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Scotland plan restructure 'to be competitive at the top end of the game'

By PA
Scotland Rugby/ PA

Scotland and its two professional clubs will reinstate ‘A’ teams as part of a new performance strategy for men’s rugby union which will also see the disbandment of the Super 6.

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Both Glasgow and Edinburgh will also develop their academy structures and provide more access to professional training environments and playing opportunities to under-23s.

An increased focus will go to Scottish-qualified players in the Warriors and Edinburgh squads as part of the new Male Performance Pathway, which is designed to retain the country’s position in the world’s top five nations.

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Although Scotland have broken into the top five with wins over the likes of England, Wales, France and Australia in recent years, their under-20 side has struggled, losing 15 consecutive matches before beating Wales in last year’s Six Nations tournament.

The Scottish Rugby Limited and Scottish Rugby Union boards have both approved the new approach, which will put more focus on developing home-grown players and better alignment between the domestic and professional game.

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Super 6 licence agreements will not be renewed beyond November this year and a consultation will now take place with clubs to determine a new structure. Ayrshire Bulls, Boroughmuir Bears, Heriot’s, Southern Knights, Stirling Wolves and Watsonians are the six semi-professional teams in the series.

The principles of the new structure will be around fairness to all clubs and minimal disruption to existing leagues.

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There will be minimum quotas for Scottish-qualified players in the Edinburgh and Glasgow squads but the details of the pathway programme will not be finalised until after a new Scottish Rugby performance director is recruited to replace the outgoing Jim Mallinder.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: “It’s clear that we must do better at creating more opportunities for our best young players to gain experiences and develop through playing rugby at higher levels.

“The game is often the best teacher and we need to provide more games at pro-level and above for those in our under-20 and academy environments.

“Increasing the number of pro team A games and reinstating Scotland A fixtures are two important pathways for achieving this.”

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The SRU’s technical and operations director, Stephen Gemmell said: “The professional and international game continues to develop at a pace, and for us to be competitive at the top end of the game we need to ensure that our current and future international players are developed and able to play more often in the professional environments that we have.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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