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Scotland coach Robinson resigns after dismal run

Date

Alasdair Reid at Pittodrie

Stepping down ... Andy Robinson.

Stepping down ... Andy Robinson. Photo: AP

On Saturday evening Andy Robinson had said he would take time to consider his options. It was a measured response to an afternoon of unmeasurable calamity, but even then he must have realised that options were not exactly thick on the ground.

The scale of this humiliation in Aberdeen was so great, the performance so inept and the embarrassment so deep, that the only path was the one that led to the exit door. He duly announced his resignation on Sunday morning.

The Scottish Rugby Union will now recruit a new head coach. There are some impressive candidates out there, but you wonder how many would risk their reputations on the Scotland team of today.

The end of Robinson's Murrayfield affair was cleaner than the messy events that led to his ousting from the England job six years ago, but the circumstances are similar. Then, as now, his team had been playing a brand of rugby that looked good on grass and ugly on a scoreboard.

The former England chief had been under contract until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but with Scotland having lost 10 of their last 13 matches, it was seen as right to move on.

Robinson took over the Scotland job from Frank Hadden in May 2009. The legacy included the ticking time bomb of a third-tier seeding at the 2011 World Cup, a consequence of Scotland's low world ranking towards the end of Hadden's time in charge.

No coach had ever failed to guide Scotland into the quarter-finals of the tournament, but Robinson earned that unwelcome distinction last year with losses to England and Argentina. With confidence flattened, he was at the helm this year for their first Six Nations whitewash since 2004.

A corner seemed to have been turned when they had an unbeaten summer tour, following a victory over an admittedly understrength Australia and wins against Fiji and Samoa. However, key players have failed to fire, and despite some impressive cameos they lost to New Zealand and South Africa before Tonga.

"It's been a privilege to be the head coach of Scotland," Robinson said. "I believe I have left the team in a better position than when I took over. I am very disappointed by our recent results but I have belief in the players to develop into a winning team."

Accepting his resignation, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: "Andy is an outstanding leader and a fine coach and we wish him well."

Scotland captain Kelly Brown said yesterday was "one of the worst days of my life in rugby". On Robinson, he added: "It was an honourable stance and, I suppose, an inevitable outcome after what had happened. But I feel we have let a good man down."

An experienced Test coach could replace Robinson with Nick Mallett, Jake White and Eddie O'Sullivan all potential candidates. Closer to home, Sean Lineen, the former Glasgow coach, and Bryan Redpath, recently removed from his head coach role at Sale, could come into the frame.

With the 2013 Six Nations two months away, the Union may bide their time by promoting Scott Johnson, the senior assistant coach, into a caretaker role.

Scotland never really threatened to score a try, their points coming from five penalties by Greig Laidlaw. Tonga were far sharper, claiming second-half touchdowns through Tukulua Lokotui and Fetu'u Vainikolo. It only added to the Scots' ignominy that Tonga had three players sent to the sin-bin during the game.

The Daily Telegraph, London

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