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Scottish rugby's health needs an audit

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John Beattie | 18:10 UK time, Sunday, 18 March 2012

It's an interesting time in Scottish rugby, especially if you find pain interesting.

I dislike witch doctors, fakirs, gully gully men, and any other human form that tries to pretend that sport is rocket science.

Rugby is actually simple. Whichever team has the best trained raw material with the best game plan wins.

The rest is smoke and mirrors.

Scotland players following the Six Nations defeat by Italy

Scotland completed a winless Six Nations with defeat in Italy. Pic: SNS.

You've all seen the game so you know what happened so let's try to look forward and guess scenarios.

The first thing we need to do as a country is speak to the Lions logistics man, Guy Richardson. He has been around the countries examining the ways the different teams prepare and we need to know why we are losing. He will know.

It's either the coaching or the players or a strange combination of both.

And that conversation must be part of an audit of rugby's health in Scotland.

The first possibility is that Andy Robinson quits. He brought huge success to Edinburgh but he might feel that as he hasn't given Scotland as many wins as he'd want.

He may even be sacked or negotiated out the door. Players like winning coaches.

He then walks into a plum job elsewhere and we need a new coach after building our systems and planning around him, which is awkward.

I genuinely feel that we should be looking from within for our coaches.

Sean Lineen always knew that he'd have a safer job if he never put himself forward for the national team, and yet for all his alleged failings in man-management and skills coaching, Sean is an organised, nippy, aggressive, targeting coach who, actually, would be better at the highest level than getting bogged down in keeping some players happy week in and week out at club level.

Lineen has grabbed a game plan that works for Glasgow Warriors this year after a poor season last year. He's actually the kind of bloke who would get the best out of a national team.

I think he's the strongest candidate. Remember he hasn't been sacked.

Beneath him we should have been promoting the likes of Craig Chalmers, Ally Donaldson and Peter Wright rather than the next trendy Aussie.

Shade Munro and Tom Smith are also waiting in the wings and the game needs a flow of coaches.

Warren Gatland, a Kiwi, is the exception that proves the rule. The grass is not greener. Though the New Zealand papers have got hold of the fact that we are now targeting players who might be just beneath All Black level but qualify for Scotland.

No matter what happens next we need to ensure that at both Glasgow and Edinburgh we have the best conditioning and skills coaches. And the same at every level beneath them.

Dropped passes in Rome aren't actually Andy Robinson's fault.

The second possibility is that Andy Robinson stays. His record is better than that of Frank Hadden and Matt Williams and better than the second spells of both Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer.

If Andy does stay, his game plan needs to be questioned and, as in the first scenario, the best skills and conditioning coaches should be in Glasgow and Edinburgh and at all levels underneath.

Andy Robinson works with the raw material he is given. We need to give him better raw material.

We need to educate the next group of Scottish coaches and conditioners and equip them with the skills to produce better players.

My last point is that if you're trying to make things better then you have to move mountains. Why accept that you can't make the changes you have to make?

It's a long-term strategy but, as I said last week, it's becoming a numbers game so we need to increase our playing numbers - pay people to take school teams - and finally rugby, I'm afraid, has to become a summer sport in Scotland.

I just don't want us to be perpetually bottom of the table, we have some good players, and we need to move forward.

It's not rocket science.


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  • Comment number 1.

    evening John, I don't believe that a coach can lose 7 international matches on the bounce and still remain in position. Even the last few wins before that run were scrapped. A change of direction is certainly needed. The last 2 performances (and the one against England) have been horrific. The coach & attack coach should be ashamed of themselves but the on field leaders too need to look in the mirror.

    We do have some good players but they have self destruct tendencies. NDL test career must also close to over, he achieved yet another yellow for blatant stupidity which were significant factors in losing 2 games.

    There are all kinds of problems in the team from poor captaincy, decision making, robotic play ,and the lack of a nastiness factor.

    There are good players coming through but the domestic player pool needs to increase. Its been said many times the game is failing to get into state schools. This needs to be fixed pronto.

    I also think a pro team needs to set up in the North East.

  • Comment number 2.

    Bottom line is we're not producing anything like the number and/or quality of players needed to even think about finishing above 5th. For too long I've bought into the whole 'Oh we were unlucky...we are improving...we have will be better next season' rhetoric. Time after time since hearing this since 2007 we've fallen flat on our face. Do not get me wrong, some of the players brought through have been outstanding, notably Ritchie Gray, Denton and Hogg. I've got high hopes for Lee Jones but the tries he has let in through flimsy tackling have not been good enough (maybe a bit harsh considering he's a new start.)

    The problem with Scottish rugby lies far, far deeper than the national team itself. Rugby remains a slightly elitist game in Scotland, and with such a small population to have any sort of success then every single corner of society must be touched by the sport (Ireland and Wales have similar/smaller population sizes, yet still produce far better players).

    As for a possible next coach. Who exactly? What has Sean Lineen shown that makes him better suited than Andy Robinson? Who Else?

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know if fitness is a problem but I think we have been running out of gas in the 2nd half during a lot of games in the last year or so. I think fitness is of upmost importance in rugby. I'm sure any fellow rugby players will know how horrible it is when you can't give anymore with 10-20 mins to go and the opposition are still running at 100%. Wales look like a team who have basically been told they WILL be the fittest rugby team in the NH and I think it is a key part to their success. I think AR should be more brutal with the players, they'll thank him for it in the end.

  • Comment number 4.

    Let's get Dean Richards a man who knows how to win well (cheat badly). We were simply not good enough but it is fine margins at this level. Scotland seem to have forgotten how to produce quick ball and when they do MB or CC just slow it down again, we need players with a bit of adventure and flair otherwise the game in Scotland will die.

  • Comment number 5.

    We need a re-think...

    In all honesty we have some good players but they need to use there brains when on the pitch.

    AR has to go. To many excuses and the same old. We have lost the last 7, scrapped wins against Georgia and Romania and a second string Ireland team in a warm up and won 1 match in the last 6N, hardly and improvement and a record to be proud off!

    Captain - I have a lot of time for Ross Ford, but we need a leader. Italy has Parisse, France Dusautoir, Ireland have/had BOD or O'Connell, NZ etc etc. We need a dynamic leader. Maybe someone like Gray or Denton or going forward or Kelly Brown when he's back.

    Half backs - still not right. Laidlaw is really a 9...not convinced Jackson is the man going forward. Cusiter is not the player he was.

    Centres....need a rethink.

    Scrum we need this sorting...look at how Ireland struggled which probably cost them the match against England.

    In all we need to clear some of the old wood. start afresh, starting building.

    I know our problems lay deeper. There are players from the prem 1 clubs drafted into the Edinburghs and Glasgows that we never hear of again or disappear back down after a couple of years because the don't get game time.

    Until we start winning kids are not interested. To be honest I am getting to the point where I don't want to watch to see the same dreadful, insipid rugby played with no passion and to many yellow cards. I don't know the stats but would imagine that Scotland has had the most in this years 6N.

    Wouldn't mind seeing a team made up of Gray's, Denton's, and Hogg's.

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh, and lets ease back on these substitutions en-mass at 55mins...we seem to head down him in every game at this point...coincidence?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's worth remembering perhaps just how close this Six Nations championship has been. Arguably all but three of the games could have gone the other way - and that includes every game that Scotland played. Sure, Scotland dropped off a bit in the last two matches but they were in every game. Every one.

    Now maybe there's an argument for chopping a coach's head off if a team isn't competing at all, or isn't playing at all or gives up at the first sign of losing. But Scotland didn't do any of those things (and quite spectacularly didn't do them in the first three games). I don't see a cause for calling for Robinson's head here. This Scotland team is not bad - it's good, but not good enough, not yet.

    I just love the way Scotland have been playing, and wish for certain that it had turned out better for them this tournament - it is tiny tiny things and a bunch of unluck that have failed them. That's not a cause for sackings by any means.

    And I'm Welsh too. And for all the grand-slammability of the current Wales team I still wish they could play with even half the apparent heart that Scotland bring to the field.

  • Comment number 8.

    Where do we start, well how about Saturday, the players have clearly had enough it really was a very very poor performance from a professional team. It seems to me the Ford cannot cut it as captain and there are just a few too many players past their sell by date. How to make it better? The SRU should hang their heads in shame, the game has been professional fo over 20 years and we are only now talking about how to improve grass routes rugby, shame on them. 100% agree John, rugby needs to be a summer game in Scotland, at club level too many games are called off due to pitch conditions and really who wants to stand about in the pouring rain in Jan with shocking facilities they have in club level.

    At school boy level they need to promote 7’s rugby. I try my best to get pupils playing but to field a full 15 with subs is very difficult, we are fighting against all the other sports as well as the distractions of modern world. TV xbox etc. 7’s rugby would allow smaller schools to filed teams and get tournaments going, bigger schools could field 2 or 3 teams. Only once kids are over 15 should 15 a side be introduced at club level for the better players.
    As for AR, I don’t know, I think he is a good coach but do the players think he is? Do they want to play for him? We can always hope!!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    You make your luck and some things go against you, but there's a limit how long we can play that card...

  • Comment number 10.

    I'd like to see someone like Bryan Redpath brought in. He's had success coaching Gloucester, so knows how to win at the highest level. That is only if AR does go, and I don't think he will.
    I agree with a lot of folk though in saying that we need to get rid of some dead wood in the team. Players that are collecting caps, but not adding to the team (naming no names).
    I also agree about the leadership on the pitch. It seemed to be lacking for the whole tournament, and when there are players on the field who have captained before, I would have expected them to help bolster the team. Which makes me think perhaps this is a team that doesn't actually get on. Lots of personalities that clash, and as a result, the whole performance suffers. This is just idle speculation though.
    SRU needs to rid itself of the old school tie brigade.

    On a more light hearted note (pun intended), maybe Scotland needs a few songs we can sing along to, certainly sounds great when the Welsh crowd get going, but the West stand stalwarts still probably wouldn't join in ;-)

  • Comment number 11.

    John, I feel we need greater honesty within our analysis of where to go now. AR inherited some of Haddens staff, so it is only now he would have his own. Our playing compliment of the highest level is one or two at best. We need more players across the board so the desire to recruit from a wider pool must be supported. If we do not have a wider pool to select from we will continue to struggle!
    It is a fact that with only 2pro teams we are reliant upon other countries employing our best talent, but if they do get selected then we are going to select players who do not play regular rugby to take on the best in the world, or the best in the Northern Hemisphere.
    I shudder with fear about us playing the All Blacks any point soon, whilst we do not have all of our available talent fit and free to play. We need Kelly Brown, Lawson for control at the base and Scott Johnson to instill some much needed positivity. Ford needs support by relieving of the captaincy and Brown and Lawson are the best candidates.
    Vissers brings a finishers edge at long last, we need more like this so we must support AR or whoever it is with all our heads and hearts. But we need more talent on the paddock. So cash for a 3rd pro team or London Scottish as we require a minimum of 70 Scots playing at the highest professional level every week!

