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What's so complicated about coaching a national team?

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John Beattie | 12:03 UK time, Sunday, 25 November 2012

So, Andy Robinson has quit. I was one of the people who called for him to be appointed and it makes me sad.

My reaction is that the fundamental role of national coach needs to be re-examined in Scotland.

And, at the outset of this piece, I have to say in Andy Robinson's defence that some of that rubbish on Saturday wasn't his fault, it was players buying dummies, players going high into contact, players seemingly unable to break a defence and players missing kicks.

What's more, they will have learned to do this under other coaches, probably since they were five years old.

He was let down by his players on Scottish soil.

Greig Laidlaw finds progress tough against Tonga, who secured their first win over Scotland at Aberdeen on Saturday. Photo: Getty

Greig Laidlaw finds progress tough against Tonga, who secured their first win over Scotland at Aberdeen on Saturday. Photo: Getty

Oh, there were stories that his schoolteacher attitude wound a few of them up, and he had a sharp tongue, but that's a good coach who has walked away.

You won't find players saying he was a bad coach. He was, in fact, very probably the best forwards coach in the business.

I'd like him to stay in Scottish rugby, coaching those detailed aspects of forward play, but that won't happen.

But here's the main thrust about this piece today: I don't see what's so complicated about coaching a national team.

For 40-odd weeks of the year your players are being fed, coached, trained and lectured by some of the best coaches in the world at English, Scottish and French clubs.

The players at your disposal dovetail with their club systems. They have their weight-training programmes, their defensive systems, their attack systems, their set-piece plays.

Surely the job of a national coach must be to give the players two attack systems and allow them to work out the rest themselves.

The role of a national coach is to organise and with the minimum of fuss. There should be no smoke and mirrors, no promises of some rugby nirvana, no interminable meetings and talking.

And no talk of winning the next World Cup with a golden generation of players. There is no such thing as rugby talent, there is only success brought on by working hard.

And there is no golden generation. Kiwi players, and for that matter Tongan players, work hard at their rugby in a school of hard knocks.

A national coach needs to hammer home set-piece practice, shape practice, a few calls, make sure fitness isn't lost, and get blasted in. Keep it simple.

The problem with that display on Saturday was that the players looked as though they hadn't even been introduced at times. The attacking shape broke down in its complexity and certainly rarely threatened.

And that will be nagging at Robinson. It's the same "same way" system as was used on the Southern Hemisphere tour and it had success there, but not here.

Why? Goodness knows.

Let's go through what we do know. New Zealand and South Africa are better teams than us, Samoa beat Wales and nearly beat France. Argentina beat Wales. South Africa and Australia beat England.

The power base of world rugby is shifting from nice boys in the Northern Hemisphere to a more brutal Southern Hemisphere game laden with skill and power that we aren't matching. Just how we approach that I don't know.

I just think the whole role of national coach, both in rugby and in football, needs to be re-examined, especially here in Scotland. The players are not the produce of the national coach. There is no long-term planning by the national coach. He takes players who are coached by someone else and moulds them into a national framework for a handful of games a year.

He doesn't need a caravan of helpers large enough to accompany Marco Polo.

In fact, the players don't need to be in camp all this time. I remember Judy Murray telling me that Andy Murray's Olympics success came from Ivan Lendl's advice that you prepare for a Wimbledon final or an Olympic final in the same way that you have prepared for every other game in your life.

Out went the special preparation, the bigger hotels, the bigger team, and he won a gold medal and the US Open.

You change precisely nothing.

I do understand the logic behind Edinburgh and Glasgow playing the Robinson way and I do get that element of the influence the national coach might have.

But only eight of the starting 15 against Tonga play for Edinburgh or Glasgow.

I hope the SRU pares down the national coaching set-up and gets a proven organiser.

Who would you like to see as Scotland coach?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Sad to see Robinson leave, think the players really let him down. He was trying to drive Scotland forward....the players have to take the blame at some stage and not always the coach.

  • Comment number 2.

    The hard reality is we are just not good enough to compete with the best teams on the planet, cant even get the basics right and i for one think there are far to many players on an easy meal ticket, they dont even show raw emotion, get rid of most of them there are plenty of guys at club level who would step up to the plate at any time and for nothing, time for re structure of scottish rugby, why cant they take a leif out of the AB book or is it a case of we know better, i dont think so,!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    "I don't see what's so complicated about coaching a national team"


    John Beattie as our next coach to prove it...

  • Comment number 4.

    Robinson took us in the right direction but for whatever reason was just not able to finish the task. I dont know whether the players stopped believing in him, or if the players went back to believing their own hype (an issue I think is endemic of some of the highly paid Scottish stars).
    Im sad to see him go but I do think the realization is there that it is a need for some new thinking.
    However having watched the New Zealand game with the NZ commentators they were amazed at how Scotland played "at last a Northern Hemisphere team is playing direct rugby" and were very complimentary at the system, yet incredulous at the silly individual errors (knock on's, forward passes, drop balls and Ross Fords throwing) at critical times.
    High praise indeed from some of the most one sided commentators in the business!

    So I think the best way to look at Andy Robinsons rein is Close But No Cigar. He played smart systems that enabled us to beat the best in one off games, but was not good enough to get the players to recreate that week in week out.

    I for one will say thank you, and hope he finds something that keeps him in the game, I dare say Edinburgh will be looking for a new coach soon enough too.

  • Comment number 5.

    Go for it, John, you can bring back the spirt of '84 and create a new Scottish Haka ( And let's have the schoolboys enclosure back again!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi John, Not really surprised Andy fell on his sword this morning but am disappointed. Something wasn't clicking but I tend to put the blame on the players. A coach can only do so much. Once the whistle goes it's up to the players to peform and, frankly, they have only done that in patches. It seems to me the performances went downhill of the three games. Thought they did about as much as we could expect against the All Blacks and were basically outmuscled by the Boks. Yesterday was positively dire although I think you could ask questions about the refereeing. Losing a coash leaves uncertainty and the Six Nations are less than three months away. I hope the SRU finds someone quickly and, I agree with you, they should take a look as the coaching structure. I would like to see Scott Johnston get a chance. He did a good job with the Ospreys and, from what I have been told, gets on well with the players.
    Scottish rugby will only improve once the SRU gets round to setting up and properly investing in a third professional team.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sad to see AR go....will anyone actually want to coach Scotland?

    There should NOT be a roots and all review but some of the current international players should be given a reality check.

  • Comment number 8.

    A fresh coach with new ideas should help liven up a Scottish team that aren't performing to their potential.
    Robinson is a very good coach & I would personally like to see him work with England's forwards.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Andy R was a great coach. The players are great players. Their performances were epic against France, England and Wales in the 6 nations and they were excellent down under. They tried heroically against the AB's (who are as good a rugby side just now as I have ever seen) and destroyed the SA scrum. Not many have done that. Admittedly they were poor against Tonga.
    The difference between winning and losing at this level is very small.
    Keep going lads. The rewards will come.l

  • Comment number 11.

    Looks like it's more a motivator we need, I am sad to see AR go as well but something had to change, yesterday felt horrible in the last 20mins, all credit for the Aberdeen crowd for sticking with them to the end.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think it's a pity AR has resigned, sure he has made some errors but name one coach who hasn't, so I'm sorry to see him go.
    The players aren't as good as they think they are and as has been said on many occasions over the past few weeks (and over the longer period) it's the basic skills that are lacking and AR can't be held responsible for that.
    However he's gone now and who will replace him? Did the SRU have a crystal ball when moving Sean Lineen from Glasgow and is he the next man up? I don't see many other Scottish challengers for the job and who internationally would want the job, even for the pot of gold that will be offered?
    So in my opinion Sean Lineen with Shade Munro as forwards coach will be the new team.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry to see Robinson go.... Hard to know who should replace him. There are some fine players in Scotland right now though. I remember watching Scotland A overwhelm a strong England A side at Netherdale not 9 months ago. Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir scythed through the opposition defence again and again and an elderly Borderer next to me muttered "Aye,nobody's told them not to". Do you think the players are over-coached now?

  • Comment number 14.

    The phrases "We did well for long periods of the game" or "a great second half performance" seem to be in the write up for every Scotland game but unfortunately they do not hide the fact that we actually lost..

    I should also point out that against the bigger touring teams, we often play their second strings and not their strongest XV.

    I think we need to accept that until there is a fundamental change in the way we coach and establish the younger players there is not going to be a change anytime soon..

    I think that AR has done a good job with professionalism, hard work and no shortage of talent. I think it's time for the players to act and perform in a way consistent with their leadership..

    We may live to regret the decision today..

