Ireland’s most successful women’s head coach Philip Doyle has been lured back into Test rugby by the chance to revive Scotland’s fortunes ahead of World Cup qualifying.
“Goose” Doyle guided Ireland Women to a Grand Slam in 2013 and a win over the New Zealand Black Ferns a year later at the 2014 World Cup, the first win by any Irish national side over the Kiwis. That pool win helped Ireland to the semi-finals and a fourth-place finish.
The 54-year-old, currently Blackrock College women’s head coach, will go head-to-head with Ireland in World Cup qualifying for New Zealand 2021, with both nations having failed to automatically qualify and needing to reach the tournament through a new Rugby Europe qualifying event in September 2020.
With Scotland losing all five of their 2019 Six Nations games earlier this year, Doyle recognises time is short as they vie with the Irish, Italy and the 2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Champions for the single qualifying berth, with the second-placed team going into a last-chance repechage tournament.
“I am very excited to take on this appointment and look forward to getting stuck in and getting to know the Scottish players,” he said. “We don’t have long in real terms until the World Cup Qualification process begins but I am confident that with some hard work we will have sufficient time to develop further in working towards this objective.”
The appointment is something of a coup for the Scots in finding such an experienced replacement for departing head coach Shade Munro and Scottish Rugby’s head of women and girls rugby Gemma Fay said: “I am delighted we have been able to secure a coach who has the experience and proven record of success in the women’s international game that Philip has.
“We are at an important moment in the Scotland Women squad development cycle as we prepare for the World Cup qualification process and I believe that Philip has the right experience to be able to take us through this period and compete for a place in the tournament.”
Doyle’s contract runs until the end of the World Cup qualification period with both he and Scottish Rugby having the opportunity to review the role at that point.