Q&A: Scottish Rugby’s Male Performance Pathway Review update

Stevie Gemmell, Keith Wallace and Al Kellock explain decision to scrap Super Series and why a shift in emphasis is required in player development to ensure Scotland stay competitive

Southern Knights have endured a tumultuous Super6/Super Series journey over the last five years. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Southern Knights have endured a tumultuous Super6/Super Series journey over the last five years. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Why get rid of Super Series?

Stevie Gemmell (Scottish Rugby’s Technical and Operations Director):

“The game has moved on. It [Super6/Super Series] was brought in initially to improve the standard at the top of the domestic game and I think unequivocally it has done that. But in the five years, the professional and international game has moved on considerably, and at the same time Super Series has moved slightly.  To be able to lift Super Series up and move it to where we need it from a performance perspective, in my view, is beyond the resources we currently have, and therefore you’ve got to build a model in a Scottish context – this is what we’ve got and this is what we want to achieve, this is what is most urgent, so where can we make the biggest gains?

“And also then look at, how do we have something that’s built from the bottom up as well as supporting the top? If we get caught servicing the middle all the time, then we’re not going to move the dial.

“Super Series was loved by many, loathed by others, and that’s a fact. What we’ve tried to say is, with what we’ve got, where do we need to get to?”


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Will it finish after the Spring Sprint or the Autumn Championship?

SG:

“To be honest, it’s TBC. We had a conversation with the [Super Series] clubs last night and said we remain committed to the current licence [which ends after the Championship]. The clubs may or may not decide what they want to do. We gave them nine months’ notice last night that at the end of the current licence agreement we are not renewing.

“As it stands at the minute everyone is committed to the Sprint, we [Scottish Rugby] are committed to the Sprint and we are committed to putting plans in place for a Championship, but after last night’s meeting the teams will need to get together and discuss their direction of travel.

“The important thing here is that we are not putting six clubs on the scrapheap, it is about making decisions and there are consequences from any decisions.”

  •  TOL understands that while no unified final decision has yet been made, the strong consensus is not to carry on after the Sprint.

 

 

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So what happens to the Super Series clubs XVs now?

  • As it stands, the ‘Club XVs’ of both Heriot’s and Ayr are already in Premiership next season, Watsonians and Melrose will be in National One, Stirling County are almost certain to be in National Two and Boroughmuir will be in National Three.

Keith Wallace (Scottish Rugby Union Vice President and Chair of the Club Rugby Board [CRB]):

“Boroughmuir may be in National Three at the moment but that doesn’t mean they will be there at the start [of next season]. That’s what we are going to look at. That’s an exercise we are just starting.”

But there are some fairly entrenched views out there in clubland so getting everyone on same page is going to take some big time diplomacy?

KW:

“I agree. That is going to be a big challenge, but I’m really encouraged by what’s been happening with breaking down the silos. With the focus group for the pathways review we deliberately put some in there individuals we knew would really challenge the different points of view, and they came to a consensus … pretty much. So, that’s why I am optimistic that we can find a solution if we make sure people have a good feel for the situation.”

Will there need to be an AGM or SGM to approve any changed league structure?

KW:

“No, that is no longer the case. And I know this because some guy from Haddington put in a motion some time ago to protect the National Leagues. Any change to the leagues rests firmly with the CRB – and we’ve obviously got to take the clubs with us.”

Is Super Series player retention a concern?

KW:

“We don’t know where all those players will go. Some will retire, some have already gone back to their clubs because they’re not going to renew with Super6, some may want to play in the [English] Championship. I think a whole lot will come back into the club game, and the club game will be better for that.

“This is part of the process. We hope they see that if they’re still ambitious there are opportunities for them to progress. We don’t know because it’ll be up to the individual. Looking at the exit part of the diagram, we’ve got to look at how we keep people in the game. If the person loves playing rugby, they’ll play rugby.

“They’re not on the scrapheap at all. Super6 has brought a lot of them on quite a bit. We’re trying to narrow the players we’re investing in down to our very best.”

