Williams, 43, will take up the national post after this autumn's Rugby World Cup in his native Australia. His contract will take him through to the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The announcement was made in Durban, South Africa, where Scotland are preparing for the first of their two Tests against the Springboks on Saturday. SRU Director of Rugby Jim Telfer said: "When we announced last December that we would be seeking a new head coach to follow on from Ian who will fill my shoes as director of rugby on my retirement, we pledged to conduct a worldwide search to find Ian's successor. "That we did and I want to place on record my thanks to all those impressive candidates who applied for the job. In Matt Williams we have found an outstanding young coach who I am sure will prove an exceptional custodian of all the values that are dear to Scottish rugby while also bringing innovation and plenty of ideas to the national team." Williams, head coach with Irish province Leinster for the last three years, described his appointment as a "humbling experience." "Firstly I would say that I'm honoured to be given the opportunity to coach one of the great sides in world rugby in competitions of the status of the Rugby World Cup and the RBS Six Nations Championship. "I was very happy at Leinster and the Irish RFU has treated me brilliantly but the lure of Scotland head coach post was, for me, irresistible. "To follow in the footsteps of Jim and Ian is a very humbling experience and I'm very aware of the responsibilities that have been given to me. "My aim will be to build on the foundations that have been put in place by Jim and Ian. Great strides have been made in the last four years in Scottish rugby and my role will be to take that structure forward in all areas from the players, coaches and support staff with the national team down through the age-grade sides."
Speaking about the departure of Williams, Leinster CEO Mick Dawson said, "Leinster are disappointed to lose the services of Matt Williams, yet we do understand the attraction of moving to an international position. Matt has done well here in Leinster and we had a good working relationship." Ian McGeechan said: "Matt Williams is a forward-thinking coach who wants to be party to the further development of Scottish rugby. I believe he understands Scottish rugby and his association has obviously grown over a number of years, initially through New South Wales Waratahs touring sides and, latterly, through the Celtic League. I'm excited by his appointment."
Williams, a teacher by profession, started in coaching at club level with Western Suburbs in Sydney, Australia in 1991. He became head coach of the Eastwood club in Sydney in 1993 and a year later gained representative recognition when he was appointed fitness and skills coach for the Emerging Wallabies' tour of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
In 1995 his coaching stints included New South Wales A; New South Wales Sevens; and an assistant's post for an Australian XV against England A. He was also a coaching assistant at the Wallaby World Cup camps. In 1996 he became manager and assistant coach for the NSW Waratahs' Super 12 campaign and then for the next three years he was head coach for the Waratahs. Come the autumn of 1999 he acted as backs coach in Leinster's European Cup campaign, prelude to becoming the province's head coach in 2000. Williams has also been head coach of Ireland A for the past two years and also undertook the role of defensive coach for the Irish national team in 2001.