Blair and Forrester receive Macphail Coaching Scholarship

Mike Blair and Calum Forrester are this year’s recipients of the John Macphail Coaching Scholarship and will develop their coaching careers with a visit to New Zealand next month. 

Recently retired Blair, who is due to take up a coaching role at Glasgow Warriors next season will join Forrester, head coach of Ayr and Scotland under-19, in spending three weeks at a high performance unit in Christchurch working with the coaching staff of Super Rugby side Canterbury Crusaders, with both coaches taking off for Canterbury on Tuesday 7 June. 

Blair will remain with the Warriors as an assistant coach after announcing his retirement from the club last month, with the former Scotland international ready to make the transition. 

Scotland’s most capped scrum-half, has been involved in coaching the club’s current crop of scrum-halves. 

The UKCC Level 3 qualified coach has previously worked with Ponteland RFC during his playing career in 2014/15 with Newcastle Falcons. 

He said: “It has always been my desire to move into a coaching role and I am looking forward to making the change from player to coach in the coming seasons. 

“To immerse myself in the Crusaders High Performance Unit is the perfect opportunity to develop my coaching skills. 

“The New Zealand culture is one which I am looking forward to embracing from both a club and country perspective. 

My playing career, for both Scotland and across club level, will hopefully give me a good starting point from which to build my coaching career." 

Forrester has enjoyed a successful coaching career through his role as head coach of Ayr, with the BT Premiership side taking part in this season’s play-off final against Heriot’s after topping the league table. 

A former Glasgow Warriors and Ayr back row, Forrester made the switch to coaching two seasons ago after captaining the Millbrae men to a league and Cup double in 2012/13. 

He has been involved in the coaching set-up of this season’s Scotland under-19 development squad, who defeated a touring side from Japan’s National Schools this year, and holds a UKCC Level 4 coaching qualification from Edinburgh Napier University. 

He said: “I first became involved in coaching during my time at Glasgow Warriors and have spent several years building my experience. 

“This season has gone well at Ayr with the squad developing a level of consistency, despite losing out in the BT Premiership play-off final. 

It is a huge opportunity to visit New Zealand and learn from the coaches involved with the Crusaders and local clubs, while also absorbing the environment out there.

“For me, having played my rugby in the back row, my interest will be focused on attack and back play and it will be great to learn from one of the world’s most attacking club sides.

The Macphail Scholarship was established in memory of former Scotland hooker John Macphail, who died in 2004.

The initiative, which is funded by the Robertson Scholarship Trust, provides upcoming coaching prospects with the opportunity to travel to New Zealand to immerse themselves in the coaching culture at the Canterbury Crusaders. 

Mark Laing, Chairman of the Robertson Scholarship Trust, said: “For a number of years, in addition to the rugby playing Scholarship, the John Macphail Coaching Scholarship has played a key role in The Robertson Trust’s commitment to developing Scottish talent and realising potential. 

“Mike and Calum undoubtedly possess the skills needed to follow in the long line of previous recipients who have used the award as a springboard for future success, including Shade Munro, Chris Paterson, Iain Monaghan, Ben Fisher and Kenny Murray. 

“It’s my great pleasure to welcome both to the Scholarship and I, along with the Macphail family and all at The Robertson Trust, look forward to seeing how the experience in New Zealand helps their already-successful careers flourish even more.”

John Macphail Coaching Scholarship recipients: 
2015: Ben Cairns and Duncan Hodge 
2014: Don Caskie and Kenny Murray 
2013: Shade Munro and Alex Duncan 
2012: Chris Paterson and Ben Fisher 
2011: Iain Monaghan