Mighty Mouse roars for Robinson as he looks back on eventful presidency
The SRU will hold its agm on Saturday and the day will mark the start of Alan Lawson’s tenure as the new president. It will also mark the end of Ian McLauchlan’s stint in the limelight, a two-year term that was nothing if not highly eventful. Above all else, it proved that personalities are more important than official positions.
The former chief executive Gordon McKie once boasted that the SRU’s governance was the envy of many, including Twickenham, so he cannot complain when that same system of governance saw him head for the exit door approximately one year ago. He clashed with McLauchlan on several issues, but especially the overall direction of the game. While the accountant in McKie was good at cutting costs, he was less inspired when it came to promoting rugby.
At one point, McLauchlan gave an interview to one Scottish newspaper in which he suggested that the IRB sevens series should go to Glasgow to prepare help prepare the ground for the Commonwealth Games sevens in 2014. McKie was furious that the president should speak out of turn and threatened McLauchlan’s very position.
It’s not immediately clear just how the chief executive can sack the man elected by the very clubs that the SRU embodies and McKie probably signed his own death warrant by making the threat. Sure enough, he was not long for Murrayfield, replaced by Mark Dodson, who has changed the course and entire atmosphere of the SRU by putting rugby at the top of every agenda.
It is too early to judge the performance of the new man, but 38,000 fans watching Edinburgh would have been a pipe dream just a few years back. McKie is now working for a football club in Hong Kong and McLauchlan has been enjoying the Pacific Islands’ tour with Scotland.
“The tour itself has been an excellent exercise for Scotland,” said the president just before the party wound their way back home. “The boys have worked really hard on the field and pulled in three results that have been tremendous for Scotland.
“The work ethic has been the most impressive aspect on this tour. Some of the boys must have known since day one that they were not going to get on, but every one of them has worked one hundred per cent for the team.”
“The change in this team since I was appointed president two years ago is night and day. I believe that, two years ago, we would not have beaten Fiji or Samoa. We had a lead in Fiji and they came back at us. The Scotland team of a few years ago would have folded.
“This group pulled themselves together, changed the tactics, got the game back on track and had the physical capability and tactical knowledge to do that. That is where they have advanced hugely. They are tactically aware. That is where the difference in the team is. Also the fact they really, really wanted to win is important. They have come on leaps and bounds over the past two years.”
“Getting the three wins was absolutely excellent. It made me very happy. I kept saying to the boys, ‘keep the old man happy’. That is all they had to do. As long as the old man was happy, that’s fine!”
Having served his country as player, captain and president, McLauchlan may be done with Scottish rugby, at least in an official capacity, but this tour has bolstered another man’s position within the squad.
Coming into this tour, all eyes were on Andy Robinson after the Six Nations whitewash. Now he has earned himself some respite and the full support of the outgoing president.
“I never had any doubts about Andy Robinson,” says McLauchlan. “I told him that at the beginning and I told him that after the Six Nations. Like any coach, there will be a point when he feels he has done all he can do and move on. He has done a great job for Scotland and the Scotland team now compared to the Scotland team we took over is night and day tactically, fitness wise and in attitude. They are much, much better than when he took over.”
Scotland deserve credit for playing in Samoa and Fiji, the first tier one nation to turn up in Apia since Ireland were here in 2003 and McLauchlan argues that other nations should be compelled to tour here.
Australia and New Zealand have never bothered to make the three/four hour trip. It’s an experience that these young Scottish players will never forget and McLauchlan backed them to the hilt.
“People ask me do I envy these players?” he says. “I do envy them because they are young and very fit and everybody wants to know them. I do envy that part of it but the work they put in, the constraints on their life, I don’t envy it. I don’t envy their money. They earn it because they made a decision very young not to pursue a [different] career. They play rugby and put everything into rugby and deserve to be rewarded for that. Anybody who says otherwise is talking rubbish.”
It is a typically forthright statement from a plain-spoken man. We may not have heard the last of him just yet.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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