Whisper it quietly, but Scottish rugby is undergoing something of a revival under Andy Robinson. The days of accepting defeat forlornly but bravely, might just be over and there are signs that they’re emerging from the darkness of the past few years.
However it is a fragile recovery, and a poor start to the season from the two club sides could have seriously harmed its momentum. Fortunately, Glasgow and Edinburgh have started to pick up points in recent weeks and confidence should be building ahead of their series of Autumn Internationals fixtures.
Scotland were inconsistent in the 2010 Six Nations, losing to France and Italy but almost beating Wales at the Millenium Stadium, drawing with England, and taking the scalp of Ireland in their last game at Croke Park. These results, despite their inconsistency, should be seen as positive, and it seemed that Andy Robinson was certainly having an effect upon the team. There was a settled and talented back row consisting of Beattie, Barclay and Brown and the backline appeared to have more fizz to it than we have seen for a long time. This upbeat mentality was further built upon when Scotland won two tests in Argentina on their summer tour – arguably a bigger achievement than England’s narrow victory over Australia.
At the start of the season I feared for Edinburgh and Glasgow as there seemed to be an exodus of top quality talent. The loss of Dan Parks and Kelly Brown has indeed hurt Glasgow as have the departures of Jim Hamilton and Ally Hogg for Edinburgh. A number of new players have had to step into their roles and this has taken time and a few defeats, but bringing through new talent is exactly what Scottish rugby needs at the moment. This new blood combined with the experience its top class players will gain elsewhere is certainly promising for Scotland.
So what are their prospects this Autumn? I am willing to stick my neck out and say that Scotland will beat Samoa, be competitive with New Zealand and I sense a potential upset against the Springboks. Andy Robinson has been integral to my assessment – he has given Scotland a belief that has long been missing and they should go toe to toe with the best.
By Alex Harking