THE SRU is leaning towards the idea of having an interim coach in charge of the Scotland team for next year’s RBS Six Nations Championship.
Speaking at the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London yesterday – where the Scots were paired with South Africa and Samoa as well as qualifiers from Asia and the Americas in the draw for the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup – SRU chief executive Mark Dodson revealed that a permanent coach might not be in place in time for February’s Six Nations kick-off because of “the timescales involved”.
Scotland are in need of a new coach following the resignation last month of Andy Robinson, who quit the post in the wake of a disastrous Autumn Tests campaign which produced three defeats from three matches. The 51-22 loss to New Zealand and 21-10 reverse against South Africa at Murrayfield were followed by a surprise 21-15
defeat by Tonga at Pittodrie.
Yesterday, Dodson explained that getting Robinson’s replacement on board is his top priority and that the SRU will be looking both at home and abroad in a bid to find the right man.
“It’s just ten days since Andy decided to step down but we have already received a number of applications for the job,” said Dodson, who was at the London draw with Scotland captain Kelly Brown and Robinson’s
assistant, Scott Johnson.
“We are reviewing these as well as looking at home and abroad for the best candidate to take Scotland forward to the Rugby World Cup.
“We have the RBS Six Nations just round the corner and, given the timescales involved, we are looking at the possibility of an interim appointment as we don’t want to rush into making the decision.
“It is only just a week since Andy stepped down, and we must remember that. What I do not want to do is to be there rushing about trying to get somebody in because we have atournament coming up in the Six Nations. The most important thing we can do is get someone in to take the team forward for the long term.”
While disappointed at the departure of Robinson and the results against the All Blacks, Springboks and Tongans in recent weeks, Dodson added that he did not believe the SRU needed to “rip it up and start again”.
He added: “Clearly there is a lot of work needing to be done before 2015 and the first task for me is to bring in the right head coach, someone who can get the best out of this group of players and make the country proud of their national team.
“We played the best two teams in the world during the autumn and scored three tries against the All Blacks, the first time any team has done that for about two years, and then we played well for a sustained period against South Africa.
“Far from ripping up the game plan and starting again, we have to take lessons from this. This has been a learning experience. We have got to make sure that this team becomes a learning team because I am not sure we have been in the past.
“We have got to keep playing the best teams in the world. The more you play these teams the more you get used to them.”
For Johnson, now the most senior coach in the Scottish set-up, his next task is to sit down with Dodson and other decision makers at Murrayfield to discuss what went wrong during the autumn series and how Scotland build for the World Cup.
He has been touted as one of the men who could be in line to take Robinson’s job but yesterday he would only say: “I have not had a chance to speak to the officials, but I intend to in the next week or so. That will decide where I am placed in the job and if the job suits me, and if it suits them for me to take it.
“I am secure in the fact that I have come here for a couple
of years and I have only just started.”
Johnson continued: “We are all big boys here and we understand that we have got issues, but so does every playing base and it is about time we understood the positive things about our game in Scotland. Everyone can tell where the issues are; they are easy to find.
“There are plenty of good things in Scotland and plenty of hard working rugby people and there are plenty of good players. We need to start developing a game that suits us to play.”