Last Monday saw the inevitable spilling of blood at SRU HQ with Frank Hadden managing to cling onto his job. After a woeful last 6 months that saw Scotland throw away a chance at a World Cup Semi-final and struggle to make any sort of positive impact on 2008’s 6 Nations it was inconceivable that there wouldn’t be changes to the coaching structure. Whilst Hadden has, somehow, clung onto his job both George Graham and Alan Tait were not so fortunate. In have come the 2 coaches from Scotland’s professional sides, Sean Lineen (Glasgow) and Andy Robinson (Edinburgh).
It will be intriguing to see how these 3 coaches are able to work with each other. All 3 have differing approaches to the game and whether this ‘soup of styles’ can be carried off will make for interesting viewing.
These changes are hardly a surprise and are, probably, the least the SRU could have been expected to do after such a poor run of results. Make no mistake though, it now appears that unless Hadden can get results away in Argentina then surely his time as national coach will be coming to an end.
An interesting aspect of these changes is that with Hadden retaining his position the SRU are failing to tackle the main issue with this Scottish side – namely the inability to attack and effectively hurt opposition. Hadden’s tenure has been characterised by the image of the ball being passed down a flat line with no gain in territory with the ultimate end product of the ball being booted away. Game after game we see players, who for their club sides run the ball and break the line, fail to display the attacking verve required at the highest level. To be honest some of the play over the last 6 months has been feckless. The players need to look at their own level of performance, but surely the man in charge of coaching the backs (Hadden) needs to take responsibility for picking the wrong players, the wrong tactics and failing to have any sort of game plan. Hadden’s failing as a head coach are tiny in comparison to his failings as a Backs coach.
The appointment of Robinson and Lineen put the pressure firmly on Hadden. Whilst neither Lineen or Robinson admit to wanting to take the national job you have to ask would they turn it down if offered? Robinson was essential to England success at the 2003 World Cup and, whilst his spell as head honcho with England was a mess, he could be seen as the logical next step. He will surely be keen to rebuild his image on the international stage and Scotland could be a good platform for him to show what he can do.
My feeling is that Lineen and Robinson are being eased slowly into the national setup and barring a marked upturn in performances, and results, this 2-pronged leadership may well be in charge come next years 6 Nations. In my opinion this still leaves a gap, a figurehead to sit above these 2 – someone with knowledge of the game at all levels. If (when?) Hadden leaves I hope the SRU appoint a ‘Director of Rugby’ who’ll guide the development of the game. The SRU may already have this role in the setup (?) but this needs to be a far more visible presence. Presuming that Scotland don’t have the balls to approach someone like a Jake White (don’t get if you don’t ask – although, in fairness to the SRU, they may well have), or that Jake would rather wash his hair, we need to look outside of the box. They needn’t be Scottish, just someone with the passion to succeed and someone who wants to improve the whole structure ensuring that schoolboy rugby up receive the same high level training and are all trying to play the same type of rugby. Its a big job but the rewards could be huge.
Anyway, as ever I digress. I look forward to see the impact of Lineen and Robinson, hopefully it’ll be a start to sorting out the mess we are in at the moment…we can but hope!
Over and out.