Rugby Union: `Total embarrassment' for Robinson

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The Independent Online
THE UNIMAGINABLE happened here yesterday. People were beginning to feel sorry for a club that had set the benchmark for English rugby.

Andy Robinson, the beleaguered Bath coach, was rendered almost speechless by the heaviest defeat in the club's history.

"That," Robinson said, "was a total embarrassment. I'm embarrassed to be the coach of Bath. We were totally out-muscled and out-thought. The hits were much harder from Wasps. We missed tackles and there was a lack of ability to keep the ball. We were lucky to get nought."

And then Robinson walked out of the press room. Clearly, he was too upset to take any questions, but there is a big one hanging over his future.

One of the reasons Bath were outplayed by Wasps is that they have no say in the Premiership - they have dropped to seventh - and are out of the Cup, the two competitions they used to monopolise.

And, of course, a defence of the European Cup, which they won so gloriously last season, never materialised following the boycott of the English clubs. Perhaps that, more than anything else, has drained Bath's mental resources.

They have nothing to play for except their pride and there was precious little of that in yesterday's performance.

Motivation, however, is one of the responsibilities of the coach although the captain, Richard Webster, must also shoulder his fair share of the blame.

This was the first occasion in the Premiership in which Bath failed to score and Robinson's embarrassment was understandable.

Before their biggest crowd at Loftus Road this season, Wasps won by two goals, three tries and two penalties.

"Bath are among equals now," Nigel Melville said, although there was nothing equal about it. Melville, in his first league match since taking over the senior coaching duties from Rob Smith, added: "Things have moved on. We're not intimidated by Bath any more. A lot of the old faces have gone. You're more intimidated by the Bath dug-out than the team. We were up for this."

Bath were not. By half-time they trailed 17-0. Wasps did not score until the 18th minute when their No 8 Peter Scrivener burst from a line-out to score through a suspect, alarmingly fragile defence.

There was a similar breach, from longer range, in the 30th minute when Paul Volley accelerated from a line-out and although he was cut down a yard short, Mark Weedon, the Wasps captain, picked up and went over.

Before going off with a cut above his left eye, Alex King scored 10 points with two penalties and two conversions. When Martyn Wood scored the first of two tries after Matt Perry had a kick charged down, Robinson had obviously seen enough.

He took off Gareth Cooper (he was replaced by Andy Gomarsall, the Wasp on loan to Bath), Mike Tindall, Victor Ubiogu and Mark Regan.

By that stage Bath were 25-0 down and out of their depth. What should be worrying, not just for Robinson but the England coach, Clive Woodward, is the form of Mike Catt, Jeremy Guscott and Perry.

The latter, like the team, seems to have lost the plot. Yesterday the full-back was comprehensively outplayed by Josh Lewsey, but there was a similar story in almost every position.

"We asked a lot of questions to which they didn't have any answers," Melville said. Indeed. In response, Bath and Robinson drew a blank.

Wasps: Tries Scrivener 2, Wood 2, Weedon; Conversions: King 2; Penalties King 2.

Wasps: J Lewsey, S Roiser, F Waters, M Denney; P Sampson; A King, M Wood; D Molloy, T Leota, W Green, M Weedon (Captain), A Reed, L Dallaglio, P Scrivener, P Volley. Replacements: G Rees for King 55; J Worsley for Volley 62; S Shaw for Reed 65; D Alexopoulos for Leota 74. Bath: M Perry; I Balhaw, M Tindall, J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, G Cooper; K Yates, M Regan, V Ubigu, M Haag, S Borthwick, R Earnshaw, D Lyle, R Webster (Captain).

Replacements: A Gomarsall for Cooper 50; K Maggs for Tindall 50; J Mallett for Ubiogu 50; A Long for Regan 50; B Sturnham for Haag 66.

Referee: C Thomas (WRU).

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