Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Blair to be Scotland skills coach as Hardie signs up for Edinburgh

Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross
Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend (round of applause) has added former Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair to his coaching team ahead of Scotland’s 2017 summer tour.

Blair has been developing as a skills coach at Glasgow alongside Townsend and will join fellow assistants Matt Taylor and Dan McFarland in taking the step up to international level following the 1872 Cup decider on Saturday. His areas of responsibility will be assisting with the attack, improving skills as well as working specifically with the scrum-halves.

The cap scrum half – who was capped 85 times for Scotland and toured with the Lions in 2009 – will also retain his Glasgow duties and responsibilities outside of the test-match windows as an assistant to Dave Rennie and Jason O’Halloran.

In short, if Carlsberg did skills coach apprenticeships… etc.

As a boost ahead of the final game of the season for Scotland’s other pro team, John Hardie has re-signed a deal with Edinburgh Rugby but it is just for one-year.

He joined Edinburgh after the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and has since made 19 appearances for Edinburgh and almost as many Scotland caps at 15. It is perhaps an indication of both his value to the national side but also his troubles with injuries in the intervening periods.

The length of the deal is interesting for a player of his undoubted calibre. Much as with WP Nel, if he had been fit more consistently you imagine there might have been some big offers from England or France on the table but perhaps repeated injury layoffs have reduced those, and this is a chance for him to prove his fitness in pursuit of an extension with Edinburgh or a move elsewhere.

In other news, Edinburgh centre Michael Allen has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the season, aged 26. He and his family will remain in the capital as he pursues a career in the financial sector.

6 Responses

  1. Excellent news about Blair. Not wholly surprising, but good nonetheless. Same applies to Dalziel given a go at the 7’s. Purists may grumble he hasn’t much 7’s experience, but modern 7’s at top level isn’t recognisable to club level. He’s a decent coach, and there does seem to be a bit of joined up thinking for a change.

    Whether or not that is anything to do with the Fat Bluffer is anyone’s guess.

  2. Difficult to disagree with the view that Hardie would’ve been away to England or France if he had a better fitness record. My hope is that he puts in a terrific season for Edinburgh, providing vital and high-quality competition in the back-row.

    However, the real question is what to do with the two best 7s in Scotland. I’m not convinced that Cockers will be the kind of man to play them both, but it’s a question of what is best option, i.e. is better to have Hardie slightly out of position at 6 in certain games than a player more naturally suited to it (Mata or Bradbury)? I’ve been pondering whether it is worth trying Watson at 8. He might not have the bulk for the scrum, but he’s definitely got the high-powered ball-carrying ability.

    Of course, of all the news that came out yesterday, the least cheery is the retention of Duncan Hodge. Another season of Edinburgh’s back-line attack being as potent as a non-alcoholic Bud lite beckons…which maybe shows that Cockers came is going to be, i.e. batter them up-front.

    1. I’d like a back row of Hardie, Watson and Bradbury. Hardie can play like a 6, Watson’s a natural 7 and Bradbury is a pretty handy 8 who breaks the gain line a lot.

  3. I think Hardie coming to Edinburgh raised the game for Watson and they are now both top class internationals. I suspect that Cockers is going to play a fairly attritional game with a lot of back row wear and tear so probably wise to keep options. Would actually have liked to see Hardie at Glasgow to replace Favaro next season but maybe Rennie has something up his sleeve.

    1. I too was hoping that Hardie would pop up along the M8… delighted he’s staying in Scotland though….

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion