EDINBURGH Rugby’s new managing director has confirmed that talks have been held with coaches in the southern hemisphere as he seeks a new chief for the capital side.
David Davies stated that appointing a new coaching team tops his priorities but was quick to add, just five days into his new role, that no candidates had been ruled in or out and that, if he has to go into the new season with the man he wants not yet appointed, he will.
“Yes, there have been conversations, some internally with Stevie [Scott] and Duncan [Hodge], with coaches in the southern hemisphere and I suspect [through the SRU] with coaches on a domestic basis,” he said.
“We know that it’s a priority and I’m trying to get my head around it as properly as I can, and fully recognise that there is a domestic as well as international perspective to it and, as soon as I can give an informed update on it, I will do.”
Davies has worked with strong individuals, from Gerry Francis and Ian Holloway at Queens Park Rangers to Warren Gatland and Ian McGeechan at Wasps, and so acknowledged that SRU chief executive Mark Dodson and interim national coach Scott Johnson were involved in discussions but that he was not fazed by their influence.
While the search is global, Davies did not rule out the interim coaches Scott and Hodge remaining in place, insisting that Scottish candidates were at an advantage.
“I think there is a balance between the best person for the job and the wider interest,” he added. “Clearly, like everybody else, I’d like the best candidate to be a Scot because, with a team that’s predominantly a Scottish team, somebody that understands the mentality of local players and pressures they are under is clearly at an advantage.
“You can get some of that insight from assistants but, in a perfect world, it would be a Scot building a group of people that could go on to the national team.”
As for what timetable he was working to, Davies continued: “My view is that, ideally, you’d like the coach in place prior to pre-season but, if the right candidate was there with the right support structure, could we be in a position where we might be taking someone who will join us later? I guess that’s possible but we’re not in the position to have contemplated that in detail yet. I don’t want to send a message to fans that is an inaccurate one.”
Another priority is player recruitment. Netani Talei (to Dragons) and John Houston (to Scotland sevens squad) are departing this summer, while winger Nikki Walker is returning north but Davies expects several more players to be heading through the ‘in’ and ‘out’ doors. He added: “If you have a 40-man squad, about eight players tend not to be there the next season. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less, and I don’t know enough about this squad yet today to be able to give you a clear number.
“A couple of players we have announced are going already, so what’s the chances another six will go.
“I suspect, for various reasons, that’s probably pretty good.”