Scott Johnson looked a forlorn character at Murrayfield on Friday as he watched Edinburgh being steamrollered by Leinster.
He must have been wondering whether accepting a role as Scotland’s interim coach was a career-limiting move, given how poorly some of his key players were performing.
Earlier in the week he’d announced he’ll be joined by some others to try to help him reverse Scotland’s headlong run into third tier international rugby.
Dean Ryan, the former England No 8, coach of Gloucester and Sky TV pundit, is to take on the role of interim forwards coach, while former Scotland internationalist Steve Scott is to become skills coach.
Glasgow forwards coach Shade Munro and Scotland’s most-capped forward, Scott Murray, are to take on responsibility for coaching the Scotland A team who take on England Saxons at Newcastle next month.
They’ll be joined by Duncan Hodge who, until now, has been exclusively responsible for coaching Scotland’s kickers.
The appointments have received a mixed reception.
On the one hand, the fact some Scottish coaches are being appointed has met with a favourable response.
However, many wonder why Craig Chalmers has been overlooked for A team duties after last year’s thumping of England.
On the other hand, Dean Ryan has been out of direct involvement in rugby for a while, other than commentating, and Steve Scott was ousted by Sale in the most recent set of changes. So they’re hardly in the top tier of international coaches.
The SRU would claim there are few Scottish coaches with sufficient experience at the highest level to merit inclusion in the international set-up.
But given Scotland’s current standing, what is there to lose by bringing someone in who, at the very least, will engender some sense of pride in their performance and will ensure the players understand the importance and impact of playing for Scotland?
Sitting in the stands alongside Scott Johnson was John Jeffrey which may cause many to speculate that Johnson is looking to the White Shark for guidance in selection. Andy Robinson admits picking the right players wasn’t his forte, either for England or Scotland.
Despite having toured with Scotland over the summer and worked with the team in the autumn, Johnson remains a relative stranger to Scottish rugby. If he’s going to use others steeped in the history and proud traditions of successful Scottish teams, then that’s a shrewd move by the Australian.
Whatever JJ’s role, Johnson will need all the help he can get.
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