THE SRU has announced a new initiative with London Scottish which will see coaches and players based with Exiles club and gain experience in the English Championship.
Scotland age-grade chief Sean Lineen will oversee the start of the process in a temporary Director of Rugby role, while Roddy Grant, the former Edinburgh flanker who was recently forced into early retirement with a knee injury, will join the London Scottish coaching team for the remainder of the season.
Former Scotland Grand Slam-winning centre Lineen will support current London Scottish head coach Peter Richards and will be looking at support staff, facilities, match scheduling, pre-season preparation and player recruitment.
Selected pro-team, BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy and Scottish age-grade players will be based at the Richmond Athletic Ground and available to London Scottish for English Championship and British and Irish Cup fixtures. Already this season, the Scotland cap and Glasgow wing Rory Hughes has spent some time at London Scottish getting game time.
It is the latest move to see Scottish rugby benefit from the London-based SRU member club, which was founded in 1878 and has the highest number of players, 221, selected for the national team. Famously, four London Scottish players - Gavin Hastings, Paul Burnell, Damien Cronin and Derek White - started on the day Scotland beat England to the Grand Slam in 1990.
There has been talk of London Scottish, along with London Welsh, leaving the English set-up to join the Guinness Pro12, possibly in place of the Italian sides Treviso and Zebre, but it has never moved beyond a speculative stage and, in the announcement, the club’s chairman Sir David Reid said they intend “to remain a successful and ambitious [English] Championship club”.
Scottish Rugby chief executive, Mark Dodson, said: “I am very pleased the hard work put in by Scottish Rugby and London Scottish over recent months has now come to fruition.
“This is an exciting, logical partnership, which benefits both organisations, who share the common objective of developing and improving Scottish rugby.
“It provides a new, competitive step on the performance pathway for both players and coaches and we look forward to working with London Scottish CEO Rod Lynch and his team in the seasons to come.”
Sir David added: “We will benefit from having experienced players, while we can provide the level of on field competition that younger Scottish players need to aid their development.
“London Scottish intends to remain a successful and ambitious Championship club. Sean Lineen and Roddy Grant will help us achieve this.
“The relationship between the Union and London Scottish has never been stronger. I really appreciate the leadership and vision shown by Scottish Rugby in this exciting initiative and the support they have shown to London Scottish.”