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Sometimes the clue to measuring success is staring you in the face

Last week, a former Welsh international cyclist told a group of Scottish journalists how uncomfortable he had felt wearing their country's national colours.

Andy Robinson's record makes dismal reading
Andy Robinson's record makes dismal reading

Steve Paulding, performance director of the Scottish Golf Union, was trying to explain just how poor had been the performance of the team whose development he had overseen since his appointment, more than three years ago. That was just after Scotland had been both world and European amateur champions. This year they finished 44th in the world championship.

"I had to walk round in Turkey for three days embarrassed to wear a Scottish top," said the poor wee soul. Had this been proper professional sport, those words would, after the length of time he has been in his role, have formed part of a resignation speech. Just ask Roberto Di Matteo, sacked just six months after guiding Chelsea to Champions League glory.

This, though, is the world of state-subsidised Scottish sports administration.

Far from resigning, then, Paulding was advising the media that, perhaps £200,000 to the good, he is now about to do his job. "We want Scottish success. We had it before and we'll have it again, but I'll hold my hand up, I'm not satisfied; we're not doing well enough," he said.

That is for sure, but it is not Paulding who should feel most embarrassed about this, it is everyone involved in the sporting community in the "home of golf" who should be hanging their heads.

No-one will argue more fiercely for the recruitment of superior non-Scottish expertise than me, as will be recalled readily enough by those who remember the vigour with which I defended the selection of Brendan Laney, the Australian-born rugby player, for Scotland in the face of dreadful treatment at the hands of the little Scotlanders whose sensitivities were disturbed.

In recent months, I have also reported on the impressive contributions made by the Canadian chief executive of Scottish Swimming, who is departing after eight successful years, and the vastly experienced American head coach doing superb work in the troubled world of Scottish gymnastics.

The key word is 'superior'. What on earth is superior about the way this Welshman, appointed to replace a Scot by a chief executive from New Zealand who has been in his post for more than a decade, has taken Scotland's amateur golf team from first in the world championships to 44th?

They are by no means alone. Only last year, when another Welsh performance coach had just been axed in another sport, did I have to explain to its Scottish chief executive that he did not – as he said he felt he must – have to go to the Southern Hemisphere to find a replacement, as there was a Scot with all the qualifications necessary for the job. The Scot in question was subsequently appointed.

So to Scottish rugby, with its English chairman, chief executive and head coach, Australian assistant coaches and out-going Kiwi performance director.

The accompanying table may interest those who believe we must constantly look outside Scotland to recruit expertise.

This week, a Scotland team that had, against the odds, been kept competitive by an unforgivably-maligned Scottish head coach – he won two Calcutta Cups and reached the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals by careful management of a limited squad – is battling to avoid dropping to 12th place in the world rankings.

It should not happen, because the resources available to Scottish rugby and access to players are on a scale of which the likes of the Tongans can only dream.

If Scottish sport is unable to find, among its own, better people than those we are importing to so many senior posts, it really is cause for embarrassment all round.

And Another Thing . . .

Last week, I promised to check out the rumour that there was a chief executive of a Scottish sport whose PA has a PA, but it seems there was a wee bit of a misunderstanding.

Steered, inevitably, in the direction of big-spending Scottish Rugby, I checked with one of their seven or eight press officers and was told that was very definitely not the case. The chief executive, he explained, has a PA and there is another PA who looks after board matters, but is not a PA to the PA.

When I pointed out that some in the organisation were of the view that it was a case of the PA having a PA he said, dismissively: "They can think what they like . . . it's not the case."

I then mentioned a recent conversation with another ageing rugby writer about how, back in the 1980s, when far more state schools had rugby teams, far more clubs had fourth and fifth XVs, more than 100,000 would pile in to Murrayfield for Tests and the Scotland team was poised to win two grand slams in six years, a single executive – the SRU secretary John Law – ran the entire business with the help of two secretaries.

"Ah . . . the good old days," this young man mused sarcastically.

Ah, the good old days indeed, when efficiency and prudence were valued commodities in sports administration and when those administrators concentrated on supporting sportsmen and women rather than on carving out lucrative careers of their own.

Win percentage of Scotland rugby coaches: tournament records in professional era

Richie Dixon (1995-96, sacked) 50%

Jim Telfer (1997-99, also director of rugby) 53.8%

Ian McGeechan (2000-03, promoted to director of rugby) 42%

Matt Williams (2004-05, sacked) 10%

Frank Hadden (2005-09, sacked) 36%

Andy Robinson (2009-present day) 23.68%

Win percentage of Scotland's first 100 competitive matches in the professional era

Scottish coaches (Dixon, Telfer, McGeechan, Hadden) 42.96%

Non-Scottish coaches (Williams, Robinson) 18.97%

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