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Home > News > Wright believes Hawks can inspire revival of club game
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Your News Wright believes Hawks can inspire revival of club game
30
JUL

EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS REPORTS

Ambitious team have template for others to follow

By BILL LOTHIAN

BONNYRIGG'S Peter Wright brings his Glasgow Hawks team to the annual Preston Lodge ten-a-side tournament on Saturday at the start of what he hopes will be a brave new era for Scottish club rugby.

But, while an advocate of the new experimental laws that will be in play for the first time since an edict was issued by International Board authorities, it is an innovation peculiar to the domestic game that Wright is most excited about.

"Hawks have made me director of rugby and we have another full-timer in chief executive Kenny Baillie.

"You don't make those sort of appointments without having a lot of ambition."

According to Wright, a former Boroughmuir and Edinburgh prop forward, it is Hawks' mission statement to be producing players for the SRU-run professional teams, but within that he also sees plenty of scope for the club game to be improving itself.

"Some people will say Hawks are mad putting in the sort of investment we have, but at best we will be establishing a template for other clubs to follow. In Ayr, Boroughmuir, Melrose and Watsonians there are clubs well equipped to take Scotland towards an Italian-style club structure which is called Super-10.

"Even if we only got eight teams operating on those lines it would help develop our game."

What makes Wright's role so intriguing is that he is one of the few to so far have opted out of the Scottish Rugby Union, who have structured the game as a pyramid system leading towards the national team.

Clearly recognising the importance of a strong Scotland, whom he represented on 21 occasions as well as touring with the 1993 British and Irish Lions, Wright nevertheless feels strongly about the importance of grass roots.

"The reason I left my post as Scotland under-19 and national academy coach was because I wanted to get more involved on a week-to-week basis. It is certainly not that I don't want to go higher. But with the money going towards the Scottish National team there is definitely a need for more coach education as part of succession planning. A lot of good things are happening particularly the academy system which now applies to refs as well as players. But there is a long, long way to go. I found myself coaching the under-19s for their one scheduled match last season while Scottish rugby generally needs to have more coaches coming through without a lot of top posts going overseas.

"For example, Todd Blackadder (Edinburgh), Daryl Gibson (Glasgow) and Pat Lam (Scotland) have all returned to their native New Zealand to land top jobs after we paid them to learn their craft here. Before appointing others in that vein thought must be given to extra opportunities for some very good club coaches including Bob McKillop (Heriot's), Craig Chalmers (Melrose) and Kenny Murray (Ayr)."

A current gripe among some of the SRU's impressive raft of development officers is that they cannot coach clubs for fear of being accused of conflict of interest.

Wright said: "I haven't worked out how some DOs seem to be able to coach more than others. What I do know is that when Ian McGeechan was director of rugby for Scotland he wanted to have similar full-time roles created at clubs with the SRU meeting half the cost. Thanks to Hawks I have the chance to acquire other skills in looking to go as far as I can."

Where Wright will be tested this weekend is preparing his team, along with head coach Davie Wilson and defence coach Jamie Dempsey, for the new law innovations. Giving the thumbs-up to changes which include pulling down mauls and an insistence on defenders being five metres back from scrums, Wright said: "I don't think the law makers have gone far enough.

"By refusing to copy the Southern Hemisphere and implement the change which awards only penalties for foul play and offside a chance has been missed.

"For example, in scrums you can be penalised and lose three points for not binding but often this offence is accidental because jerseys can be very hard to grab hold off nowadays.

"I don't think we'll learn too much about the new laws at Preston Lodge Ten's tournament because they are more geared to creating extra space without reducing playing numbers like rugby league. And that can't start soon enough because from my time working inside rugby I've learned to recognise that the balance between improved conditioning and skills isn't yet right."

Draw (first game 12.30, Pennypit Park)

Pool One: Glasgow Hawks, Haddington, Murrayfield Wanderers, Trinity Accies.

Pool Two: Edinburgh University, Preston Lodge, Musselburgh, Pig-barians charity select.

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