Do you agree that the Super Series clubs are right to feel abandoned?

SG:

“Absolutely. I sat in the room with them last night and spoke to them about it, and as you could imagine it wasn’t an easy conversation. But from a performance perspective we’re trying to acknowledge where the game globally is going at the top end, and how, with the resources we have, we get a model that allows us to be competitive at that top end of the game, because that’s what flows down into everything else.

“The role that Super6 has played should not be undervalued or diminished at all. The reality is we were always going to be reviewing where we were. In five years things have changed, and we’ve had to look at how we continue to perform.”

This is high-stakes poker and it would be a tragedy if one of these clubs – long-standing powerhouses of the Scottish game – went to the wall as a result of this?

SG:

“Had we done things in isolation then I think there would have been a great chance of someone ‘going to the wall’.

“What we are trying to do … we have made this decision as part of a wider fabric and direction of travel of Scottish rugby and everyone has got a part to play, my hope is that people look at the whole of Scottish rugby and make the best decisions on that basis.

“Super6 was brought in as a wider part of Agenda 3, large parts of Agenda 3 didn’t happen for obvious reasons and it became something that people either loved or loathed.

“It became challenging for those that were in it and those who weren’t in it and hopefully making the decision as part of a wider piece… well we cannot afford for those clubs to go to the wall in your terminology.”

Where did these plans come from?

SG:

“There has been various levels of consultation. We had a focus group which I led on which was around looking at ur current playing model and had representatives from Scottish Rugby’s High Performance and Rugby Development departments, Colin [Rigby] as President had an oversight perspective, then we had membership of Super Series, Premiership, National One and the schools.

“We also brought ion board Oakwell as sports consultants to look at our structure and benchmark it against our competitors, and from that we ended up with a number of guiding principles on: What did we, as a collective, believe would make our game in Scotland better?”

 

 

You’ve announced big plans for under-18s, academies and A teams, but how can you afford that given Scottish Rugby’s precarious financial situation?

Al Kellock (Managing Director of Glasgow Warriors):

“But there will be a saving from Super6.”

KW:

“This is change that is needed, because we need to take a long-term view.”

SG:

“We’re taking a direction of travel here in where we need to go, and it’s got to be joined up. We can’t say ‘These are the areas that we need to get better at’, then not resource them properly. What that resource looks like is part of the work that we need to do.

“This is going to take time. We need to make the under-18 pathway stronger, to make the academies stronger, and to make the pro teams more sustainable.

“We’ll build that model at the moment. The decision not to renew Super6 is not from a financial perspective –  what we’re looking at is how we utilise the resources that we have.

“All the costs will go through the budget process, and Scottish Rugby Ltd will make a decision about what funding is made available.”

AK:

“We talk about silos [between Scottish Rugby areas such as schools/youth, club, academy and pro] and a large amount of work needs to be done on bridging those silos. So, we’re looking at transition coaches and the ability of people to be tasked with bridging the gaps. We’ll have people who are working in under-18s pathway who are also working in our senior academies. We’ll also have people working in our club game who are also coming in with the pro teams.

“It is our opportunity as pro teams to not own that but influence it – to get a huge amount of rugby IQ from Edinburgh and Glasgow into the pathway system, to help players develop.”

Who will the Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors A teams play against?

AK:

“The bulk of the academy will remain under-20, so they’ll still be playing through their under-20 international programme, then we’ll be having conversations in and around where we pick up these A games. We’re looking at circa 10 games but that will depend on the number of Scotland A games we land on, and how much opportunity for these kids to play up as well.

“So, it will be other URC teams, and although the English Premiership teams are moving away [from A games] there are still some who are looking for A fixtures. There is a focus from an RFU point of view on the Championship but some of the [Premiership] squads are still large enough that they want games. There is a definite appetite from the Italians, they already have that structure in place, something Franco [Smith] was fundamentally part of putting in place. There’s an appetite already been shown by some French teams.

