Scotland women’s international squad will have an all-new coaching team ahead of this week’s kick-off to the new season.
Jules Maxton, who has been in charge of the Scotland Women Under-20 team for the past few seasons, takes over as head coach, while the assistant coaching roles are taken by rugby development officer and specialist skills coach Derek O’Riordan and former Scotland internationalist Roland Reid.
For 34-year-old Maxton, the route into coaching was a natural progression from playing, at centre, for Murrayfield Wanderers and coaching the boys at Bellshill Academy, where she was a PE teacher. She now teaches at Cardinal Newman High School in North Lanarkshire.
“After an injury I decided not to continue playing but couldn’t imagine not being involved in rugby any more,” she said. “So in 2005-06 I started coaching at Wanderers then the following season became head coach for their women’s team.”
Maxton then coached the Scotland Women development squad before taking on the role with Scotland Women Under-20. She will continue to be head coach at Wanderers in addition to her full-time teaching job.
Maxton added: “I feel excited by the challenge of preparing the squad for international competition. I’ve been coaching through the performance pathway for eight years now and feel this is the time to step up.
“I’m used to managing my time with teaching, club and international coaching and welcome the opportunity to be able to identify potential Scotland players through travelling to club matches every week with Wandies.
“The fact we’ll have an entirely new coaching team is positive with new eyes and new ideas at the start of a five-year cycle [for Rugby World Cup 2018], looking to the long term.”
Maxton’s two assistant coaches both come from strong, if differing, rugby backgrounds.
Rugby development officer in East Dunbartonshire, O’Riordan is a licensed coach educator and age-grade specialist skills coach. The 31-year-old had a spell playing pro rugby with Polisportiva SS Lazio in Italy and also signed for Galwegians, training with Connacht.
More recently he worked with the Scotland Women as a specialist coach throughout the 2013 Six Nations and World Cup qualifying campaigns.
O’Riordan said: “I’m delighted to be appointed assistant coach on the back of working with the squad last season as their specialist skills coach. Although it’s going to be a challenge, the building blocks were set in some strong performances last year.
“We now have an opportunity to really develop a squad that I believe can go on and achieve results for Scotland and to be part of that journey really excites me as a coach.”
South African-born 34-year-old Reid won two caps for Scotland and made 13 appearances for Scotland A before a persistent knee problem ended his playing career. His debut cap came on the wing as a replacement against Tonga in 2001, when he scored a try within a minute, and alternated between that berth and the back row throughout a career that began with the South African province Boland and encompassed spells with Glasgow, the Golden Lions, London Irish and Leeds.
Reid qualified for Scotland through his Greenock-born grandfather, holds a psychology degree from the Open University and currently owns a performance coaching business.
Reid said: “I’m both honoured and delighted to be included into the Scottish Women’s coaching team. I look forward to working with Jules and Derek and to ensuring a high performance environment where Scottish Women’s rugby will compete with the best in the world.
“I’ll endeavour to assist both coaches and our players in their development and preparation to be able to compete at the highest level. To be involved in international rugby and to represent your country, as player or as a coach, is a tremendous privilege.”
In welcoming the trio to their new posts, SRU head of performance development Stephen Gemmell said: “I believe we’ve made very good appointments in coaches who have worked their way up through the sport and have shown a strong commitment to coaching at various levels and a real desire to improve the players they are working with. With a young squad and initial training weekend in under a week, this will be a tough season for the coaches but I know they will work hard as a coaching team and are looking forward to the challenges.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank former head coach Karen Findlay and assistant coaches Chris Reid and Scott Forrest for their hard work and unerring commitment over the last few seasons as they worked tirelessly to improve the players and the team.”
The first national team camp for selected players takes place this coming Saturday followed by an open trial on Sunday at Murrayfield.