30 May 2012

Andy Robinson is more Ron Burgundy than William Wallace

Scotland regressing under Robinson
One of the enduring images of Scotland's dismal 2012 Six Nations campaign was their coach Andy Robinson thumping the perspex glass in his coaching box as he watched his side fumble their way to the wooden spoon. That simple act summed up the despair and pain which must have been coursing through his veins at that point.

Unfortunately for him, it rather evoked memories of Ron Burgundy in the film Anchorman who famously shrieked 'i'm in a glass cage of emotion!'. That character was meant to be a buffoon though.

No matter how passionately Robinson claims that he's the man for the job or 'kind of a big deal', the results at least seem to suggest otherwise. He seems to be able to make them into a competitive side, but like his time in the English hot seat, turning them into a winning side seems like a step too far.

Is criticism warranted?

Denton impressive in backrow
It's hard not to feel sympathetic for Robinson though. Early on in the competition, Scotland seemed like a side which was one win away from kicking on and becoming a quality team. Promising youngsters such as Richie Gray, David Denton and Ross Rennie were arguably some of the stars of the tournament, while the introduction of Stuart Hogg to the backline seemed to add an extra dimension to their attack. A series of narrow losses obviously destructed their confidence though. Now they seem like a side one loss away from a meltdown.

Seven losses on the trot, a Six Nations wooden spoon and an early exit at the Rugby World Cup makes for appauling reading. No matter how narrow the losses have been or how much potential has been shown, a loss is a loss. Scotland may be competitive under Robinson but can he develop them into a winning side? At the moment the jury is out on that one. A poor tour against Australia, Samoa and Fiji could seal his fate.

Is Scott Johnson's Appointment a Masterstroke?

Scottish fans shouldn't be down in the dumps though. As mentioned earlier, there are a group of talented players coming through and Edinburgh's performance in the Heineken Cup showed what can be achieved with a bit of confidence. They need someone to help harness their talent. Step up to the plate Scotland's new attack coach Scott Johnson to help them out of their current malaise.
Will Johnson keep it simple?
Johnson may not be everyone's cup of tea... that's for sure. He once caused uproar in New Zealand when he called them 'a poxy little island in the south pacific'. Aside from his questionable media handlings though, you can't look down on his credentials.

 He's had top level international experience with Wales, first under Graham Henry, then Steve Hansen and latterly Mike Ruddock. He's also helped out the Wallabies in 2007 and was Head Coach of the USA Eagles in 2008/09. The last job mentioned is what interests me the most.

Experience with the Eagles may prove beneficial

Forgive me for sounding patronising, but since Scotland are now ranked 12th in the world according to the latest IRB Rankings, perhaps Johnson's experience of working with slightly less talented players may help him in developing a gameplan which suits the Scots. They have had trouble getting over the whitewash for the last few years and perhaps a more simple plan may reap dividends. After all, I wouldn't say that South Africa are all that progressive in International rugby, nor the Bulls/ Highlanders in Super Rugby. They are however imposing and threatening.

If a simple plan was successful, a more attacking plan could then be developed to harness the strikepower of young Stuart Hogg, Tim Visser and any other talented back that breaks through. I'm sure not all Scots will be convinced by the appointment of Johnson or my arguments for him, but let's be honest....Robinson can't do it by himself.


  1. Anonymous01 June, 2012

    I see your point but as a Scottish fan, I think Australia could be caught on the hop. They will be missing some of their key players first up. That doesn't mean Scotland can punish them though!

    It depends on what mentality Scotland have. If there is no real belief, they will be beaten before they even step onto the pitch.

    It's a pity Visser is ineligible for the first game. I would have enjoyed seeing how he fared against the Wallaby wings.

    1. If there is no real belief, they will be beaten before they even step onto the pitch.

  2. I have no doubt that if there was one time to play the Aussies, it's probably now given all their injuries. i just don't believe Scotland will be the team who does it! Wales on the other hand.....

    As for Visser, yes it's a shame but he will get his chance eventually. It will still be fascinating to compare young Stuart Hogg to some of the Australian outside backs. From what i've seen of him he seems as talented as anyone out there. Could be Scotland's talisman over the next few years in the way Brian O'Driscoll has been for the Irish.

  3. As a frustrated Scotland fan I would agree with most of what you say. Robinson has been great for the scottish forwards but that is where his talents end. I would say his major flaw is not picking younger players. He only picked hogg as he scored a 60m try for the Scotland A team against the saxons.

    He always seems so focased on winning a match that he goes for the same tried tested pairing that seem to fail every time we try them. Just look to the world cup england game. Definitly our best chance of beating the old enemy, and in a world cup, yet he picks players like parks and plays lamont ouf of position and we fail misrabley.

    I think Johnson is having a great effect already as people like alex dunbar, matt scott ect are being inclued. I also think (hope more like) that we see some new attacking flair.

    As for the series, I think we will get done by aussi cause we will play too cautiously. Then we will beat fiji and samoa to set the record straight and gane a few more places in the IRB ranking. Still hurts that we are 12th.

    1. It's not great for Scotland that that ranking will affect how they are pooled for the next rugby world cup, when the draw is made in December.

      The one saving grace Scotland might have against the Wallabies is that the game is on Tuesday, when many of the top players for Australia will have just played a Super 15 game. Will Deans pick a second-string side?

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