Dave_2520Collins_2520with_2520UKA_2520backdrop_1August 30 - Dave Collins (pictured), sacked last year as UK Athletics' performance director after Britain failed to reach its medal target at the Olympics, has applied for a top post at the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU).

He is among the favourites to be appointed as the new Director of Performance Rugby to assist with the strategic development of the sport in Scotland.

Collins, a former prop for Northampton and Sacarens, has previously co-authored a booked called "Tough Rugby", which examines the role of mental preparation in the sport.

He has close connections with Scotland, having previously been a professor of psychology at Edinburgh University.

Collins was controversially appointed performance director at UK Athletics in December 2004 ahead of many better qualified candidates, including Dutchman Charles van Commenee, who had coached Denise Lewis to the Olympic heptathlon gold medal at Sydney in 2004, and Keith Connor, the former British triple jump record holder who had been Australia's head coach.

But Collins, who had started his career as a Royal Marine before becoming a PE teacher, was chosen partly because of his work with a number of top athletes, including former world javelin record holder Steve Backley, who had backed him for the role.

Collins' methods, however, were quickly riducled, including when he awarded athletes marks out of 10 at the European Championships in the 2006 European Championships, and leading members of Britain's team and key opinion-formers lost faith in him.

He was finally replaced by van Commenee after Britain won only four medals in Beijing, missing the target of five set by National Lottery distributor UK Sport.

Among those who had led calls for him to be replaced were Steve Cram, the former world mile record holder who is now a BBC television commentator and the chairman of the English Institute of Sport, and Daley Thompson, the 1980 and 1984 Olympic decathlon champion.

The key aspects of the role at the SRU include taking strategic responsibility for integrating the professional teams and the National Academy/Youth Development structures to ensure that long term player planning and development is optimised across Scottish Rugby.

Other responsibilites will be to identify suitable and eligible overseas based players who have the potential to play international rugby for Scotland, as well as overseeing the strength fitness and conditioning of all performance players.

Nigel_2520Melville_1The other leading candidate for the job is Nigel Melville (pictured), the former England scrum-half who is already doing a similar role in the United States.

Once appointed the post holder will report directly to Gordon McKie, chief executive of the SRU.

He said: “Scottish Rugby is in good health and I believe that following the recent appointment of Andy Robinson as the Scotland head coach, the time is right to put in place a new structure for performance rugby.

"This will ensure Scottish Rugby maximises the opportunities for sustainable success for our pro and national teams.

“The new structure will be led by the director of performance rugby who will have responsibility for delivering the vision for performance rugby in Scotland."

Scotland won only one match this year's Six Nations, beating Italy, and coach Frank Hadden was replaced by former England international and coach Andy Robinson.

McKie said: "The appointment [of the performance director] will have a close working relationship with Andy Robinson and our pro team head coaches and demonstrates Scottish Rugby’s commitment to continue to improve the elite side of our game.

“I am confident this exciting and strategic role will once again attract an excellent calibre of candidates.”

Interviews are expected to be held during the next few weeks.