That was the month that was: November 2023

Scots on the move, Berti speaks out and the France Sevens team learn about the hard work behind Fijian flair

The Fijian and French Sevens squads work on the endurance and teamwork together during a joint training camp. Image: @FranceRugby on 'X'
The Fijian and French Sevens squads work on the endurance and teamwork together during a joint training camp. Image: @FranceRugby on 'X'


Scots find a new home

Scotland hooker Lana Skeldon and back-row Evie Gallagher have joined Bristol Bears from Worcester Warriors. The duo learned while they were playing in the WXV2 competition in South Africa of Worcester’s withdrawal from the Allianz Premiership. That left them facing an uncertain future, a situation that has now been resolved. The moves increase the number of Scottish arrivals in the west country, with Stevie Longwell having signed for the Bears men’s squad as injury cover, joining his former Jersey Reds colleague, Sam Grahamslaw. Elsewhere, prop Lisa Cockburn, who was also caught up in the Worcester issues, has joined Leicester Tigers, where her team-mates include several Scots.

Rugby facing competition on engagement levels

Research by the professional services company, EY (Ernst & Young), showed that rugby sits fourth in a table of engagement levels, either by following a sport on TV, online or on social media, by taking part, or by attending a sporting event. Engagement levels are higher among those under the age of 35 and over 55, although the nature of that engagement may differ for each of the age groups and rugby does not register in the top 20 for 18 to 24-year-olds. The sports ahead of rugby union are football, formula 1 and running. Despite football’s leading position, the research shows that it is not attracting a new audience (defined as those who have engaged for fewer than two years). The fastest growth in engagement is formula 1, but the report’s conclusion is that rugby is being challenged by running, cycling, boxing and snooker.

Arrows blunted by financial woes

Financial struggles are a feature of rugby around the world currently, with Scottish Rugby and several clubs in England among those to announce poor results over recent months. Meanwhile, the only professional team in Canada has gone out of business. Toronto Arrows have withdrawn from the US MLR after all attempts to raise funding that would allow them to continue in the league failed to deliver the necessary backing.

John McGuigan interview part one: “The world around us is changing so we as an organisation will change with it”

John McGuigan interview part two: “The passion is already well established in rugby, but you still have to sell the product to people”

URC: Munster v Glasgow: Jack Dempsey ruled out for six to eight weeks

New role for Raiwalui

Former Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui has joined World Rugby as High Performance Pathways and Player Development Manager. Raiwalui’s job is to help increase the competitiveness of international rugby as the sport prepares for a new era of opportunity and growth. A press release from World Rugby was unclear about the specifics of the role, but said that he will help to identify, develop and fast-track player development initiatives as well as supporting other rugby projects. Raiwalui earned respect from around the world for his humility, modesty and the refreshing rugby his side produced at the World Cup, where the Fijians exited against England at the quarter-final stage.

Cockerill sacked after seven matches

Former Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has left Montpellier following a run of six defeats that plunged the club into the Top 14 basement slot. Cockerill’s fate was sealed after Montpellier, whom he joined in the summer, lost to Perpignan, leaving him with no wins since the victory over La Rochelle on the opening day of the season. However, Cockerill may not be out of work for long, with Georgia understood to be a possible destination after Levan Maisashvili’s departure following a disappointing World Cup.

Wheelchair rugby looking for growth

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby has launched a campaign to increase player numbers. The wheelchair version of the game is suitable for anyone who is unable to play running rugby. The ‘I CAN PLAY’ campaign launched with a week of activity aimed at attracting new members to wheelchair rugby clubs. Details of how to become involved are on the organisation’s website:

San Diego Legion signs dual-qualified Scot

Scotland Under-20 stand-off Harris Rutherford will play Major League Rugby this season after signing for San Diego Legion. The 20-year-old Borderer played for Gala before joining Southern Knights. His move across the Atlantic will offer a chance to catch the eye of USA selectors – he qualifies for the Eagles through an American-born grandfather.

Rugby Australia sacks chairman

The turmoil at Rugby Australia continues apace, with chairman Hamish McLennan the latest to be sacked. He was responsible for the dismissal of Dave Rennie as coach, and the reappointment of Eddie Jones who was subsequently booted out after a disastrous World Cup which saw the Wallabies fail to reach the knock-out phase. McLennan has now also been ousted after a three-and-a-half-year tenure, and replaced by former international centre Daniel Herbert.

Berthinussen talks about the importance of testicular checking

Edinburgh Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen talked openly and impressively to the Check One Two podcast run by the Cahonas testicular cancer charity. He chatted about his own diagnosis, the importance of support of friends and family, the challenge he set himself during recovery, and why he avoided Google searches. Worth a listen at this link:

Teamwork makes the dream work

The French sevens squad travelled to Fiji to prepare for the forthcoming World Series and worked with the host nation during a three-week training camp. A video emerged of the two groups coming together for the gruelling physical exertions, possibly made a little less painful by the melodic sounds of a traditional Fijian gospel song, E Da Sa Qaqa (We Have Overcome).

URC: Munster v Glasgow: Jack Dempsey ruled out for six to eight weeks

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!


    • Harris Rutherford is an interesting one! I think the USA will love him, and I hope Scotland don”t lose him!

      Isaac Coates (just out of merchiston in the summer) is thought of highly for his skillset and game management; the challenge for him will be whether he has the physique for professional rugby. Matthew Urwin is the same age and also in the Academy.
      Richie Simpson is on a partnership contract with Glasgow and Ayrshire Bulls but has missed this Super Series with a concussion injury. Andy McLean is under 20 at Boroughmuir Bears and the other challenger for Under 20 this year may be Luke Townsend who is playing regularly for Heriots in Premier 1.

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