Scotland boss Robinson lets players do the talking

Andy Robinson has told his Scotland players to do their talking on the pitch in Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener with champions England at Murrayfield.

Robinson stoked the fires ahead of the annual Calcutta Cup showdown by labelling some members of the England squad “arrogant” for their behaviour in the aftermath of his side’s loss in Auckland, which saw Scotland eliminated from the Rugby World Cup in October.

The former England boss insists he merely responded with “an honest answer” to questions and now, entering his third Six Nations as Scotland head coach, he hopes his team can take their honesty onto the field and extend England’s winless record in Edinburgh. Their last victory there was in 2004, when Robinson was England assistant coach, to Clive Woodward.

Said Robinson: “I don’t think I’ve stirred the pot that much. I was asked a question and I gave an honest answer. What has to be recognised is it was only a handful of the squad I was talking about and not the whole squad.

“I think the other aspect that needs to be understood is that, in my opinion, no coach has ever won or lost a game of rugby — it’s about the players that go out and take to the field and the way they go out and perform.

“We’re going to be asked serious questions in this game and we’ve got to be able to come up with the answers.”

At Eden Park on October 1, Scotland, having lost to a last-gasp Argentina try the previous week, needed to win and deny England a bonus point to advance to the knockout stages. However, in chasing the decisive eight-point margin, they conceded a late Chris Ashton try which sealed a 16-12 success for England.

England are seeking redemption after their ill-fated campaign in New Zealand, but Robinson would not be drawn on the impact of interim head coach Stuart Lancaster’s apparently authoritarian regime.

“He’s done what he’s had to do,” Robinson said.

Scotland, too, must improve on their first failure to reach the World Cup knockout stages and fifth-placed finishes in the last two Six Nations.

Robinson has regularly stated the need to turn narrow defeats into victories, while he has previously described his record of two wins and a draw in 10 Six Nations matches as Scotland head coach as “unacceptable”.

He is confident he has selected a team for Saturday’s match which can extend England’s winless run in Edinburgh beyond eight years and can boost his Six Nations record.

Robinson has selected wing Lee Jones for his debut in a side showing eight changes from the one which began the last Test in Auckland. Also promoted to the starting line-up are lock Jim Hamilton, flanker Ross Rennie, number eight David Denton, scrum-half Chris Cusiter, fly-half Dan Parks, centre Nick De Luca and full-back Rory Lamont.

Jones and Edinburgh team-mate Denton are the only members of the starting XV who did not travel to the World Cup in New Zealand. Rennie has been selected ahead of John Barclay, while another key selection is that of Parks, who has 66 caps and has been chosen in place of the injured Ruaridh Jackson.

Jones has been rewarded for his clinical finishing which has helped Edinburgh advance to the Heineken Cup knockout stages.

The 23-year-old said: “The three tries in the Heineken Cup have been a personal highlight for me and hopefully I can take that into my Scotland form.”

SCOTLAND: R Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); L Jones (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Scarlets), M Evans (Castres); D Parks (Cardiff Blues), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (capt, Edinburgh), E Murray (Newcastle), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), J Hamilton (Gloucester), A Strokosch (Gloucester), R Rennie (Edinburgh), D Denton (Edinburgh).

Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), G Cross (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), M Blair (Edinburgh), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors).

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