Falkirk rugby coach steps to the sidelines

Bob Wyllie is hanging up his boots but continuing as coach
Bob Wyllie is hanging up his boots but continuing as coach

Coach Bob Wyllie has retired from playing rugby ‘through gritted teeth’ amid significant backroom changes at Falkirk rugby club.

Wyllie will now be head coach at Cala Park, assisted by former player Mark McKenzie as first team coach and more coaching changes are to be confirmed over the summer.

The Sunnysiders couldn’t retain their Premier Two status last season, prompting changes around the club and off the field in an attempt to bounce back in the restructured league set-up next term.

They’ll do it without Wyllie’s on-field influence and the 36-year-old Wyllie admitted it was a wrench to hang up his boots and headguard to stand on the sidelines.

“I definitely did it through gritted teeth,” he admitted to The Falkirk Herald. “It was difficult, but I know I must pass up on the games to focus on the team.

“I don’t think there’s ever a ‘good’ time to stop playing, but at 36 I just feel my age crept into my head and was weighing on me. I had to make a decision.

“The team had reached a level where we feel we belong and now the club has to catch up a bit.”

Wyllie stepping back onto the touchline is not the only change though.

The Cala Park club will bring in former player Mark McKenzie, who has spent the last three years working with the Scottish Rugby Union.

The last time McKenzie featured for the Sunnysiders they were ploughing through the leagues on their promotion charge under Wyllie which brought six promotions in seven years and the SRU Shield in 2007 (below).

“It’s good he knows the people here,” added Wyllie, “and he’s a very experienced coach.

“But the environment at the club is very different to what Mark left a few years ago.

“He will help coaching our backs, but at the moment we’re waiting to hear back from a few players - it’s a bit up in the air.

“Finn Russell has signed on with Glasgow Warriors so we may lose him, but we need commitment from a number of them to nail down their positions in the team.

“We really only stopped playing sevens rugby a fortnight ago, so it is early days.”

Club president Alex McQuade added: “Bob has taken us through the divisions but we have now reached a level where we had to make changes to the backroom staff to ensure we maintained the standard we have set.”