Rugby: Fans want SRU to pay big for top-class coach

Andy Robinson
Andy Robinson
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Scottish Rugby bosses were today urged to splash the cash on a big name 
appointment in their quest 
to fill a national coaching 
vacancy created by the 
departure of Andy Robinson.

Robinson’s exit after three years in charge of the national team was heralded by a 21-15 defeat in Aberdeen by Tonga, who now overtake a Scottish 
side who plummet to 12th place in the world rankings.

On the last occasion the Scots played at Pittodrie two years ago, they were up to an all-time high position of sixth.

The need for an internationally-renowned coach was highlighted by Neil Hunter, spokesman for the influential Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters. Hunter also said: “So far as Robinson is concerned, why now? There have been disasters before and I think the performance in Rome earlier this year was worse. At least at Pittodrie Scotland managed to get over the try-line twice although they never touched the ball down.

“In Rome last time, they never looked like scoring a try.

“As for a successor, the international team is the shop window for Scottish rugby and coach is the one position where the governing body just cannot afford to penny pinch. The Scotland team are responsible for inspiring people and bringing them into the game; we need them to be successful.

“For that reason, Jake White and Nick Mallett (ex-South African coaches), along with Sir Graham Henry (ex-New Zealand), are the biggest names in the world and that is where [SRU chief executive] Mark Dodson should be looking if he is serious about growing the game.”

Hunter was adamant fortunes had improved under Robinson.

“Compared to when Frank Hadden resigned Scotland are 100 per cent better,” he said.

That may or may not be the case aesthetically, but in terms of results Robinson finishes with a win ratio of around 20 per cent. By comparison, Hadden finished on 30 per cent.

Interestingly, the most successful coaches in the pro era – Jim Telfer (53.8), Richie Dixon (50.0) and Sir Ian McGeechan (42) – were all based in Scotland or had worn the dark blue jersey. Least successful was the only overseas coach employed, Matt Williams, on 10 per cent.

Hunter added: “It is a mystery why Scotland can go from being very good in spells against the two best sides in the world in New Zealand and South Africa and so bad against Tonga.

“It wasn’t Andy Robinson coaching players to drop balls or make stupid mistakes.

Supporters are wondering just what exactly is the problem in the first place?”

In a statement, the SRU said: “Following the sequence of recent results during the EMC Autumn Tests a change in head coach is required to take the team forward and build towards the Rugby World Cup.”

It may be significant that in planning ahead, Robinson paid the ultimate price as his programme remarks for the Tonga Test indicated that he was experimenting in some positions, albeit he left young Edinburgh second-row Grant Gilchrist on the bench while capping an untried stand-off from England to effectively tie him to Scotland.

Speaking after the official announcement of his departure, Robinson, who retained a family home in Bath, said he planned a media conference to explain his reasoning.

“I’m hopefully going to come and do a press conference next week. I’ve addressed the players and I’ve addressed the management,” he said.