  • Comment number 15.

    Sad to see AR go, an excellent Coach.

    Be tolerent of my comments, I see a parallel with football;- players loyalty to paymaster club and not country, limited working together as a national squad especially on tactics which are very different at international level and a game being more and more dominated by sponsors image and marketing issues than rugby.

  • Comment number 16.

    Apart from the dire performance against a team who played basic rugby brilliantly, the IRB refs can take some of the blame for AR quitting. The 'Big Team Blindness' that afflicts professional cheating right in front of them by SA and NZ and the lack of consistency amongst the so-called best refs has played a part. Against SA Scotland were penalised for going in at the side, but when SA were doing it right in front of the ref and delaying the release Scotland lost possession either to a penalty or free kick. NZ are experts at slowing play down by illegal moves. Everyone knows it, but refs don't pick it up. Against Wales 3 forward passes went unpunished - two led to tries.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am sad to see Andy Robinson go; he was badly let down by the veteran players in the back line who have consistently failed to return on the hard work of the pack. Many of them have no place in a Scotland team. But perhaps, as with the tennis analogy, there is a sense in which the team is simply trying too hard. Of course players have to be up for battle, but one does feel these days that rugby is becoming drone-like, joyless, grey, almost autistic in its inability to recognise a looser and more carefree plane of existence.

  • Comment number 18.

    All fair points John. As an Irishman I think he did a pretty good job.

    Reckon you should take on Eddie O'Sullivan - the man who got the best out of limited resources with Ireland, and in spite of how things eventually ended, is still Ireland's most successful ever coach, with a win/loss ratio considerably better than his successor. Whom it could be argued has better players at his disposal. Think he could do a good job with Scotland.

  • Comment number 19.

    Andy's done the honourable thing then........maybe there are some others in there that should be looking at themselves too? I liked him and thought he was a great coach. The man had passion - the commentators always joked about how upset and unhappy he looked during Scottish games as the TV camera switched to look at his face.....I was doing the very same thing!
    Most of the comments here tend to agree which is good for Andy but actually worrying for where we go next?
    I think John is right, we do need a review of the system that is producing our players. Our clubs (football & rugby) are two keen to reach for the cheque book and buy in foreign talent to ensure success (which they plainly cannot afford - see Rangers & Hearts) instead of identifying and growing our own talent at home. No wonder our national teams fail to inspire and depress the nation.

  • Comment number 20.

    The performance yesterday was atrocious, I was at the match and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

    The problem wasn't the lack of any magical coaching strategy, the problem was the players were collectively pathetic and clueless. Quite frankly unbelievable.

    We don't need a passionate coach, we need a coach that's going to drill the life out of the players, and ensure that there % play is sharper, and simplistic issues done such as kicking for touch is more effective.

    I think there were 5 plays in succession on the 5 yard line in the first half, right below my nose, and the same tactic was employed 5 times with the same dire and embarrassing result. It was a face palm moment for everyone in that area of the stand.

    5 attempts to advance 5 yards and 5 risible demonstrations of a lack of creativity, drive or game nous. I blame the players for that, however I blame the coach for sending out players with such an obviously ill planned set play strategy. wonder he resigned.

  • Comment number 21.

    Like a lot of people I am sorry to see him go.
    Good ideas were not matched by the extra weight he had to carry around.
    I refer to the experts who were getting their corn by analysing how to kick tackle, catch, pass , scratch their backsides and tell these players that they were a lot better than they were.
    Remember Dickinson who was "official advisor " to the these days which I know we can't go back to but surely we are allowed to have a different attitude.
    American football it is getting like,
    bring on the "impact players" the "kickers", that refers to the ball not the players.
    I think it was J W Telfer who said
    "your not Bl---y hard enough", but in his day the metatarsil hadn't been invented(discovered).
    Too many "players" more worried about their hair and their modelling careers than winning.
    I am also aware that we as a nation have to "fit in" with everyone else but we don't have to be blinded by the "techniques".
    You were wonderfull were invoved in 4 pick and goes......pity you didn't win.
    Oh that was because attack ploy 14/a didn't work out.
    This happens week after week.
    The team, who at the end of the time, have scored most points shall be the winner. Let's try to remember that.
    As well as a thing called pride, and remember also you have to walk down the main street on Monday morning.

  • Comment number 22.

    Scottish rugby is simply not working. Since the advent of professionalism we have gone backwards ................. and the blame for that lies firmly with the SRU. We need to embrace wholesale change, and fast. It's not rocket science, there's plenty models out there to copy.

  • Comment number 23.

    I had a lot of time for Robinson. Agree with comments about the ref yesterday - Tonga got away with murder at the breakdown BUT the will to win was just not there for Scotland (nor the nerve even to cross the line). Three (should have been more) yellow card advantages and no real points to show for it. Not good enough. The killer blow for AR was the weird decision to put on the rookie fly half in place of Laidlaw who was having a decent game. Missed kick and knock on to end the game! I just hope the bad experience doesn't spoil the young lad's obvious potential. Just please please...don't let it be Townsend good player (on a good day) but never a coach.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would like to see Sean Lineen take the head coach job. He done a great job with Glasgow, I personally believe he should not have been removed from his position there but thats another story, and he is already been working with the SRU so would make sense to me to promote him to the top job. If the SRU are sensible they should have Sean announced as head coach by the end of the week.

  • Comment number 25.

    So Andy Robinson's gone! Will that lead to success? No! There may be limited improvement but a total change in philosophy concerning all sport in Scotland is required.
    We have many outstanding young sportspeople but the vast majority go nowhere! Our schools try their best but without a coherent, consistent, well funded policy that will provide for competitive level sport in school we will be continually debating the merits of one top coach or another in all our sports.
    Can we as a nation stop messing about and start to debate the real problems of non success in all forms of sport? Can we critically look at our future generations recognise talent, put in place structures to nurture that talent and then perhaps we will more consistently achieve success!
    We need to invest in our sporting future if we are to succeed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Bryan Redpath just become available. Nick Mallet still not linked to anyone, he took on Italy in far worse shape. Graham Henry acted as assistant coach to Argentina and is coaching Wales with Gatland away on Lions duty: looks like he is up for grabs. Jake White could be lured from the Brumbies Surely two coaches more up there than Sean Lineen or Scott Johnson

  • Comment number 27.

    The players are the people responsible for making fundamental schoolboy errors on the pitch not Andy Robinson ! I am very disappointed he has decided to resign ! I think it also demonstrates what an honourable proud guy he is ! Some of the players should have a long hard look at themselves as they have cost a good man his job and they have also let the supporters down ! No excuses ! They are all paid professionals ! I wish the new coach all the best ! Robinson will be missed !

  • Comment number 28.

    I liked much of what Robinson tried to do with Scotland but, for me, there were two main problems: one, he was too loyal to players who weren't fit for selection and, two, he had too much influence with both the Glasgow and Edinburgh teams.

    On the first point, De Luca, Hamilton, Strokosch and Blair long ago ceased to be the best players in their positions in Scotland but got continually selected ahead of other, better, more in-form players.

    On the second, I once saw him bawl out Richie Gray in front of his then Glasgow team-mates and coaches during meal-time after a game in which Richie had been yellow-carded. Richie looked like he didn't appreciate the timing of the lecture whilst everyone else in the room just looked embarrassed on his behalf. Stuff like that doesn't earn you respect or make the players any more inclined to listen to you or win for you. I questioned Robinson's approach that day and have done ever since.

    Who to replace him? Mallett might be an option, but what about Joe Schmidt? Fair enough, he's on to a good thing with Leinster but why not try?

  • Comment number 29.

    Sad to see Robinson go, Its not his fault more than half the players are more interested in posing about doing there hair and receiving a nice salary for it! They have no passion and should be dropped out the national system they are a disgrace. All these SRU men should all stand dwn from there posts too!! They say we have no money to maybe put another pro team together ect, well how about cutting the Fireworks from the Start of home games or stop hiring the RAF to do fly byes. Thats a good few thousand grand dwn the drain there!! And how about changing our season to summer rugby. Our youth would develop better handling skills, running on harder ground would help speed and the ability to see a side step or goose step!! You telling me sodding muddy ground from October through to March is gna do that!

  • Comment number 30.

    I think Andy Robinson was making a difference but he has had his work cut out by players who do not concentrate enough or try hard enough! They have let themselves down and should rue the day! Waken up Scotland and start playing to your potential!

  • Comment number 31.

    Where are the players coming from? 2 pro teams will not help (14 non Scots qualified at Edinburgh).

  • Comment number 32.

