Scottish Rugby will learn over the next few weeks who the new chief executive and director of rugby will be. What changes should they make when they come in and what state will they find the men’s game?

Rob Robertson spoke to five former Scotland and British & Irish Lions players to get their views.

Peter Wright

Scotland Rugby News: Former Scotland prop Peter WrightFormer Scotland prop Peter Wright (Image: SNS)

There are guys failing at the top end of Scottish Rugby but they just recycle these people and move them from one job to another. They go to another department and nothing changes.

I don’t think under Mark Dodson, who I know has now stepped down as chief executive, there was enough money put into the game and that has to change.

The system we have in Scotland is not working particularly well as we are having to go outside the country to find players. South African props, back row players from New Zealand, are in the national side who haven’t come through the domestic system and have little or no connection to Scotland.

I know there is a numbers issue for us with a relatively small country producing a relatively small amount of players but I feel Scottish Rugby have got the development side of things very wrong.

When I worked in rugby development more than twenty years ago we had good numbers and in Glasgow we had 34 Under-18 teams playing in the Glasgow league. There will be nothing like that now. For financial reasons there were cut backs and because Scottish Rugby wasn’t pushing the game as they used to numbers dropped off and things have never recovered.

There has to be concern about where we are as a rugby nation as this Scotland team hasn’t managed to make the knock-out stages of the last two World Cups with what many believe is the best generation of players we have ever had.

I accept that both World Cup draws were tough but we have world-class players in the Scotland team that should have got closer to qualification for the quarter-finals.

Gregor Townsend is a very good coach but maybe there is an argument that a new voice within the coaching set-up would be a good thing to try and get a little bit more out of the players as Scotland haven’t been in the top two of the Six Nations under him.

You can point to us winning regularly over England but let’s face it, England have been pretty rubbish in recent years. We should be looking at our results against the likes of Ireland and try and improve them. 

My big concern is that when this generation goes, there are not a lot of new players coming along to take their places. I also have a concern over the mentality of the players that are coming through. 

We don’t breed players to be ruthless in Scotland because they don’t have to be ruthless to get into the professional game. They might still make it in the Scotland game without having an edge, a nastiness, because of the lack of competition for places. You go to Ireland, England, France.

Young players there know they won’t get a second chance if they aren’t physical enough because others will take their place so they have to be ruthless from the word go. 

The Scotland game is not as physical, not as tough, at youth level as say the Irish system is. We struggle at Under-20 level as these boys aren’t getting enough matches that test them and bring out their full physical intensity when they get to that age-grade level.

Nasty players are great players and we don’t have any truly nasty players. A prime example of that is Peter O’Mahony of Ireland who is one of the most horrible guys you will ever play against but what a success he has been.

Scotland players only start getting ruthless once they are in the pro game so they are already three or four years behind their contemporaries from other countries.

Scott Hastings

Scotland Rugby News:

Whatever your views are on Super Series - or Super6 as it was originally known - it is another failed experiment by the SRU.

There were some good players that came out of it with Harry Paterson a prime example. He played for Watsonians in the Super6 series and before that played for the Scotland 7s squad and didn’t look out of place when he made his full Scotland debut against France.

The Scotland 7s squad has been taken away and now they have taken away Super6 too. How and where are young Scottish players going to learn their trade and make the step up to play international rugby?

The Welsh are looking at a semi-pro Super 10 competition with the raison d’etre for Super6 being to play cross-border competition. Here was the perfect opportunity to test the Scottish model against the Welsh but now we are back to Edinburgh and Glasgow Academy teams playing the likes of Munster and Newcastle. Where is the jeopardy in these fixtures?

We have some world class performers but our game management has been very poor so one of my concerns is who are the leaders going to be in the future? We have to get rid of the co-captain set-up up as that doesn’t work. We need to appoint one captain.

Finn Russell is a great player but he is not who I would make the captain of Scotland. Scotland had chances against Italy and were in control of that game but they mismanaged the game. I believe a forward should always lead Scotland, not a back.

Scotland Rugby News: Scott Hastings doesn't believe Finn Russell is the right man to captain ScotlandScott Hastings doesn't believe Finn Russell is the right man to captain Scotland (Image: SNS)

I am not terribly enthusiastic about the summer tour choice as I wonder where the new players are to take on it and how much will they learn? 

Canada, USA, Chile and Uruguay are not top-class opposition by any stretch and they will get more out of the games than Scotland. They will relish the chance of taking the scalp of the Scotland team.

READ MORE: Rob Robertson - what do Scotland gain from touring Americas?

I hear lots of the players will play just two games -either against the USA or Canada or against Chile and Uruguay - then leave the tour so there will be no momentum.

Also I see Magnus Bradbury is returning to Edinburgh after a couple of years at Bristol Bears. He was magnificent against England in the 38-38 in the 2019 Six Nations but didn’t kick on with Scotland. Why didn’t he follow that up? Was that because he was not good enough? Was the Scotland coaching not good enough?

Gregor Townsend has changed his coaching teams when needed and he needs a stronger voice in that camp to make sure players get better.

Iain Milne

Scotland Rugby News: Former Scotland and Lions prop Iain Milne (left) with his brothers Kenny and David Former Scotland and Lions prop Iain Milne (left) with his brothers Kenny and David (Image: SNS)

I can understand the concern over the future of Scottish rugby but just now I think we are punching above our weight with the national side and Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors.