“We’ve got to manage budget. We’ve got to have competitive games – there is no point having games that don’t move our players forward – but we’re confident that there is enough interest out there to get a good and high levels of teams.”

“Our working figure is 10 [games] but that could be plus or minus depending on Scotland A opportunities because we would like some of these players, if they are good enough, to be stepping up into that level as well.”

“We also want to be creating more opportunities for our academy players to be playing pro level. When you look at other teams in the URC are better at that – sometimes to their detriment and sometimes not [results-wise he presumably means?].

“Ireland are exceptionally good at getting their academy players exposed. Their academy goes up to [23] so we need to do more of that as well.

“There is an athletic development piece in this as well. Games are massively important, but training at the highest level will move these players forwards as well. We’re already doing that [at Glasgow] and I know Edinburgh are doing the same – we are trying to get more players to ensure there are two active training sessions at any one time to help bring these players through.”

Wouldn’t some sort of formalised A team competition be preferable to ad-hoc friendlies?

AK:

“Yes. We already have active conversations going on about that. If there was a structure, it would help but we are on a journey. We need to work out what other governing bodies and leagues are looking at as well. Some structure would help but the environment will make sure they don’t feel like friendlies.”

 

 

Do you agree that it is crucial to support the club game so that it can continue to bring through players like Gregor Hiddleston (who wasn’t picked up as a stage three academy player aged 17)?

KW:

“That’s a key thing that came out of the working group. We’ve clearly got some difficult conversations with the Super6 clubs which started last night and we’ve got to help them through that, but they’ll bring increased expertise back into their clubs. They’ve learned a lot from this. There’s a number of players who will also come back and help strengthen the club game, which is going to help.

“Some of the discussions about A teams – they will be made up predominantly of under-23 players and they’ll all be Scottish-qualified, and there could be two or three guys from the club game involved. It’s important they get a chance, and that didn’t exist before so that’s where we’ve got to get better. I think there is more opportunities for the club game now, and this is a key think to the focus group: that clubs absolutely have a role to play in the performance game.”

AK:

“I think lessons have been learned. There have to be eyes on both sides. We can’t assume that one group is speaking to another, we need to own that. We need to have people who are working across and inside that.

“For me, when I look at it, the top of the club game still exists and it’s the inter-district championship and it’s club internationals. So the ability of clubs players to play up into that and along into the pro game still exists.

“To pick up the likes of Gordy Reid – if you go back a few years – who developed later, that’s the bit where we need to have the focus.

“The ability to invite players into Glasgow and Edinburgh’s environment will still continue. If won’t just be that we’ll have however many academy players and a closed door at the club. One of the benefits of Super6 has clearly been the ability to bring these players up and out, even if they were only in our environment for a two-week period. We need to make sure we still do that.”

 

 

Will academy players get game time in the Premiership?

SG:

“Absolutely. What we don’t want is a closed shop that nobody comes in or comes out. There needs to be fluidity of movement and we need to make the right decision for players about the level of rugby they play. My view of any model is you need players to play consistently at a level that’s right for their development at that stage, and have opportunities to play up. I would say the model to date has not always supported that. We’ve had players playing down a level, and not necessarily playing often enough at the level they should be playing, and limited opportunities to play up. That has to apply to all parts of the model.

“Someone coming out of an under-18 club or school, the likelihood is their first playing opportunity should be in the club game.”

AK:

“Take a tighthead prop for example. The athletic development is best suited in Edinburgh or Glasgow environment, but the rugby development and the games are best suited in the club game.

“Another key point around this is to make decisions on young payers based on performance not on age. At times in the last year or so we have got to an age threshold and there has been decision made on a players future just based on the fact that they were coming out of that [threshold]. This allows us to make decisions right up until 22 or 23. It is more aligned with the Irish model and you’ll see more academy players playing-up into pro teams because of that.