    JB thanks for your response last week. I especially hope your IT people will keep this blog 'open for comment' longer than the usual two days which they normally do, as I think the subject matter in hand will be hotly debated for many days to come.

    A very sad & dark weekend in Scottish Rugby History indeed. Extremely unfortunate that Robinson has gone, and I fully agree with your sentiments about him.

    What happened yesterday at Pittodrie was an appalling disgrace, and Mr Dodson & the rest of The SRU need to take a hard look at themselves, as should everyone involved in the game in Scotland. I previously thought we had turned the corner with that clean sweep of away wins over Australia, Fiji, and Samoa back in June. As was evident yesterday afternoon, that is clearly not the case though.

    No disrespect to Tonga intended. Like all Pacific Island nations, they are big, powerful, & improving all the time. However they are below us in the IRB World Rankings, & have nowhere near the financial clout behind themselves that we do. It's often said every cloud has a silver lining, and perhaps, just maybe this is the 'wake up call' which has been needed for some time.

    We should look at the structure of Irish Rugby, & then dismantle & restructure the game in Scotland (from grassroots up) along the lines of what is in place across The Irish Sea. Forget the 2015 World Cup.... we are now an official 'minnow nation' as far as that competition goes. Our goal should now be looking to 2019 and beyond. Sad but true.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is refreshing to see someone finally putting the responsibility for winning games on the day in the hands of the players instead of continually blaming the manager as if every game could be choreographed in advance by a master strategist and tactician. The problem with this belief is:

    No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

    It also misses the point that the opposition have also done a lot of work trying to work out how to undo your team. Once the whistle goes, the players have to perform to their highest level of skill and if they don't the team will inevitably lose - no matter what the manager does. Manager sacking is almost a sport for some "fans" and it almost never has anything other than a negative outcome.

  • Comment number 34.

    Totally agree. The role of the national coach in rugby and football is to take players who are on form and in fitness at club level and give them the tactics (set-pieces, running lines, formations) to continue that form at national level. There shouldn't even be a suggestion of players not knowing each other. It is why in football Billy Stark should get the job and bring through his U21s as a generation. In rugby I would go for Sean Lineen, if he would take the job after being replaced at Glasgow.

  • Comment number 35.

    Firstly I'm Welsh and also very disappointed with our coaching in Wales at the moment - mostly with our tactics (just look at the decisions yesterday not to go for penalty points, in the first 10 mins against the ABs), and also some selection issues - Priestland's form has been dire, he should have been taken off and Hook put at 10, very early on in the game. Not fair on him, the team, or us fans. Pressure can improve performance, but maybe some players are not so suited to it. Anyway....

    I'm also sad to see AR leave his job. Even though he's English, when Scotland played England he wanted Scotland to win - you could see his reactions in the dugout. That said, these days of professionalism and money are all about results, PR, marketing, advertising etc.

    It's the players who don't perform that make Scotland lose. The mindless kicking away of possession, the lack of finishing, and most important of all - creativity. Maybe all creativity is coached out of players these days like robots, and everything has become a set piece. Even 'open play' where backs are meant to side-step, the moments of natural agility etc....all looks to be coached out in favour of pre-planned moves that have been drilled in. It's not as exciting to watch.
    I also think maybe a few of the players need more gym time possibly, even the smaller men. They're all in good shape obviously, but personally I think they could be honed a little further. It's the highest standard of world rugby, and these days it's needed.

    Sad to see a man lose his job, but as is said in business 'it's nothing personal'. He was one of the highest paid men in his country and will go on to another coaching post. To be brutally honest all the passion and committment he showed is forgotten, it'll just be said that he couldn't get the best out of these players. I liked him, he's probably an extremely nice person - I think Scotland are lacking one or two of those 'special' players, players that come around once in a generation. That's what would make the difference.

    I also blame the press for raising false expectations. There's always a double spread in the papers of a player looking mean, holding a rugby ball and saying we can upset everyone and beat the All Blacks, Oz, SA etc. It's OK to talk about it but you must be able to back that up, and us players in the NH just can't. That's all it is at the end of the day, just talk.

    Good luck to Andy, I honestly think he tried his best.

  • Comment number 36.

    For the first time yesterday I got a sense that Robinson's job is under threat. Still surprised when I woke this morning to find he'd resigned.

    As much as I'm an Englishman and enjoy the rivalry between us and Scotland, I do really feel for Scotland at the moment. AR's reign has been blighted by any number of factors, including familiar faults with his coaching that I recognised from his failed years with England (poor discipline, inconsistent selection, persisting with the same mediocre players and one-dimensional centres (lets be honest, would Nick De Luca get caps for any other international team?!)), but mostly it was things out of his control.

    He has discovered many great players for Scotland, and they've burst onto the scene, only to either a) suffer horrendous injuries (the Evans brother who had to retire, Ansbro) or b) just plain lost form altogether. If he kept discovering these players and the ones he'd already discovered kept playing well, they might be able to build a team, but too often it felt like one step forward, two steps back. One good tour would be followed by an OK autumn series then a woeful 6N, and they'd be back to square one again.

    Everyone keeps talking about how England/Wales etc should look to Australia/New Zealand to learn lessons on how they are so successful. Well why don't Scotland look to the Pacific Islands for inspiration? or Argentina? Study how they've grown over the years to where they are, how they maximise their resources and get the most out of a limited/small talent pool, and emphasise skills and stuff you can work on on the training field, e.g. flair, offloading, moving the ball quickly.

    Whereas the top teams have exceptional fitness/strength/conditioning facilities, the lower nations don't, but they still get results. They basically let their players use the facilities at their top clubs to get fitness levels up, then when they convene for national team training, they presumably just work hard on skills and gelling as a team. Hey, the Lions manage to get results against the top teams by simply convening after a long season, having a few team bonding sessions down the pub, then sweating away on the training field, so surely it could work for Scotland? Thoughts?

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm sorry to se Andy Robinson go but was glad he resigned rather than was scaked.
    I strongly feel that the players should take responsibility but they don't really seem to.
    Too many time I saw Scotland players taking passes from a ruck barely moving, certainly with no pace. Too many passes not given when there was an overlap, passes not given early enough. These players are supposed to be professional but they are not executing the basics.
    As for out current standards, as a teacher I blame the education system in part. (This applies for football too.) Sport is not seen as being vauable, and teachers don't really have enough time to do extra-curricular sport well enough. ( Some of us do try though )
    Laughable with CfE which is supposed to be about building skills which are important but they are not really backed by anything.
    Facuilities are poor, staff are not given enough timetable time to work with pupils ( can you really do much in 55 mins when you have to change twice and explain the task ? )

    Whatever, Scotland needs to be a nation that admires and promotes skills and at present we don't, not really. This is a cultural not a political point.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nobody should be surprised by yesterday's result. This is the reality of where we are at as a rugby nation.

    Scarab79 has summed it up already. Essentially our players are sub-standard. Most of the current side aren't international class. It's not the coaches fault.

    Annoyingly the media, press and a lot of the general public by the sounds of it, think the players are "stars". They are not. The All Blacks are stars. They've earned that acclaim.

    We as a nation need to reset our expectation level in rugby (and football), get our kids playing these games in the schools, parks and streets then wait a decade.

    This loss is even more depressing because of the potential impact it could have had. Exposing and growing the game in the north-east is a key strategy but how many kids attending yesterday will want to pick up a rugby ball now?

    Next coach? Sean Lineen. He may be able to win a couple more games a season at best.

    Doubt anybody else outside of Scotland would want it as its a lot of the same players failing under different coaches and systems.

  • Comment number 39.

    Robinson may have been a great coach, but there is more to Managing a team than coaching. His tactics,selections and substitutions were poor and so often the obvious substitution always came 10 minutes too late. I wonder how many of the lame ducks he has stood by in the last 2 years will stand by him now? Ford, lamont,Jackson, DeLuca to name but a few. We need to shake up our game and if we cant find some overblown, overpaid professionals to fill in the midfield gaps,lets give our amateurs a chance. At least we get 100% committment and pride. I dont think Lineen is the right man either he did ok at Glasgow but that was it we need an all rounder with a proven track record at professional level

  • Comment number 40.

    Next Scottish Coach?

    Andy Robinson!

    Humbly requested to accept the appointment by the self same "superstars" he has created.

    We do have the potential for a fantastic generation, and AR is largely responsible for it.

    Shame on them

  • Comment number 41.

