SENIOR internationalists have called for National coach Matt Williams to be replaced on the eve of a critical Scottish Rugby Union meeting.
They have accused the Australian of bulldozing his way into the Scotland job and said that now, with a new chief executive and director of rugby being sought, was the ideal time to replace Williams.
The players said Williams had:
• Made too many changes too soon after taking over.
• Tried to impose himself without getting to know the people he was working with.
• Created a "them and us" atmosphere in the squad and destroyed the feeling that training with the international outfit was special.
The SRU executive Board meets tomorrow, when a detailed report on Scotland’s Test performances will be considered. Williams has won only three out of 17 matches in his 18-month tenure and has come under ever-increasing criticism.
The players have been given an input into the report via a questionnaire and it is thought their condemnation of Williams’ methods will be the final straw for the former Leinster boss.
One player, who asked not to be named, revealed the sort of response he had given to the survey. He said: "It was a big mistake of Matt’s to change everything straight away without trying to understand the game in Scotland.
"Instead of getting to know the people he and his backroom members were trying to deal with, he came in and imposed his style.
"I don’t think anybody is ever going to be able to do that."
"Matt’s knowledge of the game is reasonable; it is the way certain things have been done and the way certain people have been treated that has caused unrest."
This Six Nations stalwart said hackles were raised almost immediately by the new regime.
He said: "It was almost a them-and-us situation. Sometimes we [the players] felt ‘who do they think they are’ in adopting the approach they took.
"To play for Scotland means so, so much and I doubt whether they put themselves in a position to understand that - this bunch of Aussie and Irish guys."
Williams’s staff includes ex- Ireland forward Willie Anderson and fellow Irishman Brett Igoe. Defensive coach Steve Anderson also hails from Down Under.
The Scotland player insisted there was deep concern that the review would not result in Williams’ removal and said trust between the coaches and players had been completely undermined. He said: "Some players are asking whether the SRU can afford to sack Matt Williams. Stronger voices say: ‘Can they afford not to as crowds drop off?’
"I worry about where the game will be next year if Matt Williams is still in charge then. That relationships have deteriorated there is no doubt. This stems from players being asked their opinions then having them dismissed to the extent that some feel under-valued. Also, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that when guys are told one thing and something else happens, breakdowns in communication will occur. There is much talk about the team having to be 100 per cent honest with ourselves - which contrasts with when we are given bullsh*t, rubbish answers when we’d all be able to deal with being told we are not good enough."
"Scotland squad sessions were something different but one effect of calling us together so often on a Monday and Tuesday has been to erode that special feeling. The comparison with a well-prepared pro team is accurate but we could be doing that at club level. Sometimes I’ve surprised myself by wishing that, rather than being in national training, I was working with my club because of the over-familiarity of something that should be aspirational rather than routine."
Another squad member confirmed a number of the concerns about Williams. He said: "I responded to the survey by saying there isn’t an isolated incident counting against Matt Williams but a combination of factors. Soon there will be a new director of rugby and a new chief executive so, in keeping with this fresh start, it is a general view that the coaches need to change as well."
The second annual review will inevitably result in some change but SRU corporate affairs director and Mike Keohane said: "The final report has just arrived and the review process along with what it means for [all] personalities should be clear by the end of this month. The report deals with everything from scrums won to getting pretty near to such questions as what time the team bus should turn up."
Matt Williams declined to comment.
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