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Robinson blameless for Scotland's troubles

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John Beattie | 09:45 UK time, Thursday, 23 February 2012

The accepted argument is that Scotland coach Andy Robinson is under pressure and that he will walk away should results go against him.

The beauty of a blog is that you can say what you think, so here goes: if Robinson walks it's a cop out, but I think results will improve before that has to happen.

You can't blame Robinson for Scotland's opening losses in this year's Six Nations. He may have made selection errors, but I can live with that.

If he goes he'll be making a big mistake; if Scotland sack him they are making a big mistake.

He's good enough to be the British Lions forwards coach as that is where his real strength lies.

I see better ruck clear outs, a more abrasive attitude, better offloading, more enterprise, and a higher tempo under Robinson.

I watched the game against Wales and that was Scotland and their players playing to their limit. If you were to design a gameplan to suit Scotland then that was it.

An early second-half mistake and then two yellow cards weren't Robinson's fault.

We always blame coaches, especially Scotland rugby team coaches, but he's been let down by players in key moments.

That game in Cardiff was as intense a Scottish performance as I've seen in recent years: planned and executed with precision.

Andy Robinson is aiming to improve Scotland's Six Nations fortunes

The World Cup wasn't managed properly and I believe selection and substitution errors were made there as well.

And little has been made of failing to qualify for the knockout stages, but I wonder if anyone might have managed these first two games any better.

I've spoken to Andy on a handful of occasions and he has one quality that I like: he's blunt.

You know that what you get to your face is what he thinks, unless it's on TV where few people give you the whole truth anyway.

The TV pictures of his furrowed brow hint at an, at times, anguished man who is much more intense than the happy-go-lucky interviews might suggest.

Like all coaches he's loyal to the players who have helped him along the way.

Perhaps the easiest thing for us as "watchers" is to believe that our players are among the best and should be winning most of their games.

History suggests that the Robinson's win ratio in test matches to date, 50%, lags only behind Bill Dickinson in the 1970's at 52%, Ian McGeechan in the late 1980s and early nineties with 58%, and Jim Telfer with 52% in the mid 80s.

Interestingly, he's fared better than in Telfer's second spell: 40% and McGeechan's second spell, 42% both about 10 years ago; and a fair bit better than Matt Williams at 18%; Frank Hadden at 39%; and Nairn McEwan in the 70's with 7%.

And you might argue that it's more difficult to win rugby games now as smaller teams become stronger.

So, I get the feeling that he's doing OK and that there aren't many coaches in the world who would get a better performance out of his players than him.

This is a big game against France; Robinson's picked the best players, they are principally coached at their clubs and he has given them a shape.

If Scotland beat France on Sunday then Robinson should rightly be praised, if we lose I actually don't think it's his fault.

And if he walks away it's actually a cop out as his influence should extend more to both professional teams and our grass roots.

But, hey, what do I know? What do you think?


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  • Comment number 1.

    I agree they look miles better even if the results aren't quite there yet. I have never played rugby to any standard but have watched it keenly since the Hastings brothers came into the Scottish team and I also lived in NZ for a couple of years too. We had a bit of success in the 80's and early 90's but really we have been relatively weak since professionalism. We simply don't seem to produce enough players ( especially from 12-15) with the right combination of skills, rugby sense, size and athleticism. That may now be changing I sense with a few more young players coming through who were barely born when the game went professional. To my mind I don't think Scotland will do that well until Edinburgh & Glasgow do well. So lets hope Glasgow stay in the top 4 and Edinburgh win the QF.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog John; I agree with your points about him going and agree that he shouldn't.

    On selections, I think he has been trying to walk a very fine line between horses for courses and consistency - with the added baggage of "Taitgate" hanging over him resulting in a reluctance to blood young talent early. As such he has been conservative and stuck to picking players who have the experience - see persuading Dan Parks not to retire pre the England game - and perhaps missed opportunities to refresh the squad as a result.

    Having said that, he has the team playing good rugby and the forwards have rarely looked better and he's twigged to the Blair / Laidlaw axis at last. Add Hogg making his first start and you can see where he's taking the team. My hope is that this is a reflection of strategy for the next few matches rather than a short term thing.

    Being a Scotland fan I am now dreading Sunday. Not because I don't think we have a chance, but because I think we do!

    Hope is a dangerous thing.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi John,

    I always really enjoy your blogs - I think you're very fair-minded when it comes to most things.

    I agree with you up to a point, I think Robinson is a great coach and the team (especially the pack) has come on in leaps and bounds since he's been involved but I do think that he's also a poor selector - of backs particularly and is often a bit too conservative for my liking.

    Take the team to face the French... I'm glad he's stuck with Laidlaw but he's not given the poor guy very much to work with outside him. Lamont and Morrison are both real grafters and they'll run all day for any team, through walls if they have to, but I tend to think that you need a contrast in the centres which they don't offer. A speedy, jinky kind of guy at either 12 or 13 to compliment more of a bruiser running in the other channel... I also, old fashioned though I may be, think that a crucial skill at centre is the ability to pass the ball... I hate being unkind to players but neither Morrison or Lamont have shown that they are good distributors of the ball - they tend to bang up, go to ground and wait for the ball to be recycled - by which time any competent defence has usually realigned or we've managed to knock the ball on...

    So in summary, yes let's stick with Andy but can we please get a decent backs coach in to help with selection and hopefully get us past our cringeworthy penchant for running moves 10 yards behind the gainline and wondering why we keep getting knocked on our bums!

  • Comment number 4.

    Blog on John.
    AR has the issue of managing dualities that all international coaches have - build a longer term strategic plan towards next World Cup with short term pressure on 6 Nations results. Bar the few selection hiccups outlined above, I believe he's the right man for Scotland and hope he does not 'walk the walk' if results go south again over the next few weeks.
    I thought both pro teams had a good start to this season due to all the build-up work done for the world cup - player errors have brought us to where we are now, not AR's coaching.
    With the newer players being blooded (I'd like to see even more introduced over next few weeks) we have the basis of a strong mobile and exciting forward pack, if only the backs were as capable. Surely NDL and GM have had enough chances and other players must be given a run.
    It will be interesting to see what happens to the existing coaching squad when Scott Johnstone arrives in the summer, he may just be the man to give the backs the confidence to deliver.
    Looking forward to France this weekend, and the future with AR still in charge.....

  • Comment number 5.

    Anything built upon so small a professional base is an achievement in itself.
    To work up to a 50% win ratio is more than icing, it is the very substance of the cake,
    rather than a living upon crumbs begrudged from another table, distant in time and place.

    We can only live in the time which are given and it is what we do now that counts,
    not the harping back to romantic daydreams, or to projections of unborn future hopes.

    These are great times for international rugby, and many another supporter
    in the Six Nations may well look askance at the obvious uneasiness with success
    that bedevils Scotland, for too many supporters seem to be at their happiest only
    when confronted with the misery of a self-induced sporting catastrophe,
    delighting in hissing, booing and destructive criticism to the extent
    that they feel guilty and evasive about winning when it arrives.

    Carpe Diem !

  • Comment number 6.

    We have the smallest player base of any of the top ten IRB nations - except Tonga - so it is amazing that we have beaten all the other six nations sides and even managed wins over South Africa and Australia recently.

    The key to a winning Scotland is selection and the team to play France is, in my view, the best available to achieve that.

    I think AR has been too conservative in selection to date but hopefully we will get the result on Sunday.

    Perhaps we should look to the Australians, who continually blood youngsters, for example James O'Connor, against the All Blacks etc. and pull off wins.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi John. To be quite honest, we all want to win but many of us are quite happy not to so long as we see evidence of progress and more than just hope for the future and that is what we are seeing. I believe that Andy Robinson is good for Scottish rugby and is developing the basis of a very good side with, most importantly, a good "bench" in addition to up and coming future players. Anyone who witnessed our "A" team demolish the Saxons at Netherdale would have left with the same belief. As John Cleese's schoolmaster said in "Clockwise", "I can live with the despair but the hope..."!

  • Comment number 8.

    Talk of win ratios is relevant here I think. AR is a natural winner and doesn’t like losing but, hey, at international level there are few easy games. Without wanting to see him go, maybe club rugby is his preferred hunting ground. Factor in a culture in Scotland where we see ourselves as underdogs who snatch the odd stunning victory, rather than seeing ourselves as potential winners, then there’s a greater conflict with his natural motivations. It’s a learning process for the coach, players and Scotland supporters I think. I’m behind him 100% by the way.

  • Comment number 9.

