Six Nations: Records 'there to be broken', says Rory Lawson
He may have bigger issues on his mind this Sunday morning but Rory Lawson can be forgiven for pondering just how Andy Robinson goes about selecting his scrum-half. If Robinson isn't employing a coin to facilitate selection it can only be because he's replaced it with some dice.
Lawson was first choice in Argentina (in the absence of Chris Cusiter) but lost his place to Mike Blair for the opening match of the autumn series against New Zealand. A 49-3 defeat, it proved a good one to miss. Lawson then captained the side to victory over the Springboks and Samoa and started the first two matches of the Six Nations, only to be dumped out of the starting XV for the visit of Ireland... and returned to today's line up.
It may be that the coach has taken a look at Gloucester Rugby and decided that their recent run of nine wins on the trot deserves some recognition. Lawson starts the match, while Scott Lawson and Alasdair Strokosch will probably come off the bench at some stage. Is it difficult to boost a struggling squad or can these Gloucester men infect Scotland with the winning habit or at least a smidgeon of self belief?
"I don't think it's tricky from our perspective," says Lawson.
"Everyone wants to be energised and upbeat and to be positive about how capable we are as a squad. The frustration has come from (the fact that] our performances haven't given us a chance to win these games.
"Look at the three games from the last weekend, all of them were decided on small margins whether it was goal kicking, an odd decision here or there or one missed tackle. It's very fine margins. We want to put on a performance that gives us the best chance of winning this game."
Six Nations coverage in full
• 'Hate' has gone out of Calcutta Cup, says England coach Martin Johnson
• Scotland need to rediscover their 'mongrel' fury to avoid being crushed by England
• Records 'there to be broken', says Rory Lawson
• Tom English: 'English jibes must represent an effrontery to the proud Scots'
• Chris Ashton once feared his switch to union was a mistake. His try record proves otherwise
• Sound of silence will be a result for Scotland at England's fortress
• Calcutta cup head to heads
• Italy 22 - 21 France: Nick Mallett's finest hour
• Wales 19 - 13 Ireland: Irish fury over winning try fails to dampen Welsh joy
• Women's Six Nations: Ruth Slaven eager to tackle the English
Of course the same could be said of England, who are skippered by Lawson's friend and companion at club level, Mike Tindall. The Englishman joked last week that, had the scrum-half skippered Scotland, they would be the first Six Nations captains to greet each other before the coin toss with a high five and a hug. That was probably reason enough for Robinson to hand the captaincy to Al Kellock. According to his coach Lawson wins the nod at nine this afternoon because he kicks the ball better than Mike Blair and he will be expected to take some of the responsibility off young fly-half, Ruaridh Jackson. Lawson also boasts the best pass in Scotland and, with the likes of James Haskell bearing down on him, Jackson is going to need every micro-second he can find this afternoon.
Lawson's service is something he has worked hard on at Gloucester with head coach and former Scotland No 9 Bryan Redpath, who learnt something about getting the ball smartly away from the breakdown in a Test career that spanned 11 years and earned him 60 caps
"It's one of the core skills that scrum-halfs need to work really hard on," said Lawson. "Brush (Redpath) pushes it hard and pushes it hard. If you throw a bad pass in training then he'll let you know about it. He's got that sharpened eye for the actual breakdown of the pass. We work hard on it, just as I do when I come up here and I see it as one of the strengths of my game."
When Lawson is initially quizzed about how much time he's had to gel with Jackson he replies: "Not a whole lot... I've not had that much of an opportunity to play with him."
He appears to have forgotten that he and Jackson combined to good effect back in 2009 when Scotland A won the Nations Cup in Romania. Lawson evidently had no trouble finding Jackson in the final against France when Richie Vernon scored the decisive try. A repeat performance would be more than welcome this afternoon, even if no one is betting the house on it happening after three consecutive defeats for the Scots and no win at Twickenham since 1983.
"The guys are very aware we've lost our three games so far and with that comes a real determination to turn things around," says Lawson. "The frustration in the camp so far is that we've not shown what we're about so far this campaign. Over the last 12 months we built up a lot of expectation from the public, from the rugby world and ourselves as well and we have not met those expectations.
As a result other teams have not had to be at their best to beat us.
"The 1983 thing is certainly something that we are aware of but records are there to be broken in many ways. We have to believe that we can go down there and put in a performance that can get us a win. We're fully aware that England are right on top of their game right now, they're on for a Grand Slam and anything but an exceptional performance won't be good enough to win down there."
Rory Lawson's father, Alan, won 15 caps, played England on five separate occasions and lost just once, yet even he never managed a win at Twickenham. One day after turning 30, there is no present that Rory Lawson would appreciate more than to go one better than his dad this afternoon.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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