  • Comment number 12.


    Summer club rugby which has to come, is an easy fix at no cost and would improve core skills in no time. Everything else has a price. No doubt there will be the usual calls for the coach to be sacked, many from people who have not fully considered the alternatives, or have unrealistic expectations.

    AR has in my opinion done a great job in a short time with very limited resources. Yes we have lost 5 six nations matches, but he has clearly built a squad that can be a platform for some success in 2015 WC. In 1999 we won the last 5 nations, and before that had limited but regular successes, as did all the home nations. That was in the days of the amateur, when we were not as disadvantaged as now when we are the poor relation of the six nations. In 99 our last success was mainly due to the fact that professionalism was not properly established in the other home nations

    The many calls for investing in grass roots , home grown coaches, recruiting more teachers in schools , pro teams for caledonia and the borders are as you said not rocket science. Where do we get the money ?

    The annual revenue of the SRU is around £28M, compare that to Ireland 64m, Wales 59m, France 77m , England 112m. We have two pro teams and live off scraps compared to the other home unions. We do not have the money to grow the game the way many suggest, or to increase our pro teams to four in order to compete with wales and ireland. At club level France and England are on a different planet and we are lucky to compete at international level, let alone expect to win more than once in a blue moon.

    Yes we need to be ambitious, and have a long term plan, but lets not expect too much from so little. Rugby in Scotland is a minority sport, it will be a long hard road to get to where the others are now. Anyone who thinks there is an International coach out there with a magic that will transform our team overnight is deluded.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ 7 I think your're being a wee bit unfair to the Welsh team. Plenty of heart at the World Cup and then to win a slam ? Not the greatest 6 Nations in terms of quality but still,a slam is a slam.Where was Scotlands heart in the second half against Ireland ? And against Italy ? As a jounalist noted on Sunday,Italy don't have a back line or kicker worthy of the name.If they had,they would have been out of sight in Rome.That's the truth of the matter.
    Future is bleak.Not enough kids interested,they never have been and unlike in Wales it's never been close to being our national game.I'll keep watching though.It's my team.It's my country.

  • Comment number 14.

    John, surely you can't say robinsons record is better than haddens when, in fact, the only place it is better is in autumn tests and summer tours where we play a variety of different sides that mix and match their teams depending on the other games within the tour, and who generally see the Scotland test as an opportunity to blood new players and try new combinations.

    The competitions that count, that really matter and that work as a more direct comparison, are the 6 nations and the world cup. This is the environment where we test ourselves against the best our opposition can muster, a benchmark of progress and improvements. In these competitions, robinsons record reads 2 from 15 in 6 nations and an exit at the group stages of the world cup. Haddens was 6 from 20 from 6 nations games and a quarter final of the world cup. Bring matt Williams into the equation and his record was even worse, just 1 win from 10 in the 6 nations.

    My point being, if Robinson does go, let's appoint from within, someone who knows the players, knows the clubs, and even knows the schools. Basically someone who knows Scottish rugby and is concerned with its legacy. Let's face it we've lost a lot of good Scottish coaches over the past 15 years, geech, telfer, Dixon, rankin, hadden etc, and just replaced them in the professional game with foreigners. Robinson has the best player pool available in a decade yet has a terrible record compared to his predecesor in the competitions that count, so if we do move on let's appoint wisely, from within, and not just go for the big name quick fix. Williams and robinson have proved this.

  • Comment number 15.

    Exactly what "huge" success did Andy Robinson bring to Edinburgh? If we keep saying it, it must be true. Number of Celtic leagues? No of Heineken cups?
    Frank Haddens record in competitive matches is better than Robinsons. All Robinson does is moan and go on about "margins".
    Well Andy. you failed.!
    John. Can you please be realistic. We are now 11th in the world. We are 10 years behind any other 6 mations team bar Italy.
    There is an old saying John.. i believe it was Einstein. It goes like this. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Well thats the SRU. John you say you care?, well if so, stop making excuses and use your influence.

  • Comment number 16.

    A 3rd pro team based in London seems by far the best way to increase the stock of players in the short/medium term. There is no point in trying for another team in Scotland as there are not enough players here, and insufficient support. Edinburgh & Glasgow are playing to decent crowds at last, but SRU must hand over control to franchises who have to run the teams in a commercial way.

    I also agree with #7 that we are not that far away from a good team, and we have been playing some fast, dynamic rugby (well, we did against Wales & France - I don't know what happened against Ireland and Italy, but the game plan changed). I don't buy the "weak tackling" claim either, as the stats against Ireland and Italy both showed that we were about the same as opponents in missed tackles. The difference was that Ireland and Italy had players covering, whereas we seem to have one line only.

    Having struggled in the scrum this season, it was pretty solid against Italy, with one great drive that showed that we can compete, but ****, the lineout! Ford's throwing was shocking, unless calls were being misinterpreted? I'd love us to get back to the rugby we showed pre Ireland, but we need backs who can give and take a pass, and run intelligent lines. As for AR, I'll be surprised if he has the appetite to carry on after the last couple of games, it must be deeply depressing for him, as for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 17.

    Turning London Scottish into a 3rd pro team is not as straightforward as you think. The club is a member of both the RFU and the SRU, currently sitting at the bottom of the English championship. Championship clubs get about 300k per season from RFU central funds, premiership clubs get more like a million. That money comes with conditions - the RFU wants clubs in the union to develop English players. Even Saracens, sometimes thought of as Springboks 3rds, are mostly England qualified. I am sure there would also be objections to entry into the pro 12, imagine an Aviva premiership club full of England qualified players operating in Scotland. The SRU would have a problem with it, for sure. It would also have to be self funding. One thing though, there are a lot of scots in London and a lot of them are rich. They're all being tapped up for money or sponsorship. You never know!

  • Comment number 18.

    Would Bryan Redpath or Carl Hogg be interested? They're sitting pretty at one of the premiership's best clubs, earning good money, bringing up young families in a nice bit of the country and building a in a great rugby town. Would they want a go at polishing the Richard at This stage of their careers when Aviva premierships and Heineken cup successes are realistic where they are? Not now, I think.

  • Comment number 19.

    I was a fan of Robinson before the last 2 games. However, if the coaching is really effective you'd expect the performances to keep getting better the more time he has with the players. That clearly hasn't been the case this year.

    I think all the new caps this year have done well. Given that most of them were promoted off the back of injuries it does raise the question why they werent tested earlier.

    My main concern going forward is that the team is in a losing rut and something needs to change to get us out of it!

  • Comment number 20.

    If England appoint Nick Mallett, can we have Stuart Lancaster please??

  • Comment number 21.

    John. Having just stopped playing rugby for school and district, I have to say that the organisation and format of rugby for young players is ridiculous. At the age of 15, we arrived at district training, it started late, and we were promptly told just to focus on doing heavy weights to gain weight and muscle, and training consisted of 'dominant tackling', which yes I understand the benefit but being 12 stone and being told to dump tackle R.Grays younger 21 stone brother is ric at 15. Training was organised, cancelled, reorganised, and then coaches seemed to make decisions on reputation and size of players only. Many players left and never came back cause no one enjoyed it! not enough is done to encourage players to have fun and be creative, it is all about being big and running over people. Its not fun.
    The weather is also a major factor for lack of players, no one wants to play in the cold wet and mud, summer rugby has to be introduced. Sevens would be a great idea to boost player numbers but it is hardly ever played. More needs to be done, parents and players are pushed away from school and district by the shambles of the SRU and coaching.

    As for Scotland, they were awful on Saturday, maybe time to (god forbid) do an England, and discard of the old and bring in the new? Blood young players with creativity....Sean Lamont, Morrison etc are great servants to scottish rugby but have to go, you cannot just run at players and try to bosh them every single time...aim for the spaces!!!
    Laidlaw is not a 10 and Jackson has lost it. Autumn game team should be- Laidlaw for 9, Weir 10, Visser 11, Ansbro 12, 13 Scott, Evans/R Lamont 14, Hogg 15.

  • Comment number 22.

    Xcoach 'andy Robinson has done a great job'. 14 percent in 6 nations matches. Failing to get to the wc for the first ever time.Seriously, a great job? Wow, are our expectations now that low. If only people thought that about haddens 30 per cent in 6nations and qf of the wc, he'd be lions coach by now!

  • Comment number 23.

    Scotland lost not because of handling errors or any other similar mistake. Two talented young backs missed at least 4 tackles gifting tries. Laidlaw is not an international 10 and Jones is too weak defensively.

    What upsets me is the mentality and the language. A full 80 minute performance. Cut out mistakes. Etc etc. everyone makes mistakes and the more you put the emphasis on not making mistakes the harder it gets to play with any natural fluency. A golfing analogy would be trying not to miss a 3 footer rather than trying to hole it! It's so negative. Scotland do not need to be flawless to win and that sort of mindset needs sorting immediately.

    What cannot be forgiven is FITNESS. Scotland should be aiming to be the fittest team on the planet. SET PIECE, Scotland should have an imperious lineout and must ensure the scrum becomes a point of strength. Finally RUTHLESS at the breakdown, and know how to play the ref.

    Making the basics points of strength give time, space and confidence to the rest of the team.

  • Comment number 24.

    John - Coaching rugby should be done for the love of it and not the money. Bad idea to pay people to coach school teams. The Pathway Coaches are one of the major problems of Scottish Rugby. The are guys who hang around clubs long enough to create jobs for themselves without actually knowing how the game should be played other than what the SRU has prescribed to them.

    However I do agree with summer rugby. I think that is an excellent idea!

  • Comment number 25.

    Looking back at the detailed stats for this six nations it doesnt make good reading. For example:

    Possession against:
    England 68%
    Wales 61%
    France 55%
    Ireland 51%
    Italy 33%

    Territory against:
    England 78%
    Wales 59%
    France 57%
    Ireland 49%
    Italy 25%

    In almost every stat we got worse from game to game and you cant really say the oponents got harder as the tournament went on. I blame the coaches as whatever they were doing wasnt working.

  • Comment number 26.

    Firstly, thumbs up on summer rugby. Better weather will likely mean playing a different game; more of a running game I would think. I, for one, would be more inclined to go out and watch a game of club rugby if the weather was better!

