It was an end of an era when it was revealed through Companies House that Mark Dodson had left Scottish Rugby, so it seems a good time to look back over his time in charge.

I was in the room when he first set out his hopes and dreams for Scottish Rugby. It was on the first Monday in October in a conference suite in a Hilton Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

He talked a good game. He seemed like a breath of fresh air. “I call it as I see it,’ ’he said.

“I’m not an Edinburgh man, I’m not a Glasgow man. I walked through the door and I am here to do the very best for Scottish rugby and I have a plan to deliver it in short order.’

He may have had a short-term plan but he stayed in the top job for almost 13 years and I have covered all the highs and lows of his time in charge.

Over the years I have had my fair share of run-ins with him - a heated face-to-face argument outside a village church on the outskirts of Nelspruit when I questioned the morale of the 2013 Scotland squad that toured South Africa was a particular highlight.

As he comes off the SRU payroll - in the 2018/2019 financial year he earned a massive £933,000 through a mix of his basic wage and bonuses- it is the perfect moment to compare his dreams for Scottish Rugby to the reality he leaves behind.

But before we do, let’s look at that ridiculous salary of £933,000 that got so many of us hot under the collar. It was far too much to pay him but Dodson didn’t set that figure himself. There are checks and balances within Scottish Rugby to monitor executive pay.

READ MORE: Mark Dodson goes on the defensive over delay in SRU's business accounts

Shame on those within the Murrayfield corridors of power who agreed such an incentive scheme. They created the gravy train. Dodson just bought a ticket and jumped on.

For context, Dodson couldn’t have taken over as chief executive at a better time from his own point of view back in 2011 as Scottish Rugby was at its lowest ebb after the national side had failed to qualify out of their World Cup group for the first time ever. The only way was up from that.

As I walked down the corridor in the Hilton Hotel around 10am that Monday to meet Dodson for the first time going the other way and heading for the team bus to take them to the airport for the flight home was the disconsolate Scotland head coach Andy Robinson and senior players such as Chris Paterson, Sean Lamont, Mike Blair and Al Kellock.

It was a sad sight but such was the shortage of top hotels in Auckland that Scotland had to be out of theirs by noon to make way for a different side that made the knock-out stages to check-in.

Before he was also hurried out Dodson talked in general terms about the finances of Scottish Rugby - the governing body had bank borrowings of £14.4m when he took over and the debt stands at £10.01m now - and how his aim was to make the two professional teams Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors more competitive.

In truth that wouldn’t be that hard because they had been dreadful for years.

He set out five priorities that day in Auckland, so let’s see if he has delivered on those promises all these years later.

In no particular order, first up he wanted to improve the relationship with supporters and make the governing body more ‘user friendly.’ Now, now, stop laughing at the back.

Of course that hasn’t happened. There is more of a disconnect now between grassroots rugby and the pro ranks than ever before.

There is resentment at foreign players with not much of a track record - Mosese Tuipulotu who has signed for Edinburgh from the Waratahs in Australia a case in point- being fast-tracked into the pro ranks ahead of Scottish players coming through the ranks.

As for making the governing body more ‘user friendly?’ Well they did try and bring everybody together under the hashtag ‘AsOne” but their actions did undermine their words.

In 2018 the SRU was deemed to have unfairly dismissed their Director of Domestic Rugby Keith Russell, father of Finn, who won a big payout after winning his unfair dismissal claim against the governing body. Russell described Scottish Rugby as ‘toxic’ under Dodson.

READ MORE: Some tweaks to be made at Murrayfield but only telling change is to tone

There is no doubt that Dodson and Scottish Rugby could have dealt better with the tragic death of former Scotland women’s international Siobhan Cattigan.

When an apology to the family from the governing body was first made it came from Scottish Rugby Limited Chairman John McGuigan, not Dodson. It was too little, much too late.

Dodson said on that first day in Auckland he shot from the hip but he was guilty of putting his foot in his mouth on too many occasions.

Scotland Rugby News: Mark DodsonMark Dodson (Image: SNS)

I was in the room in Yokohama cringing when he demanded that the 2019 World Cup game against Japan go ahead at some stage despite organisers being unable to give guarantees that it would due to Typhoon Hagibis that had killed more than 100 people and caused havoc in Japan. 

