance against a world-class opposition and Scotland fronted up well. The most disappointing aspect of the day was the refereeing. I am not sure of the procedure the match referee and linesmen follow to be de-brief after a match or too who, but following yesterdays performance something must be done.

    It was a dreadful performance by the ref. during the second half.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sorry, one other point. Scotland's total capitulation in the scrum yesterday was actually embarrassing. And the idea that Euan Murray would have made any difference is deluded. Whoever is responsible for that debacle should be sacked now, today, before lunchtime. And if AR does not have any responsibility for ensuring that Scotland can at least pack down for a few scrums in a game and not concede a free-kick or penalty every time, what exactly is he there for?

  • Comment number 33.

    Scotland should have won on Sunday. For the first half an hour, they played a high-octane brand of rugby that had the visitors, by France skipper Thierry Dusautoir’s own admission, in a state of shock and awe.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Personally I find this comment rather insulting. I have yet to find any quote of Dusautoir that actually translates into this, and even if he did he always pays huge repsect to the opposition, it never for one moment suggests you were the better team. With that kind of attitude I think you should be covering football not rugby. There is no doubt that France were the better team, deserved to win as they scored more points and were the better team.
    In my previous posts I have openly delcared that Scotland are my second team in the 6 nations and were so in the 5 nations too.
    But to come out and said Scotland should have won. I dont even say we 'should've' won the RWC and we were much closer to NZ than scotland were to us.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ben Dirs needs a reality check not the SRU. "And what are you going to do about it? Sack me? Who else is out there?” shows what little knowledge the BBC rugby 'expert' has on Scottish rugby. When Robinson struggled with England it was because he was 'a good coach but bad selector' now it's Scottish rugbys fault despite the fact rugby fans north of the border were extremely frustrated with his selections and only through default has a team that we all wanted from the start minus a few others.

    Edinburgh rugby with 90% scottish players scored tries for fun in a very competitive Heineken group but when AR chooses Parks at 10, Lamont at 12 and refuses to pick players these on form, which he said he would, then it really showed us why he isn't management material.

    His short sightedness on picking guys like Hogg & Laidlaw until the country were almost at breaking point at the blatant obviousness of it was only done after injuries and retirements. This team almost beat a very good France team but they were inexperienced and new to each other at that level. This team , including Scott, should have been picked from the outset not with pressure of 3rd 6Ns defeat in row looming.

    I hope he stays but his player selection in backs is atrocious and has cost the chance of a fresh exciting start for new era when picked the useless Parks at 10 and guys like lamont at centre. Funny how tries are coming now with enforced changes through the new young players he didn't want to chance against England.

  • Comment number 35.

    As a France supporter, I thought the display from the Scots was great - as great as what they did against England and Wales, or even a step higher. Overall, I thought they were lacking some self confidence, leading to silly mistakes on which France capitalized. However, it was the same for France. I thought they were sometimes on the loose, but they seem to have more confidence than during the WC, so they are harder to play. As for the referee, I can understand some of the critics as there were a few weirdo decisions. However it was against both teams, so it is really 50/50 and I would not say France won or Scotland lost because of poor refereeing. Last word is concerning the fair play of the Scots, I have heard the Scot team gave a reward to Mas for being in their mind the best French player on Sunday. I thought that was a really nice initiative, so thanks the Scots you are a great!

  • Comment number 36.

    @11 Hi Roy,
    "Their scrum, for which they were confident to the point of arrogance, when they often opted to take in their own half whilst ignoring penalty kicks to touch where their lineout was functioning very well, was incredible - in fact their scrum looked frightening" Plus when you see how bad the French lineout was, that was definitely the right thing to do.

    "but as a Welsh supporter, I think that they are now are favourites to take out the "Grand Slam", but I'll be more than happy to be prooved wrong"
    Hope you're kidding here! Wales already won against the big boys so, without offensing the Italian here, you are only one big game short to the Grand Slam - whereas France is three big games short. I would not be surprised if we lost against England or Ireland at home, by the way. We'll see!

  • Comment number 37.

    Got to feel sorry for the Scots,should have beaten england comfortably and two missed tackles cost them the game yesterday . On top of that,they seem to pick up injuries at the worse possible times! On a positive note,they've found a gem in Hogg,and with Jackson due back at ten I can't see why you can't win your remaining two games,good luck.

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh how I long for the days that we no longer take "positives" from matches. How I wince when the press or the SRU declare Scotland to be "brave."

    I'm going to be blunt; Scottish Rugby is in crisis. We have been in crisis for years now and have attempted to disguise this fact with press releases described above. We have went through coach after coach who have all attempted to improve Scotland, only to find the simplest of mistakes creep back into the game again and again and again.

    In the 12 years that the Six Nations has been around for we have only amounted to a 3rd place finish. Let's not even bother talking about being contenders. We have year after year performed "admirably" as the BBC pundits would like to say, but have never once amounted to much. We have wasted possession and attacking options over and over. What's worse is that we've even wasted occasions where we have been in the lead.

    Scottish rugby is a boring, farcical mess of a game backed up by an incompetent board hosted within a cold hearted dreadful stadium. Away teams must love playing in Murrayfield. An entirely full stadium yesterday and the atmosphere was dire, the only warmth coming from the French supporters. Indeed, the only noise coming from the French supporters. We actually get some good rugby going by Scotland and you can barely hear a cheer. Perhaps everyone just expects Scotland to fail now. It's got to the stage that all optimism has ran out.

    If Robinson wants to go who can blame him? He's tried over the years to make Scotland a winning team and he's been confronted by school boy errors that border on disbelief. I imagine he'll stick in it for another year, see if the new coaching team that is coming in makes an improvement and if not will leave. The truth is who really wants to take the job on? The thought of trying to manage Scotland must fill any coach with utter dread.

  • Comment number 39.

    It's the players best that was not good enough, not Robinson's coaching skills. When you get on the field it's down to the individual to give a massive performance, not for the coach to hold his hand.

    And Robinson should not have to teach his players how to tackle at this level - when the opposing player has the ball it's your job to go in and hammer him so hard that they are calling for a stretcher and he definately does not get up again to rejoin the attack

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm really beginning to groan when i see Wayne Barnes is the ref, he does make what seems to be a lot of bad calls, but then Scotlands scrum was way below par for them.

  • Comment number 41.

    Scotland should keep faith with Andy Robinson. They are heading in the right direction. They so nearly won yesterday against a team which itself narrowly lost the World Cup final. Scotland have belatedly discovered where the try-line is and they have for the first time in a decade a nucleus of players who are contenders for Lions places, although the bih-headed Welsh feel that their whole hyped team should represnet the Lions. Scotland are one or two players short of an outstanding team. If they keep the faith, they will be championship contenders possibly next year and definitely in two years.

  • Comment number 42.

    First up, Scotland were not unlucky in the first two games. They made error after error which destroyed any momentum they might build up, all the opposition had to do was absorb the pressure and wait for the bad pass, knock on or dropped ball - Scotland rarely managed to run 3 or 4 phases together.

    Indeed against France the same problems happened, too many basic handling errors and bad decision making.

    The scrum is dreadful, it is the props fault because there is nothing wrong with the power from the back 5. Scotland could have been penalised virtually every scrum. Now admittedly France are a very good scrummaging side but so are Italy!

    Ref was dreadful.

    I never thought I would say this but Nick DL played well and even looked almost international class.

    Weir looked decent - but where is his neck! and is it me or does he look a few pounds too heavy?

  • Comment number 43.

    As an interested observer with no bias for or against Scotland, I see a team that has a good set of forwards (not great) but absolutely no cutting edge in the backs. Too often the backs appear to just pass the ball out to the next receiver and in doing so, pose little threat to the defending team.
    When I remember the wonderfully incisive runners that Scotland produced in the past and the fantastic enterprise they showed, it is in stark contrast to the current crop.
    Is this because today's team do not have the skills? Are they not being coached to bring out the best blend of attacking options? Or, is the confidence level so low that the judgement errors and handling mistakes made during the game are the real issue?
    Whatever the reason, we need a strong Scotland team in the 6 Nations to keep the intensity of competition!!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    #27
    Really? Maybe the England that played at Murrayfield not the different animal that took Wales to the wire at Twickenham.

    The frustrating thing about Scotland from a neutral viewpoint, is the inability to keep the whole thing together. First two games, nothing going on in the backs to speak of but pretty solid in the tight and good at the breakdown. Up against France, line breaks all over the place but ultimately lost the game through being marched backwards in the scrum and giving away penalties at crucial times. Shame, because yesterday looked promising.

    Have to say France look to have a couple more gears in the them. Painful as it is to write, I can't see beyond them for the championship this year. They seemed to be on cruise for parts of the game yesterday.

  • Comment number 45.

    If robinson goes, and england decide they want a bigger name then scotland could do a lot worse than lancaster - i like the changes he has made to their team on field and off.

  • Comment number 46.

    @44

    Yes I do believe Scotland would like aother pop at England. Its one thing playing well against Wales without the pressure of being favourites and at home, and going away and nailing the three points.

    Im not saying that Scotland think they would win, but probably play better than their first attempt.

  • Comment number 47.

    Do not start banding around the sacking word. Without Robinson we would be firmly established as the wooden spoon owners. I am passionate about Scotland and the national rugby team. I love the crunch Italy game each year. We cannot compete with England, Wales, France and Ireland for the simple reason that we do not have enough youngsters playing rugby. It is still a private school game. Until we realise that football is not the bee all and end all it will continue like this for ever. We, like Italy, are relying on foreign imports gaining the status required to play for Scotland. They will never take us to a high level otherwise they would be playing for Australia, New Zeland or South Africa. Robinson's ethos is sound. Scotland are stronger and more skillful than before he arrived. We just need to believe in ourselves more. You should stick to writing your blog about rugby, not begin a witch hunt against a man who is trying his best to improve our fortunes.

  • Comment number 48.

    Italy should prevail in the wooden spoon decider.

  • Comment number 49.

    @48

    I agree Italy may have too much up front for them and probably have the one true world class player on the park in Sergio Parisse.

    Will be tight and tense

  • Comment number 50.

    Great coach, bad selector. Scotland are playing a far better style of Rugby and at last new blood has started to filter into the team. Denton and Gray look like certs for the Lions tour, Ross Rennie cannot be far behind them. Jones and Hogg look naturals. Laidlaw is playing great, considering he was only a temporary stand off at Edinburgh. The problem is some players have been picked on reputation and not form, Dan Parks being the obvious example. Tries are starting to come.

    Now Scotland need to find the confidence to boss games and need to cut out silly mistakes. The team also needs to work on support running. Likely to be a Blair/Weir starting line up at half back next week, so options are starting to be developed.

    Also, Cusiter needs to cut out his pre-pass step. If he can't get Rory Lawson in.

  • Comment number 51.

    As for the Italy comments, their gubbing by Ireland will not do their confidence any good and Scotland are playing a far better style of rugby than in our last visit to Rome. You beat the Italians by running them off the pitch and by keeping ball in hand. The last few games Scotland/Italy games were exhibitions in kicking tennis. That's not how Scotland now play.

  • Comment number 52.

    #BleuBlancRouge & Axax

    brilliant English. Je souhaite que mon français était aussi bon.

    @rosbif.briviste.fr :-)

  • Comment number 53.

    Merci!

  • Comment number 54.

