Has Andy Robinson been reading the comments sections across the internet? Nick De Luca is no longer playing at 12, and Sean Lamont is no longer on the bench, but surely no-one realistically saw this team coming.
The SRU today announced that Scotland coach Andy Robinson’s contract had been extended until 2015, which will keep him in charge of Scotland through this World Cup and the next. Which is great news for Scottish rugby, high fives all round. Shortly after that the man himself announced his team for the weekend, which follows the jump.
So. 6 Nations times rumbles round again, swept in on the back of gale force winds and predictions of glory (whatever that may actually be) from all 6 corners of the tournament. For me the tournament will be viewed from the comfort of my sofa and with only the dulcet tones of Brian Moore and Jonathan Davies to raise my blood pressure. Still, despite being ticket-less for the first time in living memory the excitement still builds as the tournament approaches.
It is rare that you can talk to someone who has’ been there and done it’. Indeed since the era of professionalism it is rare to even talk to someone regarding the inner workings of sport and get a straight answer. So when Frank Hadden starts telling you about the magic of the 6 Nations you know you have to sit up and listen. A.D. caught up with him earlier in the week.
Andy Robinson has picked a fairly interesting team for the tournament opener against France on Saturday, opting to forego the form of Rob Harley and stick Big Nathan in at openside to allow him his preferred second row of Gray and Kellock, while switching Kelly Brown to his old position of Number 8. His front row is exactly as you would expect, the match being on a Saturday and there are a few surprises in the backs as well.
Monday morning: a time to take stock.
If the answers to your bleary Monday morning questions are ‘Yes’ then congratulations: you are either a Russian Billionaire, a skilful Serb or a delusional Egyptian. You are most likely not a Scotsman.
Do not despair, though!
(now with update)
The 6 Nations are intense.
In a short period of time you have to play the very best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer in the gruelling arena of test match rugby. Training is physical. Matches are punishing. The coaches’ demands are unrelenting. So perhaps it is strange that, on a day of sightseeing in a windy Stirling, young pretender to Dan Parks’ throne Ruaridh Jackson laughs about the seriousness.
The build up to the 6N seems to have dragged on like a tangerine-tinted perjury case. In this instance, though, the end result is not a given.
The Heineken Cup is not quite over, but if your underpants have a lion rampant on them, then chances are you’ll be watching most of these pool games with mild disinterest. Watching Edinburgh to see if they could get any poorer has its own morbid attraction and tomorrow we have Chris Paterson at 10 against Dan Parks, which would be a novelty if it was on TV. Parks, Nathan Hines, Simon Danielli, Joe Ansbro, Jason White, Rory Lamont, Jack Cuthbert, Simon Taylor and Sean Lamont are to some degree still involved too and so will be playing with full effort.
But you can’t escape it.
Over the hill there, a hubbub of noise, excitement, drama, face-painting and beer is creeping ever closer, bringing the promise of spring. It’s the Six Nations.
Like a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding the 6N is sidling into view, all bright lights and funny accents.
As Andy Robinson prepares to kick off our campaign and puts the squad through its paces I will look at the squads that the opposition teams have picked and assess their strengths, weaknesses and how controversial some of their selections have been…