A GAMBLER often sticks to his guns when betting on the outcome of something after a series of losses.
He thinks his luck is bound to change – he believes that soon his selection will come good and prove everyone wrong. As the days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, the frustration gathers momentum until the pressure is so great that it clouds his thinking and common sense goes out the window.
That is a scenario that many Scottish rugby supporters may associate with after Scotland failed yet again to produce the goods and get a much-needed win. It was the same old story on Saturday. The post-match press conference was predictable. Andy Robinson took full responsibility for the loss and admitted that his record since taking over the job was “not acceptable”.
Solutions could not be given and it has now been a staggering 11 years since Scotland last won back-to-back victories in the 6 Nations. That cannot be true, can it? Yes it is. No wonder the nation is fed up with the lack of success, apart from the odd victory at home in friendlies.
When it comes to the crunch, we fail.
When Andy Robinson took the job the whole of Scotland was delighted. We have given him more support and more time to get things right than any other head coach, and even after the World Cup disappointment, we expected a big performance against England – particularly an England with so many new names in it with little or no experience of international rugby. Simply put, we blew it.
I have been the first in line to support Robinson and believe that he still is the right man for the job, but after this loss even I am beginning to question him. I try to look at the positives rather than the negatives, but there comes a time when enough is enough.
I am seriously concerned about decisions he has made recently, and I feel he is picking players who have not delivered on the big stage for too long.
They may be great players on their day, but in a Scottish jersey they are not performing. We need new blood.
When not one but two captains were dropped in New Zealand it raised eyebrows. It was wrong to choose a captain who wasn’t guaranteed his place in the team.
Credit to Robinson for picking Kelly Brown (and then Ross Ford) to skipper and address that one. I admired him for doing that. Now he has to embrace the overwhelming mood from fans to change things.
There has been a call for him to do this for many months. Some Scotland fans have given him far less time than me to deliver results – I guess everyone’s pain threshold is different! – but my last chance was on Saturday at Murrayfield when everything was set up perfectly. Less than two hours later we had lost the Calcutta Cup, the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam. It’s like falling at the first fence in the Grand National!
We have to see changes for the Welsh game on Sunday. The problems lie in the backs. The forwards are getting us ball and we have a world-class bunch of players who can do a job for us in the back row.
I see no major problem in the front five, either. Robinson is losing support at an alarming rate, but he can win them back easily by making changes. Every good leader must listen when concerns reach fever pitch from people who care – people who pay hard-earned cash to support the team.
I am writing this on Monday – I’ve had two days to digest the result and this is two days before the team is selected for Cardiff.
If Robinson makes changes I can guarantee he will be roundly supported for trying to do the right thing.
While we are not being badly beaten in games, we are not winning or scoring tries.
I have chosen a team that I think deserves to run out at the Millennium Stadium.
The forwards are familiar (except for the change at prop due to Euan Murray not playing on a Sunday).
In my selection I have kept our star back Max Evans, but moved him to his favoured centre position, brought back Scotland’s most effective try scorer Simon Danielli, and partnered Greig Laidlaw with Mike Blair because they are the form players in these two key positions.
On 60 minutes I would have the option of switching Laidlaw to 9 and bring on Duncan Weir at 10. I would give first caps to Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir as a reward for their performances on Friday with Scotland A.
You can compare Robinson’s team (see page 21) with mine below. Will he gamble on the same old losing hand, or put faith in new young talent? I know what most fans want him to do. Over to you, Mr Robinson. . .
Stuart’s Scotland team to face Wales: Stuart Hogg; Lee Jones, Matt Scott, Max Evans, Simon Danielli; Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, David Denton. Subs: Scott Lawson, Ed Kalmen, Rob Harley, John Barclay, Chris Cusiter, Duncan Weir, Rory Lamont.