Scottish Rugby bosses were today accused of using their centrally run professional teams as a “creche” for the national side as the furore surrounding Sean Lineen’s ousting as Glasgow coach intensified.
Describing the handling of a decision to replace Lineen with the untried Gregor Townsend at a stage when Glasgow are battling to reach the Pro 12 League play-offs at “amateurish” the Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters are calling for the appointment to be withheld and the subject of an advertisement.
In a strongly worded statement the organisation says: “The whole internal appointment process is wrong, amateurish and not at all the way a senior appointment in a national sports organisation public body should be made.
“It gives the impression of high-handed nepotism, which is the last thing we need from the SRU (who) must, in the interests of the proper running of the sport, go back to the drawing board and put things right.”
Referring to Edinburgh and Glasgow the organisation state: “They are no more autonomous, standing on their own two feet or making decisions in their own best interests than they ever were. “
Reinforcing their call for a candidate to emerge from an advertised post, the fans’ added: “Instead, the SRU has parachuted in an internal appointment, a method which avoids that close and necessary scrutiny. It is a throwback to the days when the SRU appointed favourite sons behind closed doors, which is a sure-fire way to get a politically suitable appointment but very rarely arrives at the best available candidate.”
While Lineen moves to a newly-created post charged with attracting Scots qualified talent globally Townsend will have his first fully hands on role.
“Gregor Townsend may well have his coaching merits. He was an international player of note, but that is very different from coaching a professional rugby team, which is a trade that coaches take years to learn. The normal route is to coach a club side, an age-grade international team and finally win a post as an assistant Pro team coach. Gregor has not followed that route or gained that experience at the coal-face and it would be fair to say that the jury is still out on his prowess and success in his first coaching role, as Scotland attack coach” says the statement.
An SRU spokesman said today:“Scottish Rugby’s Director of Performance Rugby consulted widely, both internally and externally in respect of making both the appointment of Sean Lineen to the new senior position of Head of Player Acquisition and Gregor Townsend to the position of Head of Glasgow Warriors which he takes up at the end of this year’s Celtic League season.
“There is never an ideal time to make such changes. We will give Sean and Gregor our full backing in the months and weeks ahead.”