Surprise as Phil Greening named Scotland sevens head coach
THE Scottish Rugby Union’s drive to improve the quality of coaching at the top level has brought the surprise appointment of another Englishman.
Former England hooker Phil Greening has been appointed as the new Scotland sevens coach, replacing Graham Shiel, who has been demoted to a skills coaching role still within the sevens set-up. Greening follows on from fellow England Test forwards Andy Robinson and Neil Back, the latter having taken over from Tom Smith at Edinburgh this summer three years after Robinson left the capital club to become Scotland head coach.
The SRU claimed that Greening’s appointment was the result of a “worldwide recruitment process”, and it is understood that former Scotland sevens captain Clark Laidlaw, currently coaching the New Zealand sevens team, was also considered. Greening was assistant sevens coach to Mike Friday between 2005 and 2007 when England finished second in the HSBC World Series and claimed the silver medal in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Appointed on a three-year contract, a big part of Greening’s task now will be to mould a Scotland squad into medal contenders at Glasgow 2014 and push towards sevens’ introduction to the Olymics in Rio in 2016, as the SRU strive to revamp the sevens set-up, but still within the thinly-spread pool of talent in the Scottish game.
Greening said: “This is a really exciting time to be joining Scottish Rugby [SRU] and their developments in sevens rugby. I can’t wait to get started and back onto the circuit.
“I want to cement the Scotland 7s team as one of the core competitors in the abbreviated game and help produce some exciting new Scottish rugby talents ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics.”
Greening retired in 2005 after winning 24 caps, and after his sevens role from 2008-11 he coached London Welsh as the club pushed through the Championship. He stepped down last summer before they made their final successful assault on the English Premiership, but also steered the invitation side, Samurai International, to victory in the Middlesex International 7s in 2010 and 2011.
The appointment of the 36-year-old is surprising but continues a growing trend at Murrayfield for picking coaches from outside the Scottish game. Edinburgh have a coaching staff of an Irishman in Michael Bradley, Englishman in Back and Scot in Billy McGinty, who has spent his career south of the border in rugby league. Glasgow now have young coaches Gregor Townsend and Matt Taylor, an Australian former Scotland A cap, alongside Glaswegian Shade Munro, while Robinson’s national team is made up of two Australian coaches and an Italian.
But does that matter? The SRU’s Director of Performance Rugby, Graham Lowe, is a New Zealander, but he has been keen to find the best available coaches to take Scottish rugby forward, a drive which has found favour among players. Increasingly, in professional rugby, the origin of a coach is irrelevant alongside his ability to get the best out of his charges and Scottish rugby needs improving.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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