Just a few months after being side-winded from his job as Glasgow Warriors head coach Sean Lineen was today being touted as one of the contenders to take over from Andy Robinson at the helm of Scotland.
Mystery always surrounded why Lineen, pictured below, was moved into a new role scouting worldwide for Scottish qualified talent coupled with coaching the national under-20s.
If, as is officially maintained, it is because Lineen was ideally suited to seeking out new players allowing Gregor Townsend to cut his teeth in a head coach role then the SRU could easily adapt that decision. Certainly, former Scotland captain Gary Armstrong thinks Lineen is well qualified.
Armstrong said: “Sean certainly seemed to have the respect of the Glasgow players when he left them.
“I don’t think too many Scotland players are playing for the jersey these days but it is not so much we’re going backwards as plenty of other countries are catching up and overtaking.”
Consideration is bound to be given to Scott Johnson, brought in by Robinson as an attack coach with experience of assisting Wales, and among those favouring the Australian until stability is restored is ex-Scotland and Lions captain Colin Deans, who said: “I’d put Scott Johnson in temporary charge as someone who is currently in the set-up,”
Deans, however, has strong views on the wider issues confronting Scottish rugby in the post-Robinson era.
“There are players at Edinburgh and Glasgow not worth contracts; I’d want the best players at these teams to do what Richie Gray did and move to England to test himself at a higher level week in week out.
“By encouraging the big earners to go to England or France enough money could be saved to run three development teams in Scotland.”
Fin Calder led a Lions squad containing Andy Robinson to a Test series victory in Australia back in 1989. He indicated Robinson may have acted too hastily. “I think there might be a bit of knee jerk reaction to the Tonga result, a tipping point. I can’t imagine there will be a queue of candidates waiting to take over but being the type of fellow Andy is I suspect he has resigned rather than hung around.”
Another ex-Lions captain, from Edinburgh, Gavin Hastings feels the players have to take a large chunk of responsibility. “We really are not at the top table with regard to any of the top sides in world rugby and players have to take their share of the blame,” said Hastings. “As people wearing the dark blue of Scotland they should be ashamed. Andy was quoted as saying players did not follow tactics. If that is the case Andy has paid with his job.
“Scottish rugby is at a low point. I don’t think anybody has the answer in the short term. It is very much a long-term process.”
Others sure to be quoted for the vacancy in the days ahead include Todd Blackadder, the former Edinburgh captain now coaching Super 14 side Crusaders, while fellow Kiwi Wayne Smith helped the All Blacks win the world cup and has recently been in Scotland acting as a consultant to the SRU.
Ex-Springbok mentors Jake White and Nick Mallett are out of work at the moment, while nearer home, it would be interesting to see how Michael Bradley fares freed from the constraints inevitably placed on any of the Scottish pro team coaches.
Gregor Townsend’s turn is some way off, but Alan Tait has been involved with Scotland and subsequently gained head coach experience at Newcastle Falcons.
Tait’s former teammate Bryan Redpath has had a stormy start at Sale, but could just be an outsider, especially if his old sidekick Carl Hogg were to be prised away from Gloucester to mentor the forwards.
In these austere times, though, and with Robinson’s settlement being quoted as in the region of £700,000, it will undoubtedly be a case of just who the SRU can afford. That will narrow the search parameters considerably.