    Good point JB but having been at several games recently where it seemed like the Scots team did not realise the game had started until they were sure it was lost I think a real motivator is needed, preferably with a very big boot. However the answer to the replacement is obvious - my sources close to the SRU advise me that because of his outstanding track record in coaching they will appoint Gregor Townsend

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm sad to see Robinson leave and it's encouraging to see so many feel the same way. Players have to take the blame - for professional players it was a rank performance, it seemed like they couldn't think for themselves and couldn't play what was in front of them.

    I said to my mates ages ago that Scotland could do with not qualifying for the World Cup as it seems only something that drastic will set a fire under the SRU and see the fundamental changes throughout Scottish Rugby that clubs and fans have been calling for for so long.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would like to see Shaun Edwards as head coach. No nonsense, helped the Welsh immensely under Warren Gatland, due a turn as head coach. He could give the impetus needed to match the brutalist approach of the Southern Hemisphere sides and would really bring on the likes of Gray, Denton and Ford.

  • Comment number 44.

    I hope that the SRU don't appoint Townsend. I know he was the assistant coach before and is doing a good job at Glasgow but I feel he is slightly too inexperienced to take on the head coach job at international level. I believe he is too soon into the Glasgow job and should be allowed to continue to work with the Warriors before joining contention for the Scotland job. However, I have a funny feeling he might actually get the job

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent point here

    " it was players buying dummies, players going high into contact, players seemingly unable to break a defence and players missing kicks."

    Basic skills then.

    Then point out exactly where the blame lies

    "For 40-odd weeks of the year your players are being fed, coached, trained and lectured by some of the best coaches in the world at English, Scottish and French clubs.

    The players at your disposal dovetail with their club systems. They have their weight-training programmes, their defensive systems, their attack systems, their set-piece plays."

    Not one mention of them being reminded of the basic skills that they should have in their armoury from all that coaching at youth and club level.

    I have seen it mentioned elsewhere in other nations that Scottish player lack basic skills. That is the fault of the SRU and their "coaching" system.

    So far, since 2000 no coach has been able to bring success with the players and coaching system that we have in place and I seriously doubt that any coach will be able to in future. Change the driver by all means, but if the bus can't pass its MOT then it is still going to break down.

  • Comment number 46.

    The same problems that dogged England when Robinson was in charge dogged us: selection, substitution timing, tactics. I don't doubt Scotland has a smaller selection of players, but Robinson still managed to shorten that further by choosing the usual suspects over an over again. Players such as Ford, De Luca and Blair, who have become soft, ineffective and a detriment to Scotland.

    As for the choice of next coach, I'm not sure. Sean Lineen seems like a strong choice to me since his work at Glasgow was excellent. Other than that there aren't many options. Mallett doesn't seem like a good option; he didn't really improve Italy, he simply maintained it.

  • Comment number 47.

    John, I just wanted to say I greatly enjoyed the commentary by you and Andy Nicol.

    I'm very disappointed to see Andy Robinson go, I think the vast majority of us recognise that he was an outstanding coach and that the players failed him badly. He will be a fantastic club coach and we were lucky to have him. He had to leave as he could do no more for the players. They admitted after the South Africa game that they didn't listen to his specific advice and tackled high in the first half.

    Rugby is a very simple game to win, just get the basics right. We used to say that Scotland needed to make try scoring chances. Then we had chances but next we needed to cross the line. Now it appears we are crossing the line but we need to learn how to put the ball down. That and basic passing and running skills.

    But bear in mind Visser is 25, Jackson is 24, Laidlaw is 27, Scott is 22, Hogg is 20, Pyrgos is 23.

    As was said, the margins are so slim. If Thom Evans hadn't broken his neck vs Wales, if Paterson hadn't punctured his kidney, if we hadn't tried for a win with 13 men vs 15 when we at least had a draw, then we'd have had a creditable result and we wouldn't have been shellshocked vs Italy, would have managed more than a stalemate vs England and would have beaten Ireland as we did, it would have made a big difference to the final outcome that season, to Robinson's tenure and the players' confidence. We lost our record of always qualifying from groups in the WC but with an extra 7 game points we would have finished top of the group and into a quarter final vs France, who went onto fluke a win vs Wales and come within a shocking refereeing performance of winning the World Cup. On such small screws do whole lives turn.

    Scotland are in an odd hinterland where we have beaten many of the top seeds in recent years (which never happened when I was a kid) but we're not safe from Georgia and Tonga (which never happened when I was a kid).

    We can dominate bigger and better teams like South Africa last week, and England in the Calcutta Cup and still not win. It's a genuine mystery.

    The current Scotland squad has never been closer to being the best or the worse Scotland team of all time.

  • Comment number 48.

    "Who would you like to see as Scotland coach?"

    Jake White or Nick Mallett.

  • Comment number 49.

    Agree with No. 4 - I believe the only way to play the game today is the 'direct' NZ way. They seem surprisingly vulnerable when teams play that way - witness Wales at times, in the second half yesterday.

    Scotland suffer from a relatively small number of guys playing the game; so those who can play International level must be carefully handled.

    We also need to drastically improve our basic back play - like passing and tackling!

    AR's most obvious failing was in the use of subs. I believe we lost at Twickenham in 2011 and against both Argentina and England in the RWC because of inappropriate subs. And perhaps against Tonga too. That does drain confidence from a squad. He had that same problem when England coach. However, who gets it all right?

    Best wishes to him for what he did and for the future. Who is next? Gregor Townsend, Michael Bradley or let Scott Johnson take over?

  • Comment number 50.

    Very sorry to see Andy go but we can't go on loosing games and our standing in the world rankings. World Cup coming up and we need to build the confidence and morale that only comes with winning. A good 6 Nations is essential. Let us not jump into a rash appointment. We need find the best and we need someone in before the 6 Nations.

  • Comment number 51.

    Sorry to see Andy go - but there's a real problem in rugby all over at the moment - there's too much Rugby League style attack. the All Blacks play RUGBY UNION by running at gaps, inside shoulders and breaking the gain line again and again by doing it. Club rugby is the same in Scotland when players are now encouraged to take the ball into contact and set it up and you see guys running into two players at once. It's easy to defend because you know what they're going to do. Too many coaches with a Rugby League style background - lets get back to playing rugby the old way.

  • Comment number 52.

    I disagree with John B. Robinson should have gone after the Six Nations. However we are now where we are, and the challenge is to move forward. Agree that the game dynamics have changed, many big guys not so much room for the artists, Chisholm and Hastie would be lost in this 2012 game for instance. The gulf between us and NZ is enormous, they play 15 athletes that can catch, run, pass, tackle and back up and are light years away from us, and UK rugby. Scotland played well against NZ but were never going to win. They were up for it if I have to use that phrase. They did not seem to relish the physical confrontation of Tonga, too often the wrong option was taken, the support was slow all the things which make a coach lose his hair (and job). We now have big guys, that was a weakness in the past, but the thing we require to do is to make these guys a cohesive unit on the park and who at pace can break a tackle, break a line, score a try would be nice too, and scare the opposition into mistakes. The next coach has a big job. Robinson has my sympathy, yesterday's Scotland would make anyone doubt these guys had played before. My big question of the Tonga game why sub the halfbacks who were in my mind going well, can anyone fathom that one for me please?

  • Comment number 53.

    Well, that was a long time coming. The problems with Scottish rugby are more fundamental and deep seated than a decent coach being let down by his squad, however. Rugby in Scotland is plagued by a number of factors which are not only holding us back but killing the sport. It is (and always has been) seen as elitist. Our young talent in schools are let down by poor coaching and poor facilities. It is difficult to persuade young lads to turn up week in - week out in appalling weather, only to find that half of their matches are cancelled. Time for summer rugby at school and junior club level. This might help develop the skills that we seem to lack at senior level.

    Time for more facility sharing between the "haves" and "have nots". Let the private schools mentor state school teams, pair them up and let them share talent! Get rid of the whiff of snobbery. There is no reason why we should not aim to be as good as the All Blacks, but it won't happen overnight.

    As for the immediate future, Sean Lineen is the man for the job

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    I AM NOT SORRY to see the back of Robinson. I used to play Scotland onto the field for years at QVS in the 70's and we had a spirit, attitude, belief and desire. Ok, it was amature days of rugby but with Andy Irvine and mightymouse we NEVER lost at Murrayfield.
    Robinson's record is appauling. His interviews were just so dull, boring and I thought....."is he supposed to inspire the team"??????

    We need spirit, pride, belief, attitude and SCOTTISH fire back. YES skill YES coaching....but really? International rugby players just need that little bit of tactical nouse and some daring - thats it.

    Goodbye Robinson.......not in the least bit sorry to be so blunt, anti and was calling for him to go TWO years ago.....all we did recently was compete for the wooden spoon. The english didnt want him ...what were we thinking!!!!!!!


  • Comment number 56.

    Rod McQueen. The point about all this is that we need someone who knows how to win matches and trophies at the highest level. I'm not interested in good coaches or good managers: they can do that at club level. The international set-up is about winning matches. Brutal and forthright it may seem, but it is true.

    And no, money is no object either. The SRU, if it wishes to rebrand the national stadium in order to raise funds anyway, should select a guy who knows how to win.

    It's the same with our football team.

    So sick of losing!

  • Comment number 57.

    Robinson played favourites and all you have to do is look at the caps for that one, favoured one Scottish team over the other, even though that team hasn't had a winning season for over three years including this one. Played players out of position i.e. winger at centre, a centre at the wing!!!!!! played three blind side flankers!!!! At one point.

    The players should also be a shamed of themselves, that game was a joke.

    I predict that the next coach for Scotland will be Townsend. LOL. Lets get him in and out as quickly as possible before this current SRU board really destroy Scottish Rugby for good.

  • Comment number 58.

    Mark Dodson gambled with the fiscal gains patiently made by McKie, and lost. As soon as he was appointed and said no to a third team, I didn't rate him one bit. The wages of any one of the foreign players Bradley brought in could have paid for a NZ + South Africa tour for every age grade squad, and what we need is to take the best 30 kids at every age grade and hothouse them. Stop taking the 'prawn sandwiches' approach to the kids. Put the best kids together and take every team to the SH for a tour every year. Relatively speaking, it doesn't even cost a great deal of money and it is absolutely essential to their development. If you want to provide cover for the district teams when the internationals are away, instead of drafting non-Scots, give the academy kids a game, empty the bench, deepen the pool.

  • Comment number 59.

    We need a summer rugby season, 8 youth-grade districts, drills and basic skills coaching and SH tours for all age grade Scotland teams. All of this would cost no more than a single professional player's annual wages. If we don't do this, it doesn't matter who is the next coach.

  • Comment number 60.

    Robinson should have gone at the end of the last 6-Nations. The summer tour papered over some cracks, but I'm not surprised that we lost all three of these games.

    He may be a good forwards coach and good on the technical aspects of forward play, but the lack of an apparent game plan, at times poor selections and substitutions that make no sense, have been his downfall.

    He'a also made some strange decisions re the captain. Starting with two captions, giving the captaincy to big Al and then changing his mind.

    While people keep going on about players limited skills and blaming the SRU for the lack of these, we need to remember just how many of the players actually learned to play rugby in Scotland so were produced by an SRU system. The Lamont brothers, the Evans brothers, Jim Hamilton, Henry Pygros, David Denton and the list could go on; did not learn to play in Scotland.

    With regards to who the next coach should be, please let it not be Scott Johnston. I'm not sure I'd go for Sean Lineen either (and I say that as a Glasgow fan). Toony needs to stay where he is for a few years, so I think we need to look outside Scotland.

    Nick Mallett would be in many respects a safe pair of hands. Wayne Smith how did some coaching workshops for the SRU recently got many people enthused and would be worth considering. I've also heard a few people mention Todd Blackadder.

  • Comment number 61.

    An All Black gets up off the ground and moves immediately, quickly and inteligently to support his team-mates.

    An All Black who has just passed the ball or completed his role in a set piece (or a ruck) moves immediately, quickly and inteligently to support his team-mates.

    Too many Scots players (and quite a few English, Irish & Welsh) seem to have to catch their breath or have a 'thinking pause' before they get on with the game and make any sort of contribution.

    Is it fitness? Is it their game sense? Are they having to ponder what the manager has told them? It's either body or brain, perhaps both.

    This applies equally across the players, even those portrayed by the media as 'icons' of Scottish rugby because of their stature or a few lucky pieces of brilliance. In fact, the media hype about some of the players seems to have lulled them into a false sense of ego and invincibility - they don't appear to have that hungry competitive attitude any more.

  • Comment number 62.

    Once upon a time the selectors would have a Possibles vs Probables match. During the game or at halftime, they would swap or bring on players on each side. It was full on but this is a contact sport. Of course, the Possibles were after their opposite number's shirt and raised their game accordingly. AR did bring Scotland on but unfortunately, he was a bit wasteful or such talents as Johnny Beattie and Aly Hogg.

  • Comment number 63.

    Glad to see him go ! It was long overdue . I am surprised at the " Sorry to see him go " comments . It is so Scottish to be sorry about a coach leaving who has achieved so little , and equally for the players to have the brass neck be able to collect their salaries and go happily home after another embarrassing defeat ....another day at the Scottish Sporting Office ! . When are we going to get our Scottish heads around the fact that we accept defeat too easily as a nation ( in all sports , bar Tennis , Curling , Lawn Bowls , Snooker and darts . We have forgotten HOW to win .
    Bring in a Coach who knows what winning is about , but more so one with a culture that truly feels the pain and disgrace of losing.... and God save us if they even consider Gregor Townsend ! Sean Lineen must be a candiidate , Craig Chalmers , who also understands the professionnal aspect of the game , should be getting a leg up from Melrose (after years of SRU quarantine for being too outspoken in the past ) to play some key role. Craig was around when there was at least a 50/50 chance Scotland would win the game anywhere in the world and 80% chance they would win in Scotland ...Have we all ( including the current squad) forgotten what it is feels like to win !!!!!! I am so pleased this has happened before the Six Nations let's thope the SRU take full advantage of this opportunity .....When is big Gav , he knows the score, going to get off his golfing arse and step up to offer some serious inspiration to the decision making process to ensure that the SRU don't bring another "nice" school teacher to Scottish Rugby at this time ....but rather bring in someone with real balls to inspire Scotland's finest to earn their keep !

  • Comment number 64.


    The modern international game is played with the 'head';- discipline, determination, ball retention, planning, tactics and execution, yes, all the head skills we did not have on parade yesterday.

    I could not disagree with your solution more, Scotland will not improve with Rabbie the Bruce, BraveHeart, your Pipes or Haggis n' Neeps.

    An international level Coach from anywhere in the world will have a tough challenge with the present players lack of head skills.

    AR will not be out of work for long, he is an excellent Coach and well respected.

  • Comment number 65.

    John, agree with much of your analysis but don't think you go far enough in your criticism of the Scottish players and whilst you mention the need for a longer-term approach, it seems to me that a 10-15 year strategy for rugby is now required. We need to go back to basics.

    The players, with one or two exceptions yesterday (I thought Seam Lamont showed some guts and determination), ought to be ashamed of themselves in this autumn campaign. These are guys whose every hour of every day is spent conditioning for rugby but yet the basic mistakes made on the pitch is embarassing. Missed tackles, dropped passes, high/low passes, poor decision-making, loss of line-outs at crucual times and collapsed scrums five yards out on our own ball - these are professional rugby players who simply can't do the basics.

    We need to be honest with ourselves, we have a pack of forwards who, on a good day, achieve parity rather than supremecy over opposing forwards. We can live with parity. However, our mid-field is simply not up to scratch - 10, 12 and 13 are not worthy of international status, decent club players but no more than that. How Nick De Luca has the number of caps he has is beyond my comprehension. In my view, he is more of a liability and a hindrancee and has achieved nothing in a Scottish jersey.

    So, let's not kid ourselves, Scotland is now in the third division of world rugby. This means the powers that be need a long-term plan to get to the top flight and challenge for grand slams and triple crowns. At the moment all four of the Irish provinces would give our national team a good game (including Connaught).

    Such a strategy would include aiming to increase the number of players significantly over the next ten years, support for grass-roots rugby and club rugby, a structured national coaching programme (suggested in Jock's piece) and a review of the professional set-up, etc etc.

    As for a new coach - definitely not Gregor Townsend, favoured son of the SRU. On an interim basis, Sean Lineen would be a front runner until a top class coach is sourced - how about Mark Anscombe of Ulster - 11 wins from 11 matched this season says it all.

    I feel like apologising to Andy Robinson on behalf of Scotland, he was badly let down by the players....sorry Andy and good luck.

  • Comment number 66.

    Absolutely gutted to see Robbo go. Let down by the players hugely yesterday. They actually looked lost at points during the game. One thing that really did annoy this week in the build to the Tonga match was some of the players talking about how Scotland are undefeated at Pittodrie. It's as if they thought they just had to turn up to win the game. At the end of the day I think Scotland have a good team with some good talent coming through but something just doesn't seem to be clicking at all.

    I'd love to see Jim Telfer back as coach but those days are long gone. Scott Johnson may be a shout for the job or possibly even Eddie O'Sullivan who was mentioned in an earlier post. I think the SRU should try and lure a coach in from the southern hemisphere.

