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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 14:48 GMT
Williams' coat on a shaky nail

By BBC's John Beattie
Former Scotland international

These are worrying times for Scottish rugby, with the green shoots of recovery still hidden beneath a bed of multi-cultural moss.

Yes, perhaps if Rory Lamont had passed the ball more swiftly as he hared up the right wing, or if his brother on the other wing had gone lower in a tackle, then Scotland might have frightened England.

But as it was the men in blue conceded seven tries at Twickenham and simple tackles were missed. It was depressing.

Scotland coach Matt Williams could do with some divine intervention

Most damagingly, it is the Australian coach Matt Williams who has become the story and there is no joy in watching him squirm.

There are striking parallels with the treatment of his former football counterpart Berti Vogts who was ridiculed prior to his departure.

Williams is a sincere and likeable man who has found himself in charge of a team that is not winning. And as every game passes he looks older and more worried as it becomes increasingly apparent that some of his players have broken ranks to tell the outside world that he is losing support.

Former internationalists, such as Andy Irvine, Iain Morrison and Doddie Weir, are now lining up to cry for his removal. And his friends become fewer. The difficulty for coaches is that ultimately they keep or lose their jobs depending on their success rate.

It is a very Scottish treatment of a foreigner who must have come to coach Scotland hoping to improve the team.

Williams' tactics do not appear to have worked
Williams' tactics do not appear to have worked

As it is, the tries-conceded and tries-scored statistics are both worse than last season. And if the only statistic that counts is the one that records the number of wins, then he has been mightily unsuccessful.

The three professional teams, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Borders struggle in Europe when compared to English, Welsh and Irish sides, which makes Williams' latest statement that the Six Nations championships is winnable in a year's time all the stranger.

There are weaknesses in the Scottish team, especially in a midfield which can't boast the likes of an O'Driscoll or a Henson, but Scottish rugby teams have always had to fight against their inadequacies and play a brand of aggressive, fast rugby to make up for it.

This current Scottish team appears, as Gregor Townsend observed, to play at its best when counter attacking or ripping up the game plan.

We have been used to addressing our off-the-field problems. Now they moved onto the pitch itself. And the clamour for Williams to depart is bordering on the deafening. When the coach becomes the story the story usually ends sharply.

Williams comes under fresh fire
20 Mar 05 |  Internationals
Williams defends battered Scots
19 Mar 05 |  Internationals

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