Sean Lineen to leave Scottish Rugby
Sean Lineen, the original “kilted Kiwi,” a key player in Scotland’s 1990 Grand Slam and whose love affair with the game has continued as a coach and administrator for more than 30 years, has decided to leave Scottish Rugby.
Lineen, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Christmas Day, said today: “For me this has been a really hard decision. But it is the right time to leave.”
Lineen departs at the conclusion of a review of the structure of Scottish Rugby’s High-Performance Department, overseen by Director of Performance Rugby, Jim Mallinder, who is aligning the department to Scottish Rugby’s new three-year strategy launched earlier this year. This new strategy underpins the changes required within our high performance structure to drive the professional game in Scotland forward over the next few years.
Lineen has made his decision amicably. He went on: “I’ve been involved in Scottish Rugby for a lifetime, and I feel lucky and very privileged to have been involved in the game here, firstly as a player and coach with Boroughmuir, then with the national team in both roles and to have played for Edinburgh and coached Glasgow Warriors.
“I will always be hugely enthusiastic and passionate about Scottish Rugby – everyone knows that.
“There are so many good things going on just now: uppermost amongst them, the turbo-charging of investment into the pro-teams; and the improved links between our best young players, training and playing, with the pro-teams. And it’s all about creating and developing competitive environments.
“Over the last nine years, the work we’ve done to develop our young talent and the national age-grade programmes – not just with the under-20s but getting competitive programmes in place at under-16, under-17, and under-19 – has been the right way to go, for coaches as well as players.
“Since 2013 I’ve worked in my roles as Head of International Age-Grade and then Head of Academies to bring the youngsters through a visible pathway and it’s also been gratifying to see coaches like John Dalziel, Steve Lawrie, and Peter Murchie graduate from their experience with the under-20s to posts with the national and pro-teams. “
Lineen, who was part of Frank Hadden’s national management team, when Hadden became Scotland head coach in 2005, reflects proudly that 17 of the 23 players on duty for Scotland’s opening victory of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series against Tonga were products of the national under-20 set-up.
He is also very satisfied with the introduction of the FOSROC Super6 competition, in which he has played a pivotal role. “That’s been vital to strengthening the bridge between the club and professional game and, also, most importantly, about keeping our best young players in Scotland and developing our best young coaches.
“It will take time and I do understand how passionate people are, but everyone can see how good the rugby was in the competition and that this level of competition was needed.
“I’ve really enjoyed too, the conversations with the six coaches. For me it has always been about the teamwork and what happens on the pitch.”
Lineen intends to “take a wee breather” before deciding on his next steps but it is hard to imagine that he is quite ready yet to don the carpet slippers.
“I always remember the Clint Eastwood quote. At 91 he was asked: ‘What’s the secret to staying young?’ And his answer: ‘Don’t let the old man in.’ So, for me, I’ll be determined not to let the old man in. I feel physically and mentally very active. I love my cold-water swimming in the sea and I’m playing a lot of tennis (rubbish second serve) and cycling,” he explained.
Lineen, who was a police officer in New Zealand before coming to Scotland, where he became MD of Scottish Rugbymagazine, described that journey across the world as “the best decision I ever made in my life.”
Not only did he help Boroughmuir to a Scottish Club Championship, but he also went on to win 29 caps for Scotland between 1989 and 1992, scoring tries against New Zealand in Dunedin on the 1990 tour and Australia in Brisbane in his final Test.
Typically, when asked to name his highlights, Lineen does not dwell on the 1990 Grand Slam.
“First meeting my wife Lynne at an aerobics class that I went to with Norrie Rowan would be a definite highlight!
“Helping Glasgow Warriors to two play-offs in the then Magners League was absolutely massive and building the whole ‘Whatever it takes’ culture at Glasgow is something I look back on with immense pride.
“Keeping London Scottish up when I had been invited to be Director of Rugby there in 2016 and, since 2013, the work with Scotland under-20s.
“The win that we enjoyed in North Wales in March 2020 just before lockdown when we scored 50 points was special and to see the players and parents celebrate afterwards makes it so worthwhile.
“Most of all I’ve met some fantastic people within the rugby family and in the last few weeks I’ve been out and about. I was at the Dollar Academy v Stewart’s-Melville school game, and I took a table of ten at hospitality at Heriot’s v Highland in the Tennent’s National League Division 1 with some of my old friends to kick start my 60th.”
Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive Mark Dodson said: “We sincerely thank Sean for the dedication and commitment he has shown Scottish Rugby over the decades and look forward to seeing him at BT Murrayfield matches in the future.”
Director of Performance Rugby Jim Mallinder added: “Sean has contributed a huge amount to Scottish Rugby over the last 30 plus years, first as a player, then as a coach.
“Over the last nine years, combining roles of coach and administrator, he has put his stamp on the development of our young talent and the national age-grade programmes – not just with the under-20s but developing programmes at under-16, under-17, and under-19 levels.
“I know it’s been a hard decision for him to make and he leaves with sincere thanks and affection from all corners of the game.”