With the turn of the year behind us most coaching contracts for season 2017/18 are already in place so if SRU chief executive Mark Dodson is going to make a change at Edinburgh Rugby, currently languishing in tenth place, he needs to act quickly. Iain Morrison casts an eye over the likely candidates that will feature in any discussions.
1. DUNCAN HODGE
Pros: He’s in situ, he knows the turf and Hodge is well liked.
Cons: Edinburgh remain frustratingly inconsistent on his watch.
The former Watsonian never hid his ambition to be a head coach but he must be perplexed by a squad of players for whom inconsistency is the only constant. They beat Harlequins and Stade Francais at home, only to lose to Zebre at the very same venue.
The quality of the coaching trio who have taken over at Glasgow must weigh against Hodge. If Mark Dodson signs Super Rugby winner Dave Rennie for the Warriors, the argument goes, he should find someone comparable to revive Edinburgh.
2. ANDY ROBINSON
Pros: He’s available and his record with Edinburgh was excellent, fourth then second in the league.
Cons: Bristol never amounted to much on his watch and hiring Robinson might be seen as a backward step.
Robinson took three seasons before eventually getting Bristol into the Premiership, despite owner Steve Lansdown’s billions, and having taken them up he looked like he was doing a Grand Old Duke of York and marching them straight back down. Sacked after a winless start to this season, Bristol have since won two matches and sparked hopes of survival.
3. SEAN LINEEN
Pros: He has a proven track record, a safe pair of hands and his commute would be a lot shorter than it was when he coached Glasgow.
Cons: He may have moved on from tracksuit coaching to a more managerial/director of rugby role.
It was Lineen, pictured right, and Al Kellock who painstakingly built the structures at Glasgow, including the principle that if something doesn’t work then change it, a philosophy that appears to have passed Edinburgh by.
4. BRYAN REDPATH
Pros: He knows the lie of the land and has Premiership experience behind him.
Cons: He left Gloucester under a cloud and then fluffed his lines at Sale.
The former Scotland skipper has led Leeds Carnegie to second in England’s Championship with an admirable 12 wins from 13, with London Irish the only club looking down at them. He has more money than most, and a stronger squad that comes with it, but teams still need to be put away in what is a tough league.
5. STUART LANCASTER
Pros: He is a hugely respected and knowledgeable coach who specialises in generating a winning culture, which is exactly what Edinburgh need.
Cons: He has little experience of leading a club side in the weekly grind of a long league season.
One former England coach in the form of Andy Robinson did fine by Edinburgh so why not secure the services of another, Dodson may be thinking. Lancaster’s reputation is in the ascendancy once again after a positive exerience at Leo Cullen’s Leinster. He was exactly the experienced hand that the novice coach needed and the down-to-earth Cumbrian could be asked to play a similar pastoral role with Hodge at Edinburgh. Whether nominally above or below him is largely irrelevant.
6. JON HUMPHREYS / JASON O’HALLORAN
Pros: They are already on the SRU payroll and both boast a wealth of experience.
Cons: They may prefer their chances in the west since Edinburgh has ruined several good coaching reputations.
With Glasgow having an embarrassment of riches on their coaching staff why not shuffle one of them to the opposite end of the M8? Humphreys and O’Halloran both come with a wealth of experience. If not now, when?
7. JOHN DALZIEL
Pros: He has done well with Melrose, Scotland U20s and London Scottish.
Cons: He lacks experience at the highest level.
A left-field candidate if Dodson wants to twist rather than stick.