SCOTT JOHNSON will leave his role as Director of Rugby for the Scottish Rugby Union at the end of the 2019 Six Nations, to take up a similar position in his native Australia.
A statement issued by the SRU in the early hours of this [Monday] morning explained that a satisfactory compensation package has been agreed to enable Johnson to make the switch before the end of his existing contract.
The 56-year-old will return to Australia to oversee a comprehensive overhaul of the ‘Qantas Wallabies programme’ which will involve ‘the four Australian Super Rugby organisations agreeing to a set of principles that will underpin the development of a fully aligned National High Performance model’.
A key component of Johnson’s new role will be supervising Michael Cheika, the under-fire Wallabies head coach. Johnson and Cheika will be joined by a third, independent selector to make up a new National Selection Panel that will oversee Wallabies squad and team selection. The independent selector will be appointed in early 2019.
“I am excited to be returning to Rugby Australia in the Director of Rugby role and I am looking forward to supporting Michael and the Wallabies in their build up to the World Cup,” said Johnson.
“I am also looking forward to working with the Super Rugby teams to build an aligned model that will enable sustained success for Super Rugby teams, the Wallabies and ensure we maximise the opportunities for Australian Rugby,” he added.
“This has been a big decision but for me, right now, it is the right one to make. From the outset I’ve wanted to make Scotland more competitive on the world stage on all levels. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some highly talented and committed people and together I think we have made progress in those areas and hope that will continue in the years ahead.
“I’ve loved my time in Scotland and I’d like to thank [SRU Chief Executive] Mark Dodson and the Board for their support throughout. I won’t be leaving Scottish Rugby until after the Six Nations, where I’m looking forward to see how all our teams perform. It’s been a great six years and I’ve enjoyed the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Dodson thanked Johnson for his work during the last six years, initially as an assistant coach to Andy Robinson, then as interim head coach and ultimately as the organisation’s Director of Rugby.
“Scott has made a significant contribution to the development of elite rugby in Scotland and he leaves with our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the work he has done,” said Dodson. “His unrivalled global rugby knowledge and connections at every level of the game have hugely benefitted the development of how our game in Scotland has progressed in recent years, be that working with head coaches, forming partnerships beyond our borders and establishing Scottish Rugby’s high performance department to the level it is today.”
Cheika said he welcomes the opportunity to work under Johnson.
“It’s a great move for Australian Rugby and I know it will prove to be the best long-term structure for the game in this country,” he insisted. “I’m looking forward to working with Scott and finishing the work that I started by making Australians proud of our performance.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle, said that she believes Johnson’s appointment will provide the Wallabies with the best opportunity for success at next year’s Rugby World Cup and will lay the foundations for long-term success for the sport at all levels.
“Scott Johnson has built a strong reputation in the international Rugby landscape over more than decade, and since taking over as Director of Rugby in Scotland the national team has climbed to its highest ever world ranking of fifth,” she said.
“Scott has previous experience within the Wallabies coaching environment and in this new role will assume responsibility for the management of the Wallabies’ off-field program to allow Michael Cheika to focus on what he does best, which is coaching the team.
“We are confident Michael is the right man to lead the Wallabies to the World Cup and the appointment of Scott Johnson will support Michael and his coaching team as they prepare for the tournament in Japan next September.
“In his review, Michael identified potential changes to the current structure and he and Scott will work their way through these recommendations.”
The statement issued by the SRU this morning outlined Johnson’s roles and achievements as the organisation’s Director of Rugby –
“Johnson oversaw the development of the Scottish Rugby Academy, the sevens and Age-Grade and Scottish Qualified programmes, alongside the day to day management of the Performance Dept and the respective medical, physio, analysis and S&C provision for the professional and male and female national teams.
“Johnson has been instrumental in, and responsible for, securing the services of a series of head coach roles during his tenure, including those of Vern Cotter, Dave Rennie and Richard Cockerill, alongside providing the coaching pathway for aspiring Scottish coaches through the age-grades, women’s rugby, assistant coach and 7s team roles. He also provided a vital link in the recruitment and retention of players from both within and beyond Scotland.”