I am speaking in relative terms looking over the history of Scottish rugby where there has been a lot of mediocrity. In fact, for a lot of that time we have been absolute rubbish so bearing that in mind we aren’t doing too badly just now.

I am not as critical of Mark Dodson’s time in charge as chief executive compared to others have been because I felt he did a lot on the commercial side.

What we need more than anything just now is proper direction going forward which is why they have to get the appointment of the new chief executive and director of rugby 100% correct. It is time for a new voice at the top level. There has to be real leadership and vision.

On the pitch Scotland have a lot of good players and although we don’t have strength in depth we have never had strength in depth. When we won the 1984 Grand Slam we were lucky to have 21 players. Zander Fagerson is one of the best tighthead props in the world and we are lucky to have him.

The under-20 team is not good, I am not convinced by the coaches, so there has to be improvements there.

READ MORE: Kenny Murray believes in bright Scotland under-20 future

As for Gregor Townsend I feel he has done a decent job and if he stays on that won’t bother me, as he has a decent record as Scotland head coach by the same token a new voice within his coaching team to shake things up would not be a bad thing.

Craig Chalmers

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland legend Craig ChalmersScotland legend Craig Chalmers (Image: PA)

I am not pushing this in any way but maybe there needs to be a change of voice at the top as Gregor Townsend has been there seven years now. That is quite a long time to be a head coach of a national team.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Gregor has done a very good job but sometimes you need a change of voice.

This Scotland team should have won something or got very close to winning something with the quality of player they have. Sometimes you need a refresh.

That’s just my opinion as things stand because Gregor has done well to pull things together in the aftermath of the 2019 World Cup when we failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament.

There was the fall-out between Gregor and Finn Russell the following year and it was a tough time for Scottish rugby but things are better now. Since Finn and Gregor made up and times moved on things have been better and showed how important Finn is to the Scotland cause.

Still, though, there is no consistency. As things stand after the Six Nations there has to be a feeling of disappointment.

Scotland Rugby News: Andrew Porter celebrates scoring a try for Ireland against ScotlandAndrew Porter celebrates scoring a try for Ireland against Scotland (Image: PA)

We have been treated to some great games but we have under-achieved over the last few years too. We should have won games that have got away from us.

Although technically we were going for the Triple Crown against Ireland in Dublin, we never looked like we were going to win that game or any tournament since Gregor took over for that matter.    

Gregor and his coaches have done relatively well but their team lacks a consistency that winning sides like Ireland have. We don’t even have that many massive physical units as players like Ireland do, and England have had through the years. We need more big units that give you go-forward ball. 

The Scotland back line is very good but we need more leaders in the team. We have great players but great players are not necessarily great leaders. All the great teams have up to six leaders in their side. We don’t have that with Scotland.

Finn Russell can be a leader and Sione Tuipulotu talks a lot when he is playing.

Scotland Rugby News: Finn Russell and Sione TuipulotuFinn Russell and Sione Tuipulotu (Image: PA)

Huw Jones is a great player but is he a leader? I’m not sure. Zander Fagerson is a top-class prop but I am not sure if he is a leader.

As I said, you need to have more than one person as a leader and it seems to me that Finn is the only one who has the ability to lead just now.

I hear fly-half Fergus Burke who is Scotland qualified and signed for Saracens is a leader so it would be good if Gregor can convince him to play for us.

Paul Burnell

Scotland Rugby News: Paul BurnellPaul Burnell (Image: Paul Burnell)

Scotland have a golden era of players but they haven’t won anything and time is running out for them. They certainly have the quality players to win something.

I was privileged to play in two fantastic front rows with David Sole and Kenny Milne in the 1990 Grand Slam team and with Tom Smith and Gordon Bulloch that won the 1999 Five Nations title.

The foundations of a good side is based on the front row and Scotland have a very good first-choice one just now with Pierre Schoeman and Zander Fagerson, who is a fantastic player, and George Turner at hooker.

I really hope Turner doesn’t take up the offer to play in Japan as he is vital to Scotland and maybe the current generations last chance of winning something or at least challenging for silverware will come in the next Six Nations.

READ MORE: Franco Smith coy over George Turner's future amid Japan link

My concern is the generation below, the under-20s. Scottish Rugby is in a mess in terms of finding a place for these kids to play and develop. For us to be in the second tier under-20 World Cup is a disgrace. The officials at Murrayfield need to do something to halt the slide, and quickly.

One way to do that - and I have told Mark Dodson this until I am blue in the face - is to get more involved in my club, London Scottish, which has produced so many Scotland international players through the years.

Scotland Rugby News: George Horne's career was kick-started by a spell at London ScottishGeorge Horne's career was kick-started by a spell at London Scottish (Image: SNS)

It could be the cheapest professional team Scottish Rugby will be able to have. London Scottish beat Edinburgh in the pre-season two years ago and would put more than 50 points on any of those Super6 teams and we have former Scotland captain Bryan Redpath as director of rugby, who is fantastic. 

Scottish Rugby sent us down a couple of players last season but they are missing a trick by not getting involved. Whenever the Scotland national team has done well they have had lots of Anglos and this is a great place to place and nurture great Scottish talent.

London Scottish currently play in a strong second-tier league in England and there could be a possibility of playing in the Premiership against the likes of Saracens.

Hopefully whoever is appointed as the next director of rugby at Scottish Rugby will see how linking up with London Scottish will provide an outlet for young Scottish players, especially with the Super6 series being wound up which is another avenue closing for young players.