After a season of remarkable highs and lows, Glasgow Rugby was left reeling yesterday after it was revealed that Richie Dixon, their head coach, was standing down from that post to take a desk job at Murrayfield as head of coaching development.

In a week that has has included announcements regarding the structure of all three professional teams, with Nick Oswald's resignation as Edinburgh's chief executive on Tuesday followed by Wednesday's announcement of 14 new signings by the Borders, this was a major surprise. He will retain some involvement as Glasgow's official team manager, offering help and guidance to his successor when he is appointed, but it is clear that this has caught even his players off guard.

However, Andy Nicol, the team captain who was Dixon's first signing when he took over as coach in 1999 just a year after the international scrum half had led Bath to victory in the European Cup, paid tribute to Dixon's work with them. ''I know I speak for the rest of the players when I say we have the utmost respect for Richie,'' he said.

''He has driven the whole thing forward for 21/2 seasons and it is a shame that these last few months are what may be remembered, because he is the one who led us to the Celtic League semi-final. I wish him success in what he does now and we are now looking to finish the season in the right way.''

Dixon admitted that telling the players had been particularly painful. ''I didn't think I would be, but I was a wee bit emotional when I spoke to the players. They were absolutely gob-smacked since it came out of the blue to them,'' he said. ''They will recover, though. They are young blokes and they were pleased that I will still have some input into Glasgow.''

The SRU's director of rugby, Jim Telfer, said Dixon's experience will be vital in his new role and added: ''We want Richie to work with our national coach, Ian McGeechan, and our rugby division to identify and nurture the best coaching talent in Scotland, so as we are ready for the World Cup competitions in 2007, 2011 and beyond.''