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'It's the right time to go . . . it became a bit like a perfect storm'

Andy Robinson blamed a "perfect storm" of events for forcing him from his post as Scotland's head coach yesterday, but there was none of the bitterness that marked his departure years ago from the same post with his native England.

Andy Robinson
Andy Robinson

Speaking to Herald Sport shortly after it had been revealed that he had decided to leave, the man in whose prowess so much hope and resource had been invested by successive SRU regimes spoke warmly about Scottish rugby and offered to return to face scrutiny once emotions have calmed.

"It's the right time to go," he said, conceding that Saturday's 21-15 defeat by Tonga at Pittodrie had been unacceptable on a variety of levels. "I'm sat watching the game and my frustration was coming through, so it's definitely the right decision.

"I've really enjoyed working with the players and coaches and I've got a lot of respect for Scottish rugby. I'm hopefully going to come and do a press conference next week because I want to address [the media]. I've addressed the players today and I've addressed the management. I'm pretty clear, and have been for the last three matches, about what we've needed to do. We've just not been able to execute it."

While Robinson signed a long-term deal last year, just before embarking on a run that has produced only four wins in the last 15 matches, it is understood he will not be paid in full for the remainder of his contract. That is in spite of the fact Robinson was clearly put under pressure to go, with yesterday's statement from the SRU containing thanks from Mark Dodson, its chief executive, for his efforts, but also the message: "Following the sequence of recent results during the EMC Autumn Tests a change in Head Coach is required to take the team forward and build towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015."

The men had met following the defeat but it was typical of Robinson that he still sought yesterday to focus on the match itself and the reasons his team lost. "The effort was there, we didn't control the scoreboard and it became a bit like a perfect storm," he said. "You've got Tonga getting their dander up, a small pitch so they're able to stay in the game, then they get a couple of chances and take them, and you've also got a young referee who dished out a lot of penalties, but it broke up the game so that it became disjointed."

His main concern was Scotland's inability to finish, something that has become a familiar refrain. He would not, though, accept that it is simply that the players are not good enough. "I'm not going to say that," he said. "We have the talent there, but we've got to get all the players playing well at the same time; that's the key element. I think five or six players played well against New Zealand, five or six against South Africa, but you want 12 or 13 guys playing well together and playing consistently well."

Nor would he accept that the argument that he is a better coach than a manager has been proven. "I've really enjoyed working with the players and the management. In terms of the management of the squad I was pleased with it.

"From my side it's about finishing off games. If you get into a winning position against Argentina, you've got to win the game. If you get into a winning position against Wales in 2010, you've got to win the game. It's our [lack of] ability to finish things off that really counted against us, but there's a lot of if-onlys in sport and we didn't achieve," he said.

He also made it clear that he is keen to return to the sport as soon as possible. "The big thing I enjoy is coaching, so I'm looking forward to having a month or two away and then getting back into coaching. It's great working with players," said Robinson.

In considering where it went wrong, however, Robinson may in time come to reflect on whether he should have shown, in rugby terms, the same sort of loyalty to Al Kellock, that the man he appointed his World Cup captain showed him on Saturday.

After Scotland's first loss at Pittodrie, completing a calendar without a home win for the first time since 1998 and including a Six Nations "whitewash", the man who was effectively deposed as captain after last year's World Cup opener against Romania defended Robinson.

"We work incredibly hard to get the opportunity to play and we let ourselves, supporters and the coaches down," Kellock said. "It is very difficult to speak for all the squad but for me [Robinson taking the blame] would not be good, absolutely not. The coaches weren't on that park, we were. We had control for large parts of the game and should have scored points."

That, as Robinson alluded to, has been the case too often, however and the task of identifying a new head coach is officially under way.

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