    There's a coach down at Gloucester doing a good job, he's a Scot too.Robinson has done a good job taking this team to the next level after Frank Haddon,but he has not got that winning formula.Next World Cup this team could cause a stir with the right man at the helm,without that winner,I fear nothing will change,close but not close enough.
    England have a bunch of rookie kids,but their coach is a proven winner,that's the difference.

  • Comment number 55.

    To be fair, Stuart Lancaster has a P3 W2 record, which is better than P13 W2, but doesn't really make him a proven winner. Nonetheless, if AR goes, I'd be delighted to see Lancaster in the list of possibles to replace him, and Basil too, though why he'd want to leave Gloucester for Murrayfield is beyond me. I think the most refreshing thing about Lancaster is his total disregard for international reputations when picking his squad, which is diametrically opposed to AR's approach, at least prior to this week.

  • Comment number 56.

    Andy Robinson has been the best coach Scotland have had in quite sometime. You may not be getting wins right now but I think with the improved performances, some as a result of the coaching, some as a result of 'bringing in new blood' and with that a new confidence from fresh eager players, those wins, maybe a trickle at first will start to build a winning consistency. When AR was coaching England, after the RWC win, he didn't have players that really wanted to play and represent their country - some did but many just jumped on the England gravy train!

    For the scottish supporters - stick with your coach - he's doping well. Your teams are starting toplay some good rugby - drop the ones that aren't performing - bring in more new blood to replace them. Denton, Rennie, Hogg, Blair, Evans, De Luca and some of the others are beginning to see the light - get behind them - get behind the whole team and good luck to you.

  • Comment number 57.

    aside from the debacle that was the scrum, the only real criticism i'd have of Scotland is in the numbers committed to the ruck.

    The French counter-rucking (leaving aside the debate on whether it was legal or not) was terrific and Scotland needed more forwards in there. It was annoying to see front rowers being in the 1st receiver position when quick ruck ball was being won and frankly i'd never have props standing anywhere near the back-line when their service are required in securing possession in the 1st place. I have to say that i wasn't impressed by Jacobsen or Cross at all.

    Other than that it was a promising performance. The criticism of Robinson stems from his selection policy. Favouring guys at the start of then 6N who embarassed us in the RWC (Jacobsen and Cross being but 2 of these) when there were real stand-out performances from young,exciting players at club level - Hogg,Jones,Scott,Laidlaw,Weir,Denton,Harley,Gilchrist and Welsh to name but a few. I can't fathom why we played against England with the likes of Strokosch, Parks, Jacobsen,Cross et al - puzzling!

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree with the 'keep the faith' posts- you can see the development in Scottish rugby and with players like Hogg the future looks bright - even De Luca looked international class Sunday!

    I cant agree more with the posters about Wayne Barnes, and I've been saying it for weeks and weeks. You never like to criticise a rugby ref (they do that at the 'other' sport) but he's simply not up to international rugby standard. Case in point is the scrums- how many penalties per game does he give for early engage?! Probably double any other ref and the reason is the front rows get bored waiting for his elongated 'Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage' call. Terrible. And he missed the most blatant high tackle for a long time at a crucial point for Scotland when 3 points wouldve changed the complexion of the game.

    It can only be a matter of time until Scotland get their first (meaningful) W

  • Comment number 59.

    De Luca looked much better yesterday ball in hand but if it wasn't for Vernon amazingly scooping the ball at his feet for the 2nd try the De Luca would have butchered another overlap with a terrible pass. Morrison played well too.

  • Comment number 60.

    This may have been said in some of the earlier comments (not read them all) but Andy Robinson must stay as Scotland coach. As a Welshman I have seen Scotland improve immensely but what is letting them down at times is between the ears, and a lack of skills under pressure. Scot Johnson is joining Scotland next year as skills coach, and possibly backs or attack coach. Scott Johnson made big improvements in Wales skill sets. Yesterday watching the game, after that second Scotland try there was a series of around 8 errors in the space of around 8 minutes which let France in for another try and when attacking after it, there were unforced stupid errors like a knock on, bad passes and a genuine lack of concentration. France did not need to do much to maintain the lead from there on.

