THE SRU’s global search for a new head sevens coach is set to lead them to an exiled Scot currently working with the world champion New Zealand squad.
The Evening News has learned that Clark Laidlaw, 34-year-old son of former Scotland and Lions scrum half, Roy, and cousin of current Edinburgh captain, Greig, is front runner for the post with an appointment expected shortly.
Laidlaw is based in Taranaki where he acts as skills coach and analyst for the Kiwis with experience of helping select the All Blacks under-17s. When the appointment is confirmed it will be a major coup for Scottish Rugby as they seek to bolster their sevens squad ahead of next season’s World Cup tournament following the decision to move Graham Shiel sideways after a disappointing qualifying campaign when Scotland squeezed through in fifth – and final – place.
Laidlaw could also find himself heavily involved in helping to prepare the Great Britain squad that will be seeking to compete at Rio when sevens makes its bow in the 2016 Olympics.
When his playing career, which included spells with Jed-Forest, Border Reivers and Italian side Livorno ended Laidlaw took a job in New Zealand in 2008 initially for a year after working with East Lothian Council. During a trip home in 2011 he said: “The opportunities I’ve been given in rugby are terrific. As well as the development work, the schools and coaching, being an New Zealand under-17s selector for two years has opened my eyes to really identifying talent. I’ve been given opportunities a lot earlier than I thought I would.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I’m lucky to be learning from Gordon Tietjens and Colin Cooper, two of the most successful coaches in New Zealand rugby.
“You can’t buy that kind of opportunity. Timing has been on my side, but you work hard and make the most of what chances you get in life.”