Shade Munro leaves Scotland Women for Scottish Rugby Academy post

Heavy defeat by England last match in charge after four years

Shade Munro
Shade Munro before the game against Wales earlier this month. Image: © Craig Watson.

SHADE Munro has stood down as Scotland’s head coach and will take up a new post next month with the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy. The SRU hope to have a successor in place for the Autumn Tests later this year.

Munro’s appointment as lead academy coach for Glasgow & West was made in January, according to a statement from the SRU, but he agreed to stay on until the end of the Women’s Six Nations. Scotland lost all five of their matches in the Championship, culminating in Saturday night’s 80-0 defeat by England. That compared to one win last year – in Ireland – and two in 2017, at home to Wales and Italy. 

Isolated aspects of their game have seen improvements this season, with the scrum, for example, having become more solid thanks to their work with former Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson, but it is clear that Scotland have regressed compared to their immediate rivals. They may not be competing on an even footing with professional sides such as England and France, but they should be doing so with Italy, Wales and Ireland.

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The last-minute loss to Wales at Scotstoun in the penultimate round of the Six Nations was evidence that the team had forgotten how to win, and although in his four years Munro has made significant achievements, it had become apparent that a new impetus from outside would be needed. But whoever takes over, the key issue facing the women’s game in Scotland is the relatively small playing pool – something to which Munro referred after the loss to England at Twickenham.

“It’s clear that we need more players to be playing the game,” he said. “With this group of players, you can take them to a level… We need more players to play. There are certain positions where we need to find players in.

“With the under-18s and under-20s programme as it is, there are good players within that who are getting exposed to proper training now, which this lot didn’t get. So that will make a difference, but it’s a small pool.

“You can see the popularity of [women’s] rugby in France, England, Italy even. It’s pretty popular – you can see the difference that that’s made. So it’s how we jump on the bandwagon in terms of promoting women’s rugby in Scotland. Girls have got to be encouraged to play the game by looking at what women can achieve. England are a great example of it, and they should be inspiring not only English girls to play rugby, but Scottish girls too.”

Munro will take up his new position as successor to Iain Monaghan, who took over as the coach of the Hong Kong women’s sevens team at the start of the year. “The new Academy position will provide an opportunity to work with different players who are at a key stage in their career, making this an attractive role to take on and one I am looking forward to,” he was quoted as saying in the statement from Murrayfield.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time working with this group of players and seeing the improvements they have made,” Munro, who became the team’s first full-time head coach in 2015, said in the statement from Murrayfield. “I am proud of how much they have all developed individually and as a team over the last few years.

“Increasing the level of coaching and amount of training regionally, along with the increase in National camps and competitive fixtures has helped hugely with this development. There have also been some fantastic highlights during my time involved most notably achieving our first Six Nations win in 35 attempts along with our first away win in the same competition last year against Ireland.

“Given the passion and commitment the players show when representing their country and their collective desire to continue to improve I have no doubt that further success awaits Scotland Women’s rugby. I would like to wish them all the very best for the future.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.