Currie Chieftains have wished their coach Ben Cairns well after he was confirmed as the head coach of the Stirling County franchise in the new Super 6 league, which is due to start next season.
The SRU announced the six coaches yesterday, with half of the clubs retaining the services of those currently in the role – Pete Murchie at Ayr, Rob Chrystie at Melrose and Steve Lawrie at Watsonians.
As well as Cairns, former Scotland centre Graham Shiel takes the reins at Boroughmuir and Scotland Women assistant coach Ciaran Beattie will be in charge of Heriot’s.
Currie were bitterly disappointed to miss out in their bid for the Super 6 and, since that setback, have been braced for departures.
In a statement yesterday, the Chieftains said: “The club management have been aware of this prospect for a while and fully respect Ben’s decision to pursue a full-time coaching appointment in the Super 6 set-up. Ben goes to Stirling with the best wishes of all from Currie. A new head coach will be appointed for next season once some clarity is available from the SRU on the future structure of Scottish club rugby.”
Former Edinburgh and Scotland centre Cairns said on Twitter: “I’ve spent almost a third of my life involved at the club so it was a really tough decision to leave. However, I’ve never hidden my ambition to coach at the top level. I see Super 6 as the next step and it’s a privilege to lead Stirling into this new and exciting era for Scottish rugby.”
Super 6 is designed to bridge the gap between the club game and professional rugby.
In a statement, the SRU, who will fund the posts, said: “Scottish Rugby was involved in an advisory and oversight capacity, with the final decision on whom to recruit being decided by each club. The coaches will start in post from January 2019 and begin recruiting back-room staff and playing squads alongside the on-field rugby preparations for the inaugural campaign, which begins next season.”
Four of the six coaches – Cairns, Murchie, Lawrie and Shiel – earned senior international honours for the Scotland national team, while Beattie and Chrystie represented Scotland 7s and Scotland A.
Sean Lineen, the former Scotland centre who has been given on-field responsibility for the Super 6 by the SRU, said: “Super 6 aims to narrow the gap between the professional, elite level and the top tier of Scotland’s domestic set-up, both from a playing and coaching perspective. The appointment of six, full-time Scottish coaches is a critical part of that process. It rewards the coaches for investing their time in the game and creates a meaningful pathway to the elite level of the sport.
“Coaching is an incredibly important pillar which is driving the objective of improving rugby in Scotland through the Super 6 process.”
The six franchises have recently signed licence agreements with the SRU but controversy surrounding the plan will rumble on into the new year, with the country’s leading clubs below the Super 6 tier publicly concerned about the lack of clarity and the knock-on effects, including the vexed issue of where in the domestic club set-up the second XVs of the franchises will play.
A majority of clubs in National Leagues 1, 2 and 3 have expressed a desire for Super 6 to be delayed for a year.