  • Comment number 67.

    I can agree with many comments above. However when are scotland going to realise that running only 2 pro teams and gathering every player " whose granny was born in scotland or had caravan holidays on the west coast from an early age"!! Why on earth they scrapped the Borders side is beyond belief as we have a hot bed of rugby with quality players not being used to therir full potential. Not many places in the world have such good clubs producing great players in such a short radius (hence why so many travelling southern hemisphere players chose to play there - as its the closest thing to rugby from their homelands - fast free flowing and very hard!) Scotland need to be looking into government and business funding to get these clubs pushing players to the top again. I know TV has killed off a lot of gate numbers at matches but this needs to be adressed. Edinburgh should not be playing at murrayfield - rattling around like peas in a biscuit tin is never going to attract a good atmosphere for players or spectators with only a couple of thousand watching games. Border club derbys used to attract 10 times that 15 years ago - wheres the spirit, wheres the heart and wheres the support!!! Andy Robinson has helped the SRU build a squad but that was not the ulmiate answer, Scotland need a better set up to complete at world level - even lesser ranked teams are now surpassing Scotland which was once a feared opposition on the international circuit. .... "When will we see your likes again".......... "and be the nation again".......................

  • Comment number 68.

    He may have improved "forward play", so we can ruck and maul for a couple of yards gain in midfield, but the forwards aren't scoring. And the backs have certainly not improved. The general tactic of the last decade of Scottish rugby is run into a tackle, maul another couple of yards till we get a penalty. Then take 3 points and start again. There hasn't been any threat of forwards scoring (Richie Gray repeatedly goes down to average tackles from men half his size!), and the very idea of a back breaking out and scoring either of the Tonganese tries in the other direction is laughable.

  • Comment number 69.

    I can not lay any claim to extensive rugby knowledge - never did it at my school - but I remember distinctly the moment when I decided I liked the game, and especially the drama of the big international tournaments. Being an Englishman at a Scottish University in the 90's my loyalties should have been clear - cheer for the boys in white. But you know what? I watched the world cup of 1991 and found myself rooting for the scrappers in blue. Why? Because they showed HEART. They fought with PASSION. They never GAVE UP. I have supported Scotland ever since, much to the incredulous amazement of most of my English friends. There have been some highs in the intervening years, but one observation I have is that on occasions, that this passion has deserted the team. I can't see how this failing can be laid solely at the feet of the coach. My hope is that this humiliation is a spur to all those who took part in Saturday's capitulation to take a long look at what putting on the blue jersey means to them. I don't have unrealistic expectations of what Scotland can achieve on the international stage, but the silver lining in this is that no-one will give us a chance in the Six Nations, and we could well provide some upsets! The best new coach will be the one who can inspire the team's commitment to fight for the whole 80 minutes, not just when we're behind. Just hope they appoint someone quickly. February 2nd is not far away....

  • Comment number 70.

    #44 BW22 you are having a laugh!!!!!! He's a clown. The quicker Glasgow get rid of him the better!!!!!

  • Comment number 71.

    I always felt Robinson was a bit conservative with his selctions. He never threw in someone who was untested and he always took the risk free option.

    Theres good reason for that, for example when he was England coach he almost destroyed Matt Taits career when he threw him in against wales in 2005.

    But look at Robbie Deans with his Aussie youngsters in 2009 and 2010. James O'connor, Kurtly Beale, Will Genia, Radike Samo (ok he is in his mid 30s but was uncapped), Quade cooper, Adam A-C

    All these players had barely had any experience, they were thrown in and for a season they were hammered but they ganied experience and then won the 2011 tri nations and got to semis at WC.

    Likewise with Gatland in Wales: George North, Jonathan Davies, Rhys Preistland, Alex Cuthbert, Toby Faletau all thrown in 2010/11. Then a WC semi and a grand slam.

    Throw in the youngsters and toughen them up.

    We need to find that youthful spark to reignite the team and a coach willing to take risks.

    Gut out a lot of the older players who have offered nothing over the last 5 years.

    I want to see the likes of:
    Pat Macarthur
    Grant Gilchrist
    Stuart Mcinally
    Rob Harley
    Duncan Weir
    Peter Horne
    ALex Dunbar
    Tommy Seymour.

    Young, hungry, confident, fearless players with that bit of flair and a spark, ready to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.

  • Comment number 72.

    The way things are now, as they have been for the last 10-12 years, it doesn't matter one bit who is given the coach job at Scotland. Any one of the folk giving their thoughts here would do as good a job as the other, which means it's not Robinson who should be getting slated.
    Scottish rugby fans have to demand a total overhaul of the systems in place, such as they are. We also have to wake up to our limitations - a 5 million population country whose sporting population idolise a game which is infinitely inferior and that we are so far worse at. How many folk on a Saturday really watch a Scotland rugby match as a proportion of our sporting population? I don't believe it to be a high number.
    There aren't sufficient numbers interested to make us as good as we hope for at a game which has left us behind in terms of fitness, power, professional development, modern strategy... I could go on.
    Generate interest at as young an age as you dare and develop and encourage the boys from that moment on. That's what goes on in the country who are the best at rugby union and only by doing so can you now expect to compete with the best in the modern game.
    If that doesn't happen, then we should all shut up and continue as we have been and hope that rugby continues to live in dark ages in terms of international development and hope that a second division doesn't open up in the 6 nations with a promotion/relegation each year. How would we fair against Georgia, Romania and Russia these days?

  • Comment number 73.

    I really felt like we were getting somewhere. Im a little flat. The players need to ask some serious questions of themselves. they are playing with fear, Jacksons pass two weeks ago, full pelt to Vissers face summed up Scottish back play in one move, no confidence close the line and no real skill, any other international 10 would of got that right. The forwards I believe are useful, back play needs some work, under Lineen we look a bit more creative, I don't want Linnen to have the total overview of the team I think it will be too much too soon and we will loose another good coach. I would like to see an interim appointment for the 6 nations and then go from there. I was thinking about putting myself forward for a role, but firstly I feel I need to sort out Edinburgh, deluded I know but I do wonder how hard can it be, true no world class players but their not toilet either.

  • Comment number 74.

    I am know sick to death of repeating myself but I am again.

    4 pro teams, each team has reserve teams playing in the British cup.
    Decrease the size of the national leagues and have two clubs teams associated to each pro team for player to develop and train with the pros, etc etc etc etc....

    And the biggest bug bare of all get rid of the old school tie SRU.

  • Comment number 75.

    Geoff miss my point.. A great leader MUSt inspire the team. Robinson was BORING, STAYED, LABOURED and had NO TRAITS of a great leader.... as for PASSION - its the key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Effective leadership is fundamental. Yes, its not all Pipes and passion but let me ask you - what are the key charastics of great winning teams??
    1) leadership
    2) belief
    3) confidence

    Wales one the last grand slam - why? do you think they have a better rugby system (perhaps a tad) better players (no)...they had GREAT belief and great inspirational coaching and rose to the occassion again and again!!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Very Sad to see AR go. I believe he is the best forwards coach in the business, and it's not like Scotland have not had the fair share of possession amongst the best teams in the world. The Boks game was a prime example. Where we have failed, and failed for a long time is in the backs. We lack creativity, we are unable to unpick defences, we are constantly out muscled. Recently we have slipped tackles too frequently. Basics let us down. Far too many errors when chasing games, which is almost all games these days. I think a Southern Hemisphere coach like Ian McIntosh would be the ticket.

  • Comment number 77.

    Don't think a big name coach would work. Lineen. And Jim Telfer.

  • Comment number 78.

    Perhaps I should curb my comments as I live in far-away west coast of the USA (but intend to return in the none to distant future) and follow rugby as best I can on the BBC and the rare 6N coverage -but I'm from Hawick and an alumnus of the late, great Bill McClaren. I also follow and play golf so here's a basic question.
    How can tiny Northern Ireland produce consistently the top two club teams in the Rabo-12 table, as well as three of the best golfers in the world INCLUDING the current #1, with four modern-day majors between them?
    So it can't come down population size, demographic or climate!
    The statistics show consistent superiority in possession and yet a low rate of tries scored -although they did get three against the All-Blacks whilst conceding six.
    It truly hurts to see my country slide farther and farther down the world ratings and have to wonder if they even belong in the 6N. Do they have to play in freakish pouring rain in Australia or in some remote Pacific island to come out on top at all?
    I don't have any solutions from so far away but sometimes a distant perspective can point out some basics. Desire? Pride? Toughness? Downright lack of competitiveness in the professional era? -Dunno but from what my friends in Scotland tell me, there seems to be a deeply frustrating lack of passion; -and the old boy net still runs things apparently?
    I really feel for AR and certainly can't accuse him of lacking in passion. It must have been Hellish to sit helplessly and be consistently dumped by his players.
    Just had to get that off my chest.

