London Scottish and Scottish Rugby resolve differences

Sean Lineen
Sean Lineen will continue to be seconded to London Scottish

London Scottish and Scottish Rugby have resurrected their partnership for next season - but with a smaller financial commitment from the governing body.

It fell apart in acrimonious fashion last month over the SRU's concern about their respective financial inputs.

The English Championship club said its plans for next season had been "suddenly blown off course".

But they have now admitted that the SRU board's concerns "were entirely legitimate" and had been addressed.

The relationship had begun on a trial basis in January, with Sean Lineen, the head of Scotland's age-grade programme, joining the club as part-time director of rugby, former Scotland forward Roddy Grant on the coaching staff, and a handful of players joining on loan.

Their new agreement means that, instead of the governing body providing up to 14 players for the coming season, up to eight will be on loan to the Exiles.

'Cast a cloud'

London Scottish president Rod Lynch said: "We regret that our recent statements and media coverage of them may have cast a cloud over such an exciting opportunity and are grateful that Scottish Rugby was still willing to continue a dialogue with us.

"We are now looking to move this mutually beneficial opportunity forward and will provide young players with exposure to Championship rugby and its associated benefits.

"Championship rugby is a challenging environment commercially and we acknowledge that the concerns Scottish Rugby's board voiced were valid."

Some, including former Scotland centre Alex Grove, who had spent time on loan at the club, had expressed concern that London Scottish had allowed senior players to leave in anticipation of receiving players from Scottish Rugby.

However, the governing body had been looking to reduce its own financial commitment, with more being underwritten by the club.

Robbie Fergusson
Robbie Fergusson has joined London Scottish permanently after a loan spell

London Scottish will be sent players from Scotland's academy system, those on the fringes of the Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Pro12 first-team squads and those recovering from injury and requiring match fitness, all under Lineen's guidance.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: "We see this as a 12-month relationship at this time.

"We want to move this initiative forward to continue to give identified Scottish players the opportunity to develop into international players of the future.

"We had to satisfy ourselves that the club could deliver a performance environment suitable to enable talented young players to develop, before we committed further.

"We are pleased that the club has addressed our concerns and are now satisfied that the reduced scale of the programme matches the support the club can provide."

Full financial responsibility

Scottish Rugby said that the scheme will operate on "a more modest and achievable scale better suited to the support available from London Scottish".

London Scottish chairman Sir David Reid had previously expressed disappointment that the SRU had revised its offer to 10 players "and none of them senior players" but welcomed the new deal.

"We fully recognise that the concerns expressed by Scottish Rugby's board over the financial commitment and infrastructure needed from London Scottish under the previous arrangements were entirely legitimate," he said.

"London Scottish will now take full financial responsibility for its areas identified in the partnership, which are designed to enhance the performance environment in which London Scottish players can train and prepare."

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