AS SCOTLAND’S world ranking plunged to a new all-time low of 12th, Andy Robinson – who quit as coach on Sunday morning – insisted the country do have the talent to move back among the top ten, but admitted he is not the man to take them there.
Speaking to The Scotsman last night, Robinson said he had no regrets about taking on the job as Scotland’s head coach and that he was confident there would be a good number of enthusiastic contenders willing to succeed him. But he confirmed that the performances and manner of the three successive autumn Test defeats to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga had told him that he was no longer the right man to effect the improvements needed.
“What you saw in those three games were issues that we have seen crop up in key games over the past year or so, in the World Cup and the Six Nations, where we have been competitive but not been able to put the nails in the coffins,” he said.
“Ultimately, as a head coach, you have to be guided by how your team is playing, and we were not playing as I wanted us to, or the way I wanted us to. And what is important for me is that you are accountable and people are prepared to stand up and be counted.
“I have a lot of respect for the players and for Scottish rugby and so when you see performances as we’ve seen recently, you’ve tried to change things and improve it, and it hasn’t happened, then it is right that someone else comes in and is given the chance to do it their way to try to get the best out of the players.
“I do not have any problem with that. It is the right time to change and for me to move on.”
Robinson is planning to take a few months away from the game, and spend time with his family, but insisted that he will look to return to coaching refreshed and with more experience gained from his time in Scotland.
Ladbrokes have opted for former South Africa coach Nick Mallett as the favourite to succeed Andy Robinson as Scotland’s next head coach. Mallett, who worked with Italy for four years before returning to Cape Town last year, has been installed by the bookmakers as 2-1 favourite with present Scotland assistant coach Scott Johnson at odds of 3-1 and Sean Lineen, the former Glasgow coach, 5-1 to become the permanent head coach.
Current Edinburgh and Glasgow coaches Michael Bradley and Gregor Townsend are both rated 6-1 shots and John Kirwan, Eddie O’Sullivan, Todd Blackadder, Mike Ruddock and Jake White are all more fancied than Scotland internationalist Bryan Redpath.
Robinson’s old partner at England, Clive Woodward, who did once attend primary school in Corstorphine, is included at 50-1.
Robinson declined to offer any comment on who or what sort of character would be good for the Scotland helm, insisting that it would not be appropriate for him to offer advice to the SRU, but when asked to pinpoint the issues in the game and Scottish performances that he feels has ultimately cost him his position he was quite clear. He said: “The key issue in Test rugby is that that level of the game puts real pressure on
players, and to be able to deal with that you have to be able to demonstrate a high degree of skill, and execute them under pressure.
“We had maybe four or five players who really played well against New Zealand, and a different four or five who played near their best against South Africa, and a different four or five performed against Tonga. You can’t get away with that at international level. For Scotland to win, we need 12 or 13 players playing close to their best in every Test match.”
“I’m talking about every aspect of the game, from handling to tackling, kicking to running, scrums, lineouts, breakdown skills… right across the board your skills are severely tested by opponents in Test rugby. That is where we have leaked points. You have to be technically accurate, technically smart and those skills have to be able to stand up to pressure.”
He added: “I have spoken to the players and they are good guys, and they know what they have to do. All players have to work hard at their skills all the time. There is undoubtedly the talent there in Scotland to take the national side back up, but everybody in the game has to work to improve, right across Scotland, and everybody has to recognise is that while Scotland are improving, every other country is working hard and improving too. You can’t stand still.
“But I thank people in Scotland for the great support that I have had. I came into this job with my eyes wide open and
I haven’t been surprised by anything, and I am being truthful when I say that I have really enjoyed being part of Scottish rugby, with Edinburgh and
Scotland, and the journey that we have been on over the past few years, with a number of highs and lows.”