Mark Dodson is a man with a plan, and he has no intention of being held back by clubs dragging their heels.
The clubs still take their rights as the ultimate authority in the Scottish Rugby Union very seriously, as demonstrated when voting down Motion One on the grounds that it gives the Board too much power in the determination [as opposed to management] of the game’s rules and regulations.
The hotel development planned for the Murrayfield campus will be completed by the end of 2019.
At which point George Russell of Moray House will finally get his Scottish Rugby museum, after years of imploring at AGMs. It will be located in the hotel. George’s speech on Saturday was perhaps the highlight of the whole event.
The hotel is not the limit of the Board’s ambitions for maximising the revenue generating potential of the Murrayfield campus.
The Board is engaged in three separate conversations with companies of global stature about the prospect of investing in Scotland’s pro teams, but it is going to take a while to strike a deal.
The Exiles set-up has been re-branded as the SQ [Scottish Qualified] programme, and has been restructured. As of September there will be a panel of five scouts/mentors, including former internationalists Rory Lawson, Alan Tait and Ian Smith, working in England; and a network of individuals performing a similar function across the globe, including former Scotland cap Cammy Mather in New Zealand and former Heriot’s, Boroughmuir and Glasgow Hawks full-back Campbell Aitken in Australia [there is also scouts in Australia, France, Japan and South Africa].
Dodson’s grand plans for revolutionising the club game in Scotland will work in tandem with exposing young talent to a different environment outside of Scotland, at clubs such as London Scottish, Stade Nicois, Lille Metropole and Western Force. Jade Konkel is not likely to be the only women’s rugby player heading to France in the not so distant future.
The Macphail Scholarship has been altered so that youngster can also be sent to the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa, to augment the long-standing relationship with the Canterbury High Performance Unit in New Zealand.
The relationship with Stade Nicois is important for commercial reasons as much as it is for rugby reasons.