Johnson comes under fire

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 19:16
Large scott johnson puzzled Large scott johnson scotland look Large kelly brown   scott johnson

Scotland great Finlay Calder said on Tuesday he had "no faith" in the coaching regime of Scott Johnson following the team's woeful start to the Six Nations.

Scotland great Finlay Calder said on Tuesday he had "no faith" in the coaching regime of Scott Johnson following the team's woeful start to the Six Nations.

Saturday's 0-20 Calcutta Cup defeat by England in Edinburgh followed an almost as comprehensive a loss to Ireland, with Scotland conceding 48 points in total in their opening two games and scoring just six in reply.

Australian coach Johnson, Scotland's 'interim' boss ahead of the arrival of New Zealand's Vern Cotter at the end of the season, has faced a torrent of criticism since last weekend's Murrayfield mauling.

Former flank Calder, who captained the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia in 1989, was particularly scathing, saying Johnson's decision to drop captain Kelly Brown for the Calcutta Cup clash was one of several baffling decisions.

"I have no faith in the coaches," Calder told the Daily Mail.

"The dropping of Kelly Brown beggars belief, to take off our team's best performer [No.8] David Denton with half an hour to go was incomprehensible and to send two front row players out for the start of the second half then hook [replace] them after three minutes doesn't make sense.

"The team needs consistency in selection," added Calder, a member of Scotland's 1990 Grand Slam side.

Calder said there were fundamental problems that Scottish rugby, which boasts just two professional teams in Glasgow and Edinburgh, needed to address.

"It is not about whether we can turn it round in the next three games, we need to start thinking about the next 10 years," said the 56-year-old, who won 34 Scotland caps and three for the Lions.

"We have to harbour our meagre playing and financial resources better, so I would bin the Sevens squad as soon as the Commonwealth Games [in Glasgow in July and August] are out the way because it is doing nothing for developing young, professional players - which is supposed to be its core function."

And with uncertainty surrounding the future of both the Celtic League and European Cup, Calder said a player exodus to wealthy clubs in England and France was something Scotland would have to face.

"We have to accept where we are and what we can afford. If that means all of our best players go to England and France for big wages, then so be it.

"We have the IRB [International Rugby Board] guidelines there to ensure that they are still available for Scotland."

Immediate attention has focused on Scotland's next Six Nations match, away to Italy in Rome on February 22.

Italy too have lost both their opening fixtures but, unlike Scotland, they have at least scored tries, with the Scots' managing a mere two Greig Laidlaw penalties against Ireland.

Former Scotland and Lions coach Ian McGeechan admitted Monday the whitewash defeat by England had been "very painful".

"We didn't look as though we were going to score, never mind win," he said. "Italy now is certainly a very big game, without a doubt."

AFP

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