Solving the riddle of Scottish inconsistency

There is a sense of excitement building in Scottish rugby. To some, that may come as something of a surprise.

Scotland finished last in this year's Six Nations, Edinburgh faltered badly in the Rabodirect Pro12 and Glasgow's Heineken Cup campaign misfired.

Then there were the positives; Scotland winning three matches in the southern hemisphere against Australia, Fiji and Samoa; Edinburgh making it to the semi-final of the European Cup and Glasgow reaching the play-off stages of the league.

There is Scottish rugby in a nutshell; inconsistent.

Underpinning the way forward are the findings of a strategic document produced by Scottish Rugby entitled; Inspiring Scotland Through Rugby: The Journey to 2016.

Much has been made of this document's headline grabber: To win the Ruby World Cup in 2015. But what comes across in assessing the targets laid down for the whole game in Scotland is the need to address that troublesome inconsistency.

One indicator of success will the forthcoming Rabodirect Pro 12 season. This year the league launch was at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Present and correct at this curtain-raiser were 12 captains and 12 coaches all eager for the off.

For Glasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock there is the realisation that this could be a breakthrough season.

Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw

Laidlaw will lead Edinburgh again this season

"We're getting better backing from the SRU than we've ever had in my 11 years playing in Scotland," said the powerful lock.

"There's an increased player budget and you can see the benefits to our squad. I believe the squad we've got at Glasgow is as strong as it's ever been."

All well and good until the realisation kicks in that this is one of the toughest of competitions going, something which coach Gregor Townsend is well aware of.

"In terms of the quality of team, look at the Heineken Cup," he told BBC Scotland.

"The teams that have done well over the last few years are the RaboDirect Pro12 teams. I played in England, I played in France, those leagues are excellent, real high quality. They don't have the variety of our league."

Greig Laidlaw will captain Edinburgh again this year. Last season was an important one for the stand-off's development; first choice at 10 for his country and an entertaining tilt at the Heineken Cup.

He is aware though that on the domestic and international fronts targets have been set and improvements demanded.

"There's no point in going for mediocrity," explained Laidlaw.

"I want to be playing for Edinburgh and I want to be trying to win things. Sometimes it might not happen but if we can win games on a consistent basis I believe that the crowds will come along to watch as well."

And, talking of crowds, one of the targets contained within the Strategic Plan is the desire to increase the average attendance at league matches in Scotland to 10,000, a goal which will plainly depend on the performance of both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

For Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley though clarity of purpose and targets to strive for are more than welcome.

"It clears the decks in terms of the thought process," he stated. "If we don't achieve it then we fail."