Rugby: Nicol and Hunter surprised by move to replace Lineen with Townsend

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Former Scotland captain Andy Nicol has backed Sean Lineen to ensure domestic rugby does not take a backward step in the face of the ex-Grand Slam centre’s shock move away from coaching Glasgow Warriors.

The timing of a decision – expected to be confirmed today – that Lineen is to be replaced at Glasgow by Gregor Townsend and moved to a global role within Murrayfield has caused some consternation, not least because Glasgow are poised to give a rare boost to Scottish rugby by qualifying for the domestic Celtic League play-offs.

Nicol said: “It was baffling and it completely took me by surprise. I knew plans afoot to get Gregor more coaching experience was the right thing but Sean has got Glasgow into play-offs depending on what happens in the next few games.

“Glasgow have become a very hard team to beat. It’s all a bit surprising.

“It’s not surprising that Gregor Townsend is getting more coaching but just the manner, the timing of it.”

Nicol also told today BBC Radio Scotland: “There will be a job to do to get the players back on line (but) they will just knuckle down.

“Sean is an outstanding individual as well as a coach, He’ll make sure their heads are right. If Sean is leaving the players should send him out with something to be really proud of.”

Neil Hunter, of the Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters, said today: “Gregor was a great player but does instinct make you a great coach? What has Gregor done to be an attack coach never mind staying in coaching at Glasgow?”