New coaching duo confirmed for Watsonians

Andy Bell has been appointed Head Coach of Watsonians 1st XV, with Jason Riley moving from Preston Lodge to be his assistant. 

Bell is no stranger to Myreside, having played for the club before and he is looking forward to taking on his new challenge and building on things with a squad who showed promise in Tennent’s National League Division One in 2019/20.

He is also looking forward to working with the FOSROC Super6 coaching team headed up by Fergus Pringle as well as the coaching units and backroom staff in charge of the 2nd, 3rd and Women’s XVs.

“I am very excited to be taking up this role with Watsonians,” Bell said. 

“I knew all about Watsonians before I moved to Edinburgh because of the great history of the club and when I first headed along to Myreside to play I found everyone very welcoming and there was a really good atmosphere.

“During the last few years I have made a lot of friends at the club and especially enjoyed my Sunday mornings coaching the P2s last season, it is a great honour to be named as Head Coach of the 1st XV.

“I know there are a lot of talented young players at the club who will all want to push for 1st XV selection in 2020/21 and I am looking forward to working with them and helping them fulfil their potential as well as welcoming some new faces to the squad.”

South African Riley, meanwhile, moves after seven years at the Pennypit and is looking forward to a new challenge. 

The 31-year-old, a back-row who played centre for the East Lothian club last season, said: “It will be a great challenge for me.

“I know Fergus Pringle, the Super6 Head Coach well, and have followed Watsonians progress over the last year or so in what is an exciting time for the club at all levels,” he said.

“Going forward I am keen to progress with my coaching and I think being at Myreside, alongside Andrew at 1st XV level is the place to do just that – it will be a great challenge for me.

“I know a number of the players already and I cannot wait until we can safely get out on the training pitch as a full squad in the near future.”

While a return to rugby date is yet to be finalised, the new coaches are already making plans for when that does happen and everyone at the club would like to wish them well in their new roles.

Chris Hunter, Director of Rugby at Myreside, was delighted with the appointments: “The club carried out a full recruitment process and we had some very strong candidates. 

“We felt that the combination of Andy and Jason would work extremely well and we are excited to have two ambitious coaches who can bring a varied skill set to hep the development of our squad in a fun environment.

“Andy is no stranger to Myreside having previously played and coached, whilst Jason is experienced in club rugby land having been involved with Preston Lodge.

“We have a young squad who have gained valuable game time in National 1 last season. 

“We will retain a large number of these guys, whilst we have already added to the squad with some ‘older heads’ who will provide some invaluable experience.

“Like all clubs, we are desperate to get back out onto the field when safe to do so.”

Image caption: A new coaching pairing has been appointed at Watsonians. Image credit: Graham Gaw/Watsonians

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