Rugby Union: McGeechan is set to help London Scottish: Lions coach confirms move

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The Independent Online
IAN McGEECHAN's next coaching assignment after the Lions' tour of New Zealand will be back to his roots as an Anglo-Scot: helping - though no more than that - London Scottish's attempt to come back up from the Second Divison at the first attempt.

McGeechan is not best pleased that the Exiles have let his name slip, since he wanted to focus exclusively on the Lions until his return, when he will discuss his involvement with the club's officials.

'I told them that until the tour was over I didn't want to think about anything else,' he said yesterday as his players concluded their preparations for today's second Test against New Zealand at Athletic Park.

McGeechan stepped down as Scotland coach at the end of last season and immediately the offers came in. 'I've had a number of approaches but because it's London Scottish it obviously has greater appeal,' McGeechan said. 'But I would only be helping out; there's no question of me being the coach.'

That is an appointment Scottish have yet to make, but McGeechan's role with the club would be akin to that formerly played by his assistant Scotland coach, Richie Dixon, who flew down from Edinburgh once a week to conduct training after Ally McHarg's resignation last season. McGeechan is more conveniently placed, having recently moved back from Edinburgh to Leeds.

To McGeechan's relief, Gavin Hastings got through yesterday's pre-Test training at Wellington College, though it was a less than strenuous work-out and the evidence was that the Lions captain, who twinged a hamstring against Auckland a week ago, would not be 100 per cent fit.

Athletic Park was sold out, a rare event at one of international rugby's least prepossessing venues and reflective of the enormous interest in this Lions tour. Mindful of this, Laurie Mains, the All Blacks coach, yesterday spoke out against the siren voices which continue to suggest this will be the last Lions tour to New Zealand.

'It's been a tremendous boost for rugby in New Zealand,' he said. 'The Lions do seem to captivate the imagination of the New Zealand rugby public and it has created a lot more interest than any other tour in the last four or five years. If Lions tours were to end, it would be a tragedy for rugby in the countries they visit and also for the players themselves, who very much appreciate being part of a Lions tour. It would be a sad loss for world rugby if the Lions did not continue to be an entity.'