    We created some of our own problems this 6 Nations by introducing Laidlaw at 10, Hogg and Jones. While they bring more pace to a game and run some exciting breaks, all of them are defensive liabilities. Add Visser to this mix, a player who has some defensive issues of his own, and we will have effectively morphed from a relatively strong team defensively, into a defensively weak team. Laidlaw simply didn’t attempt to tackle on two critical occasions; once against Wales and again against France. The opposition literally ran over him as if he was a toll road. Likewise with Jones. Twice he stood off tackles rather than make them. The opposition scored a try on all of these occasions, dramatically altering the score line. As you know, John, news travels fast in international rugby and by this time most of our opponents are already aware of these frailties and will exploit them. Therefore, we cannot afford to play them at international level again until they can tackle. Laidlaw, who is definitely, not a ten and should never have been played there, because he doesn’t have a big enough strategic boot and can’t tackle, should be moved back to scrum-half. Hogg and Jones should spend some time in the A team, and with their pro teams, working on their defenses. This weakness may have played a negative role with the other players, who were tackling their hearts’ out in the first three games.

    On the issue of captaincy; Robinson’s original choice was Kelly Brown and when Kelly got injured, Andy then recruited Ford. I would like to think that when Kelly rejoins the squad, he’ll take up the role of Captain. I’m sure that Ford will be pleased about that also!

    For out-half, I would play Jackson along with Laidlaw at 9, while I would have the other pairing of Weir and either Blair or Lawson on the bench. Weir can be introduced at the 50 minute mark to give him some necessary big game experience. I think he could use it.

    Fitness levels must be heightened. We’re simply not fit enough and that’s obvious.

    On Andy Robinson’s future: my thought would be to keep him in the role for at least another year and give him a chance to work with the new coaches, Johnson and Taylor. Who

  • Comment number 27.

    Gatland and Lancaster made bold selections, picked young players, gave it a go and they finished 1st and second which was just reward for their enterprise and endevour...

    Andy Robinson picked the tried and tested players regardless of form: Parks, Cusiter, Murray, Jackson and the Lamonts - and failed miserably. Our best players were the young guys who were only included becasue of injuries; Denton, Rennie, Laidlaw and Hogg.

    I think we do have the players to be a good team, certainly a lot better than we played in the last 2 games. While i respect him as a coach i don't think AR is capable of picking the right team.

    Ross Ford is not a good captain captain. Great player, but he made stupid decisions at key times and his form deteriorated as the tournament went on. End that experiment right now.

    And Finally, Euan Murray's descision to commit himself to elsewhere for half the weekend is seriously affecting his game and wasting a space on our bench (although the fact that he's there in the first place is actually Robinsons fault) but the guy was total garbage and has been for a while. He's living off a reputation he earned 2 or 3 years ago.

  • Comment number 28.

    John, as a Scot living in NZ the last six months have really hurt. While one has to stay in the present and look to the future; I can't help but feel the rot set in following the WC down here last year. The tournament was a disaster for Robinson and his camp.
    Sport at the top level is all about confidence and one must wonder how those agonising defeats to Argentina and England affected the squad's mindset.
    To follow on with an equally demoralising defeat- first up in the Six Nations at Murrayfield set the tone.
    It's obvious there has to be changes. Which I feel is unfortunate. Leading into the WC Robinson was doing the job and there was room for optimism
    But I think the damage was done during that ill-fated tournament. Players themselves may even question Andy's abilities and as soon as that happens there is no way back.
    And if it's true that Scotland are looking to recruit Kiwis they will need to start getting results. Believe me, no one will want to join an organisation that is consistently losing.
    The bottom line is Scottish rugby no longer has credibility down here in NZ.
    I'm not sure if AR should be given more time. But i fear the future success of Scottish Rugby is hinging on the outcome of this issue.

  • Comment number 29.

    As I said last week, after such a promising start to the championship but ending up with four defeats including the thumping in Ireland I questioned if we would have the will/fight or desire to close out Italy, and so it proved. Over the championship the pack played well in the first 3 matches and then fell away badly, the team and in particular the pack need a leader and I'm afraid Ross is not the man, especially as he has the pressured job of throwing the ball in at the line out, he doesn't need the added pressure of captaincy. Why oh why did AR not stick with Kellog, did he not captain Scotland on the summer tour to Argentina and came back with series win against the pumas in there own back yard !!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    Now JB, I think you would agree that since you stopped playing, the game has changed you have to be much fitter, bigger, stronger etc etc, SIZE matters !!. I'm afraid with regards to our 3 quarters and the 7 positions from scrum half to full back, we have a problem. Out of the 7 players in the 3 quarters you just can't afford to field 5 of the stature of, Blair, Laidlaw, De Luca, Evans and Hogg they are all too small compared to their opposite numbers and if you are that small it must take twice the effort either in attack, outpacing and getting past a bigger opponent, or in defence, tackling or bringing down a bigger opponent. I would say, not including the scrum half who is usually small, you can only field 2 others of a smaller stature in a game. Don't get me wrong I am an admirer of the small quick skillful players, but in todays game there is very little space for that kind of player to get away now in open play, it's more like playing a rugby league match with half the pack and the rest of the 3 quarters strung across the field of play in defence and with so many bodies and legs in the way unless you are a dead eye dick you can't risk using the grubber kick. The chip can occasionally work but there is usually someone in defence now to mop that up. At the moment thank goodness we have at least one of the lamonts and Morrison, because if we ever fielded 7 players of the stature of Laidlaw, we would be creamed, and one or two players getting badly injured.

  • Comment number 30.

    After last weeks poor display Sautrdays was dire beyond belief; not one single effective attack. Any foray into the opposition 22 was done to a lineout which we then went on to lose on every occasion. Professional era, professional players, so why on earth do we consistently show such poor decision making and game management. "Naive" is what Robinson called it and that's being kind. It has been consistently the same throughout the tournament.

    It was absoloutely maddening to watch, and improved as we have been in the first three previous games the last two were a step back; the first half of the Irish game we shot ourselves in the head with poor decisions made by individual players to gift tries. The second half of the Irish game and the entire Italy game the team went MIA; they never got started in Rome.

    Wrt a long term plan, I hail from the West coast, state schooled and played football for primary and secondary teams. Rugby? I remember having one special after school thing with I presume an SRU man to teach us handling skills. No mention of clubs to play for in the local area, like the boys clubs for football, or information to take it on further if we liked playing the sport. Secondary school had a rugby pitch with full goals either end when I started, by the end of my school days one goal was gone and the other in disrepair. We were taught rugby in 1st and 2nd years and that was it; again no further information or mention of clubs to play for. The teaching was laughable too, a 40 min period in which to practice/learn handling skills, scrum, lineout etc. then a game which always descended into chaos.

    We need to roll out rugby in all state schools across Scotland, with the right facilities and the teachers adequately trained to teach the sport. Better advertising of local clubs for all age groups would also help in non-traditional rugby playing areas.

    Young kids play tig, and I saw in the last matchday programme mention of touch rugby tournaments that have been held; an excellent idea to encourage young kids into the sport.

    I'd propose touch rugby 7's for boys and girls (playing separate or together at that age) up to 11/12. Split into gender at 12/13 to start playing full contact 7's up until 15, and then introduce them to the full 15 game.

    I admit to never having played 15's so maybe my age group timescale is a bit off, but my arguement would be get them in without getting hurt playing touch rugby, get them playing sevens to develop the handling skills, then introduce the other aspects of the game later on. Secondly, not everyone develops at the same pace, so starting full 15's late on stops discouragement of "smaller" players who could possibly drop out at an earlier stage but then go on to grow (I've seen this with football too, the 'he's too small' attitude towards certain players).

    Where are the boys clubs, especially in central Scotland?

    As for the SRU and professional rugby, we have all stated we need more than 2 professional sides, and that the feeder system into those sides needs to change too, but is there the cash and will to do it?

    Finally, in the professional era our players would appear not to have the same guile as other sides to practice gamesmanship or to play cute. I'm not advocating that we should, but watching other sides do so is cringeworthy, and when it costs Scotland it is doubly annoying.

    So many daft yellow cards this year also; so not only do we have poor game management and individual errors, we also have to play up to a quarter of some matches a man down. We simply will not win games playing this way.

  • Comment number 31.

    I was born in 1976 so i've seen great Scottish sides and I'm a proud Welshman who as seen Wales robbed of their best players in the 80's and 90's to Rugby League when we were already in the gutter. It was bad!!! We were represented by a bunch of skinheads from Neath!
    Scottish Rugby was a force when rucking was allowed so that's one of the reasons why you're not winning, another reason is that your players still don't have that physical, muscles bulging out and stretching the jersey look. There's a few pot bellies there still. So whats my point???? Scotland never adapted to the professional era. p.s. Laidlaw can't tackle big guys. Every team can see that!!!! Worth a try to the opposition every time he plays..............

  • Comment number 32.

    Agree with much you say John, and it is very disappointing to see Scotland playing so badly when one is living and working away in a distant land, especially surrounded by other Welsh and English ex-pats! Rugby is just one of a range of sports in which Scotland has declined, and it is very difficult to put a finger on the reasons why. Surely many of the reasons are common to other countries such as lack of team games at school and obesity in children as well as other attractions, but Scotland seems to be worse off in sports compared to other comparable countries such as Wales or Ireland. I worked for many years at a leading independent school in Scotland and so much was put into the coaching of rugby, but we never produced even one international player! There are too few rugby players in Scotland, and in some ways we actually do pretty well with a playing population less than that of Yorkshire. Things tend to go in cycles and hopefully some good players will be unearthed soon. It would be better to have a Scottish coach like Stewart Lancaster who knows the set-up in Scotland, so we need to continue with the development of home-grown talent.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am desperately sad to say - it is time for Andy to go. He was a huge player, a great man and has given huge commitment to the cause - but I'm afraid the last two performances have been deplorable and the spirit just was not there against Italy so drastic changes are necessary - the players had lost confidence and self-belief - a result of losing too many matches. I think at the moment we need a Captain on the field with outstanding leadership qualities and a steady solid game even if he is not necessarily the justify his place as a player.
    There are positives to be taken out of the tournament and whilst we may not have the best squad, they are whole lot better than recent results suggest.
    As we demonstrated against Ireland and Ireland demonstrated against England, if your front row is stuffed in the tight then you are not going to win matches and so the front row and our scrummaging is an area that needs addressing urgently, both by looking for new personell and / or looking at coaching and body conditioning. These players have to be playing top class rugby on a regular basis to develop and maintain body condition and technique.
    We cannot afford to employ a coach, if we cannot afford to sack him if he underperforms. Therefore we cannot afford a high profile experienced coach like Nick Mallett with a track record. We therefore have to go for someone who will develop a great spirit, perhaps who has been around, to head up the process - what about Brian Ashton?
    A low profile figure that does not have a high profil, but is quietly respected by the senior players in the game and is at the end of his career and has nothing to lose, BUT must have the pride and desire to succeed. He can then bring in younger, promising and talented coaches underneath him who would be using a junior coaching job with a National team as a stepping stone on there career path up the coaching ladder (hopefully Scottish!!)
    Yes, yes, we do have to work on increasing the player base, getting the best coached possible at all levels and putting in structures to improve coaching standards at all levels of the game. We also have to look at developing revenue streams to fund these activities.
    I am NOT an advocate for summer rugby. In any case it would not be possible at the higher levels unless the whole of the Northern Hemisphere went to Summer rugby otherwise we could not play in the Heineken Cup and other international club tournaments. Our junior clubs also need to tour and play in other countries to learn from playing against better sides - if we are insular, we cannot progress or catch up with the rest of the world.
    Whilst we need to promote Scottish talent, when we are falling behind, we need to get help from the best wherever in the world they come from. Players will only become top class by playing with and against the best and junior coaches will only become top class coaches by working with the best top class coaches.
    We could also look at getting the likes of Geechs, Jake White and Nick Mallett to come in and do advisory roles within clubs.
    We also need to look at marketing and what else rugby can offer the community to attract investment and to persuade schools and local authorities to help promote the game that rugby is providing a healthy past time for kids, provides exercise to promote health, a Community spirit, team building skills - could use rugby clubs to do Charity fundraising, Community work and / or education in return for local Government funding?

    It has been a disappointing season, but there were positives - these players ARE TALENTED - Richie Gray, Ross Rennie, Richie Vernon, Max Evans, Kelly Brown, John Barclay, John Beattie, Stuart Hogg, Visser all have the ability to be top class players. Morrison, Blair, Lawson, Al Kellock and Jim Hamilton are solid and reliable and we have Weir, Scott and other exciting prospects. We just have some crucial weaknesses we need to overcome, as discussed above. We cannot win World Cups & 6N Grand Slams every year with limited funds and player resources, BUT we can produce a talented side that plays exciting rugby with heart and team spirit that is competitive and capable now and again of winning a Tournament.

    Chins up lads things can and will improve.

  • Comment number 34.

    First things first, this hurts.
    Second, our scrum deteriorated, our line out deteriorated and 10, 12 and 13 are weak positions.
    The former two come down to coaching, the latter is a real problem.
    I'm pleased someone else mentioned the ritual; mass substitution, my resolve sank every time this happened and team performance crashed.
    Schools and youth rugby is where it starts, international class coaching is where it ends. I suspect we are behind the curve in all aspects and it hurts.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sad to say but I thought that there was something really gutless about Saturday's match, and I think that we have a real problem with fight and desire in the team. In all sports that's most frequently the difference between winning and nearly winning. As we have nearly won all of our matches, you have to ask why.

    There was an incident late on in Saturday's match that summed it up for me. There was about five minutes left to play and, I think, we were 4 points down. We got a penalty which was kicked to touch inside the Italian 22. Half a minute later our players are strolling up as if it was a training session, and the Italians were already there waiting. We were losing and the clock was running out, and we had that sort of attitude.

  • Comment number 36.

    "AR has in my opinion done a great job in a short time with very limited resources. Yes we have lost 5 six nations matches, but he has clearly built a squad that can be a platform for some success in 2015 WC."

    Surely you must have written this BEFORE this Six Nation's? If not, how does such capititulation warrant praise?
    Sorry, but this team looked shot even at the kick-off! All this talk about changing the coach, summer rugby, bigger players etc etc does not hide the fact that the players are miles behind their opponents in every game in two important facets; thought process and guile. They have had all the individuality coached out of them, to the point where they seem scared to do anything that hasn't been rehearsed ad nauseum.
    The exact same thing has happened to the Scotland soccer team, which is now a colection of dull passers with no technical skills. At least the SFA have at last appointed a Dutchman to try to address this.
    In Scottish rugby, we have manufactured a team of big no-thinkers, and they can't react to the opposition's play if it hasn't been on the agenda during training! If we have smaller players (as we do traditionally), then we must choose a game plan that suits, perhaps chaos is better than so many obvious pre-planned moves constantly failing.
    Lastly, on a totally different subject, how sad to see that even at the wonderful Millenium Stadium the crowd were unable to observe a minutes silence without some of them starting to clap. Are we unable to do what we are asked anymore?

  • Comment number 37.

    While losing narrow matches to Argentina & England twice, as well as putting in competitive performances against Wales & France can be forgiven as 'rebuilding' or 'making progress' the same cannot be said for horrendous matches vs Ireland & Italy who didn't have to play that well to beat us.

    I was a big fan of Andy Robinson and while I'm not an advoate of sacking coaches, if Robinson's contract was up now I think it would be pretty clear that negotiations for a new deal wouldn't exactly be high on either parties agenda.

    One of the worst 6 Nations records and the only coach not to get us out of the WC group (albeit from 3rd seed).

    Also, as the blog points out, Sean Lineen would be an able replacement who I think would have been next in the queue had he still been at Glasgow when Robinson's contract runs out or he does leave.

    The news of his removal from Glasgow hasn't been handled well, and perhaps he is out of favour with some of the blazers in the SRU - but he is clearly an able coach and I think we need a fresh look on things after such a poor run of results.

    Problem is that if we accept that Robinson is an able coach and we just need the break of the ball (which we could have got to win either of the two England games or the Argentina game) how much longer do we give him?

    The summer tour? Most players will be tired after a long spell and usually fringe players are given matches and gametime and there won't be any easy games away to Australia & Pacific teams. The AI's in which we have a pretty tough schedule against NZ, SA & Tonga? There is no confidence and we could easilly finish the year without a win.

    Personally I think Robinson is a proud man and will walk away. He will get a job at club level in England over the next 12 months and I'm sure do a good job.

    Perhaps the reshuffle of Lineen / Townsend etc was part of the plan and Robinson has privately admitted after the Ireland game that he will agree a deal to leave with Lineen stepping up. Perhaps we won't have to wait too long to find out.

  • Comment number 38.

    Having grown up in Ayr and attended an Academy where Rugby was the first sport, then played in the Army and for English Teams occasionally in the early 80's (and have the physical badges to prove it), I believe there to be a sickness in Scottish Rugby. When I was playing at School, there were lads who were possibly faster and better than the then Scotland Rugby players and who had more chance of playing net ball for England than being selected for the Scotland Team. Why, because they did not attend Herriot Watt or play for Hawick, or their parents were not middle to upper class. In a Nation such as Scotland, Historically predisposed to have provided the meanest and the cleverest people on the planet, why are we so bad at finding these same people to play a rugby game. I completely agree with John Beattie. The intelligensia need to get back to basics and get a pack that is bigger and meaner, wingers that can run, and a Captain who can make decisions. Lastly, when was the last time anyone seen Scotland Running the line. What is this rucking about. I hope some of the Scotland selectors are reading, I really do dread watching Scotland playing these days.

  • Comment number 39.

    I was sickened watching the game on Saturday, the players just didn't seem up for the fight in the slightest even their body language was shocking. Heads were down, slow to get to the set pieces to me despite whats been said in the press it looked like they've lost faith and belief in AR or even worse themselves. I was expecting some sort of fight back given the performance in Ireland and the fact that this was THe game that they really needed to step up for given a wooden spoon and whitewash was on the cards. I have been in favour of AR's tenure but the last 2 games have seen us go backward at a rate of knots and one thing about AR is he is not reactive or quick to change (aside from at 55-60 minutes during a game). His selections have been problematic for a while now and it has taken considerable time for any new players to break into the side even when the position is one of our weaker areas.

    He wasn't helped by a lot of injuries to players that may have otherwise featured in some form Brown, Ansbro, R Lawson, R Lamont, Stroks to mention along with others. We currently don't have depth like the Welsh to cover for a long injury list and in a lot of cases AR reverts to experience first rather than taking a chance on a new blood.

    A couple of seasons ago we were winning by the skin of our teeth, now we've started losing by the same margins it's not a large swing to reverse but is a difficult one when it keeps happening like it has been with us in the WC and this campaign. Unless AR has lost the will for the fight and walks away I expect he'll be kept on at least until the next campaign for a couple of reasons 1) The SRU can't really afford to sack anyone in the setup hence Townsends move to Glasgow. 2) Even more telling they have just significantly invested in AR with the new backroom staff, can't see them dumping the man in charge before they get to see the new order in place if even just for the summer tour.

    This hurts (it always does when your team is on the wrong end like this) but we have positives, a team doing well in the league with glasgow, a team in the last phases of the HK with Edinburgh, young talented players are emerging from the clubs in the form of Hogg, Denton, Rennie, Grey, etc and crowds are increasing at both clubs. That's a decent place to start off from we just need to start sharpening up the point at the top of the pyramid!

  • Comment number 40.

    I think that the game is elitist in Scotland.The fee paying prvent development nof the game by refusing fixtures against state schools. For a lot of clubs it all about winning and not teaching the techniques of the game. SRU is filled with people who do want to change.Wales and Ireland manage the game better. It is not elitist

  • Comment number 41.

    As an Englishman I feel for Scottish rugby fans. Andy Robinson works his socks off for the Scottish cause and when he hurts its for Scotland not for his ego or credit rating. But I think he's too soft and too cosy with the players. I think he lacks authority. A nice, knowledgable guy who gave his all for Scotland.

    Someone above mentioned Dean Richards. If that really is an option then look into it.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think Andy Robinson has to go. This can be easily proven by looking at Hogg who has just started for the National Team. Firstly he should have been selected from the off but AR choose a seniour (tried tested and failed) squad which had no room for an ambitious youngster.
    He then forced himself into the team with a 60m try, which was outstanding. Still he only got 20ish mins becuase of AR 50/60 min ritual mass sustitions. Then he finally gets a start, scores a try and looks one of our top attacking players. Success.....or not.
    AR then manages to coach the ambition out of him so when he faces Italy he just kicks it away time after time. Granted somtimes this is the right call but let the player decided that. He played like he had been told to kick and it wouldnt shock me if he had.

    This in my opinion is many reasons to get rid of a poor coach. He would make a good forward coach but for backs playing creativly and for picking a squad he (in my eyes) has failed time after time.

  • Comment number 43.

    Summer rugby?? Maybe that would help Scotland with the one game played in the heat of Rome every other year, but what are the other advantages? Seems a bizarre solution to the simple problem of the players being over-trained.

    For example, quoting the DT stats: "After four matches Scotland had completed more passes, won more lineouts, made more offloads in the tackle, cleared more rucks, won more ball in the opposition 22 and kicked on fewer occasions than France, Wales, England, Italy or Ireland yet had only scored three tries and hadn’t won a game". Scotland need to do more than just go through the motions! Have some intelligence on the pitch and look for (and play for, NDL) your team-mates.

    Robinson has to take the blame for creating this negative mindset and for stifling the players ability to show initiative and trust in each other. Even Richie Gray selfishly scored a try in Ireland for this reason! ;-)

    Where too was the territorial game once Parks disappeared? Running from 22 every single time is easy to defend against and just plain dumb for its lack of variety!