“The landing spot for anybody coming out of the academy was Super6 and that has been successful to a degree, but what we’ve also seen is some of that talent move away. We want to keep that talent in Scotland based on performance rather than when they reach an age-bracket.”

SG:

“The academies will be bigger in terms of both numbers and the support around it. Part of the next step is the detail of all this being finalised and associated budgets put towards it.”

How significant is the new Professional Game Agreement which will require minimum number of Scottish Qualified [SQ] players in each pro team squad?

AK:

“It’s the first time we’ll have something structured, but it’s been in existence and governed by Jim [Mallinder – the outgoing Scottish Rugby Director of Performance Rugby] predominantly. The numbers over the last few years have fluctuated quite significantly – and as it stands both Glasgow and Edinburgh are providing more opportunities than ever to Scottish qualified players. Next year that will move again.

“There isn’t a number [of SQ players in each squad] agreed on yet. A Director of Rugby is going to have to come in and bring this to life, but also lead some of it as well. There are benefits to the national team of having entirely Scottish qualified players but also the national team realise we need two strong pro teams so we’ve got to get that balance. The number will give me and Doug [Struth of Edinburgh] as MDs and our head coaches something that is governed and structured. I genuinely believe there’s no reason we can’t be the most aligned union in the world. It’s a reasonably simple structure and what this does is further that alignment so that Gregor [Townsend] knows what Sean [Everitt – Edinburgh’s head coach] and Franco are delivering to make all of their abilities to win bigger and better.

Was this quota system requested by Gregor Townsend?  

AK:

“In a lot of unions this is common practice. This isn’t brand new. We look to recruit our players through two systems, a local recruitment committee at Glasgow and Edinburgh, and a central one. The central one’s job is to govern how many foreign players we bring in, where are we going with the youth development and what are we doing with young players. It shouldn’t just be about winning games.

“If we get the minimum SQ number right in the squads, I don’t believe there’s a need to move towards that in a matchday 23 because it will work out anyway.

“By the way, we’re not far off this where every single player in the matchday 23 could easily be Scottish. We’ve seen it over the course of the season at Edinburgh and Glasgow. We’ve got those players there.

“We’ve got to protect against the fact it’s an open market. There’s a reason why Finn isn’t playing his rugby in Scotland, and it’s not just rugby. There’s financial implications to all this as well and that’s Doug and I’s job to govern that. A DoR needs to come in and look at this but if we get it right in the squad it’ll take care of itself.

SG:

“It also needs to look at the individual plan for the next young Scottish players to make sure they get the game-time at the right level. That’s something we need to evolve. That’s as important as what we do at the top end. How do we make sure the next Harry Paterson gets the appropriate number of games that’s right for his development. As well as managing our top international players, what are we doing to bring through and manage the next international players … nothing surer we’re going to need them.”

 

 

Why present this plan now when Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive and its Director of Performance Rugby are both on the way out?

SG:

“We started this last year when both those roles were filled … and there was a time sensitivity around the Super Series decision [as the existing franchise agreements run out in the Autumn].

“Part of our learning from the time Super6 was set up is that if you do things in isolation then you do them in isolation and doing little bits here and there.

“When we started this last summer it started as a single entity: ‘let’s look at the future of Super Series” – but you then have to look at the bigger picture here.

“We worked through the process and then during that process it came to light that Mark [Dodson] and Jim [Mallinder] were moving on and our view was [that] in performance sport if you stand still and wait then you’ll miss an opportunity, so if we had waited for five month or whatever it is for a new DoR to come in then we’d lose time on it.

“The new DoR undoubtably will be recruited on supporting this direction of travel and then be able to work on the detail.”

AK:

“It is a transition period, Glasgow and Edinburgh are 90-95 percent down the line in terms of recruitment for next season so this is really about the following season and what comes after that.”

KW:

“Oakwell  [the sports consultancy firm hired to assist the review] did a lot of comparisons with other countries for us and they called it player control and said that Ireland and NZ are successful when it comes to that because they have alignment and can control. We haven’t maybe taken as much advantage of that in the past as we can.

“A real eyeopener for me was the pro team minutes. France and Ireland had the most when it came to U20 players and they are the best teams at that level at the moment. We have to have space for these guys to train and play more in a professional environment, we are miles behind. The best use of capital is in the most important players.”

What worked in Super6/Super Series? What did we learn?

SG:

“Undoubtedly for me, coaching has been a big success. When you look at last year’s Championship, my view of that was the best coached teams got to the final if you look at the resource they had around them. So, that’s a key component for me.

“There have been players who have used Super Series as a stepping stone. Whether it has been Harry Paterson most recently or Tom Jordan before, a large percentage of those players were in a system and Super Series has played a part. The same as in previous years the Premiership played a part for Finn [Russell] or John Barclay.

“So, what we’ve had is a tournament that people have bought into. Some of the challenges which have been alluded to are the number of games and a lack of – through no fault of anybody – cross-border games.

“Part of what we need to do – and A teams need to support that – is challenge our players outside our own boundaries. Now, that isn’t a criticism of Super Series, because that fell down because of discussions with the Welsh, Covid and other reasons. But it is a strategic component.

“I do believe the shortness of the season has helped because it has given players a real focus, and I think that has helped their ability through that to go into the professional environment.

“We need to ensure that with this model, some of those things still exist because we’ve had a Peter Murchie, a Peter Horne, a Rob Chrystie developing [as coaches] through that model, and we still need to develop coaches, players and match officials through this new model.

“Part of that increased investment into age-grade and academies will be about opportunities for those specialisms.”

But do you accept that it didn’t deliver on the vision we were given back in 2018?

SG:

“When you have partners there are alway going to some differing views, some differing approaches. Even when you look at the clubs, there are different approaches to how they’ve taken on Super Series in terms of whether it to provide development opportunities for players or is it about winning a league?

“Now that’s the same in all of our competitions. As soon as you have something that is a competition with various stakeholders you get various ideas.

“For us, during the five years of Super6 and Super Series our environment for that moved as well because what was happening at the top end of the game was moving.

“I think at the outset and throughout, everyone has been on the journey and we acknowledge the role they [Super Series clubs] have played. Unfortunately, at the end of the licensing agreements, the decision has been taken that we’re having to go in a new direction.”


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About David Barnes 3908 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.

37 Comments

  1. Top League
    2 sets of 10 teams then play off between the 1st and 2nd on each group.
    ( can also be a shield playoff as well).
    Two bottom teams drop off and 2 promoted.
    S6 go back to home clubs,
    The other 8 teams from prem.
    And remaining top 6 teams from nat 1 make up top league.
    Only leaves 2 teams from original Nat 1, they stay and funnel the rest up from lower leagues. Everyone happy.
    Plenty of teams for young players to play for and get experience.

  2. Dobson originally wanted Pro A teams to compete against Irish and Welsh ones. It was a good plan, would have given the young academy players, Pro fringe players and some club boys a proper challenge, up against some very good Irish and Welsh sides.

    It was scuppered, as so many good developments are, by the clubs, particularly the Premier. Their argument was that they needed oor boys (including the Academy players), to play for the club in the Premier, not go off to play in some international A league.

    The return of an Inter-District championship was similarly scuppered in the past by the Premier and National clubs, for the same reason.

    Their priority seems to be club first, national a poor second.

    I don’t know why club people deflect the blame to Dodson, he didn’t dream up S6, that was a compromise between SRU Performance Dept and the Premier clubs.

    We should have gone with Dodson’s A competition, would have given the academy boys some proper competitive games against their peers in Ireland and Wales.

    We are so often handicapped by the narrow self-interest of the leading clubs.

