Robinson exit paves way for wisdom

24/11/2012,  TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, EMC Autumn test, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland v Tonga. Scotland coach Andy Robinson pictured before kick off.  Picture Ian Rutherford

24/11/2012, TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, EMC Autumn test, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland v Tonga. Scotland coach Andy Robinson pictured before kick off. Picture Ian Rutherford

IT’S all over for Andy Robinson. He finally succumbed to the relentless pressure from media and spectators, and resigned as head coach of Scotland.

The SRU gave him another chance after the dreadful World Cup performance – a move which saved them a lot of cash in compensation.

But despite a brief bout of success on tour in the summer, the harsh reality as to where we really are in the world standings became totally clear as New Zealand and then the Springboks exposed our weaknesses with ease.

The defeat by Tonga on Saturday in Aberdeen was the last straw as we threw the game away with poor tactics, basic errors and a performance which lacked any vision.

Robinson has had so many chances – probably more than any other head coach in world rugby – but he outstayed his welcome.

I was his biggest fan in the early days, but when I was out in New Zealand covering Scotland the cracks began to show.

He was exposed as a poor selector, dropping not one but two captains, and failing to deliver quality performances.

I lost faith by the end of the World Cup and was surprised when SRU chief executive Mark Dodson announced he would be backing his head coach.

I always said this was the wrong decision and we have lost a year of progress as a result.

There would have been big financial implications which must have had a bearing on the decision if they had sacked Robinson then, but it was false economy.

Whoever comes in will need to hit the ground running.

The SRU must dictate terms this time.

They came unstuck by offering a long-term contract to Robinson till the end of the 2015 World Cup and opened themselves up to big financial penalties for terminating his contract early if things went wrong.

In retrospect, this was madness and a gamble.

It came out of an obsession by the SRU to land Robinson for Scotland. A long-term contract was great for him, but not good for Scottish Rugby.

Under Mark Dodson, any new contract for the next head coach must be sensible – no more than two years – to protect themselves.

By all means, offer attractive bonuses related to success on the pitch, but let’s not be held to ransom, no matter how good the coach potentially is on paper.

There are no guarantees of success, so offering more than a two-year contract would be stupid.

So who will come in and replace Robinson? Sean Lineen and Nick Mallet must be in the frame, and there will be a few Scottish coaches who may fancy their chances.

There is a lot to be said for a Scottish voice leading the troops from the front with that added passion, but this is not a high priority with the powers that be within Murrayfield who clearly think our coaches are not good enough yet.

Gala boss and former Scotland forwards coach George Graham has ruled himself out.

“I am not interested in the job. I am fully committed to Gala and winning trophies with that group of players,” he told me on Sunday.

Good news for Gala – but a shame for Scotland because they could do worse than choose a hard taskmaster with a no-nonsense approach.

Players must also take responsibility – they are the ones who are on the pitch.

There are a number of players who have not delivered consistently for a while and are living off past glories.

Max Evans, Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Ruaridh Jackson, Jim Hamilton and Mike Blair are just six names who need to step up in the near future if they’re to be considered for the Six Nations campaign.

By picking them we are keeping out younger talent hungrier for success.

We know, despite the SRU’s wacky statement about aiming to be world champions, that we will never reach these dizzy heights consistently – we have to be real here – but we need to see everyone involved on match day passionate for the jersey.

Too many appear to go through the motions and that is no good.

We must get rid of the comfort zone and create a squad where all are there on merit and are in-form players.

Good luck to all who apply for the job – you will certainly need it – but let’s all learn from the saga of Andy Robinson and never get ourselves into a position like this again. Lessons have to be learned right across the board.




Back to the top of the page