Denton backs under-fire Robinson
March 18, 2012
Andy Robinson's future is uncertain after picking up the wooden spoon © Getty Images
Scotland No.8 David Denton has backed under-fire boss Andy Robinson to turn the beleaguered side around after a hugely disappointing Six Nations campaign ended with the wooden spoon.
A 13-6 defeat at the hands of Italy in Rome on Saturday left the Scots win-less for the first time since 2004 and their losing run now extends to seven games dating back to their agonising loss to Argentina at last year's Rugby World Cup.
The Scots' worst run of results since 1998 has increased the pressure on coach Andy Robinson who is under contract until the 2015 World Cup. The 47-year-old former England coach, who has now overseen just two victories in 15 Six Nations matches, refused to be drawn on his future in the wake of his side's latest loss other than confirm that a review was scheduled with Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson.
Denton, along with the likes of Richie Gray, Ross Rennie, Greig Laidlaw, Stuart Hogg and Lee Jones, emerged from what proved to be a fruitless campaign with a certain amount of credit and is convinced that Robinson has the side on the right track. "We all hope he'll stay," he said. "I think we can build something special under him, with the group we've got. I think we can be a force to be reckoned with."
Robinson has already begun a coaching overhaul and the Rome loss was the last match for defence coach Graham Steadman and attack specialist Gregor Townsend. Scott Johnson is set to join as senior assistant coach and Matt Taylor as defence coach with their recent appointments seemingly a sign that Robinson retains the support of his union.
Denton, who who started all five Six Nations games, added: "It's been a disappointing tournament for us and you could see that in the boys. We've put everything in, but we're going to be judged on results.
"We've got a lot of belief in ourselves. This has been the steepest learning curve I've ever experienced in my life and I think a lot of the other younger boys would say that. There's no doubt the talent that we have and we know we can take it forward."
Scotland's travails can be traced back to the opening loss to England when Robinson's men dominated but demonstrated familiar failings. Individual errors contributed to Scotland's downfall in Cardiff, against France and in Dublin before a disjointed display at the Stadio Olimpico yesterday.
Denton believes Scotland could - and should - have won the opening three games and that the Championship could have had a markedly different result. He added: "The first three games were tough. We were right in the game in all three. The English game we should've won, the French game we should've won, the Welsh game - if we had 15 men on the field - we would've won. It's really tough. I think it's just we need to learn what to do in those last minutes of the game when it's close."
Mike Blair, the most experienced member of the squad with 81 caps, struggled to find the positives of the loss in the Eternal City but agreed with Denton over the potential for future progress. The scrum-half said: "It's hard to reflect on exactly what it was that went wrong. It's just that feeling of disappointment in letting ourselves down first and foremost and letting down the supporters. The guys are absolutely gutted and we'll have to continue to work hard and make that breakthrough.
"We've seen positive things. We've got building blocks to work with, but this (against Italy) wasn't good enough. We don't turn up every week to lose. We turn up with a lot of spirit, a lot of talent and we need to trust that, keep working at it and look for that breakthrough."
Fly-half Laidlaw cut a dejected figure and believes the failure to start well in the championship contributed to the downward spiral of results. Laidlaw said: "Momentum's key. We still had a chance to win big games and we didn't do that. It's probably the lowest I've ever felt coming off a rugby field. It's just disappointing. We've let each other down, the jersey down and everybody back at home."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Bows, bouts and big hits, launches, lineouts and late tries. Here's the finest snaps from the last seven days: it's Week in Pictures time
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview