Nothing wrong with Scots’ tackling insists new coach Matt Taylor
SCOTLAND had had an Australian coach in charge of their defence before, but after the failure of Matt Williams it comes as no surprise to hear new defence chief Matt Taylor distancing himself from the Scotland coach of 2004-5.
Taylor, also the new defence coach at Glasgow Warriors, was leaving Scottish rugby when Williams was arriving, the former openside flanker heading south after a career with Aberdeen Grammar FPs, Edinburgh and the Border Reivers.
He was born to Scottish parents who emigrated to Australia and aborted a planned return after nine months when he was just six years old after his brother fell ill and the doctor suggested living in a warmer climate.
But after a childhood spent in sunny Brisbane, Taylor returned north and went on to play for Scotland A. Now he is back having cut his coaching teeth in Australia, claiming national titles with club side Sunnybank and top school Southlands on the Gold Coast and the Super 15 title with Queensland Reds.
His ability to transform the Reds’ defensive play attracted the attention of Scotland coach Andy Robinson, as they went from 13th in the Super 15 when Taylor joined in 2010 to the top, and conceding just two tries in the semi-final and final wins. Shortly after that he accepted an invitation from Scotland’s assistant coach and former Borders teammate Gregor Townsend, to cast an eye over Scotland’s World Cup preparations.
“I always had it in the back of my head that I’d like to come back to Scotland,” he said. “My mum and dad are from Dunfermline and all the family are here, and when Scotland were on the Gold Coast pre-World Cup I caught up with Gregor and watched the team prepare. After the World Cup I had a call from Graham Lowe asking me if I wanted a position with the Scotland squad. I was delighted.
“I’m combining both roles with one day a week at Murrayfield. We’re bedding what we’re trying to do defensively at Glasgow, and it is good that the Glasgow boys will already know things when they move to Scotland.
“Glasgow right now is my main focus, but I’m also watching all the Rugby Championship [old Tri Nations], the junior internationals, and so it’s a busy time. I wouldn’t say either role was part-time, it’s just about different emphasis at different times with different teams.
“I am really determined to do as well as I can with both teams and I think there will be a benefit in getting this hands-on time with the Glasgow squad as opposed to just being with Scotland and having players for just a few weeks in the Test match programme.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with the guys every day, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the Edinburgh guys and trying to get through there too. It’s an absolute dream come true to be involved with both of these teams and an honour to be part of the Scotland set-up.”
Taylor’s arrival a month ago merely added to the feeling of a new era beginning at Glasgow, but much like the appointment of head coach Gregor Townsend, it comes with fresh pressure. Under Sean Lineen, Glasgow reached the RaboDirect PRO 12 play-offs twice in the past three years and a crucial part of the Warriors’ success was their defensive play under Gary Mercer. The former New Zealand rugby league cap is now working for the SRU in rugby development in central region.
Taylor paid tribute to the former coaches, insisting that his knowledge and experience of the Scottish game combined with his continued interest in its development in recent years, meant he would not agree with the sentiments of Matt Williams, who famously decried Scots’ ability to tackle and coaches’ ability to teach defence.
“Looking at that Test match against Australia, you couldn’t say Scotland can’t tackle,” he said. “They tackled like demons. At any team you always want improvement and I’ll be looking at that, but we’ve got some great tacklers in Scotland, guys like John Barclay and Chris Fusaro at Glasgow for example. When you have 15 players in your team that all can tackle then you’ll be a hard team to beat, and we’re working on technique, low tackle focus and dominating the space behind the ball..
“When I started at the Reds three years ago, we weren’t turning over much ball or slowing opposition ball, and we measured it and really trained hard at that and within two years we were the second best team in the competition at slowing teams down and turned over the most ball,. Hopefully, that’s what we can do here.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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