With a clean sweep on their Southern Hemisphere tour, Scotland have gone a long way towards redemption after their World Cup and Six Nations disasters but head coach Andy Robinson admits there is still a lot of work to do, even after their 17-16 win over Samoa.
Since those dark days of autumn last year and spring of this year, he has rebuilt the management structure, brought in Scott Johnson as attack coach and he reaped the rewards when they found a way to score against Samoa despite being on the verge of defeat.
That is in stark contrast to the Six Nations when they were in command of the game against England but could not find a way over the try line.
In all their Southern Hemisphere games they could have lost with ten minutes to go.
They were level in Australia, only two points ahead in Fiji and six points behind in Samoa. In each game, they went on to win. In the World Cup at the same stage they were ahead against Argentina and England, but lost both. In the Six Nations they were trailing England but could not turn a mountain of pressure into points. That winning mentality was simply not there then and is there now. It was a development Robinson was quick to praise as he looked back at the tour. “There was a great attitude throughout the three games, the willpower to succeed was brilliant,” he said. “Winning these three matches was important. Winning is what we are here for, it is the whole reason for playing but when you are playing international rugby, these things can be decided by inches – though I have got to say that if you had offered me three victories at the start of the tour, I would certainly have taken it.”
Another welcome statistic saw Scotland score tries in two out of the three games. While it may have been a penalty that won the match in Australia conditions were such handling was almost impossible, but against Fiji nerves were settled when Tim Visser went over for the second part of his debut double. Against Samoa debutant Rob Harley scored a dramatic late try to engineer a 17-16 victory. The tour undoubtedly means Robinson is safe for the foreseeable future. The next group of matches are against New Zealand, who Scotland have never beaten, South Africa, out for revenge after being beaten two years ago, and Tonga, who should be beatable in Scotland but showed France in the World Cup how dangerous they are. Robinson has never lost a summer tour match since he became Scotland coach and if the team can replicate the commitment they have shown on the Southern Hemisphere tour, there will be less pressure on him.
As he mulled over the tour finale in Samoan capital Apia, Robinson was content but under no illusions there is still a lot of work to do.