New assignments for top Borders coaches

Two celebrated Borders ex-rugby players/coaches are at the centre of a reshuffle affecting one of the country’s top professional clubs and also the international squad.
Kelly Brown (archive image)Kelly Brown (archive image)
Kelly Brown (archive image)

And the Scotstoun outfit is set to welcome ex-Lauder High School and Borders Reivers back row Kelly Brown as forwards coach.

Dalziel departs Scotstoun after a season with the Warriors, having previously enjoyed two years as head coach of the Scotland 7s national team and will oversee the contact area, alongside the forwards coaching role.

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As a player, reported the Scottish Rugby website, Dalziel represented Gala, London Scottish, Border Reivers and Melrose before moving into coaching, where he enjoyed great success with the latter.

John Dalziel (library image)John Dalziel (library image)
John Dalziel (library image)

He then took up the reins as head coach of Scotland U20, leading them to a best-ever finish of fifth at the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, with a side containing current full internationals Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn and Matt Fagerson.

Dalziel said: “It’s an honour to be asked to join the Scotland coaching team under Gregor. I hope to add value to what is already an experienced coaching group and I am looking forward to working with such an exciting and talented squad of players, many of whom I have worked with during my time with the U20, 7s and Glasgow Warriors set-ups. I hope to be able to contribute to any future success we have.”

Townsend added: “I’m delighted to welcome John into the national team coaching group. He has been impressive in every coaching challenge he’s had since retiring from playing, most recently with Glasgow Warriors.

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“He already understands the nature of international rugby through his head coach roles with Scotland 7s and U20s and has worked closely with a number of our current Scotland players, which will be an important factor in preparing the forwards for Test match rugby within a short timeframe.

“We have an intense block of international rugby coming up later this year, which will enable John and the rest of our coaching group to connect with our players as we continue to work hard and develop.”

Ex-Scotland international Kelly Brown will join Glasgow Warriors as forwards coach with immediate effect from Saracens, where he has been working with the Saracens Academy since retiring from playing in 2017.

Scottish Rugby chief executive, Mark Dodson, said: “I am delighted we can continue the progression of two talented Scottish coaches through our coaching pathway.

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“John has impressed with each role he has taken on with the U20s, Scotland 7s, Glasgow Warriors and now he has an opportunity to add his expertise into the national team coaching group, led by Gregor Townsend.

“This has enabled us to bring Kelly Brown back to Scotland to work with Danny Wilson at Glasgow Warriors and, again, deepen the pool of Scottish coaches working at the top levels of the game.

“I know both John and Kelly will be great additions to our wider coaching group and we wish them well in their respective new roles.”

While John Dalziel has already started working with Scotland, he will spend the next month with Glasgow Warriors before linking up with the national team in early September ahead of the autumn international window.

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In addition, scrummaging coach Pieter de Villiers has joined the Scotland coaching group on a full-time basis, having impressed in a consultancy role during the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.

Dalziel and de Villers join Mike Blair (assistant coach, attack) and Steve Tandy (assistant coach, defence) as members of Townsend’s international coaching structure.

On de Villiers’ stay, Townsend said: “Pieter made a real impact when he joined our coaching group for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and so it’s great news that he is now joining us on a full-time basis. He quickly built a rapport with our staff and players, immersing himself in our environment.

“He is passionate about the scrum and developing players to succeed in this important sector of the game, and his valuable contributions were evident in the matches we played. There is much more to come from our forward pack, so we look forward to working with Pieter in his drive make further progress.”

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Meanwhile, Kelly Brown (38) joins Danny Wilson’s coaching team in time for the upcoming double-header against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield later this month.

One third of the renowned ‘Killer Bs’ back-row for both club and country, Brown made 61 appearances in Glasgow colours between 2007 and 2010, including helping the club to a first-ever playoff appearance in his final season.

A highly successful seven-year spell at Saracens followed, in which he helped the Londoners to three Premiership and two Heineken Champions Cup titles.

The ex-Earlston High School man also represented Scotland with distinction during a distinguished playing career; his tally of 64 caps included being named in Frank Hadden’s squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, while the flanker was also named as captain on 14 occasions across his international career.

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Since hanging up his boots in 2017 Brown has worked with the Saracens Academy, helping to nurture the next generation of talent coming through the ranks of one of English rugby’s most prolific development centres.

His coaching career to date has also seen him work with Canada’s senior men’s squad as a defence coach for their 2017 summer Tests and enjoy two separate stints working under Gregor Townsend as part of the Scotland squad, including in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Brown will focus on the contact area and will have time in August to work with John Dalziel ahead of his move to the national team.

“When Danny (Wilson) called, the role ticked so many boxes,” Brown told

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“It’s a club I’ve got a lot of love for, so I was delighted to accept the offer. I’ve had a fantastic 10 years at Saracens and I’ve learnt so much on and off the pitch. The chance to take up a senior role like this with Glasgow was too good to turn down.

“You take a lot of lessons from your playing career into coaching. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some unbelievable coaches over the years, so you take as many lessons as you can and try to influence your own coaching style.

“There’s a good mix of senior players and younger guys, which is really exciting for me. Seeing where we can take those younger players and take the club to in future is something I’m really looking forward to.

“I’ve coached a number of the boys with Scotland over the last few years, so I know there are some really talented players in the mix. I also know what makes a really successful environment from my time at Saracens, and I’m excited to see where we can go as a club.”

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Wilson welcomed the appointment, saying: “We’re delighted to welcome a coach of Kelly’s quality as we continue to build towards our return to rugby.

“He’s packed a lot into the three years since he hung up his boots, which shows just how highly regarded he is as a coach. He was excellent when I had the chance to work with him as part of the Scotland setup, and I know he’ll bring a lot to the table.

“He not only possesses the experience and expertise through his playing career, but he’s also very good at communicating what he wants with the players.

“As well as a great coach, he’s also a great person to work with and will be an excellent addition to life at Scotstoun as we move forward.

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“John’s great work with the Warriors has certainly helped earn him this great opportunity.

“Even in the short time we’ve worked together, John’s attention to detail and work ethic around the contact area has been clear for all to see and he has all the attributes to succeed on the international stage.

“It’s a role in which I know he’ll thrive and succeed, and we wish him all the very best for the new challenge.”

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