    I posted before that Lineen should be given a shot after the success he's demonstrated at Glasgow. He's obviously been moved to neutralise the threat he poses to AR's faltering position. God help Glasgow now with GT at the helm! That makes Redpath a good alternative suggestion. Time to change the mindset.

  • Comment number 44.

    As some others have said, I have no problem with Andy Robinson the coach, but I cannot understand his team selections. It's almost as if he's not seen or aware of the talent out there.

    The positives to take out of recent matches are the performances of Rennie, Denton, Hogg, Gray the youngsters all of whom have come in because of injuries rather than the promotion on merit that they deserved. Its time that the likes of Scott, Weir etc are brought in, stop playing people out of position Laidlaw is not a fly half, Evans is infinitely better at centre.

    There seems to be a considerable psychological element to the problems as well, getting rid of some of the 'old faithful' may shake off the losing mentality before it contaminates the young talent.

    It's a perfect time to make changes, clean slate and head off for a difficult summer tour with a positive attitude and hopefully get a good result or two.

  • Comment number 45.

    John, enough is enough the following players need to go and never be seen in a Scotland jersey again:

    De Luca, Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Hamilton and Cusiter.

    Feel sorry for Laidlaw, did nothing wrong but isn't a stand off, best position is scrum half.

    On the subject of the future we need to have 4 professional teams with second teams playing in the British Cup or Premuir League. We need a bigger playing pool. so pay teachers, development officers, etc (along with the help from the local teams) to run after school rugby teams. And yes summer rugby......

  • Comment number 46.

    Bitterly disappointing Six nations. I was expecting 3 wins at the beginning of the tournament. We had 2 decent performances against Wales and France and the intensity, aggression & desire dropped off hugely.

    We deserved the wooden spoon based on our last 2 performances!

    Unfortunately a lot of our problems stem from the same individuals making poor decisions - De Luca ( 2 yellows) and Lamont( Eoin Reddan try). Poor selections haven't helped either. Unfortunately Barclay whilst an excellent 7 does not have the physical presence of Al Strokosch or Kelly Brown. We need another Jason White! I'd love to see Denton at 6, next to Beattie Jnr( Keen to know what's happening there John!) and Rennie. Welsh & Hogg should have started throughout the tournament. Laidlaw should be playing at 9 & 10 is still an issue!

    I've just had a conversation with one of my friends (English & plays for Harlequins) who admitted England would kill for players like Gray, Denton, Rennie and Ford. I don't think it's all about lack of quality. There are more potential Lions in the Scotland Squad than Eng. We have a real lack of talent @ 10,12,13 & a lack of confidence, leadership and Unity.

    I don't buy all this talk of changing the rugby season either as the weather in Ireland and Wales is very similar.

    On a positive note I was really impressed with Gray, Denton & Hogg and looking forward to Visser starting in the Summer.

    No doubt the perennial optimism will return next Feb.

  • Comment number 47.

    WRT #7:
    "I just love the way Scotland have been playing, ........

    And I'm Welsh too. And for all the grand-slammability of the current Wales team I still wish they could play with even half the apparent heart that Scotland bring to the field."

    I'm not sure that you're on the same planet as I am mate but I saw a Welsh team that were playing their hearts out for each other, with tons of 'heart', and I saw a Scottish team that weren't up for it, didn't play for each other and seemed to be lacking in self-belief!

    As to playing Summer Rugby - who would they play against?

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry John, but it is simple he has to go

    And take half the SRU with him

    Lets just look at his selections - terrible - the only players to come out with any credit (Expect the Italy game) were the ones he DID NOT select as his favourites. They were all FORCED on him

    Welsh came on and was strong int he scrum - why did it take an injury to get him in the squad 5 mins before the game - when to everyone with two eyes knew our props were not perfoming

    Ford has played some great stuff, but had a shocker against Italy - whyt was he not subbed?

    Why sub off our best line out catcher when our line out was struggling?

    Why does the ' 60 mins sub routine' still happen?

    AR is not fit to be a selector - he has no bottle - picks his favourites and does not pick on Form - EVER

    He has make errors every game

    Selection errors
    Tactic errors
    Subsitution errors

    What has he done well? Really - I would like an answer

    He has managed to take a team that played well in the first match and DESTROY their confidence over the course of the 6 nations - how come no-one mentions that -

    As to the SRU - how can Townsend even have a job, after the performance as attack coach - let alne a promotion

    I would expect no coach would want to come close to the SRU - they seem to be incompetent and such an old tie netowrk, that unless your face fits you will go no-where

    I dispair for Scottish rugby, I really do - I actually think in 10 years we will not be in the top 20

    PS - Why do you never respond to the blogs any more?

  • Comment number 49.

    This was my best weekend of the 6 Nations. I was away all day on Saturday and didn't see any of it! It's incredible what it's done for my blood pressure and general state of mind.

    Despite a few glimmers of hope in the first 3 games, overall we've gone backwards this year. Everyone wants a quick and simple answer to our problems as a team, but I don't think there are too many. While it looks like we're only missing out by small margins, in top level sport those small margins are what the successful teams have worked on and mastered. Scotland don't look anywhere near bridging those small gaps in ability with any consistency, so in reality they gaps are more like a mile wide. Changes in the coaching set-up or the starting line up may produce some improvement in the short term, but we're on a long down hill slide that will take an enormous effort to reverse that.

  • Comment number 50.

    Surely after the RWC we should have gone for the English approach ,clear the stables out but leave some key players instead we played it game by game-which became progressively worse-forgetting that other teams are targeting 2015.Ross Ford is a good player but is he a captain?As for the coach ,I find this obsession ,he must be a Scot a bit parochial ,sounds like David Murray selling Rangers to Craig Whyte-"because he was a Scot". Wales have a kiwi-and you could not find a more rabid rugby nation and today the 6N trophy is being paraded through Cardiff-any chance of the wooden spoon being seen in Edinburgh!
    Thye problem here is the failure of the SRU to develop the game in the heartlands rather than keep it to the fee playing schools.The history of the the SRU to grow the game is quite shameful and in the fullness of time we will fall out of the 6N to be replaced by Georgia or Russia.It will be a shame but we deserve it.

  • Comment number 51.

    Reading some of these posts has brought a gulp to my throat it really has and is reminiscent of the despair we Welsh felt back in the 80s and 90s. I really feel for Scotland at the moment and I don't think I ever felt more sorry for a side than I did for Scotland on saturday. I was desparate for them to win almost as much as I wanted Wales to win the grand slam and thats saying something.

    I don't know really they did ok against Wales and France, should have beaten England but the performance on saturday and the second half against Ireland it felt like the team had thrown in the towel en masse. On the positive and looking to the future it can only get better from here and there are some promising players. Hogg is a talent and Richie Gray has been immense at times and should be a shoo in for a lions shirt...

  • Comment number 52.

    If Robinson doesn't go, the Scottish team will simply shrug off the dismal performance, ignore the negativity in the press, proceed to go into "We'll do better next time" denial mode and lose again in the 6N 2013.

    I'm afraid that if the coaching staff really are as friendly towards Scotland as seems to be implied, then the coaching staff need replaced. Scotland will never try under leadership that will never blame them for their faults, or galvanise them into improving.

    Frankly though, I think the plan is already in motion for a deep, dark oblivion for Scottish Rugby. The appointment of Townsend to Glasgow and the general media that has come out of the SRU this campaign shows that they are entirely impotent, incompetent and blind.

  • Comment number 53.

    @45 Alex

    You've said following players need to go and never be seen in a Scotland jersey again:

    De Luca - Don't think he will be once we have everyone back and fit. It was a stupid card to give away. Had hopes he turned a corner in the French game but unfortunately looked like a false dawn. Ansbro, Evans will be first picks and then you can add Groves, Scott and possibly Cairns (depending on how he returns from the knee injury) that will be there for the 13 jersey.
    Blair - Still got something to offer and depending on form/fitness will be around the squad for a couple of years yet. Would state I see Laidlaw as our 9 for the future though.
    Jacobsen - No arguments here felt this for a while, again though until we blood a dependable replacement (not Dickinson) he'll be in the squad.
    Ford - Don't get this yes he had a bad game Saturday and isn't a natural captain (think everyone know K Brown was 1st choice before injury for this) but he has played well generally across the tournament and is still far better than our other hookers.
    Cross - Could argue one way or other about this however there needs to be a better replacement before he is jetisoned completely
    Hamilton - Nope don't agree, he's been part of a good back five and held our scrum together even in it's current shaky form. Note that when Kellock has come on in previous games our scrum got worse despite adding a fresher man into it. He's improved in the loose having trimmed down and offering more in ball carrying than before (and more than Kellock our alternative at present) The yellow card on Saturday mystified me it was not a cardable offense, that was Rolland being useless. Add to this didn't think Zani's was a card either but at least Rolland was consistent in his uselessness.
    Cusiter - Agree at the moment he shouldn't be there on form but with Lawson out injured woul;d expect him to be in the squad as 3rd choice SH. Again with any of our options at 9 it should always be a choice based on form. It's the one place we have genuine depth.

    Agree it's frustrating but a number of those players you've listed have more to offer us in the future but at the moment are suffering in a team that appears devoid of confidence, belief and (in the last 2 games) direction.

  • Comment number 54.

    I’ve never posted a line-up before but it seems I have selected a great team here.

    v Aus Dirt-trackers.

    Hogg; Visser, Bennett, Scott, Jones; Weir, Blair; Denton, Rennie, Harley; Gray, McKenzie; Welsh, Ford, Cross

    Barclay, Hamilton, Low/AN Other, McArthur, Laidlaw, Jackson, Cuthbert/AN Other

    SH tour must have development element and a chance to see potential, not those that have consistently failed.

    De Luca not considered for disciplinary reasons. E Murray for form reasons. Strockosh for contribution reasons. Evans Ansbro Lamonts Morrison all for age reasons.

    Coach seems to be irrelevant.

  • Comment number 55.


    Jerry Guscotts comments on TV Sat about Andy R. were spot on. He is not a quitter. Like Jerry Ive also known Andy as a player and as he matured into a very good coach for England as a No.2. I think there are 4 issues he faces as Scotlands head Coach: 1. He is a better No.2 coach at International level. 2. The teams he selects and game plans dont gel. This is partly the fault of the coaching team but its also the quality of leadership in the team. Scotlands great XV's of the 80's and 90's had great leadership as well as world class players. 3. Apart from Richie Gray, where are the world class players? Whats happened to Scottish player development? 4. Andy doesnt seem to know what button to press to get his players to play with the passion that often won games for Scotland in the past? What happened to coach development in Scotland? Where is the next Scottish Grand Slam coach?

  • Comment number 56.

    As far as I am concerned Scottish rugby has been on slide for years, in fact since the SRU (Edinburgh blazers) dropped the Borders team. The Borders were the heart of Scottish rugby not Glasgow or Edinburgh.

