Lamont operation heightens gloomy Scotland outlook

 

Rory Lamont, the Scotland full-back, went under the surgeon's knife in Edinburgh yesterday after suffering a fractured fibula during the weekend's bruising Six Nations defeat by France and is most unlikely to return to action this side of the autumn internationals in November. He was not the only one hurting. A dozen players required treatment from the in-house medical staff – including brother Sean, who ended the game with an eye injury – while Andy Robinson, the head coach, needed running repairs of a different kind after another debilitating blow to the spirit.

Robinson indicated before the start of the tournament that a third successive campaign failure would force him to consider his position, even though he has yet to complete a quarter of a four-year deal. The West Country rugby grapevine is alive with rumour of an imminent return to Bath, whom he coached to a European title in 1998 after a decade of service as a back-row forward. Fuel was added to the fire last week when the club's chief executive, Nick Blofeld, declined to rule out the possibility. Blofeld is a long-standing friend of Robinson's, as is the Bath owner, Bruce Craig.

While Robinson talked up his side's latest plucky defeat, insisting on his "total belief in our ability to win", his record of two victories in 13 Six Nations contests is desperately difficult to defend. The players are trying – "We're on the right track, going the right way," said Ross Ford, the captain – but the reaction of the flanker Ross Rennie, one of Robinson's protégés, was probably the most telling. "Everyone's just a bit bored of feeling this way," Rennie said yesterday. "It's very frustrating."

Scotland have two games left but a failure to beat Ireland in Dublin in 11 days' time will leave them in wooden spoon territory come the final round. Should the worst happen, Robinson will need an awful lot of persuading not to walk away.

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