    I thoroughly enjoy this blog John, unlike so many others most writers on it are positive and we're spared the appalling invective that appears on some sites. In this case I agree completely with you. Andy Robinson is a technical expert and there's not a single player coached by him with whom I've spoken who hasn't felt his skills have improved immensely. He has weaknesses in his selection, if anything he's a little conservative, if you're good enough, you're old enough is the mantra in the SH, and one we should encourage. There are issues around the framework of Scottish rugby, as many of your correspondents point out, a 2-team professional base is far too low, however we have to be realistic and recognise that the economics of the game are such that we will never be rich and we have to cut our cloth to suit our resources.

    My only minor comment for some is, please do not focus on the failings or otherwise of Gregor Townsend. Anyone with even a slight experieince of coaching knows that ultimately the players have to deliver on the pitch. How often have Scotland got over the gain line into the 22 only to do someting stupid? How frustrating for a coach. In fact it's one of the reasons I don't coach any more...the blood pressure wouldn't stand it!

    Here's to a win on Sunday!

  • Comment number 10.

    John you raise valid points and I agree for the most part of what you are saying, I personally still believe AR has something to offer Scotland and hope he stays on beyond this campaign whatever the results. I've sat through the Hadden and Williams era in dispair where we didn't even look capable of creating chances and were totally lacking cohesion or any understanding as a team. Our pack could be arguably said to be the best unit of all the nations at present without any one player in it being considered a superstar (try having a lions selection discussion over any of the positions with the other home nation supporters!).

    Unfortunately where he does fall short is with the backline selections have often been seen as too conservative and the play at times has been very predictable and stilted. This isn't entirely his fault though we all now we have lack a cutting edge in midfield for sometime and the quality has maybe just not been there previously. Plus add to this the questionable input of Townsend, a coaching novice in prior to taking the position and the fact we have carried some unfortunate injuries to the like of Evans & Ansbro making selections even tougher!

    However, given that we've struggled with midfield issues for so long at 10-12-13 I would have thought he may have been a little more willing to try out new blood sonner rather than later. At 10 we are now doing this be it by default that all others have moved out of the frame (Patterson & Parks to retirement, Godman to injury and form in returning). But we continue to plough the same treads at 12 with Morrison, Lamont, etc being used there and found lacking in various areas. Perhaps we should be looking to others such as Grove (playing regularly again for Worcester again I believe) or Matt Scott who has been playing well in the A team and with Edinburgh?

  • Comment number 11.

    Andy Robinson brings more to Scottish rugby than merely coaching the national senior squad. When he arrived at Edinburgh he strived to introduce better links between Edinburgh and the clubs and this lead to all pro team players being allocated to the top clubs. His aim was, and still is, to build strength in depth and to include the clubs in what the pro teams are doing - knocking down the "them and us" barrier to the betterment of Scottish rugby.

    I don't think that it is any accident this season that Glasgow are performing well the RaboDirectPRO12 league and that Edinburgh are in the QF of the Heineken Cup. Andy Robinson knows that with the limited resources one team cannot do both but that to bring the crowds in we need to have one doing well in each.

    The national senior team has improved no end since Andy took charge. The issue we face is that he took over when we really were struggling to get any worse. At that time Scottish rugby was a laughing stock amonst the other top nations. Andy has done an awful lot to lay that tag to rest. Scotland are performing well and playing some exciting rugby for the first time in many years - evidenced by the French game being a sell out for the first time since the stadium was revamped in 1994.

    We must not forget that the other top nations are also improving all the time and that Scotland have a long way to go to catch up. Andy Robinson, in my view, has made an encouraging start and long may the revival continue.

    If I were sitting in Mark Dodson's seat then Andy Robinson's future at the SRU would be secure.

  • Comment number 12.

    sorry john, I don't think you're right. AR's done his management course and has people who will take the blame for his poor selections and tactics. Unfortunately he's here to stay whether we win or lose on Sunday. The players are stifled by his autocratic style and terrified of losing. Not only that, they are bloody awful to watch. AR seems to be living off the memory of one good season with Edinburgh and from what you suggest he should stay regardless of results. Two wins out of twelve in the six nations is just not good enough.

  • Comment number 13.

    John Beattie - talking sense again - thank you John

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with John Beattie that A.R. is doing o good job with the Scotland team.
    Having only 2 professional club sides is obviously a handicap with no signs that we will have any more in the near future.
    His selections of the forwards and back row have given Scotland a more solid,competitive edge that were lacking with previous coaches.
    We just need a more skilful and enterprising back line to open up the opposition defence and create more try scoring opportunities.
    We have plenty of young blood coming through and i am expecting exciting times ahead for our supporters.
    Lets start with beating the highly overrated French and send them homeward to think again.

  • Comment number 15.

    Scotland have the potential to be a decent team: mobile scavanging pack with a hint of promise in the backline. I think if a few results go their way they'll be a handful - for the first time in ages I could see a couple of Scottish players in the Lions.

    As an Irish fan this worries me!

  • Comment number 16.

    Scotland have definitely improved under AR even if this hasn't manifested itself in results. At least we are making chances now which was not the case a few years ago. The forwards have been immense. The backs have had plenty of ball but have lacked a little skill and cutting edge. AR can only work with what he has. Will be interesting to see Morrison and Sean Lamont together. Don't think it will quite as bad as some are making out. Both have a point to prove. Good Blog John!

  • Comment number 17.

    In the absense of an thread about the England team selection today, I would just like to take this opportunity to say that I think that Lancaster has got the selection exactly correct. It is the team I would have selected myself, pace and power out wide, with a big carrying nmber 8.

    The second row did need spicing up also, and this is a good move Boatha was playing the better of the two.

  • Comment number 18.

    Have to agree with you John. I can't help but feel Scotland would be shooting themselves in the foot if they got rid of Robinson. Put simply who would come in and do better? Who are the likely candidates to replace him?

    Scotland have for a while looked just shy of result and whilst I don't think they'll win on Sunday, they should take Italy and I fancy their chances against Ireland.

    In the Wales game you have to say they were unlucky not to be going in at half time in the lead and were it not for the yellow cards they still might have come away with a result.

    The main thing in his favour though is that you look at the decisions he makes and you generally say 'Well that was the right call.' Typically it's the players on the pitch that have led to Scotland's less than glorious record. I'm not saying he doesn't make mistakes but they're not many and typically he's right.

    Now if we can just get the BBC cameras to show the game not his reactions to it....

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi John, love reading your blog but unfortunately I whole-heartedly disagree.

    Firstly, you said he may have made selection errors but you can live with that. Unfortunately I cannot. He is solely to blame for our opening defeats. Just as De Luca fumbled over the try line in the world cup to send us home, he again helped us lose against Wales and England. He is simply the worst international rugby player I have ever seen. He is our attacking threat and has scored 1 try in about 45 caps, against Romania, from centre. That is a dismal record. whats more, he's a swinging door in defence and leaks tries. So yes, two yellow cards are AR fault for playing players out of their depth.

    Secondly, you said, The World Cup wasn't managed properly and I believe selection and substitution errors were made there as well. So how can you be so supportive big John? For the last three years its just been error after error in selection, and again, I feel that had a significant role to play toward our World Cup exit, do you not agree?

    Thirdly, you say you see better ruck clear outs, etc. Scotlands pack has been competitive for as long as I can remember. They are simply not the problem and do a great job every week. They consistently provide a platform, which maybe to the credit of AR, but our backs are awful, and so we cannot score tries, and this, again, is the fault of Robinson.

    Lastly, you say he is doing OK. Is that good enough for our international rugby coach, OK?! I don't think so. And saying that you will congratulate him if we beat France, but he's blameless if we don't, confuses me. He is responsible for the result, come victory or not.

    He was terrible with England and forced them to play a negative brand, and got sacked. He has been terrible for Scotland forcing us to play a negative brand, and he's blameless. I don't get it.
    Numerous coaches would do a better job, eddie jones, white, bradley? the return of geech, telfer duo? that would be the day...

    The sooner Robinson goes, the better.

  • Comment number 20.

    I do like Andy Robinson as coach but his team selections often mystify me. Not selecting Blair against the Welsh for example was a mistake, and when you hear his reasons for selecting Blair this time round.. its exactly the reason he should have started 2 weeks !

    I can accept viewing Sean Lamont as an outside centre but pairing him Morrison... whats that all about ? We've got half backs to implement an expansive running game plan with 2 centres who can't pass ! maybe we are going to do centre crash ball then miss one for 80 mins.

    I also don't understand playing Barclay at blind side in favor of vernon at 8 and Denton to 6, maybe this is due to a lack of game time for Vernon.

    Scotland for me need a ball playing inside centre. I would dearly love to see Jackson getting some game time at inside centre for Glasgow in the same way that Matt Scott has been allowed at Edinburgh.

    Frustratingly I think we are very close from being a good international side. Robinson is still the man we need.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why pick one centre who can't pass the ball when you could pick two!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with lonelyonthewing #3

    I feel AR is a good coach and has made a lot of progress with the team.
    There is no point in getting rid of AR unless there is sombody better available. They would have to be a better coach and also gel with the team and fans to the level that AR does. Currently there isn't anybody that I can think of who could fit the bill.