    Anyway back to the current side. There are only a couple of problems: between the ears, the players do not beleive they can win, and there are a few problem positions.

    The problem positions are:

    1) props are useless being not very good at scrum time and not much use in breakdown either, only saving grace is that they are reasonable ball carriers.

    2) Midfield is all wrong. Scotland look which better with Max Evans in the centre but there is no obvious candidate for inside centre (think Ansbro's best position is also OC). Laidlaw is, sadly too slight for no 10, and should revert to no 9. Weir simply does not look fit enough

  • Comment number 57.


    De Luca - wouldn't pick him for Glasgow Hawks fifth team.
    Hamilton - was sinned-bin for his penalty count not for that offence a lone, to slow.
    Blair/Cusiter - to slow as a week in the jail and always have been.
    Jacobsen - you just have to look at the state of him to see he's over the hill.
    Ford - I looks good, but goes backwards in tackles.... The words I am looking for is pouder, puff and mirrors.
    Cross - how can someone scrummage, bent over double getting murdered by the opposition.

  • Comment number 58.

    @54 - For a start you appear to have forgotten Kelly Brown???

  • Comment number 59.

    #58 - He was still wearing a protective boot on Saturday following his broken leg so I gave him the game off. If he's back playing soon he's in the team.

  • Comment number 60.

    Townsend's gone, Steadman's gone. Does this mean that AR has been able to pick the new coaches? I don't know but let's hope so. And if he has, then he'll be judged on the performances from the summer tour. Until then, I think he should stay.
    Summer rugby - Great idea if, as others have said, the entire game moves to being a summer game. If Scotland are the only country to make the switch then we'll get progressively worse & slide further down the rankings as we won't be able to cope with cold, wet, conditions.
    Yes, some players need to retire/be retired and, as much as I hate to say this as I am a huge fan, Chunk is at the end of his time in the front row for Scotland but until we can get someone equally as good or better he'll undoubtedly stay there.
    On the plus side, Scotland moved me to tears of frustration during the 2011 6Nations but this year have, on occasion, had me bursting with pride for a team that seemed to want to play & fight for each other, the coaches, the backroom staff, the shirt and their country. Moments of brilliance from both some of the old guard and the new caps.
    And then we played Italy and looked to have accepted our fate before kick off, as well as moments of madness/stupidity/ineptitude in other matches.

    Hopefully, Sean Lineen's role within the SRU will allow him the freedom to unearth some real talent for Scotland but, as always, time will tell.

  • Comment number 61.

    I really think Andy Robinson should stay. I know that both Matt Williams and Frank Hadden constantly trotted out the same "we're improving" and "potential" excuses game after game, and it was plain for all to see that we weren't improving and didn't have potential. Under Robinson, we're blooding some pretty impressive young guys (Denton, Hogg et al.), and we do have potential, and we are improving albeit we took a few steps back against Italy.

    I genuinely think we are on the cusp of having a very good side that can challenge for the Six Nations. However, if we are in the same position this time next year, I would say it was time for Andy Robinson to go.

  • Comment number 62.

    As a Wales supporter I've some sympathy with Scotland - I've subconciously erased chunks of the 80s & 90s from my memory and the mere mention of 'Western Samoa' brings tears to my eyes. Unfortunately you have Scott Johnson heading north so not sure there's much relief there.
    Luckily Scotland do have some good news - Gray, Hogg, Denton for starters although I'd resist proclaiming them shoe-in test team Lions just yet because there's a lot of opposition - but the first two would definitely be on the plane if the squad was picked now I think. As a recovery plan I'd ban players sounding off in the media about 'how they could've won this match or that' - harsh reality is that's seldom the case and merely papers over the cracks. The media proclaiming a 'new dawn' should also be discouraged. Saw a few of those in Wales & it was normally a red flare proclaiming a new danger coming over the horizon (I did like Arwel Thomas though for sheer entertainment value). Don't know who Scotland are playing this summer but you need tough but beatable opposition first up for confidence - develop some of that & its worth 10%.
    There's probably lots more issues at root & branch level of the game in Scotland which I don't know about (as does most NH countries - player exodus in Wales!) but be assured the wheel does turn and eventually one of those red flares actually turns out to be a new dawn. Hope you get 2nd next year

  • Comment number 63.

    A lack of leadership on the field - in none of the games did any player grab it by the scruff of the neck.
    No Plan B or the ability to change tactics. We flung the ball out along the backline at almost every opportunity but never put in short chipsgrubbers to force the opposition defence to turn. By being so predictable we are very easy to defend against.
    Not backing up. The number of times we got turned over because a player made a break only to be isolated.
    A strong scrummaging fornt row. It is all very well to say that a prop or hooker is great in open play, but if we can't comfortably control our own scrums and hopefully put pressure on the opposition set piece it makes it very difficult to play - just look at Ireland's scrum on Saturday.
    The 10, 12, 13 ongoing problems. It is all very well saying Tim Visser's arrival will change everything, but if we can't sort out what is inside he will look pretty anonymous at international level.
    Basic skills. Dropped passes, forward passes, etc, etc, etc. It is no use blaming AR, GT etc, if a player arrives at international level without very strong basic skills what skills he has will fail at international level. As Keith Wood said on Week 1 of 6N, the problem is not that you have little time at international level, the problem is that you have no time.
    For the summer tour make it plain that selection is on current form only. Get Ross Ford etc back with Edinburgh and Glasgow playing like they know their places are on the line, as well as others on the margins knowing that they could get the call if they play for a place in the team. I remember the pretty grim period of 1977-1980 when we got pretty well thumped in most matches. The turn round for me started in the 1980 French match when after a pretty c**p first half players started to stand up and be counted. John Beattie snr (host of this blog) was a catalyst when he had a storming run that required 3 or 4 French players to stop him. After that you could see the rest of the team begin to believe they could win. Andy Irvine went from zero to hero in about 10 minutes and the rest is history. To me that game was the start of the process which say the amazing victroy in Cardiff in 1982 and a Grand Slam in 1984.

  • Comment number 64.

    I believe that a lot of our issues boil down to passion.  Do our players really want to play for Scotland and to win, or do they just see it as a progression of their professional abilities?  This is evident from the outset during the singing of the National Anthem, where the players give a delicate rendition of 'Flower of Scotland' whilst some don't bother to sing at all.  I have noticed this with the Scottish Football team too - the majority of players don't bother to sing along (probably because they don't know the words).  You only had to look to Alun Wyn-Jones on Saturday as he belted out the Welsh National Anthem with tears in his eyes - that's real pride for you.
    Don't get me wrong, there are players out there who would live and die for their country - Sean Lamont was heavily critised for his outburst last year when, as usual, we weren't making much of an effort to win a match, but he had a point, and at least he cared.  Why are players not visibly devistated when they lose to a team like Italy?
    What ever happened to the days when people like David Leslie were unleashed on teams (and I include school-age) to provide some motivation to players.  Does our National team have people like him in to educate them on what it means to represent their country and to have a nation cheering for them... and then to succeed?
    I think we need to educate our players and ensure that they are committed to the cause - don't just take 'yes' for an answer, let's see some blood, sweat and tears.  Get them fired up before a game so that players like Laidlaw and Cusiter, no matter what their size, are so aggressive that they try to put their shoulders through the first opposition player to come near them with the ball before coming out of the other side laughing!  Jonny Wilkinson wasn't that big!
    If we fail to address this (along with everything else) the Scottish rugby (and football) team will remain as 'also rans' and continue the slippery slide down the international rankings list to failure.
    P.S.  I love my country and really hope that witness something different next season.

  • Comment number 65.

    This may be down to the inability of the BBC cameramen to:
    a) stay with the game
    b) too many closeups during play so we cant see the game
    c) to many shots of the crowd
    d) the cameramen either not staying up with the play or falling behind
    (the worse thing regards the 6Nations was the camera work)
    But game plan? did any of the teams have one. It all looked a bit of a panic or so slow I never considered anyone to have a real game plan.

  • Comment number 66.

    Agree with many of the comments above.

    It took barely a minute or 2 into the Italy game to see Scotland were trying to avoid losing rather than winning.

    I grew up in Scotland but now live in England and the issue of organised sport in Scotland is not just a rugby specific thing. It is the same for every sport except football. The level of organisation involved in all sports down here is just on a totally different level. This organisation breeds enthusiasm, both among children playing the sport who get much better facilities to hone their talents, but also parents who are much more likely to encourage their kids to succeed at these sports if they can live safe in the knowledge the effort that they are putting in are being matched by the individuals and organisations who are coaching their kids.

    I'm not saying we need radical changes, just something more from the government to improve facilities and coaching standards, and that success will breed yet more success.

    Also a final point. If we are to get rid of AR, I don't see why everyone is putting us down as such an awful proposition to coach. Where else will you get players with the ability/potential of Hogg, Visser, Jones, Weir, Denton, Rennie, Brown, Gray, Ford, Welsh, but still be allowed to keep your job with 2 wins from 15 in the 6 nations and a group stage exit at the WC and taking your country to their lowest ever ranking. I mean I'm currently at work getting paid as I write this, but even my job seems like torture compared to the Scotland job.

  • Comment number 67.

    does robinson really need to go? I'm not so sure. granted sport is about one thing - winning - and scotland's record speaks for itself. But as the old saying goes, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sews ear.

  • Comment number 68.

    To all above: Summer Rugby for the youth and the Amateur game. The professional game stays were it is.

  • Comment number 69.

    Just how much day to day involvement with the players does AR have?
    The reason I ask this is that having been a season ticket holder for a number of years at Edinburgh I just could not understand the selections made for this years 6 nations.
    The only positive from saturdays match was John Welsh getting his first cap and doing quite well. For all those out there criticising Chunk he was left exposed with no cover for most of the matches and no cover on the bench. Welsh was /is on good form yet he only gets on cos Allan sprains his ankle in the warmup. Yet first chance he gets he puts Jackson out when he's hardly been inspiring for Glasgow since coming back from injury. Just what Duncan Weir thinks about this is anyones guess. GT won't have made any friends there - another stupid appointment btw.
    Yes John rugby is simple and most of the guys going along to Firhill and Murrayfield know who have been playing well. Apparently Andy Robinson does not so I say again how much contact day to day does he have?

  • Comment number 70.

    #68. Good point. Under these circumstances how about the winner of Premiership 1 playing in the Amalin Challange Cup? That would expose more playes to higher level rugby.

  • Comment number 71.

    It all comes down to the problems with the youth system, and its slowly getting worse and worse. And im sure you'll have heard it all before but ill reiterate.

