If the Calcutta Cup-winning Scots are short of players for this summer's testing little jaunt to New Zealand - John Leslie, Kenny Logan, Doddie Weir and Stuart Grimes all feature on a non-travelling list that is growing longer by the day - they are looking far more healthy on the coaching front.
Alan Tait, one of the classiest outside backs of his generation and a try-scoring Lion in South Africa three years ago, has been recruited to the national back-room staff and will join Ian McGeechan, John Rutherford and Hugh Campbell in the Land of the Long White Cloud next month.
"Rugby has been my life," said Tait, an international in both codes, "and I would like to continue to make it my life. I took some time out after retiring from playing and I now intend to put my heart and soul into this side of the sport." McGeechan, very much the head honcho north of the border after taking over from Jim Telfer at the end of last autumn's World Cup, described the 35-year-old centre-cum-wing as "a model professional and someone who is very much up to speed with the requirements of the modern game at international level".
Meanwhile, Jonah Lomu's appeal against his two-match Super-12 ban for a "spear-tackling" offence at the weekend has been rejected by a disciplinary tribunal in Sydney. The tree-sized wing from New Zealand was shown a yellow card for committing the offence while helping the Wellington Hurricanes to an important 10th-round victory over the New South Wales Waratahs, but was hauled before the hanging jury by citing officials who felt that the South African referee, Andre Watson, had been too lenient.
Lomu appeared at the headquarters of the Australian Rugby Union yesterday with high hopes of a reprieve, but was quickly disabused of such optimistic notions. "I'm not the sort to take things lying down and I did what I could," he said. "I'm disappointed at the result." Having already granted paternity leave to Tana Umaga, the "other Lomu" who plays on the opposite wing, Wellington will be without two of their most potent attacking forces when they face the Western Stormers and the Northern Bulls over the next 10 days.
Still on the disciplinary front, a three-man International Rugby Board panel was convened in Dublin yesterday to hear evidence from twoof the leading players at the centre of the "Grannygate" furore that broke out midway through this season's Six Nations' Championship - Shane Howarth of Wales and David Hilton of Scotland - but another 'Welshman', Brett Sinkinson, did not make the trip as he was playing for Neath last night. All three were forced to stand down from international duty after doubt was cast on their eligibility to play for their adopted countries.
The tribunal, chaired by the South African judge Jannie Lubbe, also took evidence from senior members of the Welsh and Scottish union hierarchies, and will hear further submissions today before announcing its findings.