Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby today announced that Sean Lineen has been appointed to the role of head of player acquisition within the governing body. He will take up the newly created post, a key part of Scottish Rugby’s performance plan, at the end of the current season, and will also be head coach of Scotland under-20 as of next season.
Gregor Townsend, at present an assistant coach with Scotland, will assume the position of Glasgow Warriors head coach when Lineen moves on.
Lineen, who has been part of the Warriors coaching staff for nine years, will continue to bring to bear the benefit of his considerable experience by working closely with Graham Lowe, Scottish Rugby’s director of performance rugby, and the coaching teams at Glasgow and Edinburgh Rugby to identify and develop talent and consolidate the professional clubs’ succession planning.
His remaining time at the Warriors will see him focus on maintaining the team’s push for a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs.
Townsend will step down from his duties with the national team after Saturday’s final RBS 6 Nations Championship game against Italy, to allow him to prepare fully for taking the reins at Scotstoun in pre-season.
Forwards coach Shade Munro will be part of Townsend's backroom team, along with defence coach Matt Taylor, the former Aberdeen Grammar, Edinburgh and Border Reivers flanker, who will also work with the Scotland side.
Discussions are ongoing with current Warriors defence coach Gary Mercer as to his future plans.
Announcing today’s appointments, Lowe said: “I’m delighted to confirm these new roles for Sean and Gregor, two men whose experience and ability are respected at the highest levels of the game.
“Sean has given fantastic service to Glasgow Warriors as both assistant and head coach over almost a decade, and he leaves the club in very good shape for Gregor to come in and continue to push it forward.
“As well as achieving success on the pitch year on year, it’s vitally important that our professional clubs maximise their potential by consistently bringing in and developing the right sort of player with the right mentality, to the benefit of the professional clubs and, ideally, the national team.
“Sean has shown a clear ability to identify precisely that kind of player, and ticks all the boxes to be our head of player acquisition. We see it becoming an important performance role within Scottish Rugby going forward, and we’re very pleased that Sean has agreed to take it on.
“We also firmly believe that Gregor has the required attributes to build on the excellent foundations in place at Glasgow Warriors.
“He has four years experience as a coach in the Test arena, and he knows the RaboDirect PRO12 inside out. He’s also able to call on the knowledge gained as a player in other challenging rugby environments like the English Premiership, Top 14 and Super Rugby, as well as his 82 caps for Scotland and success with the Lions.
“That considerable and diverse experience has given him a lot of enviable tools to work with as a coach, he’s got the respect of the players, and we’ve every confidence he’ll bring a real vitality and freshness to the Warriors when he starts his new job in the summer.”
Townsend told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “I’m honoured and genuinely thrilled to have been given this opportunity. Glasgow Warriors are a team and club on the rise, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to bringing my own influence and insights to that structure.
“I’m lucky enough to be coming into a well-drilled and ambitious set-up, testament to the values that Sean has instilled. I’d like to wish him and the rest of the players and staff all the best with their attempts to achieve further success this season.
“When the time comes for me to step in, I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure the club continues to progress, and to give the Warriors supporters a team in which their obvious pride and passion can grow.”
Lineen commented: “This decision was not taken lightly, but after nine fantastic years at Glasgow, I feel it’s the right time for a new voice to take the team forward.
“I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity nine years ago and now Gregor has that opportunity. Knowing him well, I am sure he will do everything he can to take the team forward.
“A new opportunity has arisen which I am very excited about. I am very passionate about Scottish rugby and having been involved in the professional arena both with Scotland and with Glasgow Warriors for nearly a decade, I know it’s a continual challenge to stay at the top table.
“The challenge of identifying and developing talent to take Scottish rugby forward is one that massively appeals to me. Having seen how players like Richie Gray, Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg have exploded onto the scene from the Warriors gives myself and the other coaches and staff at the club a great deal of satisfaction and pride as this is a major part of our job.
“I leave Glasgow Warriors with a heavy heart as it has been a big part of my life, but know that the squad put together for next season is the strongest yet and I am handing over the reins with the club in a very healthy state.
“I would like to thank all the players and staff who have made my job so enjoyable over the years. There have been many highs and I am proud of what we have achieved both on and off the field.
“I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the fabulous Firhill crowd who never fail to provide extraordinary backing. I am sure this will continue for the rest of this season and into next year at Scotstoun.
“The most important challenge right now is to make sure we give our all to the Warriors cause as we look to make the top four for the second time in three years. It goes without saying that everyone is totally committed to making the play-offs, a process that continues with the Aironi game at Firhill next Friday.”
Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: “I’d like to congratulate Sean and Gregor on their new roles. Both positions are absolutely vital to the continued health and growth of our game, and it’s our firm conviction that we’re putting the right men in the right places.
“We’ll be giving both Sean and Gregor the necessary support in terms of budget and personnel to ensure they make the most of these opportunities, but with a hugely important run of games coming up for the Warriors, it’s very much business as usual in the interim.”
Glasgow Warriors managing director Nathan Bombrys said: “Everyone at the Warriors recognises and values the great work that Sean has done with the team over the last nine years.
“He has been synonymous with the club and will certainly be a hard act to follow. Gregor has the mindset and technical qualities to rise to that challenge, and we look forward to working with him to achieve success with the club next season.”
Warriors captain Al Kellock said: “Sean has been a big influence on me and any number of other Warriors players down the years. I’ve enjoyed working with him as captain, and I know I speak for the rest of the squad when I say we’re determined to send him out on a high by securing a play-off place.
“As a group, we’re fully focussed on the massive matches on the horizon, and we look forward to welcoming Gregor, whom we know well, into the fold in due course.”