Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


McFarland turns his back on us; set for Ulster

Gregor Townsend
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend and Dan McFarland in discussions before Scotland vs Samoa - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland is set to depart the international set up in January having secured a 3 year deal as head coach at Ulster, the SRU has announced. His final destination was confirmed as Ulster today, after they announced over the weekend that they had secured a coach but couldn’t say who.

With the Scotland pack improving in leaps and bounds from last summer to the Six Nations, former Connacht player and coach McFarland should take a lot of the credit in terms of the set piece development. Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh should also be given some kudos for the development of his charges but the fact remains McFarland will be missed even if he seemed an unlikely appointment when Gregor Townsend first announced him to replace Shade Munro at Glasgow.

Former Worcester coach Carl Hogg will shadow/share duties with McFarland over the summer tour to USA, Canada and Argentina – and presumably into the autumn until a replacement can be found. With Scotland climbing the rankings and a bright generation of players playing a vibrant brand of rugby under Toony, this role could attract a better standard of candidate than might have previously been the case. Especially given how seemingly hard it is to get kicked out of the SRU structure once you are in which might also be attractive to potential candidates…

They’ll never get Vern back, but someone similarly nuggety and straightforward as the taciturn Kiwi was, and as McFarland seems to be, would be the obvious choice. Or will Toony risk a relative unknown quantity? Previous incumbent Jonathan Humphries at Glasgow might be another possibility but I hae ma’ doubts. Carl Hogg may actually be the man for the job in any case and only time will tell if he fits what Gregor Townsend is looking for in a forwards coach.

In other transfer news, Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is now believed to be heading to the Scarlets having turned down a half season deal that was Edinburgh’s most recent best offer (via the Offside Line). With Nathan Fowles and Sean Kennedy massively underperforming and Charlie Shiel still very raw, expect Cockers to get his own shopping list out. It’s unlikely he’ll settle for a Glasgow cast-off as coaches before him have.

Who would you be on the phone to?

21 Responses

  1. Really disappointing news for Scotland fans about Dan MacFarland. Great for him, though, and for Ulster.

  2. Also very disappointing that Scarlets were able to (presumably) offer SHC a better deal than Edinburgh. Of all the players leaving, he will leave the biggest hole.

  3. I hoe they don’t go with Hogg. Keep him on in some capacity but probably better suited to a pro side. He’s a very exciting young coach but no where near ready for Scotland in a senior role. Let’s go out and make a statement with the next appointment.

  4. Disappointing SHC is leaving especially after such a good run in the team. Likely to warm to bench and a real step down for him when Gunners on the up and 1st choice SH. Can the money be much better with Scarlets?

  5. Charlie Shiel must be seen as the future. I for one wouldn’t object to him being given a full season, with Fowles in reserve. Ideally, Horne at Glasgow with Hastings with a suggestion that Price (on the cheap) could help Finn settle in at Racing. That latter thinking is pie in the sky but stranger things have happened…

    Need Cotterill to ring up his mates and pull a huge scrum coach out the bag for Scotland, sooner rather than later…

  6. @TeamCam.. That’s just foolishness though… SHC is the vastly superior scrum half of the 3.

    Definitely a shame that’s he’s going to a place where he’ll be a clear bench option regardless of how well he does.

    1. He’s back to near his best but the truth is that he has been just another mediocre scrum half for the last two years. Even Cockerill has picked Fowles ahead of him for large parts of the season.

      Scarlets could do him good and if they bring out the best in him on a consistent basis we’ll owe them a big thanks.

    2. Totally agree, and I don’t understand the rationale for playing either of them over SHC.

  7. I agree with FF about SHC. He’s only recently shown any form after being in the doldrums for a couple of years. No one rates Fowles as a scrum half apart from Edinburgh hierarchy, so hopefully there are other options for Edinburgh, because Fowles is too slow and frankly, not good enough. Going to Scarlets didn’t do Barclay any harm, and SHC will flourish in that environment, even if he is second choice behind Gareth Davies.
    Dissapointing about McFarland, who I believe is a much underrated coach and will be missed. I don’t believe Humphries is the right coach for either Scotland (or Glasgow for that matter). Another top knowledgeable and hard ass kiwi forwards coach is needed. Can anyone shed light on possible candidates?

    1. I’ve just read that Davies is moving to Ospreys, but Scarlets have also signed a Wales under 20 from Jersey RFC, in addition to SHC.

      1. Just to be clear it’s Aled Davies not Gareth Davies who is moving to the Ospreys.

  8. I would hope Humphries would be on his way when his contract ended – never mind being talked for another job with Scotland.

  9. What about Shade Munro? Surely he’s a shoo in having done a sterling job with Glasgow, U20s and Women’s team.

    1. MacFarland came in to fix problems Shade Munro couldn’t and made an instant impact.

      We want a top-tier forward coach not just one lying around in easy reach, honest servant though Munro was.

  10. As a Warriors and Scotland fan, I’ve seen the impact McFarland has had on the forwards in his charge – both before and after he’s worked with them. I’m not saying that Humphries is a bad coach, but I think the Glasgow forwards haven’t performed at the same level as they achieved under McFarland. I think this is a big loss to Scottish rugby, but McFarland has earned this opportunity. I wish him all the best.

    1. Agreed. Glasgow, then Scotland’s maul attack and defence excellence in particular was due to Dan’s input. Unrecognisable to what came before.

  11. Any chance of a Graham Rowntree or too expensive? Mates with RC, ejected from England set up, Lions coach and Quins in upheaval…

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion