x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Scotland rugby is not a complete renovation job

On paper it looks like Scott Johnson has to change the fundamental structure of the team but recent results do not indicate how close those defeats are.

So Scott Johnson is the lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, coach who has been charged with the task of making Scotland competitive in the Six Nations next year.

The Australian, who joined the previous incumbent Andy Robinson's staff in the summer, has a nice, easy first game to ease himself into the role in the shape of England on February 2 at Twickenham – a location the Scots last tasted victory in 1983.

On paper, it would be easy to argue Johnson does not have much to do to improve on Robinson, whose record in the Six Nations, saw 12 defeats in three seasons, with only two wins.

But if you look beyond the results, Scotland were arguably better than the harshness of the final scores they were on the receiving end of. Unfortunately rugby is a results business, like any sport, and you don't get bonus points for a good display in a loss.

Robinson's Scotland were summed up at the Rugby World Cup last year. They were terrific against both England and Argentina for the first 65 minutes, before falling away and losing.

Robinson's resignation after the Tonga defeat last month was a personal knee-jerk reaction to a poor loss. Scotland had improved under him - you do not win in Argentina and Australia without having something about you.

If Scotland start winning under Johnson, it will not be an amazing change - the progress has been coming for quite some time.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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