GLASGOW HAWKS have confirmed that Fin Gillies is stepping down as head coach of the club this summer. It is understood that he is set to take up an assistant coach role with the Heriot’s Super 6 franchise, working under Ciaran Beattie.
The former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland 7s hooker joined the coaching team at Hawks after hanging up his professional boots back in 2014, following two neck operations and a series of knee injuries. Initially an assistant coach working with Jimmy Sinclair and Jamie Dempsey, he took over the lead role at the start of the 2016-17 campaign when still only 27-years-old, and has been at the helm during undoubtedly the most turbulent period in the club’s short but eventful history.
Hawks spent the 2017-18 season without a recognised home after a sink hole appeared at their traditional Old Anniesland base, and this season has been about bedding into their new home ground at nearby Balgray (owned by Kelvinside Academy). However, the real set-back the club has had to cope with was their exclusion from Super 6 by the secretive selection process which the clubs to make up the SRU’s controversial new league which launches next season. That left Scotland’s biggest city without representation in this new competition.
On the field, Hawks reached the Premiership play-off and Cup semi-finals during Gillies’ first year in charge, before losing to Ayr at the penultimate hurdle in both competitions. They have since struggled. Their young squad finished second bottom of the Premiership last season before hammering Jed-Forest in a relegation/promotion play-off to retain their top-flight status. This season, Hawks were ravaged by injury to key players and managed only three wins from 18 matches to finish third bottom of the table, but they did – by and large – stay competitive throughout the campaign, with Gillies’ charisma and never-say-die attitude a key contributing factor to the squad’s resilience.
Leaving a legacy
Hawks’ greatest legacy from the pre-Super 6 era of Scottish club rugby will be their role as a stepping stone for talented young players on their journey into the professional game, with George Horne, Grant Stewart, Matt Fagerson and Josh Henderson among those who have passed through the club during Gillies’ tenure.
“Fin is someone who lives every tackle, scrum and pass from the touch-line, and is emotionally drained after a match,“ said Hawks president Kenny Hamilton.
“His rugby knowledge is second-to-none and his passion for the game and for Hawks is evident in everything he has done for the club over the last 5 years”, says club captain Stephen Leckey.
Gillies – whose day job is as a PE teacher at the High School of Glasgow – paid tribute to the club and the people who gave him his break in coaching.
“I would just like to say thanks to everyone at Glasgow Hawks, especially Kenny Hamilton, who originally gave me the opportunity to coach this great club,” he said. “I also want to say a huge thanks to my coaching team of Andrew Douglas, Viki Penpraze and especially Andy Hill. Everyone from the committee, the players and the management have given their all over some tough years and I want to thank everyone involved at Hawks for all their support.
“The club is in a good place going forward and incredibly driven,” he added: There are already lots of exciting changes and developments in place for the coming years. I wish the club and everyone involved all the best moving forward and I will always keep a close eye on results and how the new coaching team pushes for league and cup success.”