Former Scotland captain Al Kellock and Tabai Matson, who announced this afternoon he will be leaving Harlequins at the end of the season, are on the shortlist to become the new performance director of Scottish Rugby.

Scotland Rugby News can reveal they are among four candidates who are in the running to take over one of the most important jobs in Scottish Rugby. The the names of the other two are not known to us yet. 

Within the corridors of power, there is a faction who want Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend to move upstairs and for Franco Smith from Glasgow Warriors to take over from him but at 50 years old Townsend remains at this stage to be convinced that would be a good career move.

Scottish Rugby are in desperate need of a new performance director with Jim Mallinder due to leave in June after a turbulent time in charge.

Scotland Rugby News: Jim Mallinder is leaving his role as performance director at Scottish RugbyJim Mallinder is leaving his role as performance director at Scottish Rugby (Image: SNS)

He came in for criticism for the lack of progress at age-grade level with the Scotland under-20 men’s team picking up the Wooden Spoon after being whitewashed in the age-grade Six Nations.

Kellock has an impressive CV and knows from first-hand experience the problems Scottish rugby face and would be a popular choice among the fans.

As a player, he spent four years at Edinburgh Rugby before moving along the M8 to join Glasgow Warriors. He made his name with the Scotstoun club that he captained to the 2015 Pro 12 title.

On his retirement Kellock, who played 56 times for Scotland and captained them in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, joined the commercial department of Scottish Rugby before becoming managing director of Glasgow Warriors.

Scotland Rugby News understands that Scottish Rugby chiefs have been greatly impressed by the work Kellock has done in helping the club move forward. 

With his positive attitude and standing as a major figure in Scottish rugby as both a player and administrator they have marked him down as a strong candidate for the prestigious post.

If Scottish Rugby feel the need for a fresh approach then Matson, who has also coached in New Zealand, Australia and Japan  will come under consideration. The New Zealander joined Harlequins as head coach of the men’s team in 2021 before being moved upstairs two years later to his current role of director of performance development.

Scotland Rugby News: Tabai Matson is leaving Harlequins at the end of the seasonTabai Matson is leaving Harlequins at the end of the season (Image: PA)

Harlequins Director of Rugby Billy Millard described Matson, who worked with both the men and women’s teams, as someone who "brought huge knowledge and passion’ to his time at Harlequins.

"He has infectious energy and positivity,’ said Millard.

Scotland Rugby News understands that Scottish Rugby Limited chairman John McGuigan, who is leading the search, is closing in on the preferred candidate to replace Mallinder with an announcement due to be made within the next seven days.

A Glasgow Warriors spokesman said they did not comment on speculation, while Scottish Rugby also said they would not comment.