Coach facing the sack after Scotland inquiry

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The Independent Online

Over the last few months, Scottish rugby has lost a forward-thinking chairman, a highly rated chief executive and a director of rugby, Ian McGeechan, who may just be the single most influential figure in the post-war history of the British and Irish Lions. Some going, that. And today, the great and good of Murrayfield may shed a head coach into the bargain.

Over the last few months, Scottish rugby has lost a forward-thinking chairman, a highly rated chief executive and a director of rugby, Ian McGeechan, who may just be the single most influential figure in the post-war history of the British and Irish Lions. Some going, that. And today, the great and good of Murrayfield may shed a head coach into the bargain.

Matt Williams, the highly articulate but profoundly unsuccessful Australian who has guided the national team to three victories in 17 Tests since succeeding McGeechan at the end of the 2003 World Cup, will find his rear end on the line when his employers meet today to pick through the wreckage of another desperate Six Nations Championship, which included record hammerings at the hands of both Ireland and Wales. A wide-ranging review of what went wrong and why has been completed. All that remains is for Williams to fight for his job.

The coach has two years left on his contract, but he has taken so much criticism from former internationals that the union's committee members may feel obliged to pay him off. McGeechan's decision to return to English club rugby - he will move to Wasps after this summer's Lions tour of New Zealand - will do little to help his cause, although the senior man has publicly defended Williams at every turn.

Some were surprised that Williams was given the job in the first place, given his Heineken Cup failure with Leinster a few months previously. (The Irish province were heavily favoured to make the final after a run of home ties, but made a desperate hash of a semi-final with Perpignan at Lansdowne Road). He has fast-tracked the likes of Chris Cusiter and Ally Hogg into positions of responsibility, but the Six Nations whitewash in 2004 left a nasty smell that grew more pungent still during this year's tournament.

The Welsh Rugby Union met yesterday with representatives of the four professional regional teams - the Cardiff Blues, Llanelli Scarlets, Neath-Swansea Ospreys and Newport-Gwent Dragons - to discuss engaging with the 12 English Premiership clubs in an Anglo-Welsh competition early next season. The union and the regions agreed to explore the issue in the coming weeks.

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