WIL­SON IN THE LINE OF FIRE

New Glas­gow coach faces up­hill bat­tle as ap­point­ment is met with fierce crit­i­cism

Scottish Daily Mail - - Rugby Special - by ROB ROBERT­SON Rugby Cor­re­spon­dent

SCOT­LAND for­wards coach Danny Wil­son has re­vealed that he agreed to take over at Glas­gow War­riors as the op­por­tu­nity was sim­ply ‘too good to miss’.

How­ever, the English­man’s ap­point­ment has not been met with universal ac­claim. In­deed, ex-War­riors stand-off Colin Gre­gor de­scribed it as ‘dis­ap­point­ing’ and would have ‘rubbed up the wrong way’ many coaches who were al­ready in the Scot­tish sys­tem.

What is clear is that Wil­son will have a job on his hands to both fill the void left by Dave Ren­nie and win over a doubt­ing fan base.

It’s cer­tainly been quite the rise for the 43-year-old. Just 15 months af­ter being ap­pointed by Gre­gor Townsend to his back­room staff, he will now be the new Scot­stoun supremo, start­ing next sum­mer.

‘The op­por­tu­nity to coach such an at­trac­tive club as Glas­gow War­riors was too good to miss,’ said Wil­son.

‘I’ve been ex­tremely im­pressed with the Scot­tish sys­tem in re­cent years and I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with an ex­cit­ing and tal­ented squad of play­ers.

‘I want to build on the high­tempo style of play that I know the fans love — and pay to see week in, week out.

‘The club has been up there chal­leng­ing at the top end of the Pro14 on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and, as a coach, it is def­i­nitely that type of en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture you want to be in­volved in.’

Wil­son has an ex­ten­sive CV at club level and joined the Scot­land coach­ing group in Au­gust 2018 af­ter a suc­cess­ful three-year spell as head coach at Cardiff Blues, with the high­light being vic­tory in the 2018 Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup final over Glouces­ter.

Prior to his role at Cardiff, he had been for­wards coach at Scar­lets and Dragons and had a sim­i­lar role with Bris­tol un­der Andy Robin­son. He also spent two years com­bin­ing his club coach­ing with being in charge of Wales Un­der-20s.

Wil­son was first ap­proached to take over af­ter the Scots lost to Ja­pan in their final World Cup pool match, which saw them fail to reach the knockout stage for only the sec­ond time in his­tory.

Their for­ward play in World Cup games was heav­ily crit­i­cised and, with Wil­son mov­ing on, that al­lows a new na­tional for­wards coach to be ap­pointed af­ter the Six Na­tions.

De­spite his ex­pe­ri­ence, many War­riors fans and for­mer play­ers have been un­der­whelmed by the ap­point­ment. And, speak­ing to the BBC, Gre­gor wasn’t con­vinced the best man had got the job.

‘I find it dis­ap­point­ing,’ he said. ‘There has been a lot of talk about the de­vel­op­ment of young Scot­tish coaches, es­pe­cially ex-play­ers. Mike Blair is the per­fect ex­am­ple.

‘With only two pro­fes­sional teams in Scot­land, chances to be­come a head coach are few and far be­tween. Of those work­ing un­der Gre­gor Townsend, it’s interestin­g that he [Wil­son] is cho­sen to lead up Glas­gow rather than, say, a Matt Tay­lor, who’s been along­side Gre­gor a long time. He’s de­vel­oped as a coach in Scot­land — did he not want, and would he not be suit­able, for that head role?

‘These guys are am­bi­tious about their in­di­vid­ual coach­ing ca­reers so, yes, they prob­a­bly have been rubbed up the wrong way.

‘You also look at John Dalziel, cur­rently at Glas­gow War­riors with the for­wards, and he has not long left the 7s to take over that role. Where does he now fit in with a for­mer for­wards coach being the head coach?’

Ex-Scot­land and Bri­tish Lions prop Pe­ter Wright also ques­tioned why the SRU had made the ap­point­ment of Wil­son now.

‘There must be a lot of very good can­di­dates out there who would beat the door down to get the Glas­gow job, so why didn’t the SRU have a look at some of them be­fore mak­ing the ap­point­ment?’ said Wright.

‘Danny Wil­son won’t start with Glas­gow un­til next sea­son. The SRU could have taken time be­fore nam­ing Dave Ren­nie’s suc­ces­sor. I feel it is a less-than-in­spi­ra­tional ap­point­ment. Glas­gow need to keep mo­men­tum go­ing and bring in a top-class coach who can at­tract top play­ers. With all re­spect to Danny Wil­son, I can’t see him do­ing that.

‘From the out­side, it looks to me as if maybe he hadn’t been do­ing the busi­ness with Scot­land and per­haps Gre­gor Townsend wanted him out of there. When the Glas­gow job came up, he was of­fered that and him tak­ing it suited ev­ery­body in­volved.

‘If the SRU were go­ing to ap­point the Glas­gow head coach from within, why not a Scot­tish coach like Kenny Mur­ray or John Dalziel, who are al­ready at the club?

‘I can see why some Glas­gow fans find Danny Wil­son’s ap­point­ment un­der­whelm­ing.’

In a state­ment, the SRU chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mark Dod­son, hailed Wil­son’s ar­rival, say­ing: ‘We are very pleased Danny has ac­cepted this im­por­tant role at Glas­gow War­riors as it re­tains an ex­cel­lent coach within the Scot­tish pro­fes­sional game.

‘Danny has worked hard to de­velop Scot­land’s set-piece into a real area of strength and his tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise, aligned with his work­ing knowl­edge of many of the War­riors’ play­ers, will be key to main­tain­ing the club’s pro­gres­sion in the com­ing years.

‘He has a depth of ex­pe­ri­ence from pre­vi­ous roles with Pro14 teams and we feel this, along­side his re­cent in­ter­na­tional coach­ing, makes him the right per­son for the club at this time.

‘I’d like to thank Danny for his con­tri­bu­tion to the Scot­land team and wish him well as we con­tinue our am­bi­tious plans to make both Glas­gow War­riors and Ed­in­burgh as com­pet­i­tive and suc­cess­ful as pos­si­ble in their re­spec­tive com­pe­ti­tions.’

If the SRU were go­ing to ap­point from within, why not go for a Scot­tish coach?

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