    Picking players because of size over skill has been an issue for a while now, the coaching staff and youth develepment officers have a mentality that picking big players and drilling structure into them will work...SERIOUSLY! How stupid and incompetent can these men be? Speaking from experience players are being selected for Scotland U17, U18 & even U20 that actually cant catch a ball let alone have a good rugby brain. Scotland U20s were ripped apart by England U20s recently not because they were too small, to strong but because they didnt have a good enough concept of how to play rugby.

    I recently played against a player 2 years younger with thighs bigger than an average mans waist, but dropped the ball everytime he got it and now plays Scotland U18s.

    Andy Robinson is a great coach, with a good bunch of players but most of them are big idiots with no skill level.

    Why cant Sean Lamont be like Isreal Dagg or Conrad Smith, or Allan Jacobson be like Ben Robinson? etc.. becuase when they were growing up through youth levels they werent given the right rugby mentality and game managment.

    No matter what Andy Robinson does in the short run to make Scotland win, it will only cover up the fact that it isnt going to get any better unless they sort out the youth system from mini level up!!!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    Is this the lowest IRB World Ranking that Scotland have ever had?

    IRB World Rankings - 19 March 2012
    Position (last week) Member Union Rating Point
    1(1) NEW ZEALAND 91.43
    2(2) AUSTRALIA 87.99
    3(3) SOUTH AFRICA 84.34
    4(4) ENGLAND 83.62
    5(5) WALES 83.32
    6(6) FRANCE 81.91
    7(8) ARGENTINA 80.28
    8(7) IRELAND 79.85
    9(9) TONGA 76.63
    10(10) SAMOA 75.81
    11(12) ITALY 74.17
    12(11) SCOTLAND 73.86
    13(13) CANADA 72.92
    14(14) JAPAN 70.45
    15(15) GEORGIA 70.26

    If so, then surely time for a new approach and a new coach?

  • Comment number 73.

    Anyway, as I was saying.....
    1 AR has to go along with GT. How they have conspired to knock all the flair and imagination out of so many players I do not know.
    2 Basic problem with Glasgow and Edinburgh being mini SRUs does not help
    3 need another pro England?
    4 Grass roots are awful. Someone earlier mentioned the emphasis on size and sheer physical presence. This has to stop now and have an emphasis on space and flair. This is the same at all levels and the same is true in England for the Exiles structure where size seems to be high on the agenda rather than skill. You can put meat on a wee lad with brains but this does not work the other way round Mr S Lamont is a great example of a one dimensional lump who is past his sell by date.

    Lets go for youth and consistancy rather than continually picking donkeys who do not perform

    And finally goodbye AR and GT

  • Comment number 74.

    Negative post coming up. Anybody who doesn't want to listen to more Scottish negativity should stop reading now.

    So where do I start. The stats are not great. Since Andy Robinson took over we have never won more than a single game in the 6 nations. In fact we have been getting progressively worse.
    2010 - 1 win, 1 draw
    2011 - 1 win
    2012 - 0 wins

    I'm sorry but that is not progress. That is steady decline.

    Then we have the world cup record. First Scotland team not to qualify from the group stages. Then the try record, I forget exactly how many games we went without scoring a try.

    So he brings in some young attacking talent, and we do look a bit better going forward. But we are leaking tries by the barrel-load.

    My biggest concern is the style, or lack of. Throughout the Robinson era we have had no discernable style to speak of. Parks would come in and we would kick & play territory. Parks would go out and we would 'try' to pass. We have tried deep running, quick ball, set piece game and occassionally we look ok. But because we have no style it is always going to be hit and miss.

    It used to be that at the very least the other countries would know that no matter what happened, they would know they had been in a game. I don't see that any more. We are not as physical or fit as we have been & maybe it is just me, but I can't see that these guys are giving 100% for the team or the manager.

    Takes us nicely to the Italy game. Honestly the single worst Scotland performance I have ever seen.
    I heard a statistic that we did not manage hands on ball in the opposition 22 ONCE in the entire game!!!
    I assume that statistic doesn't count the 3 lineout put-ins, in their 22 which were all lost. Either way we were unable to get 2 or 3 phases together so even if we won those lineouts I can't see how we could have got over the try line.

    So where do we go?

    My opinion, Robinson has had more than enough time. He has a good generation of players available to him and he is not using them well. We have 4 or 5 weak links, but enough to win some games.

    I like a lot of the ideas about improving the development of our players but honestly we have enough to win more than we do. They are not being managed or trained correctly at Elite level and we have to take care of that before we do anything else. Otherwise the young generation will have nothing to look up to and get excited about playing the game.

    I have a football backg

  • Comment number 75.

    Must have got cut off in my prime. For anyone still reading I was finishing off by saying...

    I have a football background and remember my generation being inspired by the France 98 team. What do you think kids in Wales are playing now? Football or Rugby?

    They have a successful team to emulate and (I live in Wales) believe me, they are all playing rugby.

    If we fix what is happening on the pitch, the development side will naturally improve!

  • Comment number 76.

    Two big issues that I think Scotland needs to sort out;

    1) Defense - especially in the backs. Some of Scotland's defense this 6N was just appalling. You can not hope to compete in the top international stage if players can't tackle in a 1 on 1 situation. Teams should only be scoring tries against you with brilliant attacking plays/set pieces/build up play/overlap etc etc - but NEVER on a 1 on 1 situation. I rate defensive players much higher than attackers (Barritt being a perfect example). A defensive player won't cost their team a try etc, and you can still grind out wins, and when you're winning then you can work on giving the defensive player the attacking flare.

    2) Team passion. To me our Scottish team only seems to play with real raw passion and enthusiasm against England. Now obviously there is always a big build up against England but we don't need a 1000 year history with a country to play with aggression/energy/determination. The team should bring this attitude to every game, no matter the opposition. The England game was lost because the team was not clinical, it looked like the Italy,French,Irish game was lost because the team didn't want to be there in the second half.

  • Comment number 77.

    No 76 - not sure that the passion was not there for the Wales, France game -

    I think the 'only raise it for England' is long past relevent - we had chances in both the France and Wales game to win it, but terrible subsitutions and some poor handling cost us

    The Italy game looked like their were fed up of the coach and his non tactics - if not them - I was

  • Comment number 78.

    John, following up from my original point. Can you please define the "huge success" that Andy brought to Edinburgh?
    Me thinks this is just another example of self limiting beliefs which plague our country!

  • Comment number 79.

    Scotland and AR came into Six Nations with some hope and credibility and left it with none. AR gave the same BBC interview - taking no personal responsibility - after each match and so the pressure on the players increased as the tournament went on until they were clearly riddled by fear and indecision by the time they reached Rome. Richie Gray told the BBC that he was scared of AR, suggesting he manages by fear and reputation. All a bit similar to England under Martin Johnson?
    We need a big person in charge, someone who can encourage, gel and take the stick for a bad result or poor performance without first worrying about their own reputation or cv. Someone to get the most out of what is already there. We need rugby's version of Martin O'Neill!

  • Comment number 80.

    Saturday's match must surely rank as one of the worst international matches of recent times. It was so bad that during the half time interval Messers Inverdale (smug so and so that he is), Guscott (almost as bad) and Shane Williams started talking about the France /Wales game. The good news must be that now that we have hit rock bottom, as far as the Six Nations is concerned, the only way is up!!

    Looking at the season as a whole there were undoubtedly plus points, e.g the form of Rennie, Denton, Gray and Hogg. Next time out hopefully Kelly Brown, Al Strokosh, Tim Visser, Joe Ansbro and Alex Grove will all be fit and available for selection. Another plus point is the replacement of Gregor Townsend. Great player on his day, but great players don't always make great coaches. he may become one but for now he seems well short of what is required at International level and who knows, maybe even at pro club level as well. Good luck Glasgow!

    Minus points however must include the continuing selection of Da Luca. Surely after his sin binning against Wales he should have learnt his lesson. No only a liability as a player, he is now a liability as far as his discipline is concerned. Sean Lamont has been a great servant over the years but I believe his time is now up. Same goes for Cusiter and Blair. I agree with the others, and as I have pointed out in a previous blog, Laidlaw is not a test standard stand off. Maybe he or Rory Lawson should be given a run at scrum half. Time for Euan Murray to bow out and time too for Alan Jacobsen to do the same. We need to find an authoritative stand off. In the past few years we have tried Godman, Parks, Jackson, Weir and Paterson and none has really stood out. Parks to my mind was/is perhaps the best of the lot but it is too late for him. Finding a no 10 really should be a top priority.

    As for Andy Robinson I still believe he is the best man to take Scotland forward. He is unlikely to fall on his sword having just appointed Scott Johnson and Matt Taylor and surely it makes sense to let this triumvirate have a go. However another season like the one just past and AR will have to go. Sometimes you have to admit that you may have taken the players as far as you can.

  • Comment number 81.

    John,speaking of an audit.After the World Cup & 6 Nations we've had,why are we going to the Southern Hemisphere ? Who pays for it ? And most importantly,do the Blazers get to go as well ? It's a long way to go for a beer,a barbeque and a bashin'.
    Romania,Georgia & Russia by Ryanair,would surely serve equally well,leaving a good few quid to be invested in the youngsters.But that's just silly,isn't it...

  • Comment number 82.

    Interesting that by reading the above posts, it seems that many posters want a brand new team, with almost all players written off as not good enough. If we say we are going to bin everyone with the exception of Denton, Hogg and Gray then I think we will have serious problems, it is not just as easy as getting rid of the older players and the younger sones will automatically be better.

    We complain about the lack of leadership but you cant just get rid of the expereinced leaders to sort it. Several quotes of "finding a new 10 must be a priority", we im not sure if you thin that AR and the coaching staff have got a 10 somwhere locked in a shed but wont let him out cause they dont like him? We have been trying to find a world class 10 for years, like every other country in the world (look at France, Ital and to a certain extent Australia). As suggested we get rid of Chunk, Murray, Ford, & Cross, this would devastate our scrum, along with Welsh are our best scrummagers, who would do better, Kalman? Low? Trainor? a year ago Scott Lawson was the devil himself for getting cards so he would be no better.

    Sorry but we dont have the resources just to throw out a whole team, some will give examples of young players being thrown in, but they will invariably be world class players and there will be countless examples of good young players being thrown in and not doing well. Unfortunatley whoever is the next coach (and I think we need a change) can only play with the hand he is dealt in the players available, and at the moment it aint a great hand, but on the other hand it is not that bad either, we just need a spark to get things going, but at the moment I dont think any of us know where that will come from.

  • Comment number 83.

    As a welshman, first AR has to go. A new cullture haas to come in. Fitness levels have to be massively improved as do skills, stop the silly errors. But 2 teams in the Rabo12 is just not enough to create a competative atmosphere in Scotish clubs.

  • Comment number 84.

    lots of chat about negativity and lack of passion.........

    Honest truth is that teams win by scoring more points than the opposition, or is that conceding less?
    I suppose it depends on your outlook in life, glass half empty or half full.

