WILSON IN THE LINE OF FIRE
New Glasgow coach faces uphill battle as appointment is met with fierce criticism
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?