Dundee HSFP head coach Ian Rankin is to step down from his post at the end of the season and seek election as vice-president of the Scottish Rugby Union.
The longest-serving coach in the top level of Scottish club rugby, Rankin has been 10 years at Mayfield during which time the club has enjoyed the most successful period in their 133-year history and established themselves as a force in the RBS Premiership, finishing runners-up last year.
Now the former Edinburgh Rugby and Caledonia Reds head coach is to seek to move into Scottish Rugby’s power brokers as vice-president of the SRU at elections at the end of this season.
“I had made my mind up a while back that the time was right to move on and give the club the best chance of getting the best person possible to take over the reins,” he said.
“It has been a real privilege to have been at the heart of Scottish club rugby and to have helped to establish Dundee High Rugby among the top clubs in Scotland, giving players an opportunity to play at the highest possible level.
“I leave with so many great memories and in the knowledge that the club is in a better place on and off the field, which is a great credit to all who shared and contributed to my time at Mayfield.”
High had just come out of the old Third Division when Rankin took over in 2003 from former All Black Jason Hewett, and led the club into the top division again while appearing in two National Cup finals.
Last year the club came within a game of their first ever Premiership title before finishing second to Melrose, but secured cross-border competition in the British and Irish Cup for the first time.
“Seeing players get age group caps, club inter-national recognition and pro contracts and developing and adapting to many challenges has given me so much pleasure and I know how much I will miss the changing room and touchline banter,” he continued.
Rather than stay in coaching, Rankin has decided to try and influence the Scottish game for the better from inside Murrayfield.
“I was approached a few weeks ago by some respected rugby guys who have now persuaded me to use my knowledge of especially the club game in Scotland to stand as a candidate for the vice-president of the SRU,” he said.
“I have thought long and hard about it but have decided that being critical from the sidelines is the easy option, and I can do far more to try and upgrade the respect and standing of the club game by putting myself forward for election at the AGM in June.”
High president Gerry Tosh says the club will give its full support to their long-time coach’s candidacy.
“Ranks is one of the longest-serving coaches in Scottish rugby and will be a very hard act to follow, but he has the club’s best wishes as he allows his name to go forward for the position of SRU vice-president.
“This 10-year period has been the most successful of the club’s history, and includes two cup finals at Murrayfield, winning the Division 2 championship twice, and a second-place finish in the Premiership last year, leading to our participation in the British and Irish Cup this season.”
A player with Edinburgh Wanderers and Howe of Fife and capped for Scottish Schools, Rankin’s coaching
pedigree was formed at Kirkcaldy and the North and Midlands/Caledonia Reds, which he led to the old Scottish Districts title.
He moved to Edinburgh on the merger of the four districts into two pro teams in 1998, coaching the team for three seasons and serving as manager for two.
Rankin was also a head coach of the Scotland Club International team and assistant coach to Scotland A and Scotland U-20s.