SRU chief executive Mark Dodson believes the ambitious rugby academies system being put in place will see Glasgow and Edinburgh fielding almost exclusively Scottish teams in five years.
The head of Scottish Rugby was speaking at Napier University yesterday at the launch of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Edinburgh. It is the third of four regional academies confirmed so far, following announcements in Aberdeen and Glasgow, with the final institution in the Borders set to be in place soon.
Utilising cash from the sponsorship deal with BT, thought to be worth £20 million, the union is putting a great deal of faith into the academies, with around 90 young talents to be hothoused around the country.
In the week when South Africa-born “project players” WP Nel and Josh Strauss were named in Scotland’s World Cup training squad, the issue of how Scotland develops native talent able to compete at an elite level has been on many lips. The Scottish pro game remains very much propped up by imported players and yesterday Dodson set out his vision to rectify that.
“My view is that this [the academies] will allow us to have Scottish players right the way through our teams in depth, with maybe one or two superstar players from outside the country that can make a difference,” said the Englishman, who was appointed in 2011.
“Our view is that we have to employ foreign players at the moment to make sure our teams are competitive. Over time, we have never supplied enough players of sufficient quality in sufficient numbers regularly enough for us not to be reliant on foreign talent.”
Asked how long he believed it would take to get to that stage, Dodson replied: “That depends how quickly we can move the academies. They have a five-year plan, so you would expect to see it at the end of that period.”