    I fail to see how any team can be passionate about conceding less points than their opponents, but I can understand being full of passion when you are running them in and playing with flair.

    There has to be an emphasis on this at age grade rugby. The game is about space......running into it, passing into it etc and only taking contact when there is no other option.

    If scotland are looking for a new attack coach (or should that be an attack coach) in a similar vein to GT then my mum is looking for something to do when she is not collecting her pension.

    Lets get youth and a willingness to play positive direct heads up rugby rather than this lateral rubbish we have been saddled with recently.

  • Comment number 85.


    So quickly we have got off the point here about the ability, quality and home grown talent of coaches available!

    It does seem bizarre, that we can, before we know the final results of the 6N promote a failed coach in his present job. Who please is in charge of this stupidity?

    Never mind the players at this time lets get the structure from the top correct, THEN & ONLY THEN we can grow!

    I'm sorry but AR must go and bring in the people you have mentioned maybe plus 1 outsider.

    Do we have proper coaching badges system?

  • Comment number 86.

    i have done a bit of study on the last 5 years of Scottish U20 players and of the 5 squads of around 30 players only about 50% appear to have remained in the game at premiership or pro level, this is a worrying stat and I wonder if this is all due to a lack of opportunities for those elite players also more concerning is what a huge amount of talent lost to the scottish game

  • Comment number 87.

    Why Robbo's future is up for debate beggars belief. Once the players cross the white line they and only they are responsible for the errors that are happening. Against Ireland and Italy for example, Ross Ford and his lineout Jumpers were not on the same wavelength yet previously in the tournament our touchline set piece was imperious. This is something that Robb has no control over on matchdays.

    Earlier in the championship, Mike Blair takes a tap penalty and goes into acres of space....our supporting players form an orderly queue jogging along behind him. The only option Blair had was to take contact and then he gets pinged for hanging on in the tackle.

    The bottom line is that players have to stand up and be counted and held responsible. There is no use blaming the coach. Men such as Telfer and McGeechan had bad runs and walked. I even remember Mr F Hadden esq being hailed a hero after the Matt Williams debacle.

    Stick with Robbo as coach with Johnston alongside him but get it drilled in to the players that they must get out of their comfort zone.

  • Comment number 88.

    I’ll leave all the stuff about the structure of the game to people who know better than I do; maybe we can improve it, maybe not… For me, I realised the jig was up for the season at the start of the second half in Dublin when it became increasingly obvious that all belief had somehow been drained from the team…

    We were aimless and worryingly almost heartless and the same pattern was repeated again against the Italians. I don’t mean to suggest that the players are lacking in basic courage, I don’t think it’s possible to play international rugby without some pretty big cahones/cajones (whatever) but there seemed to be no one in a Scotland shirt who honestly thought they could win the game.

    If that’s the case then it doesn’t really matter who fills the fifteen jerseys because a team that thinks it’s going to lose usually finds a way to make that happen.

    In my opinion our first 3 defeats knocked the stuffing out of the boys and it’s looked to me since that we’ve just been waiting to be put out of our misery, I always thought (no matter how the other games went) that we’d get turned over in Rome by a team that always targets us and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Scotland team in their hearts felt the same thing.

    There’s no silver bullet but to sprinkle a wee bit of optimism over a depressing thread, remember the contrast between our performances is 98 and 99… I think there were some key personnel changes but for me at that time the biggest difference was that the team just got royally sick of losing and collectively ‘manned up’ to do something about it.

    Who knows, maybe this team can do the same..?

  • Comment number 89.


    Sorry to many mistakes not to blame the coaches, that was not a team with belief on Saturday.

  • Comment number 90.

    Well clueless does seem like the only word for Saturday.

    Past it players.

    Wholesale changes from 9 to 14, time has been called on MB & CC at 9, Laidlaw will never ever be an international 10 you can not pick it up in a few games you are born into the position. Hogg is possibly a bit early at 15 as he lacks the physicality and strength to tackle properly, dancing pony tackles do not belong at any level.

    Centres - De Luca must never wear the blue jersey again, he has seriously let down everyone by his actions, Morrison is a one trick pony so much so that hobbit could marshall him crash ball, crash ball, crash ball..............crashed and burned! Scott must get his chance and kidnapp a Kiwi for the othe slot.

    Wings - Well I'm all for those Crazy Dutch folk..........Visser to Fizzer, god forbid we actually get a wing who looks to take his man on and go around him rather than the jittery stop start of Lamont & Evans who look like they are entering into a breakdance move or Saturday Night Fever strut. I'm still not sold on Jones time in gym would help.

    Forwards - Last orders have been sounded, Jacobsen seems to be suffering from years in the trenches but most certainly a Giant for Scotland in previous years. Welsh came in and nailed it simple as that. Murray has gone well of the boil. Ford is so annoying he lulls you into thinking aye he's onto to it now and then goes into hibernation. All the others will do for now.

    Coach - It's lke asking British Rail when a train is going to arrive, we are getting there...............WHEN!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Quick question, if I owned a company and chose to call it Alba/ Londinium and chose to employ 25 Scottish qualified players and chose to give these players contracts at London Scottish, I believe any protest would be a restraint of trade? I also think the fact that Inter Milan won the Champions league without a single Italian did not raise howls of unfairness. We need more Scots playing top flight Pro rugby ASAP, please.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ok, we've had a game and a half of dire rugby, and we're all filled with gloom, but there are green shoots.

    Firstly, in the 1st 3 games, for the first time in decades we actually dominated games for periods, and looked competitive. I kow we've had seasons in which we've won more games through inspired defence, but we've relied on the other side losing the game rather than us winning it. We need a team that can play to win.

    Secondly, whether by accident or design we have blooded some younger players, some of whom will learn from the experience.

    Thirdly we have some new coaches coming whose ideas may inspire the players. Ok, I'm not overly excited about Johnson, but he should inject some positivity. Taylor turned Qld from the worst defensive team in S15 into the 2nd best in a matter of weeks. He works hard and again, could some passion and energy back in the team.

    THere are a few problems still though. GT at Glasgow........nooooooooooooo! Also, do feel there is a lack of leadership in the side. You may laugh, but I actually think Parks (and Wagga) was missed. I'm not a huge fan of his abilities, but really liked that he was always talking to those around them and geeing them up. Noone was doing that on Saturday, and heads dropped. If players are talking, the confidence can be contagious, and if they're not, the other teams will notice it.

  • Comment number 93.


    We've had "Green shoots" for 20 years! When do they grow into some mature plants that can be nurtured and admired? The team are the longest developing bunch in sporting history!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Do we really expect Scotland with a small playing population to be able to beat the English or French teams consistently? Wales at least sees it as the national game and they have a good side. The Irish have had a decade of outstanding players.

    And Italy at least have a very strong pack. What do we really expect a coach to achieve? Is firing Robinson going to result in us being world-beaters: don't count on it.....

  • Comment number 95.

    94 The ANSWER IS YES. there is no reason why we cannot pull above our weight with the correct structures in place, no reason whatsoever.

    We need to develop from grass roots at every type of school. Stop being clueless give people a chance.

  • Comment number 96.

    Ok, this is my first go at this sort of chat thing and I'm starting by bringing up a topic which will be very unpopular! It's the subject of kilted Kiwis etc.

    It's a contentious topic, but my goodness we need some steel, pace and Kiwi/Ausi/Samoan/Tongan/French/Welsh/Any-where-else grit in our team.

    It's the backs that's the problem really. Yeah, the forwards were poor on Saturday, but they did well against the other teams earlier in the tournament. If we can get two new props.....we have a really good unit.

    But it's in the backs where we struggle. Poor hands, poor kicking, poor pace.....a lack of intelligent play even. There's nothing in that backline that suggests we are ever going to threaten the top teams.

    So it's time for drastic action! We need fresh Scottish blood...even if it's not entirely pure Scottish blood, perhaps say a generation or two removed!

    Sean Lineen (of course a kilted-Kiwi himself) is in his new Scouting job.....well Sean, get yersel over to Auckland, start scouting the youth teams in Melbourne.

    I can just see Sean visiting Tonga and unearthing an 18-stone centre, who can run 100 metres in under 11 seconds whose grandfather happened to be of Scots descent. He might unearth a Kiwi inside centre with great hands and vision and a Fijian 22-stone tighthead ready to destroy the best scrums.

    Desperate times requires desperate measures and I don't think we are good enough to just sit back and watch defeat after defeat. Let's think about winning. All our youth teams get hammered. Is it the set-up? Is it the lack of numbers, the lack of basic skills. The answer is a bit of everything. What we have to do is enhance what we have with a sprinkling of overseas talent.

    Whenever I've travelled abroad, I meet so many people proud of their Scottish ancestry. Let's tap into that and compete. Let's get some flair back into Scottish rugby.

    The purists will not like this idea. 'What kind of message does this send out to the young up-and-coming players?' I can already hear them say.

    Well the message should of course be....if you want to play for Scotland you have to be good, very good and you don't have a divine right to play for your country. We need competition for positions and to increase our playing pool.

    We have to do something... my sons (9 and 6) are growing up not knowing what it's like for Scotland to win. To me that's not right and something must be done!

  • Comment number 97.

    i dont understand why the scots are so afraid of player development. how long do you think it will take to find a player of the competency of some of the scottish players? lets be fair, a decent youngster could probably match certain players in 12-18 months and still be on an upward curve. it's not like you're replacing brian o'driscoll or shane williams. i know it may seem unbelievable, but it is possible to develop a 19-21 year old into something better than nick de luca.

    wales have moved out of the dark ages because they saw what the southern hemisphere were doing. the southern hemisphere develop their players and get them exposed to international rugby at a younger age. halfpenny, lydiate, warburton, jon davies-- all been there for a few years and all around the 30 cap mark. james hook is still only 26, jamie roberts 25 and alun wyn jones 27, but people forget that.

    i dont really want to make this post a pop at england, but i do rather suspect that the difference between england & scotland is that england have a 12 team professional league that helps to recruit residency players. to be fair, despite that scotland were only one chargedown from beating england this year and quite squarely outplayed england.

    what do scotland really have to lose this summer and in the autumn? as things stand there is no way scotland will get a win against australia, but at least they can come off that field having given some game time to a few youngsters.

    that and some clever recruiting from abroad could see scotland develop a higher standard, and competition for places, quite quickly.

  • Comment number 98.

    Nick Well said

  • Comment number 99.

    Is this the gamee plan whereby players drop the ball when in promising positions?

  • Comment number 100.

    Mr. Beattie

    I talked to abigail khanna from the BBC in order to propose a report on Spanish rugby in scotland since my rugby club is going on tour at the end of april, and told me to contact you. Could you answer back please on [Personal details removed by Moderator] Thank you very much!


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