He might never have skated at all had the family not taken a summer holiday in Bournemouth. Fred Cousins took Robins two older brothers to the beach, but his mother took him with her to look around the shops. They passed the ice rink and, since it was very hot, she thought it would be nice to go inside. She asked a passing stranger on the ice if he could help Robin and, much to her chagrin, found she had bumped into an instructor. He marched her to the desk and explained how much a lesson would be. It was a hefty slice out of that days budget but she was too embarrassed to retreat. With his dance training Robin did so well that the instructor could not believe he had never been on skates before.
A rink opened soon afterwards in Cousins hometown of Bristol and he started to take lessons. Once he started private coaching with Pam Davies he made rapid progress, winning the 1970 British primary championship and the 1972 British junior championship. Already his pattern of performance was set a win after being placed last in the school figures section. As junior champion he was allowed to enter the senior event, and because he was placed third in this gained a place on the team for the 1973 European Championship. Film of this event shows that the height of his jumps was already impressive, but he was still very unpolished.
Now he came to London to train with Gladys Hogg the start of a very lonely period for the fifteen-year-old, traveling up to London on Monday morning and back to Bristol on Friday afternoon. There were always his skating goals, however. In John Currys last national championship he fell, enabling a delighted Cousins to win the free-skating section, thereby achieving one goal. Nevertheless, in the Olympics, while Curry shone gloriously bright, Cousins was completely overlooked. One German journalist wrote that Cousins skated to Three Blind Mice in front of nine blind judges. A few months later Cousins gained his first international success when he won the St Gervais Grand Prix in France. This event had been Currys first and only international win before the 1976 season.