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Fans with laptops: Scotland must look to New Zealand model

The hunt is now on for a successor to Andy Robinson as Scotland's head rugby coach.

The consensus appears to be that he strove manfully in the 40 or so months that he has been at the helm but in the end didn't produce the results – and its results that count.

The Scotland team has not turned hard work on the training field into positive results on matchday but, to be honest, when it comes down to it, it's up to the players and that hasn't happened; at least not with acceptable consistency. Maybe it's a case of you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I have a suggestion to make so far as a possible long-term remedy is concerned but bear with me a moment. I lived for many years in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. For decades, Rhodesia had a national side to be proud of and participated in the annual South African inter-provincial competition, the Currie Cup.

Rhodesia had a far smaller rugby-playing population than Scotland but the national team not only acquitted themselves with distinction, but supplied a good number of men who won Springbok caps – Andy MacDonald, Des Van Varsveldt, Ronnie Hill and Ian Robertson to name but a few.

Where Rhodesian rugby benefited enormously was participation in the annual Craven Week – an annual rugby camp for schoolboys who showed talent and an aptitude for the game. During the week the boys would play in a round robin of matches while being coached and guided by the best rugby brains in southern Africa. The result was that expertise in the basic skills of the game, not to mention enthusiasm for the sport, was enhanced immensely throughout the sub-continent.

I'm not going to get into an argument about how we are going to turn around the current woeful state of affairs, that's up to Robinson's successors and the very best of luck to them. I think we should start looking to the future in order to put Scottish rugby on a par with the best; and that means looking to New Zealand.

I would suggest that we must look to the antipodeans to find out not only how to improve our game but what it takes to win matches. I think the powers that be should come to some sort of agreement with the New Zealand Rugby Union for a squad of our aspiring youngsters to spend their holidays at an annual rugby camp in New Zealand playing with and against their peers so that they might experience and acquire the verve, tenacity and sheer joy of not only playing good rugby, but also winning.

Harry Naismith, by email

I am truly sorry to see Andy Robinson go and he will be sorely missed. It will be hard to attract a better man as the material his replacement will have to work with is sadly and realistically uncompetitive.

Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Tonga, and Samoa (AFITS) will progress – all have the population and/or the physicality in the forwards and the elusive speed in the backs which we seem unable and unlikely to match in the long term.

New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France and England all have the racial diversity to cope with the brutality of the contact area, and should have the inherent skills to cope with the AFITS. Wales and the Irish will compete sporadically, but we're doomed to be in the middle of the third tier of Test rugby, at best.

This original debenture holder will keep taking the Saltire pills, but I'm afraid that the occasional Test victory is the best we can hope for unless the population genes are radically altered.

J Neil Young, Glasgow

I refer to the front page headline of November 26 [End of the road for Robinson]. His resignation comes at the end of a poor sequence of results for the Scottish rugby team. To be beaten by Tonga brought matters to a new low. This, of course, followed on from the unsatisfactory performances of the Scottish football team and the going of its manager, Craig Levein.

Events over the last decade or so appear to confirm that we are no longer contenders at major international team sports. While other countries that were previously viewed as taking part to make up the numbers, have been making progress, we in Scotland seem to have stood still, if not regressed.

We should not allow ourselves to be persuaded into accepting arguments that Scotland is a small country with a population to match and, as a result, our ambitions should be pitched lower to avoid disappointment. One just has to look at the success of New Zealand at rugby and the Netherlands at football.

Senior citizens are for ever being criticised for talking about "the good old days" and how things were once so much better. However, concerning major team sports, the more mature among us do have some substance in holding such views.

Will we ever see the likes in our football again of Denis Law, Jim Baxter, Jimmy Johnstone or Kenny Dalglish? With regard to rugby where are the new Hastings brothers, the David Soles, the Roy Laidlaws?

It now looks as if we've reached the point where we will have to resign ourselves to "also ran" status in major team sports and take pride and solace from the fact that we're now only capable of being competitive and successful at sports for individuals.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie

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