WATSONIANS have announced that Andy Bell will be the new head coach of their ‘Club XV’ next season, and Jason Riley has been unveiled as his assistant. The pair will take over from Bruce Ruthven and Gordon Smith, who have moved to National One rivals Melrose.
Bell was born and raised in England, and played for Clifton in Bristol as a teenager before studying at Loughborough University, where the stand-off was involved with the Scottish Exiles programme. After graduating, he initially returned to Clifton during which time he made over 100 appearances as the club rose to English National Two level, before moving to Edinburgh and joining Watsonians.
He had two stints at Myreside as a player, sandwiching a spell playing for Edinburgh Accies. He is a UKCC Level 3 coach and has spent the last few years overseeing backs and attack with the University of Edinburgh performance squad.
Read The Offside Line’s series of the 50 games that defined Scottish rugby:
- 50 games that defined Scottish rugby: part one
- 50 games that defined Scottish rugby: part two
- 50 games that defined Scottish rugby: part three
- 50 games that defined Scottish rugby: part four
- 50 games that defined Scottish rugby: part five
“I knew all about Watsonians before I moved to Edinburgh because of the great history of the club and when I first headed along to Myreside to play I found everyone very welcoming and there was a really good atmosphere,” said Bell. “During the last few years I have made a lot of friends at the club and especially enjoyed my Sunday mornings coaching the P2s last season, it is a great honour to be named as head coach of the 1st XV.
“I know there are a lot of talented young players at the club who will all want to push for 1st XV selection in 2020-21 and I am looking forward to working with them and helping them fulfil their potential as well as welcoming some new faces to the squad.”
Riley, who is originally from Johannesburg in South Africa, has been in Scotland for the last decade. The 31-year-old has spent the last seven years associated with Preston Lodge as a player, coach and development officer. He is now a regional development officer in East Lothian, and works with some of the best young players in East Lothian, Edinburgh and the Borders with his age-grade coaching hat on.
“I know Fergus Pringle, the Super6 head coach well, and have followed Watsonians progress over the last year or so in what is an exciting time for the club at all levels,” he said. “Going forward I am keen to progress with my coaching and I think being at Myreside, alongside Andrew at 1st XV level, is the place to do just that – it will be a great challenge for me.”
Watsonians Director of Rugby Chris Hunter welcomed the appointments. “The club carried out a full recruitment process and we had some very strong candidates,” he said. “We felt that the combination of Andy and Jason would work extremely well and we are excited to have two ambitious coaches who can bring a varied skill-set to help the development of our squad in a fun environment.
“We have a young squad who have gained valuable game time in National One last season. We will retain a large number of these guys, whilst we have already added to the squad with some’older heads who will provide some invaluable experience. Like all clubs, we are desperate to get back out onto the field when safe to do so.”