Scottish Rugby today announced that it is appointing a vastly experienced Scottish coach with hands-on knowledge of the very top of the international game as part of its Academy initiative.
Alan Tait, 50, the former Scotland and British Lions back and rugby league internationalist, who was defence coach with the Scotland team and head coach with Newcastle Falcons, is joining as a specialist skills coach and will play a key role within the four BT Sport Academies that Scottish Rugby is establishing this season around the country.
Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive, said: “The appointment of Alan Tait, an internationally recognised and renowned rugby Scot, underlines the importance that we attach to improving standards in this vital sector of the game.
“We have announced that we have agreed that the first BT Sport Academy will be in Aberdeen and discussions are ongoing with a view to the other Academies being in the west, east and Borders and Alan will work alongside our Academy coaches and age-grade staff. He starts next Monday (8 September).”
Stephen Gemmell, Scottish Rugby’s Acting Head of Academy, said: “With Gary Mercer moving on, it’s good news that we are able to bring in someone of Alan’s experience of international and professional rugby both on the playing and coaching side.
“Alan is coming on board to help with our transition period in the implementation of the new Academy structure. He will work with current staff until the full recruitment and implementation of the Academy structure is completed.
“It’s very positive for our BT Sport Academies and for our most talented young male and female players to know that Alan’s insight will be on tap here. It’s a statement of our desire to have talented Scottish coaches working within our programme.”
Alan Tait said: “It’s awesome to be back. I’ve always believed that Scottish players around the age of 16/17/18 are ready to absorb best practice and kick on in their development.
“I saw how rugby league went about the academy business when they set it up a few years ago and for me it’s important that young players learn from the outset that you have to work hard, be dedicated and be prepared to make sacrifices.
“I really want to get that across to them. Yes, we can go places, but we have to put in the hard work first.”
Alan Victor Tait, a product of the Kelso club, scored 17 tries for Scotland in a 27 cap Test career which stretched from 1987 through until the Rugby World Cup of 1999. After the 1988 season he switched to rugby league during which he made 16 appearances for GB, before returning to the union game in 1998-97. A British Lion in South Africa in 1997, Tait was Scotland’s technical coach on the 2000 summer tour to New Zealand, and remained with the squad as assistant coach, specialising in defence, until the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He was an assistant coach at the Border Reivers and returned to work with the national team between 2005 and 2008. Tait returned to Newcastle Falcons – where as a player he featured in their Championship winning side – and was head coach until January 2012.