    The forwards are doing really well but the back do seem to be struggling a wee bit.

    I would like to see the introduction of new/extra attacking and backs coaches within the Scottish setup.

    I respect NDL as a player but feel he could benefit from returning to his club game for a couple of weeks to revive his skill. In his place I would like to see some of the other Scotland A players getting their chance in the 6 nations, Alex Grove perhaps and possibly Matt Scott?

    Ultimately the backs don't seem to be able to read the game and so fail to make critical passes or back up line breaks. Maybe this is a lack of confidence or lack of expectation?

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry John, but I can not agree

    he has shown he can not be trusted with selection

    the 'Parks'gate mess - asking a person who wanted to retire, who was BANG OUT OF FORM to play a game in a style that has not worked in the 6 nations for us ever was poor. His treatment of Parks after was terrible - everyone and their dog knew we would lose that game (against a terrible England side) as soon as the selection was announced

    His selection in the world cup cost us any chance - dropping your captain - really - !

    His selection in this 6 nations has been terrible as well - he was FORCED (and showed he did not want to) into selecting the young players, who were full of confidence and also in form -

    He wants to play anti rugby - his press conference regarding the French really said - I want to ruck ruck ruck and wait until they are tired

    He refuses to try anything new (even after the way we play has not worked for years) - new players are not given a chance

    He plays people out of position, when there are players available who are good enough - S Lamont playing 13!!! Barcely playing 6!!!

    He shows favouritism to players who do not perform (and are out of form) to the exclusion of others

    His quote again in the conference - was somwething like - I know Cussiter is playing badly and reluctently I need to bring Blair in to start - however I still think Cussiter is the No 9 for me going forward - How to destroy the confidence of Blair

    He seems clueless on tactics (Why are we playing a fast passing 9 and 10, to then go to the two 'can not pass, will not pass'' centres who will run slowy into contact and start another boring ruck 3 metres behind where we started.

    We would forgive him if he was bringing in youngsters and trying to play a game to win, but losing. But this Anti Rugby and losing is not the way forward

    One question I would ask

    If Hines and Patterson had not retired, would they have been selected - for me yes - and that is the problem

  • Comment number 24.

    fergmac @19 you said the pack has been as competitive for as long as you can remember. I'm guessing you've only been going to the internationals in the last few years or are choosing to forget Hadden's final years in charge were we got bullied by some distinctly average sets of forwards! Nevermind Williams tenure where we regularly got murdered in the scrums by just about everyone. Thankfully not seen that for a while now *touches wood and rubs lucky white heather*

    Over the last few games the part that I have noticed with Scotland is that when we make a line break it is never a back that is following in support but always a forward. Main differnece I see at the moment between us and the like of Ireland, France & Wales is that when they make a break they have a speed man on the outside ready to finish off the break. It's almost like the backs aren't following the play because the either a)don't expect the break or B) are sticking to a pre-made training ground move and not deviating from it

  • Comment number 25.

    Comments seem to be broken....

  • Comment number 26.

    Big John,

    I feel what has disappointed me more than anything else during AR's current six nations tenure is his reluctance to try new options.
    Following a rather dismal World Cup, the general consensus should have been from the off to establish a four year plan with a view on building to the next one. Australia have done this previously with James O'Connor etc..., Wales are doing it at the moment, England are in a rebuilding process. At the start of Marc Lieveremont's tenure (fair play he was a bit of shambles at the end) he still blooded some 40 odd players with a view to gaining exposure and establishing a squad for the World Cup.

    I can accept loosing if we are trying out a new pattern of play, blooding new players and are in a rebuilding process. But I cannot when he continually picks players not worthy to wear the badge (NDL)

  • Comment number 27.

    Midas_child, Having been going to Murrayfield for the last 20 years, I agree they did get run over against some far more talented packs under Hadden and Williams. However I just don't feel the packs of the past were ever quite as poor and struggled quite as much as the backs are now.

    Trev@22- I completely agree with you, having played a huge amount of rugby with Grove over the last ten years, his defence is exceptional and his basic skill level is far better than de luca. His debut against Australia was a win, as was his second game against Fiji, and then he was dropped, and I don't understand why. He is a young gifted player and deserves another crack.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why doesn't Sean Lineen join the management team? His background as a back, combined with his current management of young, exciting backs at Glasgow could be the spark that's needed. Sorry to Townsend but as has been said before on this and other sites, can you really teach the innate skills he had? If not, has he the current experience to justify his position over someone like Lineen at this point in time? Perhaps get Lineen in as consultant and potential successor to AR, who as JB tacitly suggests, has probably done as much as he can with the national team now.

  • Comment number 29.

    As a convert to Rugby from Football in the 70's I was used to seeing Scottish sides meet tougher opposition because other teams were better.There was always a passion and at times random acts of genius which were so entertaining.
    Sadly when I watched the England Scotland game I came to the conclusion that it was watching a Premier league game with both sides coached by similar English coaches. I firmly believe that we have a reasonable squad, but for some time we have not had a manger of the Gatland ,Woodward calibre who can take teams to the self belief stage.I am sorry I totally disagree with the view that Robinson should stay. I never approved of his selection in the first place

  • Comment number 30.

    Andy Robinson is not a bad coach, but Scotland aren't a very good test side either. After three years in charge, who should shoulder the responsibility for that, if not AR?

    A whitewash looks quite possible in this year's 6N. After failing to get out of the group stage at RWC2011, I'm afraid his position becomes untenable if that happens. With England and France at home, three wins out of five was a reasonable goal this season.

    Sure the players have been culpable, but are you honestly suggesting that there are no circumstances under which AR should be criticised for the team's failures?

    I'm afraid I disagree. If we finish with the Wooden Spoon, I think he'll jump before he's pushed, and it will be the right thing to do.

  • Comment number 31.

    Another topical Blog John.Thoroughly enjoying everyones comments.
    I hope Robinson stays and I hope he reads the supportive messages here. Mistakes by players have cost us 5/6 recent games that I can recall.Others may point to more.Had we won those,we wouldn't be discussing his future,quite the contrary.I do agree with everyone about some of his selections.Glad De Luca is on the bench.
    @4 Sorry but I think the World Cup should be the furthest thing from AR's mind.We won't win the next one or the one after that.Build a squad that wins more than it loses would seem to be a more realistic objective and no mean feat if he pulls it off.
    Changing the subject.John,any chance we could have a very loud announcement over the tannoy before the game urging...make that insisting,that fans respect opposition players when they're taking penalties or conversions.Out of the Home Nations we really are the biggest sinners.Shameful really.
    Scotland by a point. *Please God.I can't afford anymore new televisions*

  • Comment number 32.

    I think we all agree A.R is a forward coach, could do with some help with back selection but the public must like what they see if Murrayfield sold out for French game. First time in how long ?

  • Comment number 33.

    I guess the challenge you have as a coach is you can only work with the players that are available to you. It's not Andy Robinson's fault that he has no pace in his back line. Thom Evans was a huge loss and there isn't exactly a queue of fast guys waiting in the wings. What Robinson has done is developed a pack of forwards that will not take a step backwards. Scotland have to believe and have faith. It will suddenly come good, at least I hope so. Mind you it's good to see the support coming back for both Glasgow and Edinburgh and the national side. Good luck on Sunday let's hope the French don't travel.

  • Comment number 34.

    "If Scotland beat France on Sunday then Robinson should rightly be praised, if we lose I actually don't think it's his fault."

    If this is the opinion of the average Scottish rugby supporter - and it appears from the comments that it is - then delusion has reached a frenzied level.

  • Comment number 35.

    I fully agree, he has made a big difference to the mindset and style of the players in the national team. He is not responsible for a general lack of quality and/or depth across the squad, that is down to his predecessors and the SRU. He is responsible for a few selection errors and maybe not having a Plan B when Plan is is failing, but without the personnel to effect a Plan B it's not really an option.

    I would like to see a change in his backroom team and would question the benefit gained from having Gregor Townsend as the backs coach. Brilliant player, but seems to have made little improvement over the last few seasons. Scott Johnson should hopefully install belief into the players to boost confidence which is one of the key ingredients missing from turning a gutsy error strewn display into a winning one.

    It may be worth looking outside of Scotland for a skills/backs coach. A Kiwi, Aussie or Welsh appointment who has been involved at club/national level in the past 2 seasons may bring dividends as they seem to be the most attacking sides at the moment.

  • Comment number 36.

    I disagree entirely if Scotland want another 3 years of mediocrity then stick with him. He is a good coach, but has his limitations and has taken Scotland as far as he can. If you want another 3 years of playing off with Italy for the wooden Spoon and failing to come out of the group stages at the next RWC then your on the right path.

