Saturday, May 29, 2010

Andy Robinson says Six Nations is more important to Scotland than World Cup

It seems there has been a radical rethink at Murrayfield. In place of the system where everything revolved in four-year cycles around the Rugby World Cup, Andy Robinson, the Scotland head coach, has made it clear that the Six Nations Rugby Championship is now his over-riding priority, and that even the autumn internationals play a greater role in his day-to-day thinking than the global challenge.

“The key for me is Scotland getting the right number of matches against the southern hemisphere teams in the autumn and we have got that, playing two of them each year. The other important thing is to focus on the Six Nations 2011. Those games are where we really need to improve and start winning regularly,” he said yesterday.

He is busy finalising the side that will take on Japan A next week mainly players from the squad preparing to face Argentina next month but most of the Glasgow players are likely to be rested and he will have to call some in from the Scotland A team preparing for the IRB Nations Cup in Romania but he was also keen to look at the longer term.

“I’m really focusing on the Six Nations and autumn internationals,” he said. “When we are there, the tours will be important, but not to the detriment of the other matches. This stage of the season you can lose the likes of Euan Murray, players who have had a hard season and need to rest or tidy up injuries. We are lucky this year that we don’t have many players who need to rest.

“The Six Nations is a tournament that we play every year. We will deal with the World Cup when we come to it, but it is only once every four years, we will peak towards the Six Nations every year and we are going to be judged on how we perform in it.”

There had been fears among some supporters that Scotland’s failure to land a major tour to a top-tier nation — along the lines of the three-match series that England, Ireland, France and Wales will all be embarking on during the next decade was a demonstration of Scotland’s falling stock as a world power in rugby. In fact, it is all part the masterplan devised by Robinson and Graham Lowe, the performance director, to ensure a steady progression with the limited resources at their disposal.

“I’m really keen for the players to experience not just playing top-tier Test matches but to experience playing in places like Japan and America. That can help us grow as a team and develop that winning habit. At the end of this schedule we can look at where we are in terms of things like rankings and how many players we have developed and we will have a handle on what direction we will then want to go,” he added.

“Scotland have never played three-Test series against anybody, we do not think that is the right thing for us to do at the moment. We cannot let it get away from success in the Six Nations and the autumn Tests. The summer Tests are a building block.”

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