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'Scott never asked or desired to be Scotland head coach'

Everything - from why Scott Johnson has been allowed to stay on as director of rugby despite supervising an, at times, "unacceptable" RBS Six Nations Championship, to the restructuring of schools and youth rugby - was on the table when Mark Dodson, the chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union, gave a wide-ranging briefing.

Mark Dodson, chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union
Mark Dodson, chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union

His claim is that the problems of Scottish rugby were deeper, more entrenched and went back further than he had at first realised but that, slowly but surely, his administration is starting to get on top of the problems. The debt crisis that has dominated the union's affairs

for the last 15 years is easing as commercial income goes up so that financially the union

is in as strong a position as it has been this century.

However, the playing side is still to be resolved and while he believes the arrival

of Vern Cotter as the national team's head coach in June will help on that front, Dodson accepted that

the grassroots and youth development systems are fundamentally broken and the union is only now starting to address the many problems across schools, youth, club

and women's rugby.

Speaking to Herald Sport, these are the highlights of his briefing . . .

Q. Was the Six Nations good enough?

A. It was a disappointing campaign. We performed okay the first half against Ireland, fell away in the second half. The season was defined by the England game, which was an unacceptable performance; we did not turn up. That really tainted the whole Six Nations.

I have every sympathy with the Scottish fans who turned up that day or watched on TV. It was a poor performance. We make no attempt to disguise that.

The coaching team and players then had to get back on the bike and go and perform in the Stadio Olimpico, not an easy place against an Italian team that were desperate to win and smelt blood. We squeaked the win and then came back here to play France and everyone will agree we should have put them away.

I accept that the last game was a bad day, but we had to deal with a position where you lose your captain after seven minutes and your main strike runner after 18. You are up against it facing a Welsh side at the Millennium Stadium with something to prove after the England loss and who did not drop a pass all afternoon.

Nobody is going to disguise that it was a difficult campaign, though.

Q. But Scott Johnson, who was in charge, still moves on to be director of rugby

A. Let's go back to where this started. Scott Johnson was appointed director of rugby. We then appointed Vern Cotter as our national coach, though we knew that he was not going to be available until this summer - the first conversation we had with him he said that he wanted to honour his contract and finish the project at Clermont Auvergne.

I have never had a single conversation with Clermont about early release from his contract.

We knew we had to wait for him and asked Scott Johnson to take over as interim head coach. He never asked or desired to be head coach, but still fulfilled that role. So Scott goes back to the job he already had after filling in doing something we asked him to do.

Q. Is Vern Cotter the answer?

A. You don't know until he turns up but if you look at the reasons why we employed him, he is a winner, he has a first-class record.

He has a reputation of being an inspired coach, a hard taskmaster, and he has built the Clermont business from a ordinary team to one of the top two or three in Europe. He is coming here for a reason, he believes he can make Scotland better.

He wants to be challenged in the international arena and is coming here because he believes we are on an upward trajectory. He can build on what is in place.

Q. A management consultant's report slams the SRU administration as 'embarrassing' and 'fatuous'. How do you respond?

A. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I have talked about it. It was a surprise to me. Of the two headline points, one was corporate failure of the SRU. It is very difficult to accept something like that when we have had record attendances for the last two years, sold out Murrayfield, doubled our commercial income, with our debt being paid down more quickly than we have done before - it is down to between £10 and £11m.

Our finances are also stronger than they have been for a generation and we are increasing the money going back to the clubs. The pro teams are better funded than since they began. It is difficult to recognise corporate failure in that regard.

The Macron deal, the Vardey deal, the Viagogo deal, these are significant deals with global players who are putting money into Scottish rugby on top of the BT Sport deal, which has been transformational for the pro teams.

Q. It also suggests selling Murrayfield to fund a third pro team

A. That presupposes that somebody wants to buy Murrayfield. The City of Edinburgh council were being put forward as the purchasers but I would be interested in hearing what their council taxpayers think about buying Murrayfield and leasing it back to the SRU. We have had no interest in anyone trying to buy this place and it is not in our plans to sell it.

Q. But you still need a third pro team

A. We are always happy to talk to people who want to talk about a third pro team. We would be crazy not to. We would like a third pro team but what we have to do is make sure that we have a sustainable third franchise and, more importantly that the money that is set aside for that is adequate. If you think it will take £7m a year to run a competitive team and then you have to have a five-year business plan and that is a £35m investment with no guarantee of any return whatsoever.

You then have to find somewhere for that pro team to play, a constituency that will support it from a commercial point of view and supporter base. Thirdly you then have to have a league to play in. There has been no thirst for a RaboDirect Pro13 in any of the negotiations I have been involved in because that would mean increased fixture lists, increased travel and a further dilution of the money that comes from the Rabo for teams from other countries.

Q. Two pro teams is too much of a bottleneck for developing young players. How will they come through?

A. That is a clear issue. We need to get more players at younger ages playing more competitive rugby at a higher level. There's no doubt about that, and having only two pro teams does cause us a problem because the teams that we have must stay competitive. We are addressing these problems in the policy documents we have put forward.

We will be working to make sure the integrated approach works, that the independent sector, the clubs and the state schools are all banded together to make sure they are playing in the most competitive league we can put together. If that was part of an agm resolution prior to my arrival, I will implement it. It is clear to me that something should happen of that nature and we will make sure that it is brought to fruition. This is not a wish-list, it is something we have to deliver.

We have to integrate all our youth rugby to make us more powerful and if that upsets certain people, it upsets them. As a governing body we have a responsibility to make sure we do the right thing across the whole of youth rugby and that is what we intend to do.

Q. Isn't part of the problem that there are too many journeymen foreigners blocking places in the pro teams?

A. You see a hump in the number of non-Scottish qualified players in the [Edinburgh] squad but that will diminish over time as the Scottish talent comes though.

The most important thing is that we secured all the best young Scottish talent in Glasgow and Edinburgh and that will serve them for the next five years.

You have people like Niko Matawalu and Josh Strauss who have made a massive difference to Glasgow, WP Nel who has done the same for Edinburgh. Cornel Du Preez is probably one of the best signings that has been made in the last five years and will only get better. There are, however, a number of players who don't fit the marquee signing criteria but will still leave a mark behind and will take the young players forward.

The criticism is that we are bringing too many foreigners in, in particular too many South Africans, and it does create some waves but when you listen to the reasons behind it, people start to understand why it is taking place and that it won't be forever.

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