A FORMER teacher is aiming to help guide Japan to the Rugby World Cup after swapping East Lothian for the Far East.

Louise Dalgliesh taught at Haddington’s Knox Academy, Ross High School in Tranent and Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans for more than a decade before taking on a permanent post with Scottish Rugby.

Now, the 40-year-old has swapped Murrayfield for the chance to be assistant coach with Japan women’s team.

She said: “I think women’s rugby is still a growing sport globally and Japan reflects that.

“I’ve certainly seen great support and excitement around the women’s game, and if the reaction here in Kamaishi is reflected across the country then I would say the attitudes are very positive.

“The important thing for us is that we keep developing the quality of the players available and the depth in the national squad, as well as paying attention to other elements of player and coach development across the game.

“I think for me, personally, the step-up to being in a senior national programme means that I need to ensure everything I deliver has got to be to the level of quality and detail that is required at this level.

“From a squad perspective the Asian qualification tournament takes place in October and we have one target from that, and it is to qualify directly to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year.

“Aside from that, there are always going to be lots of areas to develop and targets to aim for, so it is about prioritising the most important and ensuring that, after qualification, the squad is in the strongest possible position individually and collectively when it comes to the World Cup.”

The former Scotland star was a physical education teacher at Knox Academy before becoming the school’s sports co-ordinator.

A short move west saw her join the PE department of Ross High School in 2007.

She became principal teacher for guidance at the secondary school in 2013 and stayed at Ross High until she left teaching in 2018.

Louise, who grew up in Hawick, said: “I left Ross High for a regional manager job with the rugby development team at Scottish Rugby in October 2018 and was delighted that the area that I was assigned to was East Lothian as well as parts of the Borders.

“This meant some of the relationships that I’d developed throughout my time teaching in the area continued, as there are a number of former pupils, or family members of, involved with the rugby clubs in the areas.

“The way that rugby development officers operate in East Lothian also meant I was still in and out of a lot of the schools and I loved that I always saw some familiar faces.”

The move into coaching came after a hugely successful career, which saw Louise pick up more than 60 caps for Scotland, starring alongside East Lothian’s Megan Gaffney and Annabel Sergeant.

She also represented her country in two Rugby World Cups, in 2006 and 2010.

Louise, who also had an acting guidance post at Preston Lodge for a year, said: “I think it is probably hard to put into words how much these experiences mean. It was a huge honour to represent Scotland every time I got the chance.

“I consider myself very fortunate for the experiences I’ve had and people I have met because of rugby.

“I think it is a different mindset for coaching – while the commitment and enthusiasm for what you do are crucial, there needs to be more consideration of the bigger picture and the many other factors that will affect the team performance and development.”

Louise spoke to Courier Sport during a training camp in Kamaishi and revealed there were nerves before making the move.

She said: “I’ve always talked to others about sometimes having to take risks to get where you want to be, so I had to remind myself this is exactly the type of role I left my career in education to work towards and I think coming back to that point calmed my nerves – that and a lot of encouragement from friends.”