Dave Rennie believes there are a crop of talented young players coming through Scottish Rugby’s academy system that should bode well for the future of the national team.
The departing Glasgow Warriors boss name-checked centre Stafford McDowall, back-row Tom Gordon and Bruce Flockhart, and Scotland wing Kyle Steyn among the club’s most promising young players.
And Rennie, who is returning home to New Zealand before he takes over as Australia Head Coach in July, believes the introduction of a Guinness PRO14 ‘A League’ could help young players develop, and allow them to get game-time at an adequate standard.
“I honestly believe that there are some really good players over here, some really good kids coming through, and I think Edinburgh and Glasgow are preparing these guys pretty well for the step up to international footy,” The outgoing Glasgow boss said.
“But [Scotland] have to keep working hard to identify and develop players. There has been talk around altering the Academy system a bit, and I like what Leinster do around their ‘A’ side and the competition they play in.”
Rennie suggested that players from his squad dropping into FOSROC Super6 was not as beneficial as the introduction of an ‘A League’ might be, while admitting he was aware of the financial impact of the creation of second teams for both professional clubs.
“For a big chunk of the year, you play without internationals, so the other guys get an opportunity, but there are times in the year when you have 50 guys to choose from, and it would be great to have really meaningful games for those guys,” said Rennie.
“They don’t have to play every week because when international players are unavailable clubs are depleted, so it is when everyone is at full strength there is a chance to play ‘A’ games.
“It means that your next tier is playing, and some of your academy players are coming up and playing against really tough opposition, learning lots.
“I think that would be a real positive.
“We were often trying to find games for some guys and Super6 was a real battle this year, with the rules that were there,” the New Zealander said on his final conference call with the media yesterday (Friday) morning.
“The issue is that Super6 had ‘X’ amount of players contracted and they can’t go anywhere else, so we were passing players down and they already had a full squad.
“I realise that comes with a cost, but if you’re asking me how we accelerate the development of the next tier, I reckon that would be a good start.”
Image caption: Dave Rennie believes the creation of a PRO14 ‘A League’ could aid the development of young players. Image credit: Fotosport/David Gibson