    Execution of skills and making good decisions is not easy, especially when a player(s) tire(s). Gatland has said since the world cup that Wale confidence in part comes from the knowledge that they are conditioned so well, that if playing a game at high tempo against the likes of NZ and SA, they will not tire. That gives a player confidence to know they do not have to pace themselves with this in mind. A combination of better conditioning and Scott Johnson may well reap rewards in a season or two. Andy Robinson is the best man for the job.

    Nick De Luca looked excellent yesterday as did many others like Hogg. The back row were exceptional so there is a huge amount of pluses for Scotland to look forward to.

  • Comment number 61.

    I think AR is still the man for the job ,I came away on Sunday heartened by Scotland's display and the attacking back line. support play let them down at crucial points.I know it was a defeat but all 6N games outwith Italy games the other teams results were very close.France realised after the first 20 minutes they were not going to run amok and in the end turned the screw on the Scots.So Andy, one more heave to the wheel and results will come. Les Bleus will have to improve to beat England and especially Wales ,having said that their supporters lit up a grey day on the streets of Auld Reekie and thye stadium. Can I ask the SRU stop the inane music when Scotland are attacking ,let the crowd produce the atmosphere not the stupid noise ,I think it spoiled the occasion.

  • Comment number 62.

    A few comments about Scott Johnson, as an Ospreys supporter, I'd like to offer my twopenneth. He has done a decent job for us, and during his time we have won 1 Magners League title, and we were very unlucky losing at Biarritz in the QF two years ago.

    His main achievement though has been to bring young players through, and we have a lot of good young players coming through the system, at a transitional time for the side.

    But he has not been a massive success either, and the best part of the Ospreys team is the forwards, which he does not have that much input on, so as others have pointed out, and probably it is time for him to go.

  • Comment number 63.

    @21
    'Football is the game and passion in Scotland'.
    Very true but we are pretty terrible at that too !! Maybe we should just stick to curling and cycling. LOL.

  • Comment number 64.

    As a French, it's amazing how Scotland play so well and lose quite often at the end of the match. 6 points as a gap against France, 5 maybe against England last time. I'm convinced that this former Scottish player was right when he said Scotland have to learn they are able to win, first. I totally agree with him. To see them playing is such a delight and I certainly don't say this because France won. France got a narrow escape for me last sunday. A really tight game..Come on Scotland !! Win, show us how your rugby is so generous as always but by winning !!!! If Wales are a bit overated to me, Scotland are underated !! Thouroughly as for them.

  • Comment number 65.

    If 'Post 64' really is Philippe Sella the one time French centre - that's the best comment in this blog!

    Est que tu as une grand-mere Ecossaise, Phillippe?

  • Comment number 66.

    See the report on Rory's injury, I wish him a complete recovery.

    This year's championship is very close, it is small margins and very small margins fo error, agree Scotland need to look to be "error free". As a Scot, we have moved forward from 2011, proving we can score and I hope it is now addressed with the simple confidence this brings.

    There is no doubt this was a bruising battle! Scrum-half Mike Blair was forced off with a dead leg, fly-half Greig Laidlaw suffered concussion. Centre Graeme Morrison also requires further assessment on a knee injury, while lock Richie Gray and flanker John Barclay suffered dead legs, lock Jim Hamilton leg bruising, while Lamont's brother Sean suffered an abrasion to his right eye.

    It does make you wonder how so many had leg injuries in one game, will let you draw your own conclusion.

  • Comment number 67.

