Rugby: Johnson in pole position for the job

THE SRU may have little option but to place Scott Johnson in charge of Scotland for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship campaign.

It has been reported that Australian Johnson, brought in by now-departed head coach Andy Robinson as senior assistant on a four-year contract, is being paid an annual £200,000. Former Scotland prop forward and Edinburgh businessman Norrie Rowan believes that, on top of an anticipated six-figure severance payment to Robinson, any termination of Johnson’s employment would have a major effect on a organisation £13 million in debt.

Rowan, capped 13 times, believes that finance is not the only issue involved in putting a new coaching team together.

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“It looks like Johnson will be staying because it would be too costly to sack someone who was Andy Robinson’s appointment, but the consequences are significant elsewhere, too.

“Nobody would come in as effectively Johnson’s boss because they would be getting judged on results without being able to put their full imprint on the team.

“For example, Sean Lineen has spent over 20 years building up a reputation in Scottish rugby and that could be tarnished through not having people who buy into his tactical plans right alongside.

“It is absolute shambles, but I think the whole coaching business is over-rated at the highest level.

“What is more important is selection.”

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Fifty-year-old Johnson has been skills coach to Wales, including during their 2005 Grand Slam, and head coach of the US Eagles.

He moved to the SRU from Celtic League side Ospreys and during the summer it was suggested his role was being expanded to take responsibility for coach education. This has never been confirmed.

Generally, Johnson has kept a low profile in Scotland, but a few years ago he did make sporting headlines by referring to New Zealand ahead of a match as “a poxy island in the Pacific Ocean”.

This he later retracted, saying New Zealand was “two poxy 
islands in the Pacific Ocean”.