Warriors duo to join Townsend’s Scotland staff
Scotstoun assistants Taylor and McFarland will follow head coach to national team
ACOACH traditionally has the right to take his assistants with him to a new job, and Gregor Townsend has exercised that right by deciding that Matt Taylor and Dan McFarland will accompany him from Glasgow Warriors to Murrayfield when he takes charge of Scotland next summer.
Taylor is already familiar with the national set-up, having worked there as well as with Glasgow for the past few years. McFarland, on the other hand, only arrived at Scotstoun in time for the start of last season, having previously been with Connacht for nine years. But the fact that the two are already au fait with Townsend’s working methods should ensure a smooth changeover when they leave Glasgow for Edinburgh in time for Scotland’s tour to Australia next June.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue my involvement with the national team,” said Taylor. “Gregor and I have known each other for a long time and have a really good understanding of each other’s coaching principles and philosophies, having developed many of them together as players a number of years ago. The chance to work with him professionally over the past five years at Glasgow has been great and I’m pleased that’s set to continue.
“The thing that struck us as players was that we were both very keen on our coaching and would often discuss drills and activities as we became excited about the next step in our careers. The reality of those conversations is that we’re now set to coach together for Scotland, which is very exciting.”
The promotion has come rapidly for McFarland, but he is confident that he will be ready to make the step up.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s a great honour to be asked to coach a national side and all the more so because I know many of the players who represent Scotland through my work with Glasgow.
“My experience in Ireland, with the Emerging Ireland side and the Wolfhounds [formerly Ireland A], has primed me for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to stepping into the full international environment.”
Jason O’Halloran and Jonathan Humphreys, both currently assistants to Vern Cotter, will move to Glasgow to join up with incoming head coach Dave Rennie, who will succeed Townsend next summer. The new post represents a reunion for O’Halloran and Rennie, who have worked together in their native New Zealand in various guises since 2000. The highlights of their time together so far were when they led the New Zealand Under-20s team to two Junior World Championships in 2010 and 2011.
Yesterday’s announcement of the changes from Murrayfield made no mention of Nathan Hines, another current assistant coach with Scotland. The former international lock is expected to move with Cotter to French club Montpellier.
With the coaching set-up at the Warriors and the national team now sorted out, it remains to be seen what happens at Edinburgh. Duncan Hodge has made an excellent start to his stint as acting head coach and is part of a settled group along with assistants Steve Scott and Peter Wilkins, but that trio is markedly inexperienced compared to the incoming group at Glasgow.
Would the SRU permit such an imbalance in the coaching set-ups at its two professional teams, or would it feel obliged to strengthen Edinburgh? And what of Mike Blair, who is currently in his first full year as a Warriors assistant after being a player/coach last season?
OLD PALS’ ACT: Gregor Townsend will retain coaches Taylor and McFarland