    Look at the side from one to fifteen. There is quality everywhere. On the front row, at lock, the back row is immense. A choice of quality at scrum half. The back three seem quality to me, Hogg is world class potential. So where's the hole? Centre and stand off. Who are the weaker sides in the Six-Nations? Italy, Scotland and (sorry to say it) England. Where is the hole in these sides? Centre and stand off. England (it might appear) have plugged that gap and may move forward accordingly. But with Laidlaw - I like him, he's good, but not the answer. Centre? Morrison, De Lucca? Or Lamont? All good but not the answer. Not yet and not in that package. They needed Hogg to draw out the back three. They need a wonderboy centre to draw out one of the other three. If they get it - Scotland will be up there. If not - wooden spoon play-offs with Italy every time. Although hope springs eternal and I am sure Messrs Morrison, De Lucca and Lamont will disagree.

  • Comment number 68.

    In most Scotlands games I watch, they play well, they deserve to win. Scotland shoud have beaten England and France. They have the talent but how can you stop them from throwing games?

  • Comment number 69.

    Scotland are where Wales were last season. Really getting close, but not quite getting over the line, but the improvement and quality is clear to see for anyone that cares to look beyond the results. A lot of its just physchology. Its all clicking into place for Wales and it will do for Scotland. Just be patient and as people say its difficult to beat teams like Wales and France at the moment, because they are top quality teams. Just because Scotland are losing narrowly to top quality teams, doesn't make them a bad team, just a good team that are not quite as good as the top tier teams mentioned.

    Yes the England result was frustrating, but the others were not negative performances from the scottish viewpoint. Here's to a solid finish from the Scots against Italy and Ireland. Onward and upwards...

  • Comment number 70.

    I would like to see Andy Robinson continue his good work with the team. We have a side that can compete with the best in the world imo. Good young players coming through, Hogg, Weir, Gray, Denton, Laidlaw to name a few.

    I think the problem in the last three defeats has been the lack of consistency in the refereeing of the games.
    Wayne Barnes has to have a look at the way he refs the breakdown. France consitantly failed to role away after the tackle which led to slow ball for Scotland.
    The high tackle on Duncan Weir?
    Alain Rougerie clearing the ruck from the side for the first try?

    I don't think there is anymore the Robinson or any other coach can do when big decisions go against you.
    Lets be careful of what we ask for here, and think who would replace Andy?

  • Comment number 71.

    #67 "Look at the side from one to fifteen. There is quality everywhere. On the front row, at lock, the back row is immense. A choice of quality at scrum half. The back three seem quality to me, Hogg is world class potential. "

    You are having a laugh.

    The front row is by some distance the worst in the 6N. Neither prop is even close to international class. Italy could field 5 or 6 props better than them and France probably have better props playing in their second division.

    Big Jim worries me a bit, playing exceptionally well but only seems to last 60 mins.

    True nos 4-8 are very good. As long Mike Blair stays fit and on form (he had a long slump in form) then excellent, but Cussiter is on the slide - age and injuries have taken their toll.

    Scotland have a major centre problem, neither winger is outstanding, Max is good but is not looking for work enough and would be better in the centre.

    Hogg looks an exceptional talent.

  • Comment number 72.

    England fan in peace. I genuinely think that Robinson is doing a fantastic job which is also being supported by the 2 scottish pro teams performances. Scotland have unearthed some decent young talent(Hogg Gray) over the last few seasons which seems to mix well with the older heads that are left (the lamonts etc). Scotland have 2 professional club sides developing their talent pool that primarily supplies the international team, England have around 20 Premiership and championship yet Scotland should have beaten England. Keep this level of development up and I can see a massive change in the wind over the next three seasons culminating in a World Cup adventure!

  • Comment number 73.

    Robinson has done a good job with what he has been given. Scotland do lack the killer instinct though. This was evidenced when they played France this weekend. Why did they not score 20 plus points in the first quarter?
    If more backs like Hogg could be developed, then Scotland have a better chance for next year, and Lions selection.

  • Comment number 74.

