Robinson bites back in roof row
February 11, 2010
Andy Robinson wants to be outdoors come Saturday © PA Photos
Scotland boss Andy Robinson has hit back at Wales counterpart Warren Gatland in the escalating row over the closing of the Millenium Stadium roof for Scotland's Six Nations clash with Wales.
Gatland had lashed out at Robinson's request that the roof be left open - and both coaches must agree if it is to be closed - claiming that Scotland want to let rain pour into the arena to assist a conservative kicking game.
But Robinson has defended his decision to exert his right to have an open-air environment, which he claimed is as much about denying Wales the added advantage of a louder home atmosphere as it was about weather conditions.
Gatland accused Robinson of abdicating his "responsibility" to ensure the match is as much of a spectacle as possible but Robinson was having none of it, saying: "The rules state that if we want to have the roof open then we can have that.
"I think it's an advantage to Wales playing with the roof closed because they're used to doing it in front of their home support. We're used to playing not under those conditions. We want the roof open. All the other games are played without a roof. This is the only place where you can have a roof. We are abiding by the rules, we've made the request, let's deal with it."
Captain Chris Cusiter denied the visitors' stance meant they were praying for rain this weekend.
"If you look at the style of game that Scotland want to play then it wouldn't make sense if we want wet conditions," Cusiter said. "I think we just want a natural atmosphere to play in. Personally, I'm not bothered if the roof is open or closed. If Andy's made that choice then that's up to him."
Robinson has already admitted he wants to play a more territorial game this weekend after Scotland were completely dominated in that area during Sunday's opening defeat to France. Ending the big-kicking Dan Parks' 14-month international exile is obviously designed at doing just that.
But Cusiter - Parks' Glasgow team-mate - echoed his head coach's assertion that Scotland will not simply try to bore the life out of Wales on Saturday.
"We don't have the same game plan as last week, that's for sure," he said. "You'll see a few differences. But we still want to go out and attack and score tries and our focus hasn't changed from that."
Cusiter believes the much-maligned Parks, who has enjoyed something of a renaissance this season, has overcome the on- and off-field problems that dogged him last year.
"He's been playing really well for Glasgow," Cusiter said of the man who has inspired the Warriors' push to the top of the Magners League. "He's scored a lot of points for us from his boot in the Magners League. This is the Six Nations and it's a step up. He thoroughly deserves his opportunity, it's up to him to perform and I'm quite sure he will."
Cusiter, 27, and Parks, 31, made their Test debuts in this fixture back in 2004.
"We've both come a long way since then," Cusiter said. "It was a good six years ago and we've both got a lot more experience under our belts. To be starting a game is always brilliant for Scotland and it's a real privilege to be playing down at the Millennium Stadium."
Recalling the first of his 48 caps, Cusiter said: "It was a huge day for myself. My family were down watching and it was a lifetime's ambition come true. It's a great memory but I've never won at that stadium, so that's something which I'd love to put right this weekend."
Cusiter revealed this week's debrief from the France game had been suitably frank.
"We had a good, honest session and we attempted to identify what had gone wrong and move on from that," he said. "We're going to Wales, different team, different tactics, and we've been working hard this week to put things right. You don't get many opportunities in the Six Nations and we've got to do our best in every one."