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Back joins Bradley in early departure from Edinburgh

Neil Back, the three-time British & Irish Lions tourist, became the latest victim of the coaching cull that has taken place in Scottish rugby over the past 12 months as Edinburgh became the latest team to have an interim management put in place.

His departure, with more than a year left on his two-year contract, takes place with immediate effect along with that of Michael Bradley who was told last month he would not have his contract renewed at the end of this season.

Billy McGinty, the defence coach, left at that stage but Bradley was told he would stay until the end of the season while Back indicated he intended to apply for the vacant head coach's job. How-ever, they have been unable to turn things around, the team slumping to three more defeats in a season that has brought just four wins in 23 matches and their Murrayfield owners have felt they could wait no longer.

"We feel this move is necessary to give a fresh impetus to the squad going into the remainder of the season," said Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby's chief executive. "Our search for a new coaching team for Edinburgh Rugby continues, with a view to getting the club back on a winning track."

Duncan Hodge and Stevie Scott, the Scotland team's kicking and lineout coaches respectively, will consequently swop one caretaker-run camp for another as they take interim charge of Edinburgh's fortunes as soon as Scotland's Six Nations Championship campaign ends.

Both are former Edinburgh players, Hodge being among the longest-serving in the club's history, his career dating back to the amateur era and the old District Championship. "As someone who played over 150 games for the club I'm delighted to be given this opportunity," he said.

The pair stated their priority for the next fortnight will remain with Scotland but this represents a considerable opportunity for them to make a mark while Edinburgh's long-term future is under consideration, a point clearly not lost on Scott, who only returned to Murrayfield employ earlier this season after a spell with English club Sale Sharks.

"I'm delighted to be given this opportunity," he said. "Naturally, the big thing for me at the moment is my commitment to the national team but, come a week on Saturday night in Paris, I'll be straight into Edinburgh Rugby mode and will be working with Duncan [Hodge] to get the players ready for the home match against Ulster and the rest of the season."

Back's departure, along with Bradley and McGinty, completes an extraordinary year of axe-wielding by the organisation that has com-plete control of the Scottish professional game with the head coach of every professional team having gone.

It was on March 11 last year that it emerged Sean Lineen had been sacked as Glasgow Warriors head coach with the team on course for the Rabo-Direct Pro12 play-offs. Since then, Andy Robinson has departed the Scottish game while Phil Greening, another England internationalist and Lions tourist has, like Back, come and gone as Scotland sevens coach. He had replaced Graham Shiel, the former Scotland centre who was removed from that role at the end of last season.

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