The Scottish Rugby Union has rekindled its partership with London Scottish after a spectacular U-turn.
Just two weeks after cutting all ties with the exile club, the SRU has announced a “revised player development pathway” which will kick in next season.
The new agreement will see “up to eight” young players joining the club in England’s second-tier Championship with Sean Lineen continuing in his role as a part time director of rugby.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said he sees this as a 12-month deal, suggesting that London Scottish should not rely on SRU contracted labour in the future.
In truth, they were unlikely to do so after being left in the lurch at the end of May. There was an outcry when the SRU walked away from the original deal which was far more extensive with 14 players involved.
The SRU cited “performance environment” as the reason for walking away.
But Dodson appears to have been forced into a climbdown by the backlash over not only the original decision to part company with London Scottish but the manner of it, coming so late in the day that the London club would be hard pressed to recruit 14 Championship standard players when most players are already contracted.
A statement released by the SRU said: “Scottish Rugby and London Scottish can confirm that a revised player development pathway will operate for the forthcoming season 2016/17.
“Up to eight players will be seconded from Scotland to continue their development under the guidance of the Head of Scotland Age-Grade programme, Sean Lineen, who will continue in his part-time role with London Scottish.
“The arrangements in place since January this year will now operate on a more modest and achievable scale better suited to the support available from London Scottish and will build on the success of the trial last season.”
London Scottish chairman Sir David Reid said in the statement: “We fully recognise that the concerns expressed by Scottish Rugby’s Board over the financial commitment and infrastructure needed from London Scottish under the previous arrangements were entirely legitimate.
“London Scottish will now take full financial responsibility for its areas identified in the partnership, which are designed to enhance the performance environment in which London Scottish players can train and prepare.”
Dodson added: “We see this as a 12-month relationship at this time. We want to move this initiative forward to continue to give identified Scottish players the opportunity to develop into international players of the future.
“We had to satisfy ourselves that the club could deliver a performance environment suitable to enable talented young players to develop, before we committed further. We are pleased that the club has addressed our concerns and are now satisfied that the reduced scale of the programme matches the support the club can provide.”