Scottish Rugby
Scotland turn to Johnson
ESPN Staff
December 20, 2012
Scotland coach Scott Johnson fields questions, 2015 Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw, Tate Modern, London, England, December 3, 2012
Scott Johnson will hope to lead Scotland to a better finish in the Six Nations than last year's wooden spoon © PA Photos
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Comment by ESPNscrum's Tom Hamilton

  • Johnson has now been handed the same sort of opportunity as Stuart Lancaster when he took charge of England during the 2012 Six Nations. Scotland's last match was their nadir - the loss against Tonga. And with Scotland going into the 2013 Six Nations in possession of the wooden spoon, the only way is up for Johnson and his charges.
  • He will be hopeful that he can make the same impact as Lancaster did but unlike his England counterpart, he will not be able to shape his backroom staff in the short-term as the England coach had the opportunity to. Johnson has some impressive players to call upon and despite Scotland enduring a lengthy injury list during their autumn Test series, a good number of players should be fit in time for the 2013 Six Nations.
  • Johnson is now effectively in a win-win situation. Do well in the Six Nations and against South Africa and he could well land the job while if he replicates the same sort of form that Scotland experienced during the 2012 northern hemisphere tournament and the autumn Test series, then critics can lay the blame at the previous regime's door. It should be a fascinating Six Nations from a Scotland point of view.

The Scottish Rugby Union has confirmed that Scott Johnson will lead Scotland on an interim basis for the 2013 Six Nations and their tour of South Africa in the summer.

Johnson joined the Scottish set-up in June and acted as attack coach for Andy Robinson's regime on their summer tour and during the autumn Test series. But following a woeful run of form in November, which saw them lose to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga, Robinson called time on his tenure in charge of the national side.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson previously suggested that he was looking for an interim appointment and that has now been confirmed as Johnson. The Australian has previous experience of coaching at national level having taken charge of Wales and the USA Eagles and he will look after Scotland while the SRU looks to secure a permanent successor to Robinson.

"Scott has a wealth of experience of international rugby, which was instrumental in his appointment earlier this year as our senior assistant coach," Dodson said. "He has coached with Australia, Wales and the USA and knows what it is to prepare teams to win on the international battleground.

"Scott knows our players and coaches well and is determined to hit the ground running with a successful Six Nations Championship."

Johnson's coaching team will consist of assistant coach Matt Taylor (defence) and specialists Duncan Hodge (kicking and catching) and Massimo Cuttitta (scrummaging). An interim forwards coach will also be appointed in due course.

"It's an honour to take charge of the national team for our imminent campaign," Johnson said. "I will be doing everything I can to bring the best out of our players as we all seek to achieve winning performances."

Scotland fly-half Greig Laidlaw, who was speaking before Thursday's announcement, has been impressed with Johnson's work so far. "He's a very clever coach," Laidlaw told BBC Scotland. "In the modern game he's probably one of the best coaches I've ever worked with.

"He's laid back off the pitch but very intense on the training field. I believe that we have good players in Scotland. Hopefully, we can get it right and take the next step. With a new coach, he can refresh everybody and go from there."

And Laidlaw's sentiments were echoed by Test winger Tim Visser. "He's very technical and hands-on. He's been brilliant ever since he joined. He's a very honest guy. He'll give you straight answers to your questions. He knows the environment and he knows what he can get out of the players. I've learned a lot from him already; little details that are very important for international rugby."

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