Robinson Hosts Fan's Q&A
DOR talks to fans on Wednesday
Andy Robinson took part in a Q&A with over 150 supporters at the Memorial Stadium.
Following an introduction and video, in which Robinson spoke about the gameplan and his reflections on the season so far, the Director of Rugby invited questions from the audience.
If you could sign one player in the world, who would you sign?
“I’d sign Richie McCaw. He oozes class for the way he carries himself on and off the field. Richie is phenomenally consistent and a real leader. He’s a humble human being and I like humility in my players.
“That’s what I want in our players – of course, you need a confidence out on the field but it’s important to have that conduct – and that teamwork - away from rugby.”
What’s the latest on Jason Hobson’s injury?
“Jason is working really hard with the medical team and we hope to have him back and available for selection by the end of February. Jason has an aggressive edge, a competitive streak that makes him very valuable to us. It’s what we want.
“I’ve been pleased with how all our props are progressing. James Hall and Gaston Cortes have been excellent, while Kyle Traynor and Mark Lilley are coming along really well too.”
How do you feel about the move to Ashton Gate Stadium?
“It’s exciting to move to a stadium that will be a fantastic venue with top-class facilities. It’s the direction that the Club needs to go and it’s great for us. We’ve made no secret of the fact we want to be playing European rugby, so to be in a 30,000 all seater stadia is part of that vision.
“A stadium like that can attract top-quality players. That, and the fantastic support we have, can tempt the players to come to Bristol and you need that to drive success.
“We are looking forward to working alongside Bristol City FC in the new stadium. Look at the Liberty Stadium, that’s a great example of how two sporting clubs can thrive together.”
Why do we kick to the corner rather than for the posts?
“It’s about having confidence in our ability and challenging ourselves. We do it to score tries, and I believe that’s one of the reasons we have achieved so many bonus points so far. We have a belief that we can score; we just need to execute our chances better.
“I want the players to test their attacking skills in the opposition 22, against the best defences in the league. As a team, Bristol haven’t taken their chances for five seasons now, so we’re trying to shift that mindset and instill that bravery this time around.”
Do you know your best side?
“In the first half of the season, we gave everyone in the squad an opportunity to show what they can do and stake a claim for the shirt. I believe we have a group of players that can perform as a team and take us in the direction we want to go this season.
“We have an idea of our best fifteen, and the additions of Ross Rennie and Stuart McInally will be great – they can be superb players for us and complement the options we already have.”
Does the defensive system carry risks?
“It’s about embracing change. We brought the system in at the start of the season so it’s new to a lot of players. They’ve bought into it and I really like it. The benefits we get from it are great.
“When we have conceded tries this season, it’s been turnovers, intercepts or individual errors from missed tackles, as opposed to the defensive system. The players understand it, so it’s about individual responsibility to ensure we get it right on the field.”
Why hasn’t Fautua Otto had much gametime?
“Fautua’s struggled with a few injuries and that’s been really frustrating for him and the club. When I first saw him, I knew what an exciting talent he is and the sort of things he is capable of.
“We’re trying to get him back to the level he was two seasons ago – when he was thriving in a Bristol shirt – we’re hopeful we can achieve that because an on-form Fautua is an asset to any side.”
How much autonomy does the captain have on the field to change the gameplan?
“The captains have complete autonomy to make the decision and make those calls during a game. We have to trust in them as coaches, and vice versa. Everybody is pulling in the same direction, otherwise you can’t be successful.
“I’m as frustrated as the supporters when we don’t convert our opportunities, but we continue to challenge ourselves and put the pressure on the players to improve and be more accurate.”
Why is the disciplinary record so good this season?
“That is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, we’re dominating possession and territory in a lot of games, so we’re not finding ourselves camped on our line defending, typically when you might receive a card.
“We’ve worked hard on our defensive technique and our discipline in defence – not straying offside, getting back into the line after making a tackle, so that’s really helped. Also, we’re learning how to manage referees more effectively and teaching our players how to communicate with them during games.”
What’s the latest on Jack Wallace and Errie Claassens?
“Jack will be back in the next few weeks and that’s fantastic news. He’s an exciting talent and we have high hopes for him. Errie suffered a bad injury last year, but he’s been working hard and we’ve supported him every step of the way – we hope to have him back playing rugby soon.
“It’s a credit to the S&C and medical staff who have been working tirelessly, day in, day out. We could have close to a full squad to pick from by the end of February.”
How important is Stephen Lansdown to the vision?
“Stephen has been great for the Club and for sport in the city, it’s marvelous the way that he has supported us and given us a platform to move forward. With Stephen’s passion for the Club, and his commitment to the vision, it’s enabled us to compete for top quality individuals.”
Why are we bringing in so many players?
“Players will be linked with Bristol. That’s just the nature of our situation and the way that agents and the media are. We will sign players who are right for Bristol Rugby, but they have to be at the right price – the players we’ve signed already have been great value. Contrary to what you hear in the press, they had offers elsewhere but they joined us for the vision.
“It’s about having Premiership quality, international class players with the ability to perform at the highest level – that’s the direction this Club wants to go.”
Can we keep our young players?
“We’ll maintain a focus on our young, homegrown players – they’re a huge part of what we’re trying to achieve at Bristol. We want to keep our young players and, if they wanted to go, that’s their choice.
“You need experienced heads to help the younger players along and to fast-track their development. It challenges the younger guys to play at a better level and to raise their standards."
Will we see a lot of players leaving at the end of the campaign?
“Players want to be playing and the only way they will develop and get better is through regular gametime. I’ve been honest with our group and told them where they stand and where they fit in the plans.
If there isn’t an avenue for them to play here regularly, then it’s only right they look elsewhere to play and become better players, but they will be fully committed to us until the end of the season – they’re professional players, that’s what we expect.”