That was the month that was: January 2021

Colin Renton’s round-up of last month’s news stories from around the world taking in over exuberant celebrations, big money investments in South Africa and New Zealand, and Huw Jones linked to a move to France

Josaia Raisuqe earned himself a red card for hoisting the match referee above his head in celebration after his team's victory in the French ProD.
Josaia Raisuqe earned himself a red card for hoisting the match referee above his head in celebration after his team's victory in the French ProD.

Whistlers on the rise

Scotland’s referees have finally started to be recognised in the international arena, with Mike Adamson on the RBS Six Nations panel and several others involved on the European stage, among them Hollie Davidson, whose first appointment to a men’s professional game was delayed following the cancellation of the European Challenge Cup tie between Newcastle Falcons and Castres. Another first was prevented when the Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Harlequins also fell by the wayside. That clash should have marked the debut at that level for Nika Amashukeli, whose appointment is a sign of Georgia’s growing status in the game.

Locks earning the big bucks

Locks are the top earners in the Guinness PRO14 (excluding Italy) according to the latest data from Esportif, the sports management company that represents many top class rugby players. The numbers show that second-rows lead the way in salaries, ahead of tight heads, stand-offs and wingers, with hookers bringing up the rear in terms of wages. Things are different in the other two major European leagues, with number 10 the most lucrative position in both France and England.

Pinpoint throwing from former Warrior

Former Glasgow Warriors hooker Gerwyn Price showed that he retains his skill for accurate throwing when he landed the PDC World Darts title. The 35-year-old played twice for Warriors during a brief loan spell in 2013, having also turned out for Neath and Cross Keys in his home country, Wales. Price beat Scotland’s Gary Anderson to lift the trophy that bears the name of the late Sid Waddell, whose commentaries were gloriously colourful. And, as Waddell might have said of the former Warriors man’s efforts: “There’s only one word for that – magic darts.”

Strauss back in Europe for latest gig

Former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland back-row Josh Strauss has added another club to his CV after signing up for French ProD2 outfit Oyonnax as medical cover. The 34-year-old, who earned 15 international caps after qualifying on residency grounds, left Scotstoun in 2017 and played with Sale Sharks, Stade Francais then Blue Bulls in his native South Africa before taking on his latest assignment. He has been brought in as a replacement for another Scotland back row, Luke Hamilton, who was injured in the draw at Colomiers last November.

Jones is a man in demand

Huw Jones is the latest Glasgow Warriors player to be attracting attention from elsewhere. The international centre, who has been deployed at full-back by Warriors this season, is on the wanted list at Bayonne as the club searches for versatile backs. The French rugby paper, Midi Olympique, reported that talks have taken place with Jones, who is also being linked with a possible move to England when his contract expires in the summer.

George Horne signs Glasgow Warriors contract extension

Stuart Hogg urges Scotland to be switched on from the start at Twickenham

Eddie Jones reveals his heroes as a young player were Scots

Cotter’s advice matters for Mata

Former Scotland coach Vern Cotter will be happy to see Bill Mata commit to Edinburgh for the period leading up to the 2023 World Cup. Cotter had urged the Fijian to think carefully before making a decision on his future after his contract at Edinburgh expires at the end of the season. Cotter, who is now Mata’s international coach, told Fijian media that he believes the best deal for the player – an Olympic sevens gold medallist in 2016 – is to remain at Edinburgh, a club whose professionalism he rates highly.

Corporate money flowing into rugby

After a stream of negative news for South African rugby over recent months, there was a positive development surrounding the Sharks. An American business consortium has bought a majority holding in the Durban-based franchise, stating its intention to make it the leading brand in global rugby. Prominent on the to-do list for the new owners is a bid to lure Springboks captain Siya Kolisi from the Stormers. Hopes that such a deal could be completed were fuelled by the fact that Kolisi’s agent – whom he shares with the rapper Jay Z – will help to manage the Sharks brand.

Big business bonanza for All Blacks

The attraction of rugby as an investment vehicle is gathering momentum around the world. Hard on the heels of the deal in South Africa and the anticipated CVC arrangement with the Six Nations comes news that the US private equity firm Silver Lake is set to take a stake in New Zealand Rugby. A 15% holding is under discussion, with the focus believed to be on the governing body’s commercial rights. New Zealand Rugby made a net loss of NZ$7.4 million in 2019. Silver Lake has stakes in various sporting names including Manchester City and Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts competition.

A family affair for ex-Edinburgh prop

Former Edinburgh prop Elliot Millar-Mills has followed the example of his sister by agreeing to join Wasps next season. The 28-year-old left Scotland three years ago to sign for Ealing Trailfinders. Millar-Mills has two older sisters, Bridget and Harriet, who have the distinction of having earned international honours with different countries. The former is a Scotland cap and the latter, who currently plays for Wasps, has made more than 50 appearances for England.

Raisuqe red for raising ref

Nevers winger Josaia Raisuqe learned the cost of failing to control his emotions after helping his side to a win over Beziers that keeps them in the hunt for a play-off spot in the French ProD2. Nevers survived an onslaught in the dying seconds and, when referee Laurent Millotte blew his whistle to end the match, Riasuqe lifted the match official in celebration, earning a red card for his efforts.

George Horne signs Glasgow Warriors contract extension

About Colin Renton 296 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!