Philip ‘Goose’ Doyle, Scotland’s head coach, has had to step down. As he is sheltering, he cannot make regular trips across the Irish Sea to meet up with his players. His place is taken on an interim basis by Bryan Easson, his deputy.
This is thoroughly bad news for Scotland’s women, as Doyle was the very person to raise their standards and hopes as they face World Cup qualifiers.
The one oddity about this decision is that his contract was due to end as early as December. The logic of that timing is hard to comprehend. You might have thought that anyone appointed in the spring of 2019 to take on such an onerous task would have been offered the RWC itself as the finishing point.
The dates have been announced for the completion of the European legs of the RWC qualifiers.
Russia have already beaten the Netherlands away.
Spain will now host Russia on the weekend of 24 October, followed by the Dutch a week later. The winner will play Ireland, Italy and Scotland in December. The Italy-Scotland game will double up as a 6N game. This means the 6N has had to bow to the prior needs of the World Cup. Necessary, but unfortunate.
There is a second chance for the runners-up; they will progress to repechage matches involving the winners of Kenya v Colombia and Samoa v Tonga, plus the runners-up from the Asian Championship (one of Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Japan).
No dates have yet been fixed for this series, but they won’t take place till next year. As I reported earlier Asian Rugby has cancelled all rugby for this year.
Promising as this European schedule looks, it must still be taken with a grain or two of salt. It assumes that all the competing countries will have reached a return to full-on rugby and are able and willing to travel abroad to honour the fixtures.