Scotland travel to the heat and humidity of Samoa on Saturday following an excellent showing against a young and improving Fijian side last weekend. The Scots are on a wave of confidence and are looking to continue their impressive Southern Hemisphere tour with victory over a strong and resilient side who pushed the Scots all the way the last time these two sides met.
Scotland are having a small renaissance of sorts on this summer tour. The team has looked a million times better than the one who were frankly awful during the Six Nations and have began to play with more purpose, direction and confidence. Often during the Six Nations they appeared to have no plan, going from side to side and unable to break the gain line almost like a rugby crab. Now they have started to look like a team, developing a style of play they are comfortable with and one the entire team follows and believes in.
Coach Andy Robinson has had an indifferent time as head coach of Scotland, he has racked up impressive victories against the likes of South Africa and Australia twice, most recently a fortnight ago in a rain soaked Newcastle, but has also faced some humiliating defeats by the likes of Italy, Argentina and New Zealand to name but a few. He has watched as Scotland have fallen from number 6 in the world to 10th and won this years Wooden Spoon in the Six Nations Championships.
Following his near removal from office, Robinson clearly has gone back to the drawing board with his direction for Scottish rugby. With this new mentality, Scotland have racked up some solid wins, but they have to continue winning if they stand any chance of altering the way many people view them. Andy Robinson has changed Scotland but if he and the team are to be considered a success they need to build on these recent performances and take them into competitive situations like the Six Nations and the World Cup.
Scotland have been able to compete with the rugby elite in non-competitive games, wins against South Africa, Argentina and Australia coming during touring opportunities, but have severely lacked the ability and mental strength to win in a competitive tournament environment. Samoa is next up for Scotland, where they will be facing a tough, hard and resilient team who will want to derail this impressive tour Scotland are having. Saturday is another defining moment for the Scots, they could be the only Northern Hemisphere team to return home with a 100% record and will have hopefully exorcised those Six Nations demons. Scotland will look to show the rugby world that they are no longer an easy win – rather a team who is unified, improved and ready to rumble with the best of them.
by Alex McLeman