Super6 squads take shape
Super6 will deliver summer rugby and an ambition to raise the standards of players and coaching in Scotland, according to former Grand Slam winning Scotland centre Sean Lineen, who leads the on-field development for the new tournament for Scottish Rugby.
Recruitment for Super6 teams is now well underway, putting the new competition on the radar for aspiring players and support staff.
Speaking today Lineen said: “There has been a lot of progress in the last few months.
“I’m meeting with the coaches on a regular basis, both collectively and individually, to look at recruitment, introducing the Stage 3 Academy Players who will be part of the Super6 squads, bringing in the Scottish Qualified (SQ) players who are looking to come back up to Scotland and how the coaching group want to build their squads.
All six clubs are way down the track in terms of the progress they have made. There is a good mixture of experience and younger players in the squads so far. Sean Lineen
“Some players may decide they want to stay and play in the Premiership and that’s fine, the door is open and we will look to have the best players involved in the coming years.
“The challenge now is to get the tournament going and help it develop as we move forward.”
He continued: “In terms of recruitment it’s not just coaches and players, it’s the staff too: the medics, analysts, conditioners. The coach’s job is to develop their off field team as well as on-field.
“We are now finalising the five Stage 3 players to each of the six teams. My job is to put them where they are best suited positionally, as well as where they are based and what will be best for them to develop as players.
“I’m really excited by those players. There is some real quality coming through and they will start a minimum of half the games in Super6, so they will get decent game time. They are good enough and it’s important to get that balance right.”
Lineen also outlined the difference he feels Super6 will bring to the top tier standard of play in Scotland with the onus on the full-time head coaches to build successful performance operations.
“The coaches are competitive beasts,” he added.
“They want to win and we want to develop the players collectively and consistently across the season.
“We expect players to be fitter and better conditioned, and my role is to ensure the coaches are creating the right environment off the field as well. The players will be part-time professionals and we want them to be accountable too.
For me it’s about making sure we best present the players on the field, develop the staff, develop the coaches, develop the competition structure and get excited by it. Sean Lineen
“We are a small enough rugby nation to create an environment where ambitious rugby players have the opportunity to be in the shop window and challenge themselves, week in and week out, against local opposition but also cross-border too.
“I’d like to think there will be a more consistent playing level week in, week out. It will take time and it won’t be perfect straight away. We will look at year one and see what needs to improve.
“I want to make sure it is the best it can be.”
The schedule of matches for the first season of Super6 was also confirmed today by Lineen.
With Rugby World Cup 2019 dominating the traditional start to the forthcoming season, Super6 will get underway slightly later than will become the norm, with a pair of friendly fixtures at the end of October before the first matches kick-off on the weekend of 9 November 2019.
The inaugural 12-match season will break for Christmas and Guinness Six Nations weekends and conclude with semi-finals and a final on Saturday 28 March 2020.
Following a short break, the teams will then contest the cross-border element from mid-April, against clubs from the Welsh Principality Premiership, through until early June.
Super6 will then begin again in early August and run through until early November.
Beyond the opening Super6 season, games will be played from April through to November, creating better weather, summer rugby and limiting the impact on the traditional league calendar followed by the Premiership, National and Regional Leagues.
He explained: “In reality, the first year of Super6 runs from November to November but then, going forward, it starts with cross-border, which I think is really exciting.
“In April and May there will be a short break, then you will be straight into the domestic competition in August through to November, so it’s summer rugby which is good and helps the part-time professional players to plan accordingly.”