Sitting in a Murrayfield suite today in his regulation Caledonian team polo shirt, complete with thistle on left breast, Dean Ryan was asked what it was about Scotland that persuaded him to swap the television studio for the coach's bench. The one-time Wasps, Newcastle and England hard nut of a No 8 smiled and replied: "Part of the attraction is giving people bloody noses. I like that.
"Where we are sets us up so that we can give people bloody noses. I'm not going to be around in two or three years, so it's not about evolving something. It's about the next 12 weeks. I think I can make a difference on that basis. If we give someone a bloody nose then that's great."
It just so happens that Scotland's first game with Ryan as their interim forwards coach, and as lieutenant to interim head coach Scott Johnson, is the Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham on 2 February. Having once upon a time been touted and ultimately overlooked for the head honcho role with England, might Scotland's new temporary No 2 – a Private Ryan who became a corporal in his seven years in the Royal Engineers – have particular motivation for splattering the red-rose nose three weeks come Saturday?
"It would be great to win any big game," he replied. "It doesn't matter if it is England, Ireland, whoever. It would be fantastic, whoever was on the end of it.
"I don't think it was ever realistic that I would coach England. I was a club coach, doing well at Gloucester, but I don't think I have ever been at the top of any list at Twickenham."
In his four years as head coach at Gloucester, Ryan came tantalisingly close to establishing the Cherry and Whites among the trophy-winning elite of English club rugby. Since he left Kingsholm, in the summer of 2009, he has turned his back on "career coaching" and settled into a role as a razor-sharp analyst in Sky Sports' excellent rugby union team. The 46-year-old has no intention of returning to coaching on a full-time basis, no matter how many opposition noses he succeeds in putting out of joint in the course of his 12-week contract with the Scottish Rugby union.
"I have no interest in a permanent appointment," Ryan said. "I have taken this opportunity because it's a short-term contract. I made strong decisions to move away from coaching. I don't want to be a career coach.
"I don't want to spend my life every three or four years on a cycle. I don't want my children to be on that cycle. I made that decision four years ago.
"But then somebody comes along and says, 'Can you help us for 12 weeks?' There's part of you that always burns.
"At the end of those 12 weeks, I hope it's been a fantastic ride. I'll say, 'Thanks very much' – and, hopefully, others will come through and play a part in something that's moving forward."
There is little disguising the fact that Scotland are in a state of flux following Andy Robinson's resignation as head coach in the wake of the November defeat against Tonga. Johnson has taken charge but without a change of contract. His future as a possible permanent head coach will be assessed after Scotland's summer tour to South Africa.
As for Ryan, his coaching ambitions have clearly been burnt by his experience at Kingsholm. "There were a lot of things that frustrated me," he reflected. "Some of it was frustration with what happened at board level, some of it to do with how quick we were to dismantle something.
"Why would I invest my children's schooling and my livelihood in people like that? I have a beautiful little 14-week-old daughter. I don't intend to trawl around the country trying to be a career coach. I want to have a stable household and do things differently. That's quite a strong motivation."Reuse content