Rugby Union: Time for Bowring to deliver results

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The Independent Online
Kevin Bowring has yet to receive a vote of no confidence from his employers at Cardiff Arms Park, so the Welsh coach's job looks more secure than most at the moment.

That cosy situation is likely to change if Wales come unstuck in Edinburgh today: a sixth successive defeat in Scotland will intensify the clamour for another cull of the Red Dragons' top brass. Bowring yesterday was quick to dispel any notion that he might be under more pressure than usual: "I've signed a four-year contract that takes me through to 1999."

There is a growing feeling in Welsh circles that he needs a minimum 50 per cent return from this season's Five Nations if he is to survive. The opener at Murrayfield represents a golden opportunity for the Welsh to bring to an end a barren run away from home. They have won twice in Dublin in the 1990s, but have not won at Twickenham since 1988, at Murrayfield since 1985 or in Paris since 1975. The rank and file supporters are unusually optimistic this season, thanks to the return of Scott Gibbs, Allan Bateman, David Young, Scott Quinnell and Jonathan Davies from rugby league.

Bowring knows he has to deliver quickly. "We have made steady progress over the last year or so by playing the top sides in the world and learning something from each defeat. But that is no longer enough; it is now vital that we produce results."

Bowring has found success an elusive commodity since taking over as coach 14 months ago: a record of five wins in 13 Tests - two of them against Italy, one over the United States and another against an under-strength Barbarians mish-mash - leaves him badly exposed. If the bookmakers have it right - Ladbrokes were quoting Wales as 11-8 outsiders yesterday with the Scots at 4-7 - that vote of confidence may not be long in coming.

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