Rugby Union: McGeechan takes Scotland role

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The Independent Online
Home is where the heart lies, even for hard-bitten sporting professionals with a living to make. Ian McGeechan has finally put his identity crisis behind him and reaffirmed his Scottish roots by agreeing to act as the eminence grise behind the national side - a move that sees him link up once again with Jim Telfer, his blood brother on this summer's Lions tour of South Africa.

Seven years after guiding the Scots to a famous Grand Slam and taking his country desperately close to an even more significant first-ever victory over the All Blacks, McGeechan has accepted the new role of technical and coaching consultant to Rob Wainwright's ambitious young side. He will add his influential voice to those of Telfer, the Scots' director of rugby, and the two coaches, Richie Dixon and David Johnston.

"I'm delighted that Ian has chosen his own folk over those in England," said Duncan Patterson, the Scottish Rugby Union's executive chairman, yesterday. "I know the Rugby Football Union at Twickenham wanted him badly but I also know where his heart lies.

"Scottish rugby owes him a debt of gratitude and I am pleased that we have managed to agree terms and fashion a role for both Ian and Jim that doesn't cut across those of the national coaches."

If that sounded suspiciously like one of those dodgy votes of confidence that modern-day chairmen are increasingly prone to deliver, Dixon was at pains to offer McGeechan a personal welcome. "We can all learn from one another, each of us confident in our respective roles," said the chief coach. "We have to keep our game moving forward and use whatever resources are available to us. It would be very remiss not to use Ian's experience and ability to that end."

Currently locked into a seven-year coaching deal at Northampton, McGeechan ruled himself out of the England running last month despite a ringing vote of support from Fran Cotton, one of Twickenham's most powerful movers and shakers. He won 32 Scottish caps as a centre and has coached the Lions to victories over the Wallabies and the Springboks.