Scottish Rugby appoint John Fletcher to new player pathway and coach development role

Appointment is part of on-going review of performance department being conducted by Jim Mallinder

John Fletcher has been given a new senior role in Scottish Rugby's revamped performance department. Image: © Craig Watson -
John Fletcher has been given a new senior role in Scottish Rugby's revamped performance department. Image: © Craig Watson -

SCOTTISH RUGBY have appointed John Fletcher (who previously spent a decade as England Rugby Head of Player Development Pathway between 2008 and 2018, as well six years at Newcastle Falcons as academy manager then Director of Rugby between 2002 and 2008) to the newly-created role of ‘Head of Pathways and Elite Coach Development’. His first day in the new job will Monday 13th December.

This new role has been developed as part of the on-going review of the High-Performance Department overseen by Director of Performance Rugby, Jim Mallinder.

“I am delighted to welcome John to Scottish Rugby. His experience in player and coach development spans across various sports at a High Performance level,” said Mallinder. “The experience and insight that he will bring is what we need to take this crucial role forward.

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“The wider restructure of High Performance is still on-going, and we are close to finalising our structure with a few roles still to fill. The Head of Pathways and Elite Coach Development role is going to be key in helping us align with the new Scottish Rugby strategy by focussing on the player pathways and providing vital support to our top coaches and specialist teams.”

The Head of Pathways and Elite Coach Development role has been created to support the next generation of performance coaches and oversee development programmes for all pro team assistant coaches and Scotland women coaches, as well as head coaches in Super6 and age-grade programmes.

In this role, Fletcher will also oversee the whole pathway within the women and girls programme as well as the under-18 male pathway programme to ensure the implementation of world-class player development. He will also lead on the FOSROC Regional Academy Programme to ensure consistent standards are met at all levels of the player pathway.

“This work will act as a ‘bridge’ between the Rugby Development and High Performance departments to ensure it is fully integrated on all player pathway matters,” said a statement issued by Scottish Rugby.

Fletcher has been a mentor in recent years for coaches and talent managers within the RFU, ECB, FA and England Hockey. He has also worked as a coaching expert with UK Sport and their Culture Health Check Programme.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be offered this position and player and coach development are areas that I am hugely passionate about,” he said. “I have spent most of my working life leading programmes that support both players and coaches and I am really eager to get started.

“I am keen to get to know the people and to better understand the role that I can play in the delivering the strategic plan. I am really excited about where Scottish Rugby is going. The Men’s first team performances have been really strong, there are great opportunities across the pathway and in the Women’s game.

“I genuinely feel that coaching can be a competitive advantage and I feel that Scottish Rugby can get ahead of their competitors and coach development is one of the ways to do that.”

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About David Barnes 3112 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Whilst I applaud this appointment and its been badly needed, unless they address the gap between youth to senior rugby and those lost in that maelstrom that drift away from the sport, its pointless.

    You can do all the hard work at minis and youth rugby but the transition to senior rugby is where the majority are lost due to lack of opportunity.

  2. I hope he spends time trying to find a pathway for late developing
    aspirants from clubs as well as the academy players for whom he will need to find more demanding and stretching gam time .
    If he is successful we will then need a third and probably fourth
    Pro side to test the battle worthiness of young players aspiring to be Pro and eventually Scotland players

    • Couldn’t agree more. It’s scandalous the number of kids we reject at the age of 15, who are then lost to the game. We then spend a fortune on importing players when that money could be much better spent developing our own players. Thirty years of short termism and it’s provided no tangible rewards at all. A cynic might start to think we deliberately ignore our own kids so we can recruit from countries that don’t mind pumping kids full of PEDS…. hopefully this appointment will be a long overdue return to common sense.

  3. If nothing else it feels like the SRU are investing time and money in people and taking young player development seriously. Otherwise we are at huge risk of losing some serious school and club players from the game.

    So, good to read this

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