Scotland seek new talent in far-flung foreign fields

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There were three call-ups yesterday to the Scotland squad, ahead of the Six Nations wooden spoon match against Italy in Rome on Saturday. These were the centre Alex Grove, the full-back-cum wing Jack Cuthbert and the uncapped centre Peter Murchie. All three were born in England and qualify for Scotland through parents or grandparents – underlining the significance of the role that has been created for Sean Lineen by the Scottish Rugby Union.

The former Scotland centre will leave his post as head coach of Glasgow at the end of the season, to become the SRU's head of player acquisition. His principal aim will be to scour the globe for people like his younger self: talented players with Scottish qualifications. New Zealand born and bred and the son of a former All Black captain, Lineen won 29 caps for Scotland on the strength of claims that his grandfather had been born in Stornoway.

There have been several "kilted Kiwis" since Lineen – notably John and Martin Leslie, Glenn Metcalfe and Brendan Laney – and two Australians, Dan Parks and Nathan Hines, have recently retired from national service. With a pool of just 11,687 senior male players (there are 131,399 in England and 15,848 in Italy), it has long been a necessity for Scotland to seek any talent available. Still, coming after the "plastic Brit" jibes aimed at overseas-born members of the British athletics team at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, the announcement of Lineen's role seemed somewhat ironic.

"One of the main parts of this job is selling Scottish rugby to players around the world, which is something I'm very passionate about," Lineen said. "Look at England and how many foreign-born players they now have."

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