    Scotland are going to be outside of the top 8 at the end of this year, which could have significant reprecussions for 2015. Its time to llok south for Scotish Rugby. Sure keep Andy Robinson on in some capacity, but Scotland need to change their style and only a super 16 coach can help. Be under no illusions with the Welsh game that Scotland were well beaten by a superior team. Yes they performend well for periods, but 2 defeats out of two is the bottom line as per usual...

  • Comment number 37.

    John. Forgive me but bluntly (as your reference to Robinson's style, who seems indeed to have improved performancesbut not results), should Scotland accept their current status of a second-tier rugby nation (10th in IRB list), as reflected in results since the beginning of the professional era? I watch the 6N despairingly on BBC America from the west coast of USA but am a native of Hawick (and used to better results both nationally and internationally), so my exposure is limited by geographic location although I keep in touch with the game on the web. Is this a defeatist attitude or is there hope given the seemingly limited Scottish rugby-involved demographic? B.t.w., very proud of Hogg, yet another capped Hawick man who in my view, scored a debut try against Wales at Cardiff. -Some rotten luck in calls against, including the English game.

  • Comment number 38.

    Re: If Scotland beat France on Sunday then Robinson should rightly be praised, if we lose I actually don't think it's his fault.

    Really John? really??

    Not to be too fatalistic but I almost think that if we win with the backline that has been selected this week then it is bad for the Scotland team in the long run.

    I know there are and have been injuries that are outside of Robinson's control, but to pair Morrison and Lamont in the centers is utterly baffling. If Lamont was given a Jamie Robertslike game plan of running strong hard lines like he did with that try against France last year then he would be a pretty good inside center...but to put him at 13, where ones reading of the game is essential, his basic skills/tunnel vision with the ball in hand just dont make the cut.

    Sigh...and Morrison....3 tries in around 40 internationals speaks for itself (I know Roger Baird was great without ever scoring for Scotland but come on!)

    After watching Fofana and Rougerie munch the Italians a few weeks ago my usual optimism for the Scotland team has reached its nadir.

    Robinson has got too sort out his selection policy!

    I'm just throwing this out there but why not a backline like this for the summer tour:

    9- Blair
    10- Laidlaw
    11- Visser
    12- S Lamont
    13- Evans
    14- Ansbro, Jones, or R Lamont
    15- Hogg

    Max Evans in particular is the key to sharpening up our attack, his step and ball skills are wasted on the wing - [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] and with the long awaited arrival of Visser I think we have a bright future.

    Robbo just needs to man up and start making some cutthroat decisions.

  • Comment number 39.

    Completely agree reiverpacific, hogg's a very exciting prospect, pity that it was another pathetic de luca pass, highlighting his week skill set that led to the unfairly disallowed try! Thanks again Nick. another village display.

    And Numberto, I completely agree, What a strange position big John has taken, great if we win, and seems like its ok if we lose. We're just getting too used to being average and its becoming to be perceived as being acceptable, Which should be unacceptable!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I totally agree with you John. Robbo has changed the team from the headless chicken variety to a team that displays real capability. It is not his fault that the team make schoolboy errors when in a position to score. He cannot change years of wrong policy in relation to schools/youth rugby by the SRU in a couple of years. I trust he will not be pressurised to resign by the old guard of fans who are stuck in the amateur era.
    On that subject I trust the morons who have in the past booed Dan Parks will have the decency to either shut up or better applaud enthusiastically when he and Nathan Hines come on to the pitch on Sunday. These are two guys who have given their all for Scotland.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes, I agree with you John. I would like to see AR stay. The results have been disappointing but the performances are improving. For me consistency is the key.
    The longer the squad stays together under AR the likelihood the results will follow. Dare I mention-Clive Woodward's initial record prior to 2003.
    That said, I'm still not comfortable with Gregor Townsend as backs coach. Gregor as we know was an exceptional talent on the field-and boy could we be doing with him now. But as you mentioned, the forwards have improved drastically under AR. While the backs under Gregor have remained stagnant in terms of progression.

  • Comment number 42.

    You are a bit late in appreciating Robinsons talents, but I suppose better late than never. Compared to Williams and Hadden he is different class and is only in his third season.

    We are just a couple of errors away from some good results and all the Robinson detractors have very short memories.

    One thing that needs improvement is support, and it getting there quicker. We concede too many penalties or turnovers because our ball carrier is isolated.

  • Comment number 43.

    Someone's messed up the links on here - I clicked on an Abramovich-related article and ended up here. Fix please!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    I think AR is a good forwards coach John but has in the past been conservative with his backs selections (I believe we're seeing this again with the centres combination on Sunday - I hope I'm wrong). I also agree with some others that he needs a more experienced backs coach to help him.
    This team can win on Sunday if we play with the intensity we showed for much of the Welsh game. We just need to cut down the errors and I still think we're not clearing the breakdown in numbers, which means teams are getting in to slow it down; the Welsh were brilliant at that. I also hope that Laidlaw and the centres can get the back three into the game regularly.
    Losing AR won't solve anything, let's just strengthen the team around him and keep building there's some promising young talent emerging.

  • Comment number 45.

    Enjoyed the Blog, am sure Robinsons record is the same as Hadden, but i do see a improvement,, and think Scotland needs AR more than he needs us, his lack of wins is harming any future Career prospects. Townsend if it was performance related then no one will touch,England knew every play,and only by not trusting the backs against Wales,did we prosper. and after all that negitivity, come Sunday night we will have a win to celibrate

  • Comment number 46.

    Why is NDL on the bench? Surely it makes more sense to give someone else a chance of the bench: Scott, Grove, Ansbro, King, Shingler, or even still, have Brown on the bench and move Hogg to the centre for the last 20 minutes of the game.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sorry John, can't agree. Robinsons coat must be on the shoogliest of shoogly pegs.

    No wins in last 4 games and 1 try in the last 5 games, that's hardly stats to back up the fact that Robinson and the Scottish coaches are getting it right.

    You state that the ruck clear outs are much better, how then can you explain the ball at the back of the ruck for what seemed an eternity several times in the 1st half in Cardiff and countless times vs England? the slow ball was as much a crippling factor to the backs play as was playing a winger at 12 and a poor 13 outside.

    It's not just the centre pairing which is depressing me about Sundays game - can anyone explain how Jacobsen and Cross are in the side ahead of Kalman and Welsh? Jacobsen and Cross were part of a front row taken apart by Romania during the RWC and part of a shaky Edinburgh scrum this season, yet the Glasgow scrum and front-row in particular this season has been excellent. I fear being taken apart in the front row on Sunday as we were against France last season.

  • Comment number 48.

    Big John,

    I look forward each week to reading your blog, but this week I found you to be taking a rather conservative stance.

    Your statement:
    If Scotland beat France on Sunday then Robinson should rightly be praised, if we lose I actually don't think it's his fault.

    Does not make any sense. Could you elaborate as to why this is the case?

    I think AR is doing an ok job, and dont see what changing at this current juncture will do. But his performance needs to be reviewed at the end of the 6N. I don't see us having a chance against the French, or the Irish or even the Italians in Rome.

    And can I add my voice to the "Centre-bashing" band-wagon of supporters out there. I don't feel like I can really add anything to it. Sean Lamont for all he tries- not a centre. We should be looking beyond Graeme Morrison. And NDL- absolutely useless. Surely AR is reading the comments on this blog and the Scotsman etc.. and everywhere you look there is such disillusionment with the centre pairing its getting almost boring reading about it. Can you offer any sort of advice as to why he continues to pick such average centres? And Im interested to know what your centre pairing would be and why?

  • Comment number 49.

    "The World Cup wasn't managed properly and I believe selection and substitution errors were made there as well."

    Says it all.

    Great forwards coach - best ever according to the likes of Hill and Dallaglio.

    Poor selector and tactician.

    That makes him a poor Head Coach.

    Scotland have been rubbish under Robbo - and still are.

  • Comment number 50.

    As an Englishman, Scotland under Robinson is almost a repeat of England under AR. An excellent pack of forwards, but poor selection behind the scrum. Up until Wells et all were put in place, the English pack was dominant, but we had a backline who could not take advantage.

    The problem was rather than just bringing in coaches to work with the backline, the RFU chose to bring in a forwards coach, and to totally undermine Robinson as head coach (anybody remember Rob Andrew sat directly behind him on the touchline).
    The challenge for scotland is to find the right man to work with AR to sort out the backs.

  • Comment number 51.

