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Strength in depth raising Scottish standards

Guinness PRO12 Editor

27 Jan 2010

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson says the increasing strength in depth in the country is aiding the progress of the national side.

Robinson took over from Frank Hadden last year and has already led the Scots to an historic win over Australia – the nation’s first since 1982.

And with both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh flying high in the Magners League, it is easy to see why there is a real feel-good factor in Scottish rugby at the moment.

Both Magners League leaders Glasgow and third-placed Edinburgh include a majority of Scottish-registered players in their matchday 22s, with both clubs also blooding a number of young, highly-rated Scots determined to make the step up to the national team.

"What we have at the moment is competition for places and that was borne out on Tuesday with a training session that was very lively,” said Robinson when discussing the pre-Six Nations training camp currently taking place in St Andrew’s. 

"There are guys that are really pushing to be in that starting XV. That is what raises the standards. 

"The preparation over the next two weeks is not about wrapping guys in cotton wool, it is about preparing to perform in an international game that is going to be very physical, very intimidating and will put the guys under massive pressure. 

"That is the way we are training at times, putting everybody under pressure so we can make decisions in that environment.”

And with preparations clearly going to plan ahead of their tournament opener against France on Sunday, February 7, Robinson is optimistic that his side can improve on last season’s fifth-place showing.

The former England boss has told his players he is looking for a repeat of that memorable November triumph over the Wallabies – the kind of victory that has a positive impact on the Scottish nation as a whole. 

"This is a warrior sport and you are searching for the toughest competitors that will put their bodies on the line. You saw that after the Australia game,” added Robinson.

"We want Murrayfield to be an intimidating place to play. The guys understand what it means. The courage they showed that day in putting their bodies on the line was fantastic. 

“The players, in winning the game 9-8, inspired the nation. 

"The important thing for us is to focus on the first game against France. In the last couple of years we have lost that first game and we need to get a foothold in the tournament. 

"It is also about putting back-to-back wins together and that means winning away from home.”