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Former Scotland and Wales boss' Rugby Australia future in doubt - report

By Ian Cameron
Scott Johnson /Getty

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Major doubt has been cast over the future of Scott Johnson at Rugby Australia, with a report suggesting the cash-strapped union may axe the former Scotland Director of Rugby.

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Christy Doran – writing for Fox Sports – revealed that Rugby Australia, who undergoing an overhaul of their internal structures, may deem his services as surplus to requirements.

The story says that RA plan to shelve the role of DoR, effectively leaving Johnson without a day job.

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Rugby Australia paid a compensation package [estimated at £80,000] to the Scottish Rugby Union in 2018 which enabled Johnson to leave his DoR role in Scotland before the end of his contract.

Johnson’s appointment in the same role with RA wasn’t without its controversy however, with some suggesting it undermined the role of former head coach Michael Cheika, who was struggling with on-field Wallahies results leading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Reports of tension between Johnson and Cheika and were downplayed publically and Cheika exited in October 2019, immediately after the Wallabies bowed out at the quarter-finals stages of the flagship comp.

Cheika would later admit he never felt comfortable with Johnson overseeing his role, saying: “Scott‘s a lovely bloke and I get on fine with him but I’m sort of not really into that type of thing.”

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RA CEO Raelene Castle, who had appointed Johnson, followed a few months after Cheika, stepping down in April, 2020.

Johnson, who lead a review of the Rugby World Cup campaign and the 2019 season, was left as one of the sole survivors of RA’s senior management structure.

Johnson had originally joined Scottish Rugby in 2012 as part of Andy Robinson’s national team coaching group and became interim head coach in 2013 for the Six Nations and the summer tour that year following Robinson’s resignation. Johnson took on the role of DoR – with a high-performance remit – in May 2013 as Robinson’s successor was recruited and plans put in place for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Following the appointment of Vern Cotter as Scotland head coach Johnson oversaw the development of the Scottish Rugby Academy, the sevens and age-grade and Scottish Qualified programmes, among other duties.

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Where Johnson, who also had a brief caretaker role as Wales head coach in 2006, lands should he leave is anyone’s guess, but it is likely to be a soft landing given his now vast experience at the business end of elite rugby administration.

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