    I have to agree with #50. Our forwards are way more effective than they have been since the 6N started and apart from some weak scrum performances they hold their own. The problem seems to be trusting the backs to move the ball. Everytime Scotland play it looks as if they are trying to break the world record for amount of rucks set up in an international rugby match. They seem to retain possession with relative ease but then just repeat the whole process until someone gets fed up and puts in a misplaced kick or a simple pass gets dropped.
    With the backs Robinson seems to pick a team that will counter the opposition rather than allow any creative play of our own and I think he has to be a lot less conservative in this regard. He needs to pick ball players at 10,12 and 13, not just some cart horses that can retain possession and very little else (we have 8 forwards already doing this). We have plenty of fast wingers and if (a fit) Max Evans and Lee Jones can get the ball in a little bit of space instead of relying on scraps we might even score the odd try. There are encouraging signs though, with Hogg, Weir and Scott all coming into contention and hopefully a fit Ansbro will return at some point to add some more pace.

  • Comment number 52.

    Firstly, I think anyone who wants to see the back of him has to come up with a credible alternative as an improvement. Even before Graham Henry signed up for further work in NZ I think we might have struggled to lure him to the NZ of the North!

    I think the criticism is a bit unwarranted. Most games now we're one mistake away from a good result.
    Argentina in Wellington - 1 missed tackle.
    England in Auckland - 1 missed tackle.
    This year's Calcutta Cup - 1 chargedown and 1 missed pass.

    Wales we were beaten by a better side, but they were unfortunate not to be RWC finalists!

    If we rewind 5 years to the horror show at the start of the match against Italy, 3 tries in 7 mins, and that just doesn't happen any more.

    Before anyone gets to critical of the side for the France match, we should bear in mind that he's been robbed of possibly the 2 most creative backs we have in Ansbro and Evans.

    I hope he sticks with it for a while yet, as the side has shown definite improvement under his guidance, and I don't think he's topped out yet. It'll be interesting to see how things go when Scott Johnson arrives...

  • Comment number 53.

    Agree completely with the above 4 posters (47-50). Ditch AR. But no, we can't afford to terminate his contract, can we?
    This is the man who picked Dan Parks time after time, the stand off with no attacking flair who isn't any good at anything except hoofing the ball (and then sometimes into opponents' arms or missing touch at penalties), doesn't tackle, won't take a tackle, flings the ball away if an opponent gets within 5 yards, gives hospital passes. Anyway, he did the decent thing and is no longer considered (don't like having non-Scots involved anyway).
    Then my next target, NdL. I've never rated him, we've got better centres. And his yellow card in the last game was unbelievably stupid (I blame Rory less, things were a bit chaotic then).
    How about putting Morrison at 12 and Sean at 13, where he could be more effective?
    At least we've got Rory being selected ahead of Southwell at last.
    And AR. Out please. Get someone in who understands what it takes to penetrate a defence using methods which don't use forwards as battering rams. Defences are far too organised for that these days (although we have shown some promise in attack with the forwards). And Gregor. He had success through having his own flair, not by creating and following plans. He is obviously not the right backs coach.
    We do have some players, not in depth, I know. But much better use can be made of the pool we have.

  • Comment number 54.

    Alisdair - think you're wrong, we lost not because of a single mistake but because of a lack of penetration in attack. If we had had that, the odd mistake could be borne - there will always be the odd mistake.

  • Comment number 55.

    I sincerely hope Andy Robinson stays in post. He is a good coach and a good man who deserves our backing to do his job. That said my opinion of him will drop if he walks, it's easy to walk from something when it is not going well.

  • Comment number 56.

    Robinson is an excellent forwards coach, we and the 2003 england team are agreed on that. Are the forwards available for selection relatively better or is the coaching failing the backs? It saddens me when the Scotland coach has to talk about improving the backs passing under pressure. These are skills that should be pretty well perfected before reaching the elite level surely?
    Robinson's greatest failing is as a selector. Does anyone genuinely think he knows what his best team is? And is there another coach in world rugby whose selections are so influenced by the opponents and their style of play? Pick your best team. let them play together. Let the units within the team gel and back your choices. It's actually a pretty cushy number as John points out. Win less than half your games, score less than a try a game, win 2 six nations games out of 12, sneak past Georgia in a world cup, pick different half back combos in 9 straight games and blame it all on the bounce of ball and you'll be considered a success.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is a really interesting blog I think.

    When a team loses (or wins) whose fault is it? Players? Coach?

    Sometimes it is obvious that the coach has messed things up with selection tactics training etc.
    Every team has a peak that it can perform at, teams like NZ it is so high it doesn’t matter. But with Scotland's……..poor player base there are few if any teams in the top 10 they can be expected to beat. So that really limits what a coach can do.
    Scotland got into positions to score v England but numerous player errors ensured they didn’t. Coaches fault or players bottling it at key moments. Very likely the players fault, due to panic at actually being in a try scoring opportunity, or an underlying lack of self belief they can actually pull it off. I cant see it being a direct impact of what Robinson has been doing with them. But at the same time he still has a responsibility…..could he have done more to their temperament?
    Scotland looked sharper v Wales but I don’t think there was any way they would have won short of Wales shooting themselves in both feet!

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 57

    funny you should say that really. That is exactly what I was thinking.

    At the end of the day sometimes it is the coaches, sometimes the players. I think in both games this 6Nations it has been down to player mistakes.

    AR cannot allow for poor decision making, or poor handling from supposedly Scotlands best players. All the head coach can really work on it tactics, motivation and set plays. They don't have the time to, nor should they need to, develop a players ability further. that is down to the players and the club coaches.

    an international coach's job is to get the players in the right frame of mind, get them motivated for the game and make sure they go out with the knowledge of what you want them to do. After that it is down to their ability to play the game you have told them to

  • Comment number 59.

    @58: Good use of punctuation!

    I would say that a coach can be forgiven for the odd game that is lost by player mistakes. If it is a reoccuring factor then I think that hints that the coach is at fault, either in selection, or some training method is destroying core skills (assuming they were there at all).

  • Comment number 60.

    @ 59

    I don't need no German telling me how to punctuate Mr Ichallen!

    I think it is safe to say that the scottish players (in the main) have the core skills. It is just down to individual mistakes that cost them dearly as they don't have the quality in the side to make up for these errors.

    I think if it is the same players making the mistakes then it becomes a selection problem. If it different players then that is not the coaches fault.

    I think one of Scotlands main problems is that the other teams around them are progressing faster than they are at this point in time and that definitely needs to be looked at.

  • Comment number 61.

    Re: If Scotland beat France on Sunday then Robinson should rightly be praised, if we lose I actually don't think it's his fault.

    I know a number of people have cited this statement but...

    Really John? Really???

    I know there are and have been injuries that are outside of Robinson's control but his selection policies continue to be utterly ludicrous. I think his pugnacious attitude compared to the respective soft touches of Williams and Hadden is just what we need, but the backlines he puts together go from bad to worse.

    I am baffled by the pairing of Morrison and Lamont. I think the if Lamont was given a Jamie Robertslike game plan to run lines like he did with that try against France last year then he would be a solid inside center. However, with his poor distribution and tunnel vision with ball in hand, I don't think he is versatile enough for 13.

    Sigh...and Morrison...3 tries in around 40 odds caps speaks for itself (I know Roger Baird was great and never scored a try but come on!!)

    Blair and Laidlaw are the halfback partnership that should have started against England and it shouldn't have taken two losses for Robbo to realize this. Having watched them galvanise an Edinburgh team that looked shakey at the start of this season surely it was logical for them to get the nod.

    Injuries aside I really do think, despite what the majority of BBC pundits would say, that Scotland have the backs to complement what is an strong and efficient pack.

    Looking beyond this six nations, with the long awaited arrival of Tim Visser, Robbo could cast the shackles aside and start experimenting. Max Evans has to go back to 13, his handling and excellent step are wasted on the wing where more often than not he has to produce something from nothing (as he has done in the past few years against England and Wales). I am just going to throw this out there but here is the Scottish backline I think should start during the summer tour:

    9- Blair
    10- Laidlaw
    12- S Lamont
    13- Evans
    14- R Lamont, Jones, Ansbro
    15- Hogg

    Judging by the current vein of selection such a team looks a long way off... I just wish Andy would get a bit more cut throat. If we do lose on Sunday John I'm afraid he is just as culpable as the players.

  • Comment number 62.

    #56 smuggydougie. Good points well made.

    Some mixed messages in your intro, JB, but at least they spark healthy and enjoyable debate as usual.

    Our defence is good, yet the defence coach is leaving. Our backs have been struggling for some time, but their coach is apparently staying whilst an acknowledged heavyweight is coming in to hold his hand and help him out. Let's face it, even AR's staff selections are unconvincing.

    Other than the Kellock RWC captaincy debacle, I think AR has done an excellent job with our forwards. They are a competitive unit with respectable strength in depth. Our backs, on the other hand, are anything but. We've had bad luck with injuries in recent seasons, but I don't think we've made anything like the best use of our modest resources. At least a promising crop of youngsters are coming through now.

