Former Jed-Forest player Clark Laidlaw is enjoying his life in New Zealand, especially since his recent promotion to skills coach for the All Black sevens squad, writes Stuart Cameron.
In a country where rugby is not just a sport, but a religion, there are plenty of people who still cannot get their heads round the fact that Scotland can provide someone who can show the New Zealander’s how to develop their talents.
But Laidlaw’s story has certainly provided the rugby world with something that Scotland can rightly be proud of.
The former Scotland sevens star has been coaching Taranaki Rugby Club in New Zealand since being invited to a few years ago.
Talking among members of the press and people in the know at the IRB World Sevens at Murrayfield two weeks ago, there are some who are not ruling out the possibility of him going on to coach at international level.
“I’ve been very lucky at Taranaki to get some good opportunities over there and getting the call-up from Gordon Tietjens (the New Zealand sevens coach since 1993) has been fantastic,” said Laidlaw at Murrayfield following the All Blacks’ IRB victory.
“He was looking for someone to join the team and do skills and video analysis for him and I seemed to fit the bill.
“Playing for Scotland’s sevens team opened my eyes to international rugby and showed me that teams like Portugal and Kenya and others are becoming very competitive at sevens.”
Laidlaw enjoyed an extra week in Scotland to visit family and friends, having only been back once since going over to New Zealand three years ago. But he’s now returned and will be getting stuck into pre-season with Taranaki.
“There’s a lot worse jobs about,” mused Laidlaw.
“I’m very lucky and I am committed to improving as a coach. You can’t buy this kind of experience, working with the New Zealand players and coaches, and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m very humbled by it all.”
z Former Border Reiver Calum MacRae, of Maxton, is Newcastle Falcons’ new skills coach.