Six Nations: Scotland win won’t stop Ryan departure

Dean Ryan: Rugby analyst role. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Dean Ryan: Rugby analyst role. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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DEAN Ryan will not be persuaded to stay on as Scotland’s forwards coach even if the team secure a historic first RBS Six Nations Championship win in Paris tonight.

Scotland are preparing to face a French side desperately trying to regain pride in what could yet be their worst championship in over 50 years.

Ryan took on the role as Scotland’s forwards coach in January, but insisted that it would be a short-term deal and, on the eve of his final match, the former England back row insisted that, while he had enjoyed working with the Scottish players, he remained committed to returning to his job as a rugby analyst with Sky TV.

Scotland’s interim head coach Scott Johnson fuelled speculation last week when he said he would try to persuade Ryan to consider a longer-term deal but, after watching Scotland’s final captain’s run of the tournament Ryan suggested any talks would be futile. “It’s still the same situation,” he said. “It’s disrespectful to speculate about anything else. I’ve got to go back to work [with Sky]. I’ve got things on next week and that’s the agreement we had.

“I’ve always been here only for the Six Nations. I’m contracted to Sky and I’ll be working there next week. That has never changed and never was going to, but I have loved my time here. It’s a great group. I’m humbled they have allowed me to come in and prepare them for Test matches. It’s been fantastic. We have got some wins, which always makes life easier. It’s been fun but we’ve got Test matches to get ready for, so nobody’s talking about those things.”

And, on that subject, he was much more voluble, albeit in his traditional black-and-white manner. Yes, Scotland have the ability to beat France in Paris and finish the championship with three wins for only the second time in its 13-year history, but he also fears France more after their wretched run of results.

“What I really want this weekend is for the team to get a reward,” he said. “They have worked really hard and we haven’t seen the performances that illustrate the work that has been done. After winning two games, we probably got caught in a game with Wales almost desperate to win without performing. It was such a stop-start game that it was just about winning.”

Ryan is hoping Scotland’s “reward” comes tonight. “I’d like to think it’s this one but it’s still about trying to win a Test match so it’s a dangerous place to be going off script against the quality that they’ve got, and in place that can really start to jump if it goes well for them,” he added.

“I’ve said before that there’s a tendency [in Scotland] to start talking about doom and gloom or, as soon as you win a game, start talking about Six Nations champions and World Cup winners. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground, and there’s always middle ground.

“The autumn was tough but the summer was good, and this team is short on resources so there’s not ten different people that can play every position and it will always experience ups and downs because of that. But the key is to try to get this group to keep improving.

“That’s as much as anyone can ask for and I think they have over this Six Nations. I still think there’s a lot more to come but that’s the context that everything has to be put in, rather than the rollercoaster of doom and gloom or World Cup winners.”

Ryan continued: “A winning French side has the potential to be a little complacent but a side that is staring at a wooden spoon could go absolutely nuts.

“We are under no illusion about what might hit us this weekend – their autumn form was outstanding. Their context has to be taken into account as well. They have not changed players and they have some of the most talented boys in the northern hemisphere. Why aren’t they winning games? I don’t know the answer but you know playing any French side, that anything could happen at any stage. I would have preferred to face them in the first game still thinking they were quite good.”