Scottish Rugby bosses were today urged to find a higher-profile role for under-20 coach Sean Lineen as a first step towards trying to regain some credibility at international level.
Stock is currently depressed after the Six Nations brought a second whitewash in four seasons. Hinting that there might be hope on the horizon the national under-20s, mentored by former Scotland grand slam centre Lineen, won an unprecedented three Six Nations matches.
Few in rugby know what makes Lineen tick better than Norrie Rowan, ex-Scotland prop who was instrumental in attracting this original ‘Kilted Kiwi’ to the Boroughmuir club which was a launchpad to notable achievement as player and coach.
Says Rowan: “I find it unfathomable that more use isn’t being made of Sean’s remarkable rugby abilities.
“Fair enough, the SRU felt Sean had taken Glasgow as far as he could and it was time for a shake-up with Gregor Townsend moving in as coach.
“But some of the signings that are doing well today were Sean’s and that switch should have been the cue for an equally important role at the top of the professional game for him.
“That old phrase about a prophet without honour in his own land springs to mind when I think of the way Sean has been under-used.
“To put this season’s under-20 results into context that win over Wales under his direction was only the second ever by Scotland against them in the championship.
“I’ve seen from the day Sean arrived in Scotland back in 1988 from New Zealand the impact he can have in rugby.
“I collected him at the airport having agreed to sponsor him through my company and he immediately wanted to go to club training and because he’d had an All Black trial every player wanted to measure themselves against him.
“There have been three major happenings at Boroughmuir in recent times. Firstly, Bill Watson got capped and that lifted the club to a new level as did Bruce Hay being selected for two Lions tours.
“After them came Sean and to think I had to defy the wishes of some who didn’t think we needed a centre. I knew that was our weakness and, desperate to win a league title in my final season, I took advice about Sean’s abilities from an All Black, Rob Kurarangi, whom I’d met playing for the Saltires Select.
“It saddens me when I see the direction Scottish rugby is now headed with all those foreign coaches and Scots like Peter Wright and Craig Chalmers on the outside. Both have an enormous amount to contribute but because they haven’t always toed the party line they are kept at arms length.
“Another who comes to mind is Alan Tait who is operating somewhere at grass roots when his experience as an English Premiership head coach with an assistant role in the Scottish set up not long ago should make him a key individual.
“The obsession with looking overseas at the expense of home-grown talent is going to be our ultimate undoing.
“Looking overseas is now the rule rather than the exception. Young lads have pecking orders worked out then find another import arrives to dis-spirit them. It’ll be our undoing if the governing body’s policy of bringing in players and coaches is allowed to continue.”