In 2003, Scotland hired Leinster coach and current Irish rugby pundit Matt Williams as their head coach. It was the Australian's first job managing a national side. His reign was acrimonious and short-lived. He lasted two years in the job, where he won three games in 17, managing a solitary Six Nations victory, against Italy. Those years are not remembered fondly by Scotland fans: they were described as a 'reign of error' by the Guardian.
Matt Williams: A Life In Rugby was aired this week by Virgin Media. The most entertaining bits, not surprisingly, involve Williams's time as Scotland boss. Williams makes a number of hilarious claims about Scotland's professionalism, as he gleefully recalls the shambolic set-up at Scotland. A lot of the best stories relate to the weight room.
Williams - hardly the world's strongest man - says he out-benchpressed a number of players in the Scotland team in the first training session.
'The first session in a weights room with Scotland. I was never a great trainer, I was never a strong person in regards to the team. And I'm lifting more bench press than five of the Scotland backs. And I'm 44. And I'm thinking, 'Wow I knew we were in trouble but I didn't think things were that bad.'
Williams also says Scotland bought a weight room without weights as a cost-saving measure.
I can't tell you how bad it was. There had no gyms. After about 45 committee meetings, they decided to buy the gym. But no one set the gym up. So Willie Anderson and all the staff, we go down there on a Sunday with a couple spanners to set up the gym together. We put the gym together. We're looking around going we've got the gym, we've got the bars. Where are the weights? They said 'we couldn't afford the weights, we'll buy them for you next year!'" No one believes this stuff! I said you're kidding me, what's a gym without weights? It was amateur hour.
Williams also gleefully recalls the time he and his fellow coaches were locked out of the Scotland dressing room at halftime of a game.
There was one game we came down at half time and we got locked out of the changing room. The security guard had been told not to let anyone in. So we're the coaching staff and we start banging on the door. The security guard's just like 'no chance brother.'
Watch the clip here:
"We put the gym together and we look around, there's no weights.
"They said 'we couldn't afford the weights, we'll buy them for you next year!'"@MattRCNM on the @ScotlandTeam glory days 🤣
Matt Williams: A Life in Rugby - Saturday at 2.30pm on Virgin Media Two. pic.twitter.com/Af00Ofvy6L
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) April 2, 2021
Many people with an interest in Scottish rugby on Twitter are less than impressed by this commentary.
Tbf to that security guard the team probably told him not to let Matt Williams in
— Graham Love (@glove931) April 2, 2021
— Hugo Southwell (@hugosouthwell) April 2, 2021
“Nobody believes this stuff...” There might be a reason for that, Matt 👀 https://t.co/e7kQWB7NwD
— Tom English (@TEnglishSport) April 2, 2021
It's not only Scottish rugby people who question Williams as a coach. The great Stephen Ferris had little positive to say about Williams in his autobiography, calling the Australian a 'bluffer' amongst other things. 'Matt was the master of appearing to know everything but, as it turned out, he did not seem to me to know that much,' he writes.
Is it possible the answer is somewhere in the middle - that Scotland were a shambles but Williams wasn't a great coach?