Grand Slam hero Sean Lineen bows out after huge contribution to Scottish rugby

Sean Lineen, who will turn 60 on Christmas Day, is bowing out of Scottish rugby after spending most of his adult life serving the game as a player, coach, administrator and even magazine publisher.

Sean Lineen played 29 times for Scotland.
Sean Lineen played 29 times for Scotland.

The original “kilted Kiwi”, he arrived from New Zealand in flip-flops and shorts in October 1988 and has remained since.

His finest hour came as part of Scotland’s 1990 Grand Slam-winning side. He played in all four games at centre, including the never to be forgotten 13-7 victory over England in the winner-takes-all decider at Murrayfield.

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His role in the most celebrated Scotland team of recent times was key and the same group of players went on to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals the following year. It remains Scotland’s best performance on the global stage.

Sean Lineen, with Finlay Calder in support, in action for Scotland against Japan at the 1991 World Cup.

He retired from international rugby in 1992 after winning 29 caps but continued to play for Boroughmuir, the club with which he will be forever associated.

He went on to coach the Meggetland side, showing an aptitude which led to a move into the professional game with Glasgow Warriors, initially as an assistant and then as head coach.

He laid much of the groundwork for their future success, leading them twice to the Pro12 play-offs before being replaced in 2012 by Gregor Townsend.

He was also involved with the Scotland coaching team, assisting Frank Hadden when he became national coach in 2005.

More recently Lineen has worked with London Scottish, been employed in the national age-grade set-up and has had stints in charge of the Scotland Under-20 side, including as recently as last summer. He also helped establish Super6 and had a spell in the 1990s as MD of Scottish Rugby magazine.

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His departure follows a review of the structure of Scottish Rugby’s High-Performance Department, overseen by Jim Mallinder, the director of performance rugby.

“I’ve been involved in Scottish Rugby for a lifetime, and I feel lucky and very privileged to have been involved in the game here, firstly as a player and coach with Boroughmuir, then with the national team in both roles and to have played for Edinburgh and coached Glasgow Warriors,” Lineen said.

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“I will always be hugely enthusiastic and passionate about Scottish Rugby – everyone knows that.”

The son of former All Black Terry Lineen, he qualified for Scotland through his maternal grandfather in Stornoway. Born in Auckland, he worked as a police officer and played for the New Zealand Combined Services and then the Counties.

He featured for the latter against the touring British and Irish Lions in 1983 and then spent a season in Wales with Pontypool.

But it was his move to Scotland in 1988 that paved the way for a remarkable career on and off the park. Norrie Rowan and Bruce Hay brought him to Boroughmuir where he flourished.

Lineen yesterday accepted his departure from Murrayfield with good grace and underlined his intention to remain active.

“I always remember the Clint Eastwood quote,” he said. “At 91 he was asked: ‘What’s the secret to staying young?’ And his answer: ‘Don’t let the old man in.’ So, for me, I’ll be determined not to let the old man in. I feel physically and mentally very active. I love my cold-water swimming in the sea and I’m playing a lot of tennis and cycling.”



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