Six Nations | Rugby
Andrew Robinson previews Scotland’s (ahem) chances in this season’s tournament
It seems that Scottish rugby and football have a lot in common at the moment. Both teams have been struggling to make their mark on the international game and have decided a new coach is the remedy.
Scott Johnson has taken over from Andy Robinson at Murrayfield, while Gordon Strachan could be the man to put the Tartan Army back where they were in the football arena – plucky underdogs, rather than whipping boys for the likes of Wales, Macedonia or the US.
Six Nations History
While Scotland had a proud history in the Home Nations and Five Nations – as the tournament was formerly known – recent times have been lean, and the trophy cabinet at Murrayfield is as empty as the one at the Emirates.
Scotland’s last tournament win came in 1999, when the event was still the Five Nations. Since then they have been out of the race for the trophy and had to console themselves with wins over England in 2000, 2006 and 2008.
They have picked up the wooden spoon three times since 2000, which means that minnow Italy finished above them on each of these occasions.
Scotland sit 12th in world, behind the likes of Tonga, Samoa and Italy, which is down in the most part to their recent form. In the autumn internationals they were thumped by New Zealand and South Africa, which can happen to anyone.
But the worse was still to come, as they fell to a 21-15 loss to Tonga at Pittodrie. The result saw Robinson lose his job and Johnson come in to try and turn around their fortunes.
Scotland’s new-look squad and their performance this year will hinge on how they fair this weekend against the old enemy at Twickenham. The hosts are huge favourites for the match, but England/Scotland games are always hard fought.
Johnson’s side are 8/1 with Paddy Power to pull off an upset and derail England’s Six Nations chances at the first stop.
Another key encounter will be the home clash with Italy, a game which could decide the destination of the wooden spoon this year. Scotland have been embarrassed at home by the Italians before and won’t want to see a repeat this time around.
Players to watch
In the backs, Scotland have a number of youngsters looking to make an impression, with the likes of Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland both keen to build on their successful early international experience.
Hogg was a bright spot in last year’s Six Nations and his jinking running style is similar to George Best, which is no surprise as the pair are distant relations. Maitland is set to start against England and he showed in a recent spell in Super Rugby that he can mix it with the big boys
In the forwards, Richie Gray is definitely one to watch. He’s easy to spot with his mane of blond hair and if he has a good tournament he’s a shoe-in to get himself in the Lions squad.
Scotland’s Latest Six Nations betting odds with Paddy Power
Unfortunately, Scotland seem more likely for a basement battle than a title charge this year. They are 3/1 second favourites with Paddy Power to finish bottom and 33/1 to lift the Six Nations trophy.
- Betting: Six Nations 2013
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