IAN Rankin, who handed Australian Matt Taylor his first big break in pro rugby, last night hit out at the SRU for recruiting him as Scotland’s new defence coach.
Former Edinburgh flanker Taylor – currently with Queensland Reds – will take up the post made vacant after Graham Steadman’s contract was not renewed by the SRU. But Rankin, his ex-coach at Edinburgh, has described the appointment as “another slap in the face” for home-trained coaches.
Taylor will link up in the summer with English-born coach Andy Robinson’s new No 2, Scott Johnson – also an Australian. It will mean that out of the national squad’s “big four” on the backroom team, only Gregor Townsend will be a Scot.
Rankin, currently in charge of Dundee HSFP, was head coach of Edinburgh when they snapped up Taylor from Aberdeen GSFP in the late 1990s. And though he admired Taylor as a player, Rankin believes Robinson’s decision to recruit him sends out a negative and confidence-denting message to Scottish coaches.
He said: “As a player, Matt was an out-and-out openside, and despite the fact that he wasn’t the biggest guy, he was a very clever player. I have watched his career develop with Queensland Reds and he has done really well there. However, I think it is another slap in the face for ambitious young coaches working in Scotland for him to come here. Our lads have, after all, come through our own coaching education system.”
Rankin reckons the quality of Scottish-based coaches was underlined by the emergence of the nation’s fresh crop of Test stars. He said: “Lads such as Dave Denton, Greig Laidlaw, Lee Jones, Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir are in the Scotland squad because they were able to show their skills under home-based coaches when everyone else was away at the World Cup in New Zealand last year.
“The whole scenario has proved that there is talent here – both playing and coaching – if they are only given the chance.”