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?