That was the month that was: September 2023

Colin Renton reports on the demise of Jersey Reds, more Scots heading to the USA and some big stars eyeing Olympic glory

Stevie Longwell, seen here playing for Watsonians, is looking for a new club after Jersey Reds plunged into administration. Image: © Craig Watson -
Stevie Longwell, seen here playing for Watsonians, is looking for a new club after Jersey Reds plunged into administration. Image: © Craig Watson -

Scots caught out as Jersey unravels

Several Scots have been left seeking new clubs after Jersey Reds ceased trading. Sam Grahamslaw, Stevie Longwell, Adam Nicol and Lewis Wynne feature in a squad that has been plunged into uncertainty, with liquidation the likely outcome. The catalyst for the failure was a cut in RFU funding for clubs in the second tier, and the situation has been exacerbated by the refusal of the governing body to reintroduce promotion to the Gallagher Premiership. The uncertainty this has created is believed to have deterred potential investors. Jersey won the Championship title last season and have started well this year, with early results including a victory over Bath in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

Chalureau rejects racism claims

The call-up of Bastien Chalureau to the French squad as replacement for his injured Montpellier colleague Paul Willemse created quite a stir. Coach Fabien Galthie came under pressure from politicians to exclude the lock, who was found guilty in 2020 of violent acts which were deemed to be racist, and handed a six-month suspended prison sentence. The player acknowledged the nature of the events but denied accusations of racism and is appealing against the guilty verdict. Galthie stated that the circumstances were already in the public domain and refused to bow to the pressure. Chalureau came off the bench in the second half of France’s 27-12 win over Uruguay.

Gaffney earns Barbarians honour

Megan Gaffney flew the flag for Scotland when Barbarians women lined up for matches against South African in Cape Town and Munster at Thomond Park in Limerick. The Heriot’s winger retired from international rugby at the end of 2022, having earned 45 caps, and also represented the national sevens side.

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Hooper eyeing Olympics after Jones snub

Overlooked by Eddie Jones for the Wallabies World Cup squad, Michael Hooper is set to switch his attention to sevens rugby with the aim of competing in next summer’s Olympics. The Waratahs flanker, who has 125 international caps to his credit, is the latest star to reveal plans to change focus and play in Paris. French skipper Antoine Dupont has already hinted that he is also keen to contest the Olympic event.

Harley and Hoyland heading for MLR

Rob Harley will continue his rugby adventure in the US after signing for Washington-based Old Glory DC. Harley, who holds the appearance record for Glasgow Warriors spent last season in France with PROD2 outfit Carcassonne but was released after the club suffered relegation and moved to Colomiers as World Cup cover. He will be joined cross the Atlantic by Damien Hoyland. The 29-year-old, whose career has been held back by an unfortunate series of injuries, was released by Edinburgh at the end of last season after making more than 100 appearances. The duo will now join the MLR side, which has Scottish Rugby as a partner and recently unveiled ex-Edinburgh flanker Simon Cross as head coach.

Scottish officials named for women’s tournament

Scotland’s Hollie Davidson features on the list of referees for the opening two rounds of the WXV women’s tournament which starts in October. Davidson will take charge of the host nation New Zealand’s match against France. Another Scot, Andrew McMenemy, will be a TMO for the event.

Argentina set for Super Rugby return

Media in Argentina claimed that the national side has been invited to rejoin the Super Rugby tournament in 2026. Los Jaguares played in the competition until 2020 before joining the South American Super League and subsequently being replaced by two teams, Los Pampas and Los Dogos. Super Rugby featured 12 teams in 2023 – six from New Zealand, five from Australia and one from Fiji. Los Pampos and Los Dogos will feature again in the South American competition this year, and will make a decision on whether to return to Super Rugby. Another possibility would be to follow the example of the South African sides who now play in the URC, with some media proposing an Argentine franchise based in Spain.

Controversy over UK politicians’ stance on mixed teams

