What is it about Scotland’s rugby team, who build themselves up, get the fans and the media on their side and are favourite to win a match, and then press the self-destruct button?
That’s the question I put to Dan Parks after the Welsh game on Saturday and he had no answer. He just couldn’t understand it.
This was a bad loss to a Welsh team that really weren’t any great shakes. Coach Andy Robinson shook his head at the press conference and said: “This was unacceptable and we are all disappointed for the fans, the Scottish media and the nation for this performance.” This is why I am prepared to give Robinson my support and respect.
It wasn’t him who threw wild passes all over the park, made basic errors and lost discipline on the pitch, but if anyone is going to turn things round in the next fortnight it is this Englishman who has already done wonders for Scottish Rugby.
Interesting, too, that he has signed a contract way past this year’s world cup to the end of the next one. It is quite a scoop for Scottish Rugby. But what if things go horribly wrong over the rest of the year? Some previous head coaches would probably try and cling on to their position harder than an Egyptian president, yet you get the feeling that Robinson is a completely different kettle of fish. I would suspect if things went belly up it would be himwho would make the decision to leave long before he was told.
It took the Scottish head coach just seven days to turn round the team from big under-achievers against New Zealand to world beaters when they conquered South Africa. So with more than double the time to work his magic, I cannot wait to see how the team gets on against the Irish on February 27.
Will there be changes? I would certainly expect so. Robinson rewards those who are playing well and he is not shy at changing things if they need to be changed.
I was full of praise in my last column about Ally Kellock being Scotland’s captain but he came in for a lot of criticism this week for brawling on the pitch.
I cannot see Nick De Luca holding his position at centre, and do not rule out Jack Cuthbert being named in the squad for the Irish game. I am a big fan of this monster of a man and he must be close to replacing Hugo Southwell.
Dan Parks had little influence on the game on Saturday but he may get one last chance. If he doesn’t, the promotion of young Ruiraidh Jackson to fly half cannot be far away. Our own Greig Laidlaw must be edging closer to a permanent position in the scrum-half ranks and we definitely need Richie Gray back.
In my next column we will look in more depth at the Scotland v Ireland game. Grand Slam and Triple Crown have gone and we are very unlikely to get a look in for the Championship. So with nothing to lose, how will Robinson ask Scotland to play?