READ MORE: Scottish Rugby Union fined and reprimanded over Dodson’s World Cup comments

He was worried that if the game didn’t go ahead and recorded as a 0-0 draw Scotland would be dumped out of the tournament at the group stages. He needn’t have worried. World Cup organisers did a great job making the stadium in Yokohama safe so the game did go-ahead. Scotland lost to Japan and were dumped out at the group stages anyway.

It is fair to say not many tears were shed for the Scots from the locals after Dodson’s outburst. World Rugby also weren’t pleased and reprimanded Scottish Rugby and fined them £70,000 following Dodson’s comments.

The second of his five aims he delivered on big time. The plan to move Glasgow Warriors from Firhill to Scotstoun was already in the pipeline when he took over but he managed to get the switch over the line.

It took him a few false starts - plans to move Edinburgh games from Murrayfield to Myreside were abandoned after less than a season - but he did manage to build the capital club a home of their own within the national stadium footprint.

Scotland Rugby News: Edinburgh have made home at Hive StadiumEdinburgh have made home at Hive Stadium (Image: SNS)

His third aim was to improve the SRU's revenue-raising ability on the commercial front by making it clear to past, present and future sponsors that the organisation was “open for business” to outside backers. This was more of a hit than a miss.

The highlight was the history-making initial four-year deal back in 2014 totalling £20m between Scottish Rugby and BT who bought the naming rights to Murrayfield with the company extending it up until last year.

When that deal ran out Scottish Gas took it over in another multi-million-pound transaction that has secured them the naming rights until July 2028.

You could hear the tumbleweed though when Dodson went public in 2016 with an appeal for companies or rich individuals to plough money into either or both the pro teams.

They would only get a minority interest as Scottish Rugby would remain as owners of both clubs. Not surprisingly there were no takers.

Dodson’s fourth aim was to ensure the Scotland national team had everything in place to make it a success and he can’t be faulted for his efforts.

Scotland Rugby News: Vern Cotter was a popular appointment as Scotland head coachVern Cotter was a popular appointment as Scotland head coach (Image: SNS)

Vern Cotter was a top-class appointment and there weren’t that many dissenting voices at the time - although some have since tried to re-write history by claiming there were - when Gregor Townsend took over from him in the summer of 2017.

A Scottish coach of the Scottish national team. What wasn’t to like? It wasn’t Dodson’s fault that Scotland failed to qualify from the group stages in the last two World Cups and under-achieved in the Six Nations.

READ MORE: How do Scotland move on from Six Nations mediocrity?

What he can be accused of is being too loyal to Townsend after handing him a contract extension ahead of the 2023 World Cup that runs until April 2026.

The Scottish women’s team were given professional contracts on his watch and the ladies game is growing in Scotland. 

His fifth aim was to improve broadcast coverage of Scottish professional rugby which hasn’t really happened. The Scottish national team -men and women-  have of all their games in the Six Nations televised live. The only difference is that the BBC now shares coverage of the men’s tournament with ITV. 

The autumn tests at Murrayfield have had the likes of Amazon covering them. Premier Sports retain television coverage of the URC league so every Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors matches are available to watch on pay per view but BBC Radio Scotland only broadcast live their big matches rather than every single one. 

The semi-professional Super Series - a tournament started by Dodson with the best intentions to try and bridge the gap between professional and amateur rugby before it was announced it was to be disbanded this summer - is available on various streaming outlets but the viewing figures have been poor. 

Scotland Rugby News: The launch of the inaugural Super6 - now known as the Super Series, which will be disbanded later this yearThe launch of the inaugural Super6 - now known as the Super Series, which will be disbanded later this year (Image: SNS)

There have been other Dodson’s dreams through the years that he went public with that have come to nothing. They included winning a Six Nations Grand Slam and the 2015 World Cup, with both aims part of a four-year strategic plan.

His ambition was to make rugby the preferred sport in Scottish state schools which was never going to happen unless Scottish Rugby put more money into the sport within the state system.

A new Scottish Rugby chief executive is expected to be named within the next few weeks and whoever he or she may be follows a man who divided opinion like no other.

He was brash, made big decisions whether you agreed with them or not, and could never be accused of being a shrinking violet.

Good luck to whoever takes over. They will need it.