New interim Edinburgh Rugby coach Stevie Scott has revealed he will waste no time in trying to revive the fortunes of his old team once the RBS Six Nations Championship ends this weekend.
The Scotland team that ex-internationalist hooker Scott serves as a forwards’ skills coach concludes its programme with a trip to France on Saturday.
Little over 24 hours later, he will be firmly in the Edinburgh camp, having, along with Duncan Hodge, taken on the task of waving smelling salts under the nose of a team who have won just four times all season and have five fixtures left to fulfil.
“I’ll come back from Paris on Sunday and have a meeting arranged with the staff at Edinburgh for that evening,” said Scott, whose coaching CV includes three years at Selkirk followed by two-and-a-half years at English Premiership outfit Sale Sharks.
A decent showing alongside Hodge, with whom he shared some notable experiences as a player at Edinburgh, including an away win at Euro champions Northampton and a draw on his debut at Ulster, could see the pair installed permanently in succession to Michael Bradley and Neil Back.
Scott relishes that possibility and makes clear it is payback time.
“I may be from the Borders (his playing career at club level was spent with Melrose and briefly Gala), but Edinburgh was the first place to give me my professional rugby opportunity.
“I have a lot of passion for Edinburgh. I want to pay them back for the opportunity they gave me.”
Statistically, there won’t ever have been an Edinburgh coach with the credentials of Scott.
As a player he turned out for the team 99 times so his first coaching assignment, against Ulster at Murrayfield on Friday week, will be a notable milestone so far as the Capital connection is concerned.
Likewise, teaming up with Hodge will evoke memories of how that debut draw in Belfast was clinched by a late Hodge drop goal for 38-38 and the same player came up with a late winner with the boot when Northampton were overcome at Franklin’s Gardens.
As a coaching combo they are more low profile than they were as players, but Scott insists: “We are not looked at as specialist coaches any more thanks to the opportunities we have been given by Johnno (Scott Johnson) with Scotland.
“We are rugby coaches capable of taking on a range of jobs.
“Hodgey has a great knowledge of the game having been given responsibility for more than kicking. I have been working on the line-out and the maul, both attack and defence as well as other aspects. Before getting involved with Scotland, too, I was at Sale. It’s not as if we are coming in from the wilderness.”
The pair will inherit a squad containing 18 full caps and that could increase were Grant Gilchrist to get an opportunity against France this weekend having recovered from a ankle injury.
While recognising the potential of second row Gilchrist, the experienced possessed by Ross Ford in his old position of hooker particularly excites Scott.
“By his own admission Ross wasn’t playing as well as he would have liked at the end of last year before dropping out injured for a spell. I am delighted he is back showing his potential again,” he said.
“The thing about Ross is he just wants to play. Ross wants to train as hard as he can and he wants to get the jersey on. That is good to see.”
A winning end to the Six Nations would certainly have a carry over to Edinburgh and their chances could be improved by the presence of a Northern Hemisphere referee in Nigel Owens of Wales.
Last weekend’s encounter with Wales was placed in the hands of an official from the Southern Hemisphere where interpretations at the scrum in particular can differ.
Consequently re-sets and penalties meant the encounter barely got going. “I think the Scotland will be comfortable with a referee they know from the Rabo Direct League and Heineken Cup,” said Scott.
“But I know the French will want to scrummage.”
Wales were criticised for duping Scotland into engaging early and being penalised, the suspicion being that set-piece attrition was not in their interests.
Scott says of the looming Stade de France confrontation: “If you watch recent French games they turned over 12 of the opposition’s 28 scrums.
“They love a scrum; it is bred into them.
“We put a lot of teams under pressure, too. Our scrum is a powerful weapon and it is the best place to attack from as you have 16 players in a tight position. You will see a contest (as opposed to a series of pile-ups or penalties) this weekend.”