    The Morrison/Lamont pairing smacks of the same finger in the dyke myopia which saw Parks start against England. They are both fine players who will give their all and I hope they play blinders against France.

    It's the duty of every true Scottish rugby fan to raise the roof for Parks and Hines on Sunday.

    Let's cut out this booing of the opposition kicker carry on, eh? It's an oval shaped ball with standards and traditions to uphold.

  • Comment number 63.

    @60: Liverpaul.........cant agree with your last statement.

    England have regressed since last year, so have Ireland. Who knows where France are!?!? Italy are slightly better, but not by a great deal. Wales are better but fail to win when it really matters. So I don't see any team progressing that far. Scotland just arent doing anything. How long can a development period go on for. At some point they need to start winning. If I was Scottish I am sure I would settle for some ugly wins by now!

  • Comment number 64.

    AR has very few international class players to work with.

    The props are poor at the basics (good in loose), flattered only by fact Irish props are worse and Welsh props (other than A Jones and to a less extent Gethin) have not a clue what the purposes of a prop is.

    Ross Ford is a decent international quality hooker but not better than that

    Big Jim and Ritchie Grey are excellent

    Back row is excellent (and young)

    Scrum half is an interesting selection dilemma, Cussiter is a favorite of mine but seems to be slowing by the game, Mike Blair is good but can get into a dreadful run of form from time to time.

    Fly half is unproven

    Centres there is a massive problem in that the only centres close to true international quality are Max Evans and Ansbro and that is too small a combination.

    Back 3, just dreadful. Moving Max on to wing at least gives some attacking potential but weakens the centres. Hogg looked to be a real star at full back but needs game time

  • Comment number 65.

    is it really good enough to just be competative and lose? i really don't know. Scotland fans have to be realistic about what our own expectations can be, with a very small playing population etc. BUT, we have a larger pop. than both Ireland and Wales, so we maybe have to look at other countries and see how they are doing things better and take a leaf from their book. i think it was Alex Salmond, i can't remember so i may be way off the mark, who said something about making Rugby the biggest Sport in Scotland, maybe this is the only way!
    We are just as bad at football as we are at Rugby, and if Rangers Liquify then maybe that will signal a turn to Rugby for many youngsters, as well as Supporters to attened games. i feel we will always be a nothing team in football, as resources and funds etc will ALWAYS now play against us, there is just no way we can take on Brazil etc in terms of a pool of quality footballers. but we could take on the best at Rugby, if we focused on this as the country's main sport. this may be more than a 'sack AR thing' it may be a generation thing. players such as Gray, Denton, Rennie, Hogg are perhaps the best players coming through i have seen, albeit i have only watched international Rugby for maybe 6 years, i am 18 btw.
    also, i was on FB the other day, and i noticed one of my old primary friends who moved away to Ireland YEARS ago, posting something about a Rugby final, and all his Rugby friends commented on it. see, where i am, the only thing i see on FB is about football, and how the games are usually cancelled! most of these players are average, and most of them drink the previous night before and go to games with a hangover. something has to change.
    i would like to do my bit, i have played all different sports, and i am not good enough to do any of them professionally, but i play most do a good level. i try not to drink too often, like to go to the gym etc, applying for University this year..... blah blah blah. well basically, we need to, as a nation, improve our attitude towards our sports, cut out the drink, focus on doing as well as possible, and have a Sport we can realistically do well in as our national Sport. i have totally gone off topic, but basically we do not have enough good players, as is evident in the midfield, and wings. i am going to Murrayfield on Sunday for the first time as an adult, i might just break that drinking rule this time, but this is basically my opinion. keep AR, but change things long-term, as football has attempted to do with the emplyment of Mark Wotte as performance director.

  • Comment number 66.

    I cannot agree. I never wanted Robinson, he should have gone after the WC, he should go now,

    The team is sliding down the world rankings, we hardly ever win a competitive game - the coach must take the blame.

    Its no use saying we were nearly there in the close matches - we lost and ARs selection are one of the reasons.

    England were there for the taking. Does he lay the inform attacking players> No. He is solely to blame for that loss. with Blair, laidlaw and Hogg starting I am sure we would have won. His treatment of Parks was awful

    AS for the mistakes - partly that is down to anxiety and thats the mental preparation.

    Robinson failed with England, he has failed with Scotland. he has to go

  • Comment number 67.

    So Big Nathan & Wee Dan are to 'take the applause' on Sunday.Mixed feelings about this.Accolades used to be as rare as hens teeth and only for achievement and/or success,not just taking part.I guess all sports have a showbiz element to them now,more's the pity.Good luck to them both anyhow & thanks for the service.

  • Comment number 68.

    Coaching Scotland must be like trying to turn water into wine. Unfortunately Scotland just don't have good enough quality players and haven't done so for ages. The majority of their wins (which aren't many) tend to be at Murrayfield when the conditions are appalling and the opposition team are dragged down to their level. I have no strong feelings for Robinson either way although I can't quite reconcile how somebody who played for England at the highest level would actually want to coach a team to beat his own country. Guess I am old fashioned.

  • Comment number 69.

    I started going to Murrayfield in the early 1970s, but very rarely manage to go now. It used to be tickets were like hens' teeth, then, for a while, finding a spare ticket was easy, because we were dreadful. For the first time on a long time, Murrayfield is sold out for France's visit, but I'm afraid I attribute that to the improvement at Edinburgh and Glasgow, not Andy Robinson.

    I think my last visit was for our win against Australia, which owed a great deal to the defence and very little to our ability to score. That ability to score hasn't improved since, but it';s not the attacking coach who's leaving, it's the defence coach. Logic? Absent. Now I know that we went for a long time with the thought "If X is injured, we really don't have anyone good to replace him with" so players played out of position and we had to be content with that. Thankfully, despite our paltry playing numbers and tiny regular support for the pro teams for a number of years, we now seem to be benefiting from the development of young players and, at times, both Glasgow and Edinburgh have been impressive. The crowds have grown, substantially, and that is why there is some optimism and demand for tickets, not Scotland's performance.

    We have been competing in matches, but we haven't won when we had sufficient possession. Neither were Edinburgh or Glasgow, but that has changed. Did Robinson accept that? No. His selection for a very important match against England to start our 6 Nations campaign and, hopefully, build some momentum, relied upon the tried and failed backs combination. What on earth possessed the man? I groaned when I saw the team selection.

    I didn't when I saw the selection for Sunday's match, but that was because I was focussing on the half backs and was delighted to see, at last, Robinson has accepted Blair and Laidlaw are an effective combination. I overlooked the centre pairing, but my heart sank when I saw it. Morrison is limited in what he offers, but I suppose there was some inevitability in his selection, considering the squad. There is no explaining the obsession with Sean Lamont at centre. He is fine in broken play as a winger, but his distribution is hopeless, so, if he has to play, it should be on the wing. De Luca should be playing outside Morrison and maybe those pathetic cowards who attacked him on Twitter would like to discuss his performance at Cardiff with Peter Wright, face to face.

    Those who find thinking a challenge will call the questioning of Robinson's effectiveness as seeking someone to blame, but an objective analysis of our performance would have to consider why we are not winning matches we should be. We do win the ball, but we don't do enough with it, so letting the defence coach go is not the way forward. We're not winning matches we should be because we're not scoring tries and everyone knows that. Why then would we be considering extending the contract of the person who is in charge of that aspect of the game? It's not that we're not scoring many tries, it's that we hardly score any and, when we do, it often owes more to a forward than slick play through the backs. If you can bear listen to him, listen again to Davies' comments during the game at Cardiff. Our back play was entirely predictable and easy to defend against. That's pathetic.

    I'm sorry, but Robinson's ultimate failings are in selection and there is no excuse for his illogical selection policy at the World Cup. If we end up having to beat Italy to ensure we win one game in this tournament yet again, Robinson shouldn't have to be asked to leave.

  • Comment number 70.

    # 65 - Totally agree. Would love to see rugby become the biggest sport in Scotland, countries with small populations and world class sports teams are much more focussed on a single sport than us. We will never in a million years win anything significant in football but if we focussed on rugby we could have a world class team.

    Also I grew up in the 80s/early 90s, we won a couple of grand slams, missed a WC final by a whisker and I thought that was normal, and that the last 20 years have been a slump. However looking at results pre-1980s looks like the current state of affairs is quite normal and the period I grew up in was a golden age for us! Oh well.

  • Comment number 71.

    This blog is crap, it has nothing to do with Chelsea, its manager or owner.

    Waste of my time and space on the BBC's new toddler driven sports site.

    Oh.. you mean its a wrong link thats been up for 18 hours.

    good job BBC, good job

  • Comment number 72.

