That was the month that was: December 2023

Jonny Gray appears to be on his way to France, where fellow Scottish second-row Hamish Bain is making waves in ProD2

Jonny Gray appears to be heading to play club rugby in France next season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jonny Gray appears to be heading to play club rugby in France next season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

by COLIN RENTON


Gray set for French challenge

French media have reported that Jonny Gray is set to follow the example of his brother Richie and sample life in the Top 14. Gray, who joined Exeter Chiefs from Glasgow Warriors in 2020, has earned 77 caps for Scotland but missed the World Cup because of a knee injury. The 29-year-old is understood to have agreed terms with Bordeaux-Begles and is expected to move to France in the summer. The club is also believed to be keen to secure the services of Ireland stand off Joey Carbery.


Jones jets in for Japan job

Eddie Jones has been reappointed as coach of Japan, a move that was widely signposted several months ago. He returns to the job he left in 2015. Jones subsequently held roles at Stormers and England before taking charge of Australia’s disastrous World Cup effort in France. Defeats against Fiji and Wales meant the Wallabies failed to qualify for the knockout phase.


Black day for Scarlets against Georgian minnows

Georgian side Black Lion justified a wild-card invitation to compete in the European Challenge Cup with a stunning 23-7 win over Scarlets in Wales. The Georgians, who are in the same qualifying pool as Edinburgh, now occupy second spot in the group on points difference.


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Peterson heading for MLR

Greg Peterson has signed for Major League side San Diego Legion following his spell on a short term contract at Glasgow Warriors. The 32-year-old lock had three years at Scotstoun before moving to France after signing for Bordeaux-Begles in 2018, then joined Newcastle Falcons the following year. He returned to Warriors in October. The Australia-born USA international will link up with other former Warriors men Josh Henderson and Djustice Sears-Duru. He will also be joined by Australian Matt Giteau, who has come out of retirement at the age of 41 and has signed a one-year deal with the franchise.


Springbok date for plucky Portugal

Portugal, one of the underdogs who captured the imagination of neutrals at the World Cup, will play the champions South Africa next summer. The venue for the match, which will take place on July 20th, is not yet known. Portugal drew praise for an adventurous style that produced a draw with Georgia and a win over Fiji in the World Cup pool stages.


Jed building for the future

Jed-Forest may have had a difficult Premiership campaign where results mean the club will play in National One next season. But the Riverside men are already planning ahead, with the appointment of a director of rugby among the important steps to securing the club for the longer term. The post has been advertised and applications close on 15th January.


RFU wants to tighten control of players

English rugby is set for an overhaul, with the RFU looking at the introduction of hybrid contracts, which will see players’ salaries shared by clubs and the governing body. This will give the national coach Steve Borthwick greater control over players. The RFU is also weighing up the possibility of a new second-tier, with promotion and relegation to the Premiership, although some clubs in the current Championship have reacted negatively, suggesting the terms of the proposal are flawed.


 

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Bain helping to drive Vannes towards French top flight

While the post-World Cup arrivals in France of Blair Kinghorn, Ben White and Rory Sutherland have been attracting attention, another Scot has been working hard to help his club challenge for a Top 14 spot. Hamish Bain arrived at RC Vannes from Jersey Reds earlier this year, and has featured in 11 of his side’s 14 matches. Bain, whose contract at the French club expires in June, had previously been at Glasgow Warriors and spent two seasons in France through Scottish Rugby’s tie-up with Stade Nicois, whom he joined from Currie Chieftains. Vannes ended the year in top spot in ProD2, despite faltering over the final weeks. Bain’s colleagues at the Breton club include former Edinburgh man Anton Bressler.


Contepomi takes charge

Felipe Contepomi has taken over from Michael Cheika as coach of Argentina. Cheiika stepped down having led the Pumas to fourth place at the World Cup, where they lost to New Zealand in the semi-final and England in the third-place play-off.  He won 11 of his 13 games in charge. Contepomi, who earned 87 caps for Argentina, was Cheika’s assistant. He brings a wealth of global experience having played at Bristol, Leinster, Toulon and Stade Francais. For his part, Cheika is being linked to the Australia post which is vacant following the sacking of Eddie Jones.


Reluctant shopper tracked down by tech

The wonders of modern technology mean it’s not possible to sneak off and meet your mates at the rugby club, as Stuart Atkinson found out when he was caught watching the Championship match between London Scottish and Cambridge on the Saturday before Christmas.


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About Colin Renton 281 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!