Scottish Rugby launches new Scottish Qualified programme

Scottish Rugby has evolved its Exiles programme to create a new Scottish Qualified or SQ programme.

With a new expanded network of regional SQ representatives in the UK, Europe and the southern hemisphere Scottish Rugby is aiming to open up the pathway to its international teams for eligible players.

The key objectives of the revised programme are to identify and recruit eligible male and female players, primarily at academy, professional or international level.

With the Scotland national team reaching its highest World Ranking of 5th in 2017 and Scotland U20s recording their highest finish, also of 5th, in the Junior World Championship last season and the improvements shown by Scotland Women, there is an obvious objective to continue the current positive progress and increase depth across all positions and teams.

The change to World Rugby Regulation 8 which allows non-ancestry players to qualify through residency will extend from three years to five years from Jan 1st 2018, further emphasising the need for a new focus to international recruitment, to work alongside the continued development work taking place within Scotland.

In recent seasons players such as Huw Jones, Henry Pyrgos, Ali Price, Ryan Wilson, Tim Swinson, Hamish Watson and Nick Grigg have all represented Scotland having developed their careers internationally.

Former Scotland players Rory Lawson, Alan Tait and Ian Smith, alongside former Head of Recruitment at Worcester Warriors, Jan McGinity will have a specific remit to scout appropriate talent and also mentor more established players identified through the UK programme.

Former Scotland Exiles programme manager Rob Brierley will continue to lead on the age-grade pipeline for young players across the UK, working closely with their own clubs and schools. This individualised programme operates at a number of levels, starting with the initial entry, regional volunteer led programmes, and culminating in the SQ age grade teams and performance camps.

Internationally Scottish Rugby has identified a number scouts and contacts in key rugby markets to support the SQ programme’s objectives and to expand the network of trusted eyes and ears on the ground.

Gareth Wright is currently the Western Province U18 coach and will cover South Africa.

Nicolas Bonnet in France is a Sevens coach with Monaco and part of the Stade Nicois coaching group.

Jun Kagawa is a former front row forward in Japan and been part of Scottish Rugby’s Nagasaki Union partnership for the last two years.

Campbell Aitken, former Boroughmuir player, will identify talent from his base in Eastern Suburbs, Sydney.

Cammie Mather, former Scotland Internationalist, will be the contact in Auckland, where he is currently coaching Auckland University.

Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby CEO said: “Our remit is to put out the most competitive Scotland sides across all our representative teams.

“Therefore, like other nations in the global game, we are keen to maximize every opportunity to bring eligible players of the required standard into our programmes to create more choice in selection and raise standards across the board.

“Given our modest playing base we will always need to add depth to our high-performance group and believe we present a compelling case to relevant players to pursue their international ambitions with Scotland.”

Stephen Gemmell, Head of Academy and Performance Progammes said: “This is not a new concept as players based outside of Scotland have represented their country at all levels going back many years.

“The BT Sport Academy is working incredibly well at developing young male and female players to a high standard and the SQ Programme will work alongside this to help us ensure that we can field the strongest possible teams.

“At the end of the day it will come down to player choice and with the quality of high performance environments we have, world class coaching and responsible player welfare programmes, I think we are in a positive position to attract and recruit more quality players.”