Six Nations: Don't blame coaching uncertainty, says Ross Ford

Ford is confident the Scots can win their Wooden Spoon showdown in Italy
Ford is confident the Scots can win their Wooden Spoon showdown in Italy

Scotland captain Ross Ford insists that backroom changes have not contributed to four Six Nations defeats in a row.

This week, it was announced that Gregor Townsend will move from being attack coach to take charge of Glasgow Warriors, while Matt Taylor is to join as defence coach from Queensland Reds.

"I don't think things have gone wrong off the pitch," said hooker Ford.

"We're all professional players. We've got a big game this weekend and that's our sole focus."

Scotland travel to Italy looking for a win that would avoid the wooden spoon in what will be their final game under the guidance of Townsend and Graham Steadman.

It was announced earlier in the season that the defence coach's contract would not be renewed and that he was joining Sale Sharks.

Townsend has now been handed the reigns next season at Warriors, a move that came as a surprise to incumbent Sean Lineen, who will take on a player scouting role for Scottish Rugby.

But Ford blames the players rather than a backroom upheaval for a winless run of six matches that has handed head coach Andy Robinson a record of 11 losses in 14 Six Nations fixtures and meant, for the third successive year, a win on the final weekend of the championship is a must to avoid finishing sixth.

Townsend has been passed the responsibility for Glasgow Warriors
Townsend has been passed the responsibility for Glasgow Warriors

"Things on the pitch haven't been ideal, but we've shown a lot of improvements from where we were last season," he said.

"We could have had more wins than we have just now, but it's down to our own doing.

"The boys are just desperate to get a win for all that effort we've put in - we need something to show for it.

"We've had opportunities when we could've won two out of the four games, but as it is we're going to Rome and we need to get this win.

"It's all in our hands. We've got the game to beat Italy."

Scotland gained praise for their performances in defeats by England, Wales and France.

However, Ford described the 32-14 defeat in Ireland that followed as "unacceptable" yet was bullish about his side's prospects of winning in Rome for the first time since 2006 and finishing fifth ahead of the Azzurri.

"We've been wondering where that game, where that performance came from, because it's not what we've shown in this championship," he added.

"It was nowhere near where we need to be.

"We let ourselves down on Saturday, but we're well aware we've got the ability to win the game.

"We've got to make sure we play with a pace that they can't keep up with, we keep the ball for long periods of time and convert that pressure into a result on the scoreboard."