by COLIN RENTON
More Scottish cash could be heading for France
Mark Dodson has stated that Scottish Rugby is likely to increase its investment in the French outfit Stade Nicois if the club earns promotion to ProD2, the second level in France. The team currently plies its trade in the fourth tier, but with a side bolstered by experienced professionals and several talented young Scots farmed by Murrayfield, tops the league table and is on track to move up a level at the end of the current season.
Dodson, who was in Nice to attend a function with sponsors and members, said: “We love the idea of a club that grows little by little. We can grow with the club. If the club moves up to ProD2, it is highly probable that we will strengthen our partnership, especially at a financial level.”
— Stade Niçois (@stadenicois) 1 February 2018
No signs of doping in English top level rugby
The Rugby Players Association has revealed the findings of its drugs testing for the 2016/17 season. In total 623 tests were conducted in the professional game in England and none delivered a positive result for performance-enhancing drugs. The most recent failed test was in season 2010-11. Three players failed tests at National Division One level and below, with one case not yet finalised. Separate tests were carried out for illicit substance use, and one professional player failed a test for cocaine use.
Fishing for bigger profits from the prawn sandwich brigade
The Twickenham corporate machine has stepped up another gear with a further 4,000 hospitality spaces being added for next season. The RFU has dumped external companies and has taken charge of the pre-match lunch set-up. It will now feed 8,500 people before each match. The governing body says that the money this generates will go to developing the game. For the 2016-17 season, hospitality income was more than £40 million, and taking it in-house could add a further £10 million.
Atlantic epic for Irishman
It’s common for players to go into coaching or set up a business once their careers are over. But, for Irishman Damian Browne, such activities were considered too mundane. He recently rowed across the Atlantic, a 4,800 kilometre haul from the Canaries to Antigua, as part of the Talisker Whisky Challenge. The 37-year-old, who cannot swim, prepared for the adventure by rowing up and down the west coast of Ireland. The lock, who was capped for Ireland A and at Under-21 level, played for Connacht and Leinster in his native country, as well as clubs in England and France, has also completed other endurance challenges, including the gruelling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara.
It’s kicking off State-side
America’s Major League Rugby will be launched in April with seven teams competing in the inaugural competition – Austin Elite, Glendale Raptors, Houston SaberCats, NOLA Gold, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves and Utah Warriors. An eighth team, Rugby New York is being lined up for inclusion next year, with former Ireland and US Eagles coach Eddie Sullivan as the team’s adviser, assisted by former Irish international Shane Horgan. Seattle Seawolves has benefited from financial input by New Zealand outfit Canterbury Crusaders
Salary cap doesn’t quite fit for Wasps
Premiership Rugby has fined Wasps more than £20,000 for exceeding the salary cap. An audit showed that the club had overshot the limit by £40,528. In accordance with the rules, Wasps were fined 50 pence for each pound overspent, but Premiership Rugby is not treating the case as a deliberate breach of the regulations.
Scots politicians fail to retain majority
Having beaten France two weeks earlier, Scotland lost to England in their next match. Fortunately it was only our politicians who went down to their rivals from south of the border on Calcutta Cup day, after leading at half time. Among those who featured in the 20-17 defeat was former Olympic athlete Brian Whittle (now Member of the Scottish Parliament), who famously lost a shoe on his way to helping Great Britain win relay gold at the 1986 European Championships. He started at outside centre last Saturday – less extreme than some of the right wingers among his colleagues – but was unable to prevent the loss, possibly because he chose footwear on this occasion.
— Ramsay Jones CBE (@Ramsay59) 24 February 2018
Spanish passion brings world cup spot closer
Spain moved closer to earning the spot as Europe 1 qualifier that would place them in Scotland’s group for the World Cup in Japan next year when they chalked up a 22-10 win over Romania. And you don’t need to be a Spanish speaker to get the drift of the pre-match chat from skipper Jaime Nava, who was unable to play because of injury.
Jamie Nava, @ferugby captain, delivered a passionate address to his teammates before their Rugby Europe Championship game against @rugbyromania. Will the passion propel them to #RWC2019 glory? #MyRugbyMoment pic.twitter.com/SLYtvSuHU0
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) 21 February 2018