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  3. These new plans / strategy are just regurgitated from the same people who have been in post for the last decade, and failed scottish rugby immeasurably, they have no curiosity, creativity or vision and put down anyone with new ideas. We need a completely fresh approach and let’s hope the new performance position is an external appointment. Gregor has had success with the senior team but our pathways are a laughing stock and those hanging around for their pension need to move on, its about time some of those involved took a risk, either be bold or move aside

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    • This is by far one of the best replies I’ve read regarding “coaches” Always has been a pals act to catapult ex players into coaching roles so it keeps all them together going forward!! IMO it’s just another failure from the SRU to generate money rather than player/coaches development etc. the Super6 players will ‘undoubtably’ 100% go back to the club sides from once they came and this will make clubs especially in Edinburgh top heavy with players yet regional clubs are suffering due to ‘their’ best players jumping at the chance to play in National rugby at the start of the Super6 5 years ago. It’s a sinking ship and there’s not that many lifeboats to save everyone I’m afraid!

  4. Everybody’s is forgetting that the clubs in Scotland are the SRU and they should all stick together and make sure these clubs don’t get fast tracked into the Premier league as there was no Wolves or Bears or Nights in the league before they all left wolves and Bears should have invested in their club sides as well and they mite of still been in the championship or Premier league but they did not so why should they get fast track back up the league and other teams have to drop down or stay where they are come on the clubs stick together and don’t let the SRU walk all over us again

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    • Are we all forgetting that these clubs were relegated because of S6?
      Of course they should be put back where they started or we’ll have generational bitterness from club to club and SRU.

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      • Bren regardless of decision you will have bitterness, either from clubs the Super 6 who neglected their club sides while filling Super 6 teams with mercenaries or all the clubs relegated or not promoted on the back of shoehorning teams back to the top.
        Bitterness, self preservation and single mindedness from clubs are the true backbone of Scottish Rugby.

    • It’s nothing to do with ‘letting the SRU walk all over us’, it is solely to do with the S6 clubs wondering where they will play in the leagues.

      There seem to be quite a number of clubs zealously guarding their league positions, rather conveniently overlooking that many of them only got promoted because six teams went off to Super 6!

      You will never overcome club self-interest, it always triumphs against the wider good of the game.

      The only answer here is for a) the returning S6 outfits to replace their club sides, whether they are in the Premier or down the national leagues, and b) their club sides to start again in the Regional leagues.

      Very hard on the S6 clubs and their players, they did what was asked of the S6 participants in what was perceived to be the national interest. It is a shame that they will return to resentment from some clubs and schadenfreude from others, but they will be well used to that in the club world.

      They will all get back to the top soon enough, though Melrose and Muir will likely have a bit of a struggle in the early days.

  5. No where in all of this did they ever seem to address needing to grow the player pool, how any of these plans would help that, nor what might be considered a collaborative approach.

    I just can’t figure out why after all these years the SRU still can’t get on the same page as the clubs and really create a big tent environment of maintaining the health of the game in Scotland.

    Where, in any of this, was how any of if it is good for clubs? Seems only directed at what’s best for developing pro players.

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  6. I’m at a loss with my emotions over the whole situation. I thought I would be happy, given my previous very vocal arguing
    against super six, but to see it end like this, so suddenly and so unplanned is just plain sad.

    I don’t believe however the 6 teams deserve to be reintegrated into a new ‘top division’ . They are snakes, they made their bed ( years ago and they should deal with the consequences.

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    • Would love to hear any of the supporters of the super six clubs opinion on why they deserve to be allowed back after they put their own interest first all those years ago. Proper clubs won’t forget the six selfish teams however much you tell yourself you did it for development.

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      • You do realise that the Super 6 teams are franchises don’t you? There is no possibility of them being “allowed back” as they were never part of the league and won’t exist anyway.

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    • Understanding many of their fellow clubs may feel very hard done by. These 6 clubs were at least willing to devote significant resources to high performance rugby. Can Scottish rugby afford to take those 6 and say, “Thanks for that goodbye?” without any kind of softer landing spot?

