Rugby: Hastings backs outgoing coach

Scott Hastings
Scott Hastings
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Former Scotland rugby hero Scott Hastings believes it is far too early to write off Sean Lineen as a potential international coach.

Scottish rugby continues to rock from the effective sacking of one-time Boroughmuir and Edinburgh star Lineen, especially with the Glasgow team he mentors chasing a place in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 play-offs.

Hastings stopped short of saying Lineen, who has continued to live in the Capital, had a raw deal from Murrayfield paymasters in being replaced by Gregor Townsend, an unknown quantity at club level.

But he refused to rule out a reincarnation for Lineen as Andy Robinson’s successor at a time when details of a crucial summer tour which pitches Scotland against Australia, Fiji and Samoa have just been finalised.

The trip will see Robinson battling to restore his credentials at the helm of a team who have lost seven-in-a-row and Hastings, who shared a Grand Slam-winning centre partnership with Lineen, said: “Sean wants to finish on a high (at Glasgow). Anybody who knows Sean knows he has put a great amount into Scottish rugby whether for Boroughmuir, Glasgow, age group teams or by introducing touch rugby leagues. In his new role (international talent scout) hopefully he can unearth some good quality Scottish talent.

“Sean is disappointed because he had some unfinished business at Glasgow and I thought there were maybe two or three more years for him in that coaching role. He’ll be disappointed in the manner it happened, but it is up to him to stamp his authority in this new role and he can still coach Scotland, I’m sure.

“Andy Robinson knows that as he moves forward in his coaching career there is a lot of Scottish talent in pro rugby with Bryan Redpath being one leading coach down south.

“Gregor has now got to find his feet and earn his stripes quickly. If he doesn’t . . .

“I see Sean as a contender to coach Scotland in future, very much so.”

Hastings was talking at the Princes Street branch of World Sevens Series sponsors HSBC in his ambassadorial for the Glasgow tournament on May 5 and 6 which he believes can draw on the success of Edinburgh’s team in reaching the semi-finals of the Heineken European Cup next week with an away tie against Ulster in Dublin.

“Over 37,000 came to see Edinburgh-Toulouse and a lot of Borderers travelled to Murrayfield. Now Glasgow have an opportunity to build towards the 2014 Commonwealth Games that city hosts with an event to be seen in that context.

“Edinburgh’s efforts in beating London Irish and Racing Metro home and away in Europe as well as Toulouse shows that pro rugby can engender great support, atmosphere and loyalty whether at Murrayfield or at the sevens in Glasgow,” said Hastings.

For Hastings the win over Toulouse was another step in a rollercoaster journey into the pro era for Scottish rugby having captained Edinburgh in their first Euro campaign back in 1996.

“In 1996 it was a step into the (Euro) unknown. Sport moves on but back then it was literally a case of get on the bus after a couple of training sessions and seeing where it takes us. At that time we were representing Edinburgh and also our clubs week in, week out. It was only by having extra sessions that we were able to put in a game plan to go to Bath against the likes of Andy Robinson, Matt Perry and Jeremy Guscott and Jason Robinson.

“We were staring down a barrel, facing a 70 or 80 point hiding. We came back, scored a couple of tries and realised with a bit more effort we could compete.

“It has taken Edinburgh too many years to be able to compete on a regular and consistent basis but now that they have the manner and style of dynamic rugby they play has ultimately made for a fantastic support.

“The team are only 80 minutes away from a Heineken Cup Final and who would have forseen that at the start of this season?”

Hastings credits coach Michael Bradley as the major influence.

“Michael Bradley has given the players a lot of confidence.

“I came back from the rugby World Cup and said there was a lot of wrongs to be put right by the Scottish players. They have not been able to do it at international level but what I have seen in Glasgow and Edinburgh is a belief to be able to compete in domestic and European competition.”