Rugby: SRU keen to tie Robinson down to a longer deal

Scotland rugby chief Gordon McKie is to set to pull out all the stops to retain national coach Andy Robinson beyond his current contract.

Robinson's deal runs beyond the World Cup to 2012 but McKie is acutely aware that, following Scotland's run of six games out of seven unbeaten, the former England mentor is hot property in the rugby market-place.

Ex-internationalist John Beattie has speculated that Robinson could be approached to coach the 2013 British and Irish Lions and says a host of other teams both at international and club level are bound to be monitoring his availability.

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Speaking at the announcement of a major sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland that covers every aspect of the game from international down to grass-roots, McKie acknowledged that a priority would be trying to thrash out a new deal to keep Robinson north of the Border - especially as the coach had also been instrumental in securing the backing of RBS.

"There is speculation (surrounding Robinson's rugby future] every day.

"We will cross that bridge when the time comes.

"He is our man until 2012, but with things going the way they are we will have to sit down and have a conversion about what we do sooner than the expiry of his contract.

"I have not seen Andy since the Autumn Tests. He is on a break.

"But I'm sure we will sit down and have a conversation about what makes sense and when.

"Andy will have his own views."

Robinson arrived three years ago to coach Edinburgh before stepping into the Scotland post after the 2009 RBS Six Nations Championship, having previously taken charge of Bath and England.

The former England flanker's family continues to live in the Bath area.

McKie added: "Andy has been living in two homes for the past three years in both Bath and Edinburgh and, although we have not had a conversation yet, I'm sure we will soon."

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While the lure of returning to nearer his roots will undoubtedly be strong for Robinson, McKie has taken heart from the way the coach's influence extends well beyond the international team.

Referring to Robinson's role in cementing the RBS agreement, McKie said: "Andy and I met these guys earlier this year to talk about how joined up we (both parties) were, how they could avail themselves of things like player appearances and getting into the community.

"Andy played a pivotal role in persuading them to do this.

"We were very pleased to had Andy's willingness to coach kids and club coaches. That helped to get us over the line."

Despite a cash injection believed to be a seven-figure sum, there is no guarantee, however, that Scotland's sevens team will be maintained on a full-time competitive basis.

Stressing that options remain open, McKie said: "We are carrying out a strategic review including where sevens fit in.

"If we are going to play with the big boys we need to scale up, which means resources - if that is the final result.

"The most important thing is to have a successful 15-a-side team and we don't want to spread our resources too thin.

"Sevens also needs players and we haven't got enough."

Meanwhile, Royal Bank Brand and Partnerships Director Charlie Smith has defended the decision of a company, 84 per cent owned by the tax-payer, to expand its rugby sponsorship portfolio beyond the Six Nations Championship it is committed to backing until 2013.

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Asked how the deal sat with customers who might prefer reduced queues in branches and cheaper overdrafts, he said: "We are investing in a number of different ways and not just sport.

"Our customers have told us they want us to invest in the community and recognise our wider obligations to society.

"They have also said as it happens they want queues to be shorter and we will cut them to five minutes.

"In February we are going to be open and transparent about how we have performed against the 14 commitments we have made."

"There is speculation surrounding Robinson every day... Andy will have his own views"