Dropping his te am-mates is the major conversi on for Lear

One week Niall Lear was enjoying playing rugby with his friends and team-mates, the next he was telling them they couldn’t play.

It’s tough decisions like that which are necessary for a coach to make and for Lear, the head coach at Falkirk RFC, it was one of the most difficult transitions when stepping up to fill in for the departing Paul Larter earlier this season.

That and taking a different vantage point of the games too, from the thick of the action to the sidelines.

“It’s been difficult,” admitted Lear, who takes his side into a crucial match with Kirkcaldy on Saturday in front of a large crowd including Scotland international and ex-Sunnysider Finn Russell.

“I’ve been a player – and always played – here for five years now.

“Going from player to coach isn’t difficult for me in one sense, but it was very much so in another.

“Playing with and then coaching friends and telling them during the week that they’re not selected for the Saturday match isn’t easy.

“But coaching is something I’ve worked towards.”

That side of things is easy for Lear, who is also a head of house but crucially a PE teacher at Queen Victoria school in Dunblane and was, under previous coach Larter, assistant head coach.

Now he’s being assisted by Kris Burney – a long-time team-mate who returned from a brief Stirling County season’s sabbatical in the summer.

Off the field Falkirk have been trying to play catch-up since their meteoric rise through the leagues since the turn of the century.

The club Academy is now firmly established in conjunction with a School of Rugby at Falkirk High School which is already showing some budding players making the move through.

It has a long way to go before achieving the true potential though, but Lear believes the seeds have been sown for a long-standing player source and extending the clubs roots deeper into the community.

“Paul and the committee put a huge amount of work in to the Academy and its creation.

“There is a way for the players to go and progress and develop now - a pathway for the first team and already we have had some Falkirk-reared young players like Lewis Skinner, Euan Rooney and Kieran Wood in first team squads.

“That’s not as a result but it’ll be clearer for those who follow and hopefully that establishes players for the future. Euan came through the 17s but had nowhere to go. He went away and built himself up and is now in the pool – the way of progression for him would now be clearer.

“Tom Johnston runs the Academy and it’s certainly up there in terms of what’s being done for rugby.

“It’s trying to show the pathway is there for when they leave the junior section and where the next step is for their game and to generally expand rugby and the club.”