Friday, 5 February 2010

Six Nations Top Trumps: Scotland

“We are in control of our destiny. We control whether we win or lose. If we attack well and control the scoreboard and then defend well, we’ll win the game. It’s down to us. It’s not about the opposition. It’s not about the referee. It’s about what we do." said Scotland head coach Andy Robinson.

Robinson, the first English man to coach Scotland's national rugby squad, has successfully moved on from his disastrous tenure as England coach and has picked up the reins north of the border.  Eyebrows were raised when Robinson landed the job, but after Scotland's 9-8 win over Australia at Murrayfield in November, a narrow 9-6 defeat by Argentina and a 23-10 victory over Fiji, there were reasons to be cheerful.  With less players to pick from, Robinson's chances of making any selection howlers (see Jamie Noon and Mike Tindall) are limited, and after licking his wounds and rebuilding his reputation slowly but surely as Head Coach of Edinburgh, Robinson is once again in the international spotlight.

So how will Robinson's Scotland side fare in this year's Six Nations?  Here is what I think:

Scrum: 61/100.
The forwards have to perform against the might of the French and Welsh scrums in particular.  If Scotland are to stand any chance of climbing out of the bottom half of the table this year then their tight five have to create a decent platform.  British and Irish Lion Euan Murray will miss the opening game against France as he no longer plays on Sundays due to his religious beliefs.

Line-Out: 65/100.
Lions hooker Ross Ford has Nathan Hines and Alastair Kellock to aim at in the line out.  Not bad.  Scotland need to win all their set piece, especially as their back line isn't as dazzling as the other nations.  Well, with the exception of Italy.

Strong defence won the day in Scotland's brilliant victory over Australia. It was a low scoring game but it was far from dull.  Scotland poured their heart and soul into the game and repeatedly put their bodies on the line.  If they can do this in the Six Nations then they won't be a simple walk over for their competitors.

Attacking Flair: 62/100.
Thom and Max Evans and Sean Lamont are the main attacking threats in the Scottish backline.  Chris Paterson isn't exactly brimming with flair, but he is a solid presence at full back and has a good boot which will help gain territory.  Captain Chris Cusiter is a nippy scrum-half who loves to break the line.

Stadium: 67/100.
Murrayfield.  Capacity 67,500.

Snore Factor: 45/100.
Scotland don't have the world famous stars or the flair and flamboyance of other teams, but under the influence of coach Andy Robinson they have demonstrated guts and firm belief in their abilities.  With belief comes the confidence to try things, and this will make for entertaining rugby.

Phwoargh factor:  78/100.
Chris Cusiter is a curly haired cutie and a big favourite of mine.  Thom and Max Evans and Hugo Southwell all starred in this year's Dieux Du Stade calendar and showed off their six packs (amongst other things).  All very easy on the eye as I'm sure all the ladies will agree.

Scandal Potential: 20/100.
Erm, I can't think of anything really.  It will be a massive result if they can turn over France in their opening game, but I wouldn't call it a scandal.

As for the standings:

Last year: 5th.
Prediction for this year: 5th.

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