Rugby-Scotland "poor little boys on the block" says new coach

LONDON Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:27pm GMT

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LONDON Jan 23 (Reuters) - Scotland resume the world's oldest rugby union rivalry in their Calcutta Cup clash with England on the opening day of the Six Nations championship on Feb. 2 with a new coach and zero expectations on either side of the border.

The Scots, who finished bottom of the table last year, have not won at Twickenham for 30 years and while England concluded their November international campaign with a resounding win over world champions New Zealand, Scotland were defeated by Tonga.

Coach Andy Robinson, realising his position was untenable, resigned on the evening of the Tonga defeat to be replaced by Australian Scott Johnson, who has had previous stints with Wales and the United States.

At the official Six Nations launch in London on Wednesday, Johnson demonstrated a colourful turn of phrase and what is probably a necessary relish for the role of underdog.

"We're a bit of an unknown quality really, I think they're not sure what we're about, we're the new kid on the block," he told reporters.

"In fact it's a good thing for us. We're the poor little boys on the block so we're happy to go in as the poor little boys on the block."

Johnson, 50, has been appointed as interim head coach and will examine his options at the end of the tournament. He faces a daunting task with a schedule starting at Twickenham and finishing at the Stade de France against championship favourites France.

Understandably Johnson refused to be drawn on his strategy for the England match or say what the Scots had been working on in training.

"You really think I'm going to tell you the truth?" he said.

"You really think that. The hairstyle, how about that? That's what I'm working on, the hairstyle."

He did, though, point out some good phases in the November matches against the All Blacks and the 2007 world champions South Africa, even though the Scots lost both games.

"We didn't get the result we wanted against Tonga but also the world order is probably changing," he said. "These Polynesian sides are now quality rugby teams." (Editing by Tom Pilcher)

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