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Magners League gives Scotland real hope

Guinness PRO12 Editor

11 Feb 2010

If the Magners League is anything to go by then Scotland should be able to improve on a disappointing start to their 2010 Six Nations campaign.

Andy Robinson’s men kicked off the continent’s most-talked about tournament with an 18-9 defeat at home to France.

But with both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh flying high in Celtic competition, the Scotland squad is still brimming with confidence and that can only be a good thing for Scottish rugby as a whole.

The Warriors currently top the Magners League standings, while their capital city rivals are just three points behind in third place.

Both sides have beaten reigning Magners League Champions Munster and both have won at Ulster’s daunting home venue of Ravenhill.

Sean Lineen and Rob Moffat, the head coaches at Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively, are breeding a winning mentality among their players – a ‘we can beat anyone, anywhere’ attitude that is already rubbing off on the national side.

That’s certainly the view of Scotland head coach Robinson, who experienced Magners League rugby first hand during two highly successful seasons with Edinburgh between 2007 and 2009.

“The Magners League is developing into a really good tournament. With 10 teams I think it is ideal and it is certainly preparing the Scottish players well for the international stage,” said Robinson, who led Edinburgh to fourth and second-place finishes during his time in the Magners League.

“There has definitely been an improvement in the quality of the league in recent seasons – I saw that when I was involved with Edinburgh – and it is getting stronger and stronger.

“Both Edinburgh and Glasgow have won in Wales this season and Glasgow got the Munster monkey off their backs by beating them for the first time earlier in the season.

“The introduction of the Play-Offs and Grand Final are great ideas and will mean the league really comes alive after the Six Nations. The two Scottish sides are doing really well in the regular league so far and I think both can go on and make the semi-finals and either one of them could win the title for the first time.

“What you have to remember is that it is still a young entity and it is continuing to develop. It is a much better development ground for the Scottish players now than it may have been in the past.”

Robinson isn’t the only one convinced that Magners League rugby is playing a leading role in moving Scottish rugby onwards and upwards.

Those sentiments are echoed by Edinburgh and Scotland centre Nick de Luca, a player hoping for a big five months with club and country.

The 26-year-old stresses that being part of a successful environment week-in, week-out gives him and his international team-mates a greater chance of achieving their potential when it comes to Test rugby.

Winning once in a while is easily done but winning regularly is what professional rugby is all about.

“I think the secret’s just been getting that consistency. We’ve always been capable of getting victories and performing well with Edinburgh but we’re now more consistent and we’re performing a lot better overall,” explained de Luca.

“A lot of the guys come into the Scotland squad from successful clubs. Glasgow are doing really well in the Magners League just now.

“They want to put us under pressure and be the top Scottish side and that’s also great for us because we want the same and that means there’s a great competition within Scotland as well as within the Magners League.

“There is a lot of confidence. Winning is a habit. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow started well in the league and then you have faith in the squad to stay up there and keep nicking victories.

“Going into big competitions, against international players, you know you can live with them and you know you can get these tight victories.”