    Indahood, Drowningnotwaving and Zanderzelle agree with you all to some degree. Don't take this the wrong way, but for too long from an outsider looking in Scottish Sport seems to have been a bit of a shambles, clouded in mediocrity. I understand the playerbase argument but are Scotland really happy to continually come off second best to Wales (a country half the size) or countries of commensurate popuialtions e.g Ireland and New Zealand. Its not as if Andy Robinson has just become head coach, he's been involved since 2007 and the Scottish whiteline fever seems to be as bad now as its ever been. Yes there were several positves to take from the Wakles game in terms of intensity levels, but IMO its time to look South to bring Scots rugby up a gear...

    Jesus the Teddy Bear clear off and go and watch Chelsea TV or something...

  • Comment number 73.

    Most of the comments seem to be a love in with you. "Nice blog John ,spot on John" bit embarassing really! Based on results AR should go, but I think it's the tools he has to work on although his retention of Parks ,NDL etc showed lack of judgement ,there should be a clearout after the RWC as England , Wales and in the past France have shown.TOWNSEND should have been shown the door ,although I'm not sure you can coach "attack" ,it's more to do withinstinct ,defence ,forwards yes.I do'nt think anyone else could do better than AR. The fault lies with the SRU who have failed to develop the game in Central Scotland ,keeping it to the chaps in the fee paying school crowd and mercenaries from other countries will not bring results.I see a continued decline with countries such asGeorgia , Russia overtaking us. sorry

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm not really a fan of Beattie and his blogs but very much a Scottish rugby fan so like to read anything that is on offer, which is seldom on BBC.

    My point is why write such a provocative headline ? Surely placing such a question in your mainstream blog only adds pressure to Robinson and puts the thought in peoples minds if it wasn't there.

    John Beattie should maybe write a blog about why pro players who train every day with the best support and surroundings are unable to pass the ball in front of the catcher or even catch the ball. Lamont, Morrison and De Luca are the main culprits. Yet the 3 are centres ! Robinson has been at fault for some team selections but the blatant fact is Scotland should have won those 2 6Ns games and even one of the 2 big WC games if players knew how to pass and catch the ball. De Luca was showing some form in for Edinburgh and deserved another shout but after countless butchering of attacks he cannot be selected again. He isn't international standard. The tweet stuff was well out of order though.

    Lamont gives 100% but is also a regular heads down runner. The Kelly Brown/ Wales incident will forever live in the memory as 'what if'. Morrison is the worst of the lot. Never ever seen anything other than tackling from this guy.

    There is a future though as Ansbro is an under rated player who we have missed and Hogg & Scott are already mentioned. Think Grove deserves another chance too, I know he never performed well for Edinburgh but he has since been in great form for Worcester and passes and tackles as well as anyone in that league with pace too.

    My back line would be


    Blair deputises for when laidlaw plays 10.

    Anyway lets hope come Sunday the players have a mindset that 'of course they can win' because they are good enough and luck has deserted them too in recent games.

    p.s. Defending against Morrison mut be so easy. You just know that he will put the ball under one arm and run into contact. there is never any clever angles or even getting behind tackler with ball in 2 hands to pop. He is pretty rank.

  • Comment number 75.

    2 wins out of 12 in the Six Nations and you think that Andy Robinson is not to blame?

    How much is the BBC paying their journalists these days? Madness.

    The Oracle At Delphi could not tell you why he is still picking DeLuca, or why the Scottish players can perform for their regions but not for their country. Andy Robinson is a failed England coach that has tried his luck with Scotland and has simply emulated his previous managerial fumblings. His histronics in the booth are a joke, it's almost as if he doesn't expect them to mess up.

    I feel for Scotland. A proud country with a great rugby history who deserve a lot more that what their getting.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think, we have a pack that can match anybody on anyday,Ewan Murray needs to rediscover his spark.
    Denton & Grey are electrifying, we've got 6's & 7's in abundance, we always produce great 9's, a great crop of young fly halves, Ansbro is badly badly missed, needs contracted by one of the Scottish regions and protected more & then we fall away, full backs other centre's, just never seem to play or be in the game.
    We need a real attack coach, because the forwards give the back line the platform game after game and its never used

  • Comment number 77.

    Agreed Thor.

    I actually played with Euan in youth level and he is a man monster but he offers nothing in loose and this Sunday thing should see him dropped as far as I'm concerned. How can you build continuity when a pro player says when he wants to play ? Northampton had right idea.

  • Comment number 78.

    I agree with you John, AR is the man for the job. As I grew up watching Scotland play through the 90's/00's, they had no structure, no real purpose at times. Under AR we have a foundation that is being developed into something great. Our forwards are a real success, especially our back row. The talent in the backs has been really sparse these last few years but its on the cusp of becoming the best Scottish backline I think we have ever had. 15. Hogg 14. Jones 13. De Luca 12. Scott 11. Visser 10. Laidlaw 9. Blair/Cusiter. Scott and Visser will bring a lot of quality into our side and there are still more young Scottish backs coming through who will undoubtedly contest these positions. AR should stay, I can honestly see Scotland becoming a very good team under his direction.

  • Comment number 79.

    Robinson is a very good coach and we would be foolish to get rid of him (same can't be said of Townsend). Our problem is the players and their top 2%.

    We don't have enough players used to playing in high pressure matches; Heineken Cup knock-outs or RaboDirect Finals. Therefore when the pressure is really on and they need to make the right decision or execute the basic skill they don't do it.

    International rugby is about not making mistakes and sadly our players are far too guilty of making stupid (amateur) mistakes when it matters. The number of times we play well and put ourselves in a great position and then shot ourselves in the foot is unbelievable. Hopefully Scott Johnson can make a difference with this over the next few seasons.

    Robinson has always said winning is the most important thing; start getting results then the confidence starts to build and those 50/50 balls start to stick, this obviously makes it easier to introduce younger players. Unfortunetly, now we haven't had the results it makes it more difficult for him to introduce new inexperienced players, especially during the 6 Nations.

    Granted his selections haven't always been great but I would say individual error has been the reason we've lost matches in the last 12 months rather than our team being out played tactically. The players need to take more responsibilty for our current situation.

  • Comment number 80.

    I agree that Robinson is a good coach, but a poor selector. I feel that while still not perfect, the backline for this game is an improved selection. The continued selection of R.Lamont at full back ahead of the form player Hogg was laughable, considering Hogg wears the shirt ahead of Lamont at Glasgow. Hogg proved against Wales that he is ready.

    Still disappointed not to have a ball player in the centres, think Morrison is there to beef up the defence after Laidlaw was flattened by Cuthbert in Cardiff. He did this job very effectively for Parks in 2010, and allowed DP to do his job well that season. I support this selection but it is a joke to then pair him with Lamont. Would like to see Grove or Scott given a go. Maybe when Jackson is fully fit again he could play 12 (perhaps in Rome) and he could play as a 2nd 5/8th and we could try and score some points. I believe that Laidlaw (particularly in conjunction with Blair) is actually a better option at 10. But perhaps Jackon's goal kicking is better.

    Judging by the team on the SRU website I think Ansbro would have been selected as he is in the "Not considered due to injury" section with Brown etc. He has shown real spark on his few appearances.

    I don't mind one of the big boys (SL/GM) in the centre but both stifles any chance of the ball reaching the wingers.

    This said, the selection is undoubtedly better than in previous games. A backrow of Barclay, Rennie and Denton can play fast and loose and should be superb at the breakdown. These 3 run very good support lines, although it would be nice to see our backs on the shoulder a bit to finish off these breaks.

    I genuinely believe that Scotland are just a small way away from being a very good side and pulling off victories on a regular basis. A couple of errors cut out per game - stupid sin-bins (think it was right to drop NDL as his was unbelievably stupid), and chunk's knock on against Wales and a bit more cutting edge against England could have seen 2 wins from 2. One of these days things are going to click and Scotland will cross that elusive white line a few times in a game and the confidence will spread.

    Hopefully a full house this Sunday can make it happen this week as a win would do a world of good for confidence. Gutted I can't be there.

  • Comment number 81.

    Intersting you think the ruck clearances have improved.

    I have a little bit of a hobby horse about this.

    The reason Scotland dont score tries is not so much that the backs arent good enough finishers (though this is part of it) it is more that when we get in behind the oppositon and go to ground the ball we recycle is very slow and often hands are allowed onto the ball before we get it away (see Jacobson knock on where Jenkins gets his hands on the ball) when you watch Wales and NZ play they blast over rucks, often off their feet but if you do it quickly enough you seem to get away with it. If we cleared rucks better we wouldnt win as many penalties thus preventing a score, or we would have faster ball with which to score tires. Most tries in international rugby come from the phases after the damage has been done by the line break, not relaly th eline break intself. So if we can recycle quicker then we should see more tries.

    Very excited to see both Barclay and Rennie playing, should give us an edge at the breakdown. Though we will miss the "dark arts" that Strok brings to the team, he puts in alot of important close quarters tackles.

  • Comment number 82.

    "I genuinely believe that Scotland are just a small way away from being a very good side and pulling off victories on a regular basis"

    I wish that was true. Scotland are at least 4 or 5 players short in the first 15 (never mind bench) of a very good side. I will admit sides can be very good with a couple of weaknesses but usually even the weakest links are at worst decent international quality, problem is some of the weaknesses are filled by players (NDL for example) who are no where near international quality never mind decent international quality.

    Given this is the case Scotland have to blood youngsters. Visser, when qualified, looks like he could be a real handful at international level, Hogg has already shown he could be. Weir has to be tried at 10. All will help but what to do about centres (and do not get me started on props)

  • Comment number 83.

    i am and england fan and I really think scotland have improved significantly under Robinson. Scotland should have beaten england (by quite a score I might add) and should have been closer to wales but in both games it was player error that created the problem not selection tactics etc. I believe scotland are starting to look dangerous again and looking at the youngsters in their ranks have some development still left. If they continue on this path and also Edinburgh and Glasgow keep performing with scottish players then they will keep getting better. I really hope that they continue to improve beacause growing up my favourite match was the calcutta cup with the likes of John Jefferies smashing into the dooleys f this worldand the Hastingsbrothers firing into the england backline. Keep at it scotland you are not as far away from those glory years as some may think.

  • Comment number 84.

    Speaking as a Welsh supporter, personally I totally agree that getting rid of Andy Robinson would be a great mistake. Scotland have come on in leaps and bounds recently, from a country with a very small pool of players compared to the likes of England or France. be proud, keep the faith. Every one has their day, Scotland or Italy are due theirs.

  • Comment number 85.

    Scotland's performances have improved under AR and it seems as if more of the pieces of the jigsaw are coming into place. It does also appear that Scottish rugby is finally beginning to come terms with professionalism. We were the most under-prepared nation in 1995 and we have struggled since but there are some encouraging signs that we are learning to produce talent again. Whilst we may always have a battle on our hands to stay competitive the Scottish team is not far away from being a good unit. Only two things to sort, namely getting a midfield that is not so one-dimensional and secondly maintaining concentration for 80 mins. Getting consistency at international level is not easy but I feel AR is still the best man to take us forward. If he walks now, it will be a set-back. Also optimistic that If Scott Johnson and AR can work together, then more steps forward can happen - might even lead to some well deserved wins!

  • Comment number 86.

    This headline makes no sense. hHw on earth could scotland be making a huge mistake to sack AR. They're 12th in the rankings and losing most of thier games and AR's been at the helm for over 3 years now. How could bringing in a new coach with a new approach make it any worse?

    Razile, you're right sport is swings and roundabout but in these days of professionalism, investment, coaching and keeping up with rapid changes in sport development and fitness those days won't come around as readily as they they might have 20 years ago. Without getting that right Scotland are going to find it difficult to compete with nations who are...

  • Comment number 87.

    Another great blog John. I believe we have come on leaps and bounds under AR. He is passionate about producing high quality rugby players, has produced a team that believes it will win every match and which is certainly competitive in every match it plays. Contrast that to the white flag we held up in 2007 against NZ.

    The full house on Sunday is testimony to the belief most Scottish rugby supporters have in the progress the team is making. I believe we can win, I hope we do win and I know if we don't it won't be down to lack of commitment by either the players or the head coach.

    In 1983 the team lost both home games and finished second bottom in the 5 Nations, but there was a strong feeling that things were moving in the right direction. The following year we won the Grand Slam. I have a similar feeling now - we will be very competitive over the next few seasons under AR's guidance.

    As a side issue I do think the SRU has to improve its influence in the international rugby political arena. The fact that we do not have an international referee is scandalous, especially given the ability (or rather lack thereof) of many of the current group of international referees - would Ireland or Wales put up with that? I feel that this lack of influence in the top echelons of international rugby has an consequent effect on decisions on the field .... its only Scotland..... not unlike the patronising views of most of the BBC so called pundits - Brian Moore and Andy Nicol excepted because I think they call it the way they see it.

  • Comment number 88.

    I know we can all point to the mistakes in games over the last few outings from the previous games where we've lost by small margins but my own personal view on this is that if we started executing our chances properly at the other end the importance of these wouldn't be so keenly felt. In fact they might not occur at as we wouldn't be in those positions in the first instance if we made enough daylight between us some teams just wouldn't be able to rally enough to come back into a game as it is we are nearly never more than a converted score away in the final 10 minutes of a game.

    Pressure just has this way of building up until something goes wrong. To quote a movie theres becomes a fear of quicksand - "You're playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand"

  • Comment number 89.

    Maybe, just maybe we can put one over on the French this weekend as they have only played one game together and we have played two. I think that AR should stay because who could we get that is better than he. We HAVE come on in the 3 years he has been with us but he must trust the youth in the squad. I don't know how long G Townsend has left on his contract but I think it will not be renewed, and that with Scott Johnson waiting in the wings. Don't know why G Steadman has gone though. He has done a good job as defence coach.
    My wife has been threatening me all week about my ranting and raving whilst watching the 6N, so I will be on my best behavior this weekend. We live in Germany so the neighbours must think we are having massive rows every weekend !!

  • Comment number 90.

    Of all those siding with the AR out brigade, not one has come up with an alternative, let alone one that would do a better job.

    Those calling for AR to go are missing the point - the Scottish game has been in a downward spiral for over 12 years whilst other nations around us have re-grouped and grown their game.

    The Scottish game is so far behind those that we aspire to be compared with that winning 2 games and drawing 1 in the last 2 6N is quite some achievement and could not have been accomplished without what AR has brought to Scottish rugby.

    On the subject of Nick De Luca those of you saying that he is rubbish do not watch him play nor do you look at the statistics. He played well against Wales and was unfortunate to be involved in the yellow card incident - look at it more closely and you will see why I say that. He also played well against England. However, he has been dropped, probably as a result of the abuse he received from some idiots on Twitter.

    Andy Robinson going, for whatever reason, would be shifting Scottish rugby into reverse yet again.

  • Comment number 91.

    2 points,

    Firstly, non rugby but scottish related! If Scotland get independence will that mean that you compete as a nation in the olympics? Will we see the flag of Scotland raised by chris hoy, or will it still be team GB. That would mean that england will have even less medals!

    Secondly, im not sure how much weight the argument about population has. Australia have far less players than england or france. Its about what you do with the raw talent. No one is born good at rugby, no baby is born quick or strong. its trough various activities, coaching and diets that we understand, discover and better any talent we may have.

    anyway, good luck for the game...shame really you didnt win the last two. Scotland will always be my second team in 6 nations!

  • Comment number 92.


    We weren't asked to come up with an alternative, but there are many to consider. Much will depend upon who is interested in taking the job and the nature of Robinson's departure. Ultimately it doesn't matter who or what we think, the SRU will make the decision.

    As far as the game going into reverse or simply being at too low a level, Edinburgh and Glasgow are winning back a regular and growing following and, from that, we will get more and higher quality players. I'll be very surprised if it ever grows substantially in popularity to rival football, but if more schools provide teams, it could become a much bigger game in Scotland.

  • Comment number 93.

    Philip #90, i think you are right with regard to AR and Scotland.
    I don't want to abuse any player and as I've said before I like NDL as a player. However I do feel that Scotland has been loosing for a long time with GM and NDL in the team. On top of this, I'm sorry but I don't think his performance was that great aginst Wales. His passing can be a bit poor. Look at the pass he gave Hogg which resulted in a no try, that should have been bread and butter for a club player let alone an international center.

  • Comment number 94.

    Drowningnotwaving #92


    Considering england are looking for a new coach and many coaches have ruled them selves out, who do you think would be suitable and available for Scotland.

  • Comment number 95.


    Nick De Luca in your team. April fools is over a month away

  • Comment number 96.

    Mediocre team and manager. Northern hemisphere rugby has never been so poor. Come on you Puma's.

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't know what former international coaches would be available, but those who spring to mind in and around the Scottish game include the Glasgow and Edinburgh coaches, Craig Chalmers, Alan Tait and Bryan Redpath. That's just off the top of my head and I'm not even vaguely interested in getting involved in a slagging match one way or the other.

  • Comment number 98.


    Surely the most viable option to the dilemma RE the backs is to welcome back Alan Tait into the centers- an experienced campaigner and a proven try scorer (17 tries in 27 appearances) and his coaching prowess could see him take that mantle too.

    Drawing parallels between Ponting's current issues in Australia team: forms temporary, class is permanent.


  • Comment number 99.


    "its on the cusp of becoming the best Scottish backline I think we have ever had."

    I'm assuming this is a joke.

    Would you seriously have NDL at 13 and then call it the best backline we have ever had. Mental. Even Marcus Di Rollo was better than him

  • Comment number 100.

    Comment number 100. FTB


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