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Six Nations: Now it’s Scottish defence under microscope as Steadman set to exit

Andy Robinson deep in conversation with Gregor Townsend. Picture: Getty

Andy Robinson deep in conversation with Gregor Townsend. Picture: Getty

Scotland, a team with a chronic inability to score tries who have not crossed the whitewash in their past four games, are to part company with their defence coach. Scotland on Sunday understands that Graham Steadman’s contract with Scotland will expire at the end of this season and will not be renewed.

Steadman, who has been a part of the Murrayfield set-up for almost four years, will leave the Scotland coaching team as Australian Scott Johnson, who is currently the director of coaching of the Welsh side Ospreys, joins Andy Robinson’s management team ahead of the summer tour to Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Coming on the morning when Scotland play Wales at the Millennium Stadium after a deeply disappointing loss to England in their opening RBS Six Nations match last Saturday, the decision is sure to be a controversial one, especially given that Robinson has been under increasing pressure to discard attack coach Gregor Townsend.

The Scotland coach has so far withstood such calls and continues to stand by the former Scotland and Lions stand-off. Instead, it is Steadman who is to be let go as scrutiny of Robinson’s record intensifies. Although Scotland have achieved some notable wins during his reign, including victories over Australia and South Africa and a Test series triumph in Argentina, they have won just two of 11 Six Nations games under his stewardship, while last year Robinson’s team became the first Scotland side to fail to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

Steadman, a 50-year-old Englishman and former Great Britain Rugby League player, was recruited by Robinson’s predecessor Frank Hadden in August 2008. Although Steadman was generally thought to have done a good job, Scotland’s record of scoring just 20 tries in 25 games since Robinson’s first Test in November 2009 has ensured that the coaching team needed to be reshuffled. Given Robinson’s decision to allow his defence coach to work with Sale Sharks two days a week from last year, there were perhaps already signs that the national coach was ready to lose Steadman.

The Scottish Rugby Union yesterday declined to comment, saying only that it does not comment on private contractual arrangements.

 

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