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  7. Hopefully I’m not the only one, but I found the ‘answers’ provided by the 3 a difficult read! A lot of corporate gobblygook (particularly by Al Kellock) rather than clear and concise explanations that paint a picture of the pathways plan and address the issues created by moving away from the current model. Tend to find that those who don’t know what they are doing tend to hide behind w*nk speak and flannel.

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  8. Hopefully I’m not the only one, but I found the ‘answers’ provided by the 3 a difficult read! A lot of corporate gobblygook (particularly by Al Kellock) rather than clear and concise explanations that paint a picture of the pathways plan and address the issues created by moving away from the current model. Tend to find that those who don’t know what they are doing tend to hide behind w*nk speak and flannel.

  9. Aside from the concerns over nepotism and coaches’ favourites being selected the other glaring problem with the pathway is that the 4 regions work independently of each other. This means that there are brilliant players being deselected in one region who are better than players being given out pathway contracts in others. Hardly any games between the regions to compare the players.
    You see it when you have club teams play teams from other regions, one beats the other very well, player for player better on the pitch, yet the winning team has one lad with a contract and the well beaten team has 4… difference in quality from one region to another means the contracts don’t make any sense.

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  10. What a load of absolute BS. Management chat fancy words blue sky thinking cascading bloody Silos. The Academy and most of the coaches within this academy’s have had years to do something positive both in producing a better product in which better players should come through. The current crop of Academy coaches have no clue how to deal with young adults they have no experience of handling a 15/16 year old kid. All coaching roles should be advertised not given to a pal or nepotism as is the case in most appointments.

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  11. Plenty folk thought the academy boys binned out of Edinburgh last time were bang on the right path and badly treated. Priority should be bringing them back in, if they want anything to do with the SRU.

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  12. the new pathway is indeed just a jumble of words. The naysayers had their way, S6 discontinued. But there is nothing as far as I can see in the new “pathway” that isn’t already happening or should be happening or that requires to S6 ending to happen.
    There was no plan B, just a vacuum left by a very poor decision

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  13. my memory is failing me. Can anyone remind me which Premiership club John Barclay played for? I can remember attending a Glasgow game where 17/18 yo Barclay debuted and pretty much stayed in match day squads

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  14. There are some aspects of this change which sound encouraging. Extending academy age, more A team games, Quotas of overseas players. Details still to be worked but sounds positive.

    Whilst this is about the structure of the game, the shadow that hangs over the game still remains the SRU finances. Whilst there is some mention of costs/budgets in this article I have no idea how much saving this will bring. If this along with the reduction in some of the top overseas signings (Mata et al) is the only action the SRU is taking then I am deeply worried.

    There was a £10m deficit last year in a year of 3 home 6 nations games and I saw no comment from the SRU on plans to address this. Action is needed but cost savings should not be targeted at the playing/front end of the game they should be targeted at the back office/management costs leaving as much as possible for the front line. I have still seen nothing from the SRU on cost reduction unless I have missed it because next years number could be worse.

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  15. The district u16 and u18 players hardly ever play a game of rugby. Can’t see how not playing helps bring players on and identify talent. I thought the u20s performances in the first u20 six nations games were massively better so far this year due to the futures team in the s6.

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    • They are also very rarely watched when playing for their clubs. Players are picked based on athletic ability and not rugby ability. Smaller players are dropped in favour of bigger players who don’t play as well but do well the gym. Get the academy coaches out watching the clubs.

  16. This movement to address our inferior structure is a good thing…however it’s just a collection of intent wording at the moment. The kicker will be how we pay for this and then implementing it….otherwise it’s just another Baldrick cunning plan.

    Change is needed though for Scottish rugby to seriously compete…I’ll give them that.

  17. Regardless of thoughts on s6 . players.coaches general managers. Medical staff have an income and are employees to read about its demise in the paper is the most shocking way to treat people
    Scotland all as one a rugby family
    Well that’s been binned if this is the way we treat people.
    I am ashamed of the game today regardless of why the decision or actually the lack of a decision has unfolded

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    • It is a bit messy but needs some perspective here.