  • Comment number 79.

    As someone who was against Robinson's appointment in the first place I am absolutely devastated that he has chucked it. I feel that especially in the Tonga game the players let him down badly, but he has done the honourable thing and fallen on his sword. I have a terrible feeling that Scottish rugby is on an inexorable slide into tedium.

  • Comment number 80.

    Hi John, I agree with much of what your saying. It is a shame. I do not know what it has been like within the Scotland sqaud recently but I actually think AR should take much of the blame, it was a similar situation when he coached England was it not. Chunks retirement last week and the way he described international rugby as becoming "a drag" suggests something was wrong within the camp, i may be wrong but perhaps things were becoming stale and a change was definitely needed.

    Having said that, some of the players however need to take a good look at themselves. S Lawson always drives me mad when he plays for Scotland, he had quite a few opportunities to score a pushover try in first half and kept on messing it up and was a crucial turning point i think, his temper as well is supect and he is qt small for a hooker these days. Would have Dougie H above him and keep Fordy as first choice, hopefully can sort his throwing out. We missed Fordy and Grant yesterday. R Lawson was good in his day but looked v slow yesterday at scrum half when he came on. I think a few of the senior players have had there day. Fairplay to lamont who always plays his heart out although lacks the pace he used to and not a finisher like Visser. I think Heathcote will prove to be very handy, baptism of fire for him yesterday, i dont understand why Robinson brought him on when he did and I think Laidlaw should have stayed on. AR seems to be a gd coach but v poor man manager/selector which is an issue. If Laidlaw is to be used, i think it should be at scrumhalf now, we need to find an out and out fly half and Heathcote may be just that. Would keep an eye on Scott White too. Jackson seems to have lost his confidence and yet to be convinced by Weir. Excited also by likes of Visser (needs to work on defence though), Hogg, Gray, Denton, Murchie, Horne, Grant and others. It will be intereesting to see what happens when and if Sean Maitland comes onto the scene as well. So despite yesterdays result, i think that this Scotland team is capable of much more and perhaps a change in management was needed. Some of them need to pull their finger out though and i think some of them may have seen their last game in a Scotland shirt!

    Re new coaches, back to basics. Graham Henry not available? perhaps a long shot! Lineen a possibility but think will go to foreigner perhaps Mallet or J White. Unlikely that Blackadder will want to come back over to Scotland. Think Chalmers should be given an opportunity sometime with one of pro teams too, he seems to have been left behind (perhaps because SRU worried about is mouth) but looks like he has potential for future.

    PS Scotland need to put more into grass roots and think another pro club or two is needed somewhere in the mix for Scotland to really become competative. Same old budget problems though i guess, perhaps an outside investor. Must be an opportunity somewhere.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am sad to see Andy go as I like the ethos he brings though not sure who brought Scott Johnson in (wasn't impressed with ospreys and their need to invent their own version of the rules) Though I do think he favoured Edin players over Glasgow ones when Glasgow has generally been doing better.

    Not sure what went wrong on Saturday as felt they did better than expected against the All Blacks; only came alive in the last 20 - 30 mins against South Africa. The players did look gutted but the game plan didn't work perhaps better to play with instinct like the All Blacks but have better basic skills.

    How do the team become more consistent?

    as for coach not Scott johnson or Gregor Townsend although I am
    not sure anyone can do much better than Andy with what we have?

  • Comment number 82.

    Lets be honest about the players here:
    Jim Hamilton (Gloucester Captain in Aviva Premiership)
    Strockosh (Starts for Perpignan, a class side)
    Richie Gray (Starts for Sale)
    Max Evans (Class act at Castres)
    Sean Lamont: Once good at Northampton
    Mike Blair (Playing well at Brive)

    To name a few players: Surrounded by an Edinburgh side that featured many of the Scotland players who made the Semi-Finals of the Heineken Cup only last year and a Glasgow side that competes well in the Pro12

    Are we really saying our players are not good enough?
    We clearly have the players: foreign sides would not pay for them otherwise or make semi finals

    What we need is a system that fits the Scottish way of playing: the 1999 Five Nations team is the perfect example of how a scottish side should play. We need a coach to implement that: The current Scottish lot are not good enough

    No Townsend or Lineen
    Has to be Mallet, O'Sullivan, Graham Henry, Todd Blackadder or Bryan Redpath

    AT least Redpath is a player who remembers an era of how Scotland should play

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm not sure who the new coach should be, but to regain pride, we need to get rid of our inferiority complex and stop defining ourselves continually by measuring ourselves against the auld enemy south of the border. Let's change our national anthem! Flower of Scotland, however beautiful the tune, is about a now irrelevant battle fought a very long time ago and is not helping our psychology. This is here and now! We are a fantastic nation regardless of what everyone else is up to or did to us, and we should be proud. Our trouble partly is that we aren't, not really, not enough.

  • Comment number 84.


    Wales, uhm, you will be trying to convince me it's about good passionate singing next.

    The best in the World, NZ, OZ and SA are 15 as one, cold, clinical, ruthless, determined, boringly organised and play with very little passion which at that level is an impediment to mental concentration.

    Their forwards make better half backs than many NH backs because they possess natural head skills, it was often called a 'good rugby brain'.

    At that level of performance, to be the best, it is a head skills game, our players are working at it, with the SH it is implanted in the U12s equally to ball, kicking and contact skills.

    It is 2 years since NZ lost a game and about 10 years since an NZ, OZ or SA Head Coach smiled to camera, it is in the head.

  • Comment number 85.

    Like so many people making comments about Mr Robinson, I am sad that things never quite happened for him and the team. Supporting and watching Scotland over the past couple of years is a bit like a roller coaster.
    Some people have suggested Mr Nick Mallet? A good coach with a proven CV, but could he take this team forward?
    I would like Sean Lineen giving a chance: as he is a winner; did a good job with Glasgow; and is Scottish (Kiwi blood).
    If Scotland do go down the foreign route, and I have no problem with that as I am married to a South African, please appoint someone with pedigree. Which makes me think Mr Mallet?

  • Comment number 86.

    Andy Robinson was very nearly sacked after the last 6N. During the summer the win in Australia was a complete fluke, other than tackling it has a horrific performance (albeit in terrible conditions) and only a late try won the Samoa match. In 2012 the record could very easily have been lost 10 won 1.

    The Scotland coach tho is only part of the issue. The numbers playing rugby in Scotland have fallen off a cliff over the last 20 years, despite what SRU figures may show.

    Maybe we all think we are better coaches and selectors than those in position but I ask myself repeatedly how these current players are coached. Whether it be the aimless possession surrendering kicking of Blair and Laidlaw, the static player standing off a ruck inviting the opposition tackle 5 yards behind the gainline .... it drives me potty.

    Player development from a positional sense seems non existent. Yes we can churn out decent back rowers but Scotland have been missing a decent 10 12 & 13 for the best part of a dozen years. No wonder they are 1 dimensional & struggle to score tries when they have such an absence of international quality in those key positions.

    As for the new guy, my money is on Lineen who I think is a decent coach. I would be amazed if there were sufficient funds to tempt a big name like Mallet, Kirwan , or White.

  • Comment number 87.

    Like you, John, I was very pleased when Andy was hired by the SRU, and I am quite saddened to see him go. However, perhaps it's timely in a way! Perhaps fresh thinking is appropriate at this time.

    Unfortunatly for Andy, the fruits of his labour are just about to ripen. By this I mean the arrival of Heathcote, Maitland, Nel, Strauss, Visser et al, all of whom will be assets to the National team in both the near and not-too-distant future.

    My choice of coach for Scotland would be Nick Mallett and if we did need a temporary replacement for Robinson, while Mallett's contract was being fine-tuned, then I would go with Ross Johnson for the three to five months over the 6N period. But Johnson would ONLY be on a temporary basis.

  • Comment number 88.

    sad that Scotland lost however the bottom line is Winners see Solutions and Losers see Problems up here in the Northern Hemisphere you always come with the excuses and that just not only Rugby.

  • Comment number 89.

