Scottish Rugby
Robinson targets ranking improvement
ESPN Staff
September 15, 2012
Scotland coach Andy Robinson, Scotland training session, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 24, 2012
Andy Robinson led his side to three wins from three in June © PA Photos
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Scotland boss Andy Robinson has targeted a couple of upsets in their autumn Test schedule with a view to improving their IRB ranking and forcing their way into the top eight.

The draw for the 2015 World Cup will happen in early December and sides in the top eight will get a more favourable than the teams ranked from nine downwards. In the 2011 World Cup Scotland were bracketed with the third tier nations and were drawn in a group alongside England and Argentina. This is something that Robinson wants to avoid and with matches against Tonga, South Africa and New Zealand pencilled in for November, the Scotland boss wants his side to build on their wins in June and claim the scalp of a southern hemisphere giant.

Scotland won three from three back in June with wins over Australia, Fiji and Samoa and returned to the northern hemisphere the only unbeaten side of the home nations. This was a far cry from their wooden spoon return for the 2012 Six Nations and Robinson wants more improvement come November.

"We're looking forward to challenging ourselves against the very best," Robinson said. "We get back together at the end of October and as a group I'm looking forward to building on the successes that we had in the summer.

"They're the right challenges to see if we can make the progress and build on the progress that we had in the summer tour. These games matter. They are Test matches where we pit ourselves against some of the best players in the world and it's always been part of my psyche, whether as a player or a coach, to test yourself against the best and strive to win.

"They also matter because we want to continue our improvement in the IRB world rankings as that will affect the draw for the Rugby World Cup."

While the Scots have beaten South Africa in the past - they won a memorable match 21-17 back in 2010 - they have never defeated the All Blacks. The Kiwis are currently the undisputed number one side in the world and Robinson is relishing trying his hand against them.

"I love watching New Zealand play," Robinson said. "They're right on the edge throughout the game, pressurising the opposition and the referee. International sport is about putting the opposition under as much pressure as possible because you get points from that.

"So they're great at being able to accumulate points, but it was enjoyable seeing the way Argentina stood up to them for 50 minutes. That was really pleasing for us because it helps us think about our tactics when we play against them."

But Scotland will go into the three Tests without a few of their players who are ruled out due to injury. One of these is Rob Harley who has suffered a knee injury and Joe Ansbro will also sit out the games due to a broken neck. But despite this, Robinson is adamant that his squad can cope with the rigors of the Test schedule.

"In this contact sport you're going to pick up injuries, and it's the same for every coach in sport, and you have to be able to handle that," Robinson told the Scotsman. "For Rob, it's a disappointment for him to pick up an injury, particularly in a team run, but he will recover from that and have a part to play later in the season.

"It has to be seen as an opportunity for other players. If we think about the summer tour, Kelly Brown was not fit to go on tour and Alasdair Strokosch took his opportunity and did very, very well, and that puts pressure now on Kelly to perform. That's exactly what you want because we now have competition for places and my selection is always based around previous form of players and the form at the moment. So that will raise the performance levels of players around them."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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