Ally Donaldson, the longest-serving head coach in the RBS Premiership, has decided to step down from the position at Currie, with recently retired Scotland international Ben Cairns in the running to replace him.
Donaldson, who previously played for the club with distinction and then coached the second XV for three years, has been head coach for 11 years.
Although the club are remaining tight-lipped on his successor Donaldson has hinted that the new man at the helm would be younger. And former Currie player Cairns, 28, who retired from professional rugby with Edinburgh during the season due to injury, having helped out with the coaching in 2013-14, looks likely to be given the opportunity, with an announcement expected next week.
Donaldson, who is director of rugby at George Watson’s College, will not be leaving Currie though and in 2014-15 he will be taking on the head of coaching role. This will involve coach education with the youth coaches at the club and helping out with other senior teams if necessary. He will also mentor some of the young players and try to assist with their transition from youth to senior rugby.
Since Donaldson took over in 2003, Currie have won the top flight in 2006-07 and 2009-10 and reached the Scottish Cup final in 2005-06.
Over the years, the side led ably by the likes of Mark Cairns, Ross Weston, John Cox and Richard Snedden have always been hard to beat while they have always had a tough edge up front.
Ben Cairns, Matt Scott, Tom Brown, Jonny Gray and Dougie Fife have all used spells as young players with Currie under Donaldson’s tutelage to progress to full Scotland honours, with a number of others playing for the Club XV and other representative sides.
Paying tribute to Donaldson, Currie president John Muir said: “Ally has been a great stalwart to Currie and will be a hard man to replace. His drive and enthusiasm has been there from day one and we have had some great successes under him. He is a wonderful coach, bringing on many players with his experience and know-how and in the season just gone he and the experienced players really helped turn things around after a tough start. I’d like to thank him for all his hard work and I am pleased he is staying at the club in another role.”
Donaldson said: “I didn’t want to make the decision right at the end of the season but, on reflection, I feel this is the right time to go and move on to a different role at the club. There have been some great moments over the years, especially winning the Premiership twice, getting to a Scottish Cup final and seeing five players progress to full caps. I also thoroughly enjoyed coaching the [Scotland] Club XV for four years and the success we had there. Thanks to the coaches, players and administrators who have helped along the way.”
Graham Hogg, an experienced member of Donaldson’s coaching team, is also moving to a different role within the club.