    Contrary to most opinion here, I am glad to see the back of Andy Robinson. Anyone who could persevere as long as he did with Dan Parks does not deserve plaudits - even Dan Parks himself eventually admitted he wasn't up to the job. And employing Gregor Townsend was a mistake, an ex-player who relied on personal flair rather than technique, and who let his side down regularly on his many off days, and who oversaw a complete lack of try scoring performance. We are in a better position player-wise than we have been recently - let's hope we can find somebody better suited to making best use of the talent. Yes, talent. Pure training and practice, hard work, is not enough, John.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi John,
    I agree with you that managing the national side should be simple but disagree that Andy Robinson should not go. The essential tasks for the national manager should be selection - both of coaching staff and playing team - and providing leadership. He should be judged on these tasks and by results. In my opinion he has fallen short on all three: his ever changing team selections, poor leadership of loyal players when they have had a bad game, e.g. Blair and Parks this year, and results in competitive matches. I really now hope that we can now appoint a Scottish manager to provide hope to all our existing and aspiring coaches and to put an end to the nonsense of trying to wish away our failings by recruiting a mercenary. We would also save a big salary that is enough to train up and employ half a dozen new coaches for schools.

  • Comment number 91.

    And I agree with neverhadpace at no. 86.

  • Comment number 92.

    The reality is that we're a small nation where RU is played by relatively few people. With only two professional clubs, we simply don't have the numbers at our disposal to generate top-quality competition for places. Our stand-off options - the so-called playmakers - cannot begin to match the opposition and this Autumn series has been like witnessing men against boys. Let's wake up and accept that we're in the lower tier of the world's best and begin a top-down shake-up of the whole RU structure in Scotland. AR has done admirably with mediocre talent to call upon and should be commended for his commitment to the cause. However, drafting in a new coach will unlikely change things as long as we have the same slim pickings in players.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    The Scottish players need to take a good long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they should really be representing their country. Despite his nationality, I've got a lot of respect for Robinson. The manner of the performance against the All Blacks was a vast improvement on any of the past four showings I've seen against the world's greatest rugby test side.

    Scotland needs a new coach who the players will fear and respect. Wayne Shelford is as good as any a choice!

  • Comment number 95.

    Very good coach, let down by poor execution from players. And a staid, slow back division without a decent natural No10 to make decisions.

    Sorry to see him go, I hoped he could somehow get one or two wins and I wanted him to hang on even after losing to Tonga was so annoying, since apart from that the autumn performances were fine.

    We need to realise that the problems of late are not new, it has been a long time since there was any light at the end of the tunnel and AR brought that glimmer of hope. More than a glimmer, you had the feeling that a couple of things clicking, largely to do with belief and execution of the basics, would see a very good national side emerge.

    When Scotland held possession for long periods against the All Blacks it spoke volumes for his coaching. Until it was all thrown away by some daft kick into their in-goal area that was full of black shirts.

    Black day for Scottish rugby that he's quit, perhaps he didn't realise the support he had among the Scottish people/supporters - nobody was baying for his head, they were happy with what he was doing and keen to see it come to fruition.

    In an ideal world, the SRU would have waited a while, test the water, and then reject his resignation.

  • Comment number 96.

    I watched the recent Scotland v New Zealand match from the West Stand in Murrayfield in amazement. That Scotland were competitive for the first 30 minutes was a travesty. The All Blacks should have been well clear by then not and not having to rely on their 3 try blitz in the 8 minutes before half time. Even so with about 30 minutes to go Scotland could have kicked 2 simple penaltis to get back within a 2 try margin but declined to do so. Sheer madness. The aim of the game should be to stay in contention for as long as possible. Throwing away a certain 6 pts for a vain glorious attempt to score a try is ridiculous with 30 minutes to go. If there was 5 minutes to go well that is a different matter.

    To anyone watching the game who had the slightest knowledge of the game at whatever level it was clear that Scotland cannot do the basics. They seem unable to either smoother tackle or tackle round the legs meaning that their opponent has every opportunity to recycle ball. They could not win their own line out ball , the scrummage was a shambles and their line was porous and shallow compared to how the All Blacks held their line. Passes were dropped or missed by players not looking to see where their colleague was. On many occassions New Zealand had a single or two man overlap there for the taking.

    It really was the men against boys match up but even when I played as boy for GHS if we had played like that we would have been ashamed of ourselves and for our coach. There is no dishonour in losing to the All Blacks but to fail to even do the basics is not on. 4 wins in 19 games for Andy Robinson suggests that the players are equally as culpable. Saying that I believe at least 4 of Scotland's players will make the Lions squad. - Denton, Gray, Visser and Hogg. I believe the first 3 are good enough to be in the Lions Test team.

    I think Scotland needs to think about its team and coaching. I believe Sean Lineen should be given a go as national coach and was forced out at Glasgow for some reason that I have no knowledge of. I think that the professional players that Scotland now has are too comfortable and do not display the same will to win as the amateurs of the 1984 & 1990 Grand Slams. The advice to the Scotland hierarchy should be that nothing should change between playing for Glasgow or Edinburgh or whatever professional club in England or France. The preparation should be exactly the same be it New Zealand , South Africa , Fiji or Tonga. The reason Andy Murray has prevailed is Ivan Lendl's dictum is that all that matters is winning the match and the prepartion for each match should be equivalent. So lets dispense with these elaborate squad get togethers in plush hotels prior to matches and concentrate on the basics.

    One of the most successful sides in World Rugby the Springboks - second only to New Zealand in terms of historical success are in my mind built on a very limited blue print. Their base is built on doing the basics correct tackling , scrummaging and kicking. Until Scotland can do the basics correctly we will struggle to beat anyone and there is no coach who can win if his players cannot do the basics.

    The players need to look at themselves too many appear satisfied in just appearing for Scotland. The professional era that allows a player to get a cap for 2 minutes of hard work further undermines the work ethic. I would have loved to play for Scotland but it would have meant little to me if I kept losing. You must believe you can win and want to win. I am not sure enough of the players want to win badly. At the moment it appears that some are happy to appear but not dig deep to win. One question that should be asked is that do our players already feel inferior before crossing the white line due to the terms of their renumeration for their professional clubs cf the English or French internationals and their much higher pay. In least in the amateur days the players were equal as their pay was due to their profession outwith rugby.

    I would suggest that the SRU goes to either David Brailsford who has turned GB cycling from an also ran into a world beater or Sir Clive Woodward who rebuilt the RFU and led England to World Cup glory as a starting point. As I said I would like Sean Lineen involved in the national set up in some capacity and maybe the SRU should try for someone like Jake White. Our best teenage players should be playing in New Zealand or South Africa a la Martin Johnson etc.

  • Comment number 97.

    Nero and Rome burning is the best description for the SRU

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein description of Andy Robinson.

  • Comment number 98.


    The reason Robinson persevered with Dan Parks was because D.P. was pretty good at putting points on the board, and surely having points on the board is what wins Rugby matches is it not? He also persisted in selecting D.P. because he was the best Halfback eligibile to fill that No 10 jersey. D.P. was also an excellent team man, extremely hard working, & higly respected & well liked by the other players in the squad.....further reasons to have stuck with his man.

    Incidentally it's nearly 2 years since Parks retired from International Rugby, and within that time, I've not exactly seen anyone stand out & excel in that No 10 slot. Jackson was meant to be the saviour in waiting, but the role appears to have been given to Laidlaw. He peformed well back in June in that series sweep of 3 wins in a row, but has not backed it up since.

  • Comment number 99.

    And agree with homesickscot at 92, but I'm less pessimistic about the current crop of players - there is something more to be brought out of them I'm sure.
    The SRU have wrecked the structure of rugby in Scotland - how can we survive with just 2 top clubs? The main Scottish league is now too low in quality, due to lack of investment / development effort. Wales and Ireland, each with smaller populations, have more high level teams. The Borders (South) team was allowed to collapse. There is insufficient structure to nurture and develop young talent - that's why we have needed to accept third rate Kiwis, fourth rate Australians and a top rate Dutchman. We also have no structure in football - partly down to the Bosman ruling allowing foreigners whose development has been paid for by someone else to dominate the player spaces. Who would want to coach Scotland in either sport?

  • Comment number 100.

    Number 92: Homesickscot: You say..."The reality is that we're a small nation where RU is played by relatively few people. With only two professional clubs, we simply don't have the numbers at our disposal to generate top-quality competition for places."

    Really??? Are we smaller than Tonga? No. Do we have fewer people playing rugby in Scotland than the Tonganese have playing rugby in Tonga? No? Do we have more pro-teams in Scotland (2) than they do in Tonga? Yes, we do. We have two more, in fact! But, we have much more than Tonga...we have stadia, we have structure, we have kit, yes much of it that we actually give some to Tonga!

    So, enough of the wee, small nation nonsense, please!

    It's not the size of the dog in the's the size of the fight in the dog!!!


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