by COLIN RENTON
Germans Go Wild for Rugby
Former England international Toby Flood has stated his ambition to play for Germany. The 32-year-old’s best days may be behind him but the future appears bright for German rugby and it is easy to see why he wants to play a part in achieving success with his grandfather’s country. The man driving the sport’s development is Swiss businessman Hans-Peter Wild, who made his fortune at the soft drink company Capri-Sun. Wild funded a rugby academy in 2007 and since then has invested more than €10 million. That has paid off with a substantial rise in registered players from 8,636 in 2002 to 14,304 in 2016. Now the target is to secure World Cup qualification and a place in the 2020 Olympic sevens.
Party Line or Touch Line?
Politicians are not known for their neutrality so hats off to Loic Correge for taking on the task of seeing both sides when he took over as assistant referee during the pre-season friendly between Bayonne and Racing 92. Referee Jerome Garces suffered an injury and was replaced by assistant referee Nicolas Bridoux. And, with no fourth official available, Racing coach Chris Masoe briefly took over running the line. But, following an appeal on the stadium tannoy, he was replaced by Correge, a colleague at the En Marche ! party of French president Emmanuel Macron. (picture shows Correge refereeing a previous game)
Life’s a Beach for Rugby Players
As the new season gets underway, a glance back at the summer shows that rugby has not really taken a rest, with the Lions tour, the international trips to various parts of the world, and this – a beach rugby tournament in France with some unique features. The competition was organised by the same people who brought us snow rugby in the winter. The touch tournament was contested on a pitch designed by former international Yann Delaigue – note that to score a try player’s must dive into the water. Would it work on Portobello beach?
Porty Continue with DIY Coaching
And speaking of Portobello, praise is due for the efforts of the coaching team that led the club that won the BT Bowl in an entertaining final against Blairgowrie at Murrayfield in April. The busy trio that masterminded that success are all senior players whose main focus in on performing well on the pitch. They organise training and post-match analysis via social media. And they did a fine job last season, also earning promotion to East Division One. Hopes that the club’s success would attract a coach have failed to come to fruition and once again the coaching structure will revolve around plans agreed on WhatsApp.
Murrayfield Money Backing Failed Teams
The travails of Western Force, dropped by Super Rugby, complete an interesting hat-trick of misery for clubs benefiting from investment by Scottish Rugby. The governing body linked up with the Australian outfit last season to help develop players – Edinburgh’s Lewis Carmichael recently spent time Down Under. Murrayfield bosses have also invested in Stade Nicois, which was created in its current form after the original entity went bust in 2012. A similar fate befell Lille Metropole, which made its professionals redundant at the end of the 2015/16 season. Lille’s women’s team has subsequently gone on to better things, and now has three of its players paid for by Scottish Rugby – Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson having now joined trail blazer Jade Konkel.
McKinley Beats the Odds
Irish-born stand-off Ian McKinley is set to line up for Benneton Treviso against Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO14 this season. He could also feature for Italy, having trained with the Azzurri over the summer. All of this is remarkable for a player who was forced to retire after losing the sight in one of his eyes. This five minute video tells the inspiring story of his battle against the odds.