HE’S back! Three months after being one of the poor sods left standing in Jim Mallinder’s game of musical chairs in Scottish Rugby’s high performance department, Sean Lineen is dipping his toe back into rugby in a new role as ‘Head of Rugby Development’ at Heriot’s.
Lineen’s long association with the game in this country stretches back to 1988, when he arrived from New Zealand to play at club level for Boroughmuir. He went on to play 29 times for Scotland [thanks to a grandfather from Stornoway], including in the 1990 Grand Slam before coaching with Boroughmuir, Glasgow Warriors and Scotland Under-20s. He was latterly Murrayfield’s head of academies and national age-grade teams as well as ‘on field lead’ for Super6, before leaving the building at the tail-end of last year.
He celebrated his 60th birthday recently but the sprightly Lineen was never likely to ease quietly into early retirement, and when the offer from Goldenacre came along it ticked all the right boxes.
“First and foremost, Goldenacre is a really welcoming place,” he explained. “Both my boys – Jacob and Cameron – played there and loved it. Heriot’s have a really good sense of where they are as a rugby club: they are ambitious but they’ve got ‘old school’ values as well, which I really like.
“They have four men’s teams and a women’s team now, a better link with the school, and my job is to support the coaches, be a sounding board if needed, and just be a rugby guy who has a bit of experience who can have a look at the players coming through. I’ll look at the player matrix and just try to help to pull it all together. It is very much a part-time, background role.
“I’m looking forward to dipping my toe back in,” he added. “There are other bits and pieces in the pipeline that I’m looking at, but this is the one which really appealed to me straight away.
“I live around the corner so it is a short walk to the club. I’ll go to training on a Tuesday and Thursday, and if an extra body is needed then I’ll happily help out to support the coaches in any way that they want. My wife is delighted to get me out of the house and I’m just looking forward to being involved in club rugby again.
“I just love rugby. I’d never walk away, and I’m fortunate that Scottish rugby has been so good to me, so I’ll keep trying to give back for as long as I’m useful.”
Lineen was at pains to stress that his role at Goldenacre will be to support the existing coaching structure, rather than oversee it.
“They’ve got really good coaches,” he said. “Ned [Andrew Kelly,the Super6 head coach] had a challenging first season but he’s a good young coach and he just needs to put his own team together. Then you’ve got Phil Smith coaching the Blues, who has been around a long time and is a really good coach. It’s the same with Bob McKillop who is doing the 2nd XV, and Rhona Hume is doing a great job as Women’s Director of Rugby. So, there is a lot to like about that and I’m just looking forward to working with them.
“I think Ned has recruited well for the Super6 ‘Sprint’ series which kicks off next month and they are excited to see where they are at,” he added. “He’s made a great appointment in Stuart Edwards as attack coach, who I have known for a long time and who has proven himself as head coach at Stewart’s Melville College.”
As for the Super6 concept in general, Lineen is unsurprisingly positive given his close involvement in the league’s creation, but acknowledges that there is still work to be done.
“The rugby was good last season, and nobody can say it wasn’t,” Lineen said of the last Super6 season. “There is things we have to improve with Super6 and we all know that, in terms of season structure, the number of teams and so on – but we’ve got to start somewhere.”
Heriot’s Director of Rugby Neil Meikle added: “We are pleased to add someone of Sean’s calibre and knowledge to an already very strong coaching group. We are constantly looking to evolve our rugby offering and having a focal point for development further enhances our provision for male and female coaches and players at Heriot’s.”