      The initial contract with these sides was 5 years. That expires this year. All parties agreed to the terms. They are getting 9 months notice of contract end.

      The faux outrage on players and staff would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious matter. This has all been done by the book no matter how much you scream and shout about it.

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  18. I am hugely encouraged by this news & the openness (for once!) of the SRU’s thinking & direction. Long may this continue. I fully support what’s just been announced, even if it’s only the intent at this stage. To ensure the maximum uptake & continuation of youngsters into/ on this expanded & extended pathway process, & as part of their corporate responsibility, the SRU needs to serious look at how these youngsters will be supported (in all key ways, e.g. financially/ accommodation/ educationally/ etc) & devise & implement a post-rugby career development process so kids who fall off the pathway, at whatever point/ age, aren’t left abandoned & desolate. I am aware the SRU already has agreements in place with some universities, but this isn’t the most suitable paths for all people. The SRU organisation already has widespread connections with organisations/ companies, which they should leverage for creating post-academy careers for those who don’t achieve becoming a well paid pro player.

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  19. Stevie Gemmell still trying to say the S6 was a success. Yes Stevie that’s why it is being junked.

    Now players are to be without franchises and it seems clubs will be moved from league to league as a result of this total debacle just as happened when it was first set up.

    Dodson has a lot to answer for.

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  20. As I think contractual promises were made when moving to S6, the only way to reintegrate maybe…

    New Top flight “Premiership+” of 10 created starting Sept-2024.
    S6 sides placed in it, plus top 4 teams promoted from Prem.

    All other divisions ripple UP as appropriate.
    Everyone’s a winner.

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    • I don’t think that’s fair on the teams in the Premiership. Super 6 players should be encourage to return to their original clubs. If some players do not wish to play down such as at Stirling County or Burghmuir then they could move to a club playing at the level they aspire to. There’s a reasonable geographical spread of clubs in the Premiership and Division 1.

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  21. Some interesting comments quoted cherry picked from above….
    Did any players get to give feedback to the ‘focus group’?
    Probably not, instead they paid Oakwell, a sports consultancy to do the review for them, but “we have to manage our budget”
    “We’re trying to narrow the players we’re investing in down to our very best.”
    Not very encouraging!
    Another…
    “At times in the last year or so we have got to an age threshold and there has been decision made on a players future just based on the fact that they were coming out of that [threshold]. This allows us to make decisions right up until 22 or 23. It is more aligned with the Irish model and you’ll see more academy players playing-up into pro teams because of that.“
    So the three lads thrown out of Edinburgh Academy last year to accommodate the u20s, will be invited back then? Paterson, has done well recently, but to his advantage he was allowed at least 4 years in the Academy, much of which he was injured!

    From people I talk to, who have sons going through the SRU system, many are seriously disillusioned with how they are managed. Get that right first, it will cost the SRU nothing.

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    • The pathway is rife with nepotism and favouritism. The SRU are delusional if they think the players coming into the u20s are the best we have. Impartial selectors required first and foremost!
      When in the pathway there is NO way to give feedback on the way it is run or the player experience, and very little feedback from them to the players involved. A general list of work ons emailed to those deselected which looks the same for them all. It’s very poor.

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      • 100% Jim. I’ve probably seen most of the top players currently in the 18-20 bracket playing multiple times over the last few years. I look at the Scotland u20 squad and many of the selections are absolutely justified (I’ve not seen better), but some of the selections are just wrong. I wouldn’t pick out individual positions, but safe to say that some of the best u20 backs in the country have been sitting at home, very disillusioned, watching the u20 6 Nations matches on TV.

        At very least a fresh set of eyes are needed to look at anyone in the 18-20 bracket that want to put themselves forward for consideration. It’s not like the current crop are recording good results, there’s nothing to lose!

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      • 18s backs the same. Forwards don’t seem to have the same issues as size really does matter there, can’t pockle it as easily

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