Struggling Scotland set to call time on Williams

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The Independent Online

Matt Williams is on the brink of being sacked as coach of the national team by the Scottish Rugby Union, according to a report on BBC Scotland's website.

Matt Williams is on the brink of being sacked as coach of the national team by the Scottish Rugby Union, according to a report on BBC Scotland's website.

Scotland have won just one Six Nations Championship match in 10 tests under the Australian Williams, culminating in the humiliating defeat against England on Saturday in the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham. And, in all, Scotland have lost 14 out of the 17 Test matches they have played under his command.

According to the BBC, Williams's future is to be reviewed over the next couple of weeks at a series of debriefings at which the views of the media and supporters, among others, will be discussed.

Former players have been clamouring for Williams to be sacked, including Andy Irvine. The former Scotland full-back said yesterday: "The union should take a couple of brave pills and bring in somebody younger who has the players' confidence. The rugby public has lost faith and confidence in him and I fear some of the players have also." The one big problem about trying terminate Williams's contract is the cost. The former Leinster coach's contract runs beyond the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and the SRU is several million pounds in debt.

But the BBC report is adamant that Williams will not be in charge of Scotland for the autumn Tests and indeed suggests that he will not survive in the post beyond the end of March.

The Welsh Rugby Union, in contrast, is likely to try to persuade the Wales coach Mike Ruddock to extend his contract, which has 14 months to run, to the end of the 2007 World Cup. They hope to agree a new deal in the near future.

And Wales' triumphant squad has reaped the first big benefit for winning the Grand Slam - a £250,000 bonus from their sponsors, who include Reebok and Cardiff brewers Brains.

The cash windfall is only the first of the financial rewards from their achievement, promotional spin-offs from the momentous feat - the first Grand Slam by the Red Dragon team for 27 years - are certain to generate a river of cash for them over the next few months.

But while Wales continue to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, for Ireland and Italy the RBS Six Nations Championship has ended on a sour note with players from both countries being cited for foul play.

Italy's Salvatore Perugini, the tight head prop, has been cited by independent commissioner Ken Pattinson, of England, for an incident which left the France wing Christophe Dominici unconscious and needing hospital treatment.

The Ireland lock Paul O'Connell has also been cited for incident against Wales in Cardiff involving Wales lock Robert Sidoli, and he will be joining the Italian at a hearing on 23 March before a three-man disciplinary panel chaired by Lorne Crerar, of Scotland. If O'Connell is found guilty and is banned, he is likely to miss Munster's Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Biarritz in San Sebastian on the first weekend next month.

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