SCOTLAND head coach Frank Hadden stepped down yesterday with immediate effect after a frustrating Six Nations campaign ended with just one victory.
The decision was taken after a meeting today of the Scottish Rugby Board.
Scottish Rugby chief executive, Gordon McKie, said: “Following a presentation at today’s Scottish Rugby Board, covering a review of the Scotland performance in the RBS 6 Nations Championship, it was agreed with Frank Hadden that a change in head coach is required to allow us to plan fully for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“On behalf of the board, I have thanked Frank for his hard work and commitment during his term as national coach.”
Scottish Rugby will begin the recruitment process for a new head coach with immediate effect.
The statement held out the possibility that former Edinburgh boss Hadden might still be involved in the Scotland set-up in some other capacity.
The demise of Hadden will come as no surprise to followers of Scottish rugby.
His position was under threat after yet another poor Six Nations tournament. Scotland failed for a third straight season to achieve their own stipulated minimum requirement of two championship victories.
Scotland have finished in the bottom two of the Six Nations five times in the last six years, which is the same record as Italy.
Their 26-12 Calcutta Cup defeat by England in the final game of this season’s competition was Scotland’s 12th in their last 16 matches.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has claimed the Six Nations’ block vote against the most controversial experimental law variation (ELV) was “ridiculous”.
Delegates from New Zealand and Australia have returned home from a high-level International Rugby Board conference in London frustrated at having failed to persuade the global game to adopt the so-called “sanctions” ELV.
The experimental law, which has been on trial in the Super 14 and Tri-Nations for the last two seasons, replaces most penalties for technical offences with free-kicks.
Plans to allow mauls to be pulled down and for unlimited numbers in the lineout were also scrapped at the conference, leading to accusations from Australia that the leading Six Nations unions had been close-minded.
Supporters of the sanctions ELV argued it put more emphasis on running rugby and less reliance on a referee’s interpretation of the breakdown area.
But critics claimed it was little more than a “cheat’s charter”, allowing defenders to wilfully kill the ball knowing they will not be gifting their opponents three points.
The Six Nations unions refused to trial the sanctions ELV in any senior competition. It was used for a six-month period in the French second-team competition.
Tew said: “We had the ridiculous situation where the Six Nations were en masse rejecting law variations which they had not trialled.
“It’s fair to say that raised a few eyebrows given they were telling us why they didn’t work. They were basing their arguments on assumptions rather than facts.”
Australia’s high performance manager David Nucifora claimed the Six Nations’ stubborn defence of the rolling maul meant they had failed to understand the wider picture.
“It’s fair to say the hardcore of the Six Nations countries were the ones that really struggled to get their heads around it but there are other countries in the north that are a bit more open-minded about them,” he said.
The conference did recommend 10 ELVs be adopted permanently, including a five-metre offside line behind scrums and the pass-back law, which prevents teams from gaining ground with a direct kick for touch if they have played the ball into their own 22.
This week’s conference was not a decision-making forum but their recommendations are set to be proposed by the IRB’s rugby committee at a full council meeting on May 13.
A new lawbook will come into force on August 1 and so the Lions’ tour of South Africa this summer will be played under the current set of global ELVs, which include unlimited lineout numbers and pulling down the maul.
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