    When Napoleon was introduced to a new General he asked "Is he lucky?" Andy Robinson is not lucky. He has got the Scottish team matching or even surpassing the opposition in recent games, at least for the first 70 minutes, but there always seems to be something that goes wrong (yellow cards, breakaway tries etc.) and Scotland then lose narrowly. The performance against France was a step up from previous performances because the team looked capable of creating chances, especially while Blair was on the pitch, in addition to the grinding phase playing which is Robinson's trademark. Scotland have the players to challenge for the six nations with possibly some strengthening needed for the set scrum. All they need is for Andy Robinson's luck to change. Perhaps they should invest in a rabbit's foot for the coach.

  • Comment number 75.

    In most Scotlands games I watch, they play well, they deserve to win. Scotland shoud have beaten England and France. They have the talent but how can you stop them from throwing games?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    we played poorly, and yet we scored everytime we had to, and didnt even get in third gear. we did the bare minimum, and were much more efficient.

  • Comment number 76.

    75 - BleuBlancRouge

    Yes but as you admit Scotland lost the game France never won it on own. We never allowed France to get into any rythm hence drop goals.

    With Visser joining ranks in Autumn it can only bode well as he is arguably the best winger in Rabo Direct. AR and players will only keep improving as they haven't peaked so this can only mean success around the corner as they are already in touching distance. Every game despite defeat has been better than last.

  • Comment number 77.

    Robinson has been in the job less than 3 years. In that time he has developed a quality squad with real competition for places. It is not so long ago that we had a team and nobody of any worth on the bench. He deserves the time to finish the job,up to the WC in 2015.

    Look at most of the successful international teams, and coaches they all needed more than a couple of years to develop.

  • Comment number 78.

    Who else?

    Michael Bradley
    Sean Lineen
    Gregor Townsend
    Any coach from the Tri-Nations who would take the job

    There, that was easy. As the article says his best just isn't good enough, his selections are always questionable, Dan Parks should have been forced out for Laidlaw, Weir and Jackson before the World Cup, and Cusiter should only be a backup if Blair and Lawson are unavailable.
    He did well with clubs, but he could not cut it with England, and he cannot with Scotland either. I actually hope we get the wooden spoon as hopefully the embarrassment of that will change the minds of the blind to statistics.

  • Comment number 79.

    Robinson has done a good job with a limited player base. As I stated in posts on other blogs the only thing he can be blamed for is making a few selection errors and had the more obvious ones forced on him through injury or unsupportable poor form. This tends to be the case with all the recent English coaches from Woodward through to Johnson where emerging talent is often overlooked in favour of established players using the old 'form is temporary but class is permanent' analogy. The reality is that form can often be the difference between winning or losing a match.

    The forwards are good, especially the back five, with the only weakness being the scrum. The half back pairings are getting better with two decent 10s and Blair enjoying good form. I would look to drop Cusiter in favour of the A team SH though as his form is poor at the moment. The backline is starting to look balanced with a mixture of bashers (centres and wing), runners (Evand and Hogg) and playmakers (10s). Maybe another playmaker in the centre (Ansbro when fit) and this backline will be able to make good use of the huge amount of ball that the forwards are winning.

    I've also commented on maybe dropping or supporting Townsend in the skills role as the majority of the passes are so far behind the gainline that the opposition defence are not threatened or moved out of line. This is also a confidence thing as Wales were doing the same a few seasons ago.

  • Comment number 80.

    A few observations on Scotland from Sunday...
    1. With what seemed like a dominant lineout, why arent Scotland pinning the opposition down in the corners with a chance of stealing the throw-in
    2. Why no attempt at drop goals, everyone else does it, mixing it up should make it harder to defend against
    3. Seemed like too many penalties given by forwards..Jacobsen seems to consistently be caught
    4. Scrums are designed to distribute the ball after a breakdown in play, with the team not at fault for the breakdown most likely, but not guaranteed, to get possession. Surely free kicks should be awarded if the scrum fails in all but the most serious of offences..then quick possession is awarded to the innocent team and the game continues...just a thought
    5. As a spectator I couldnt ask for more (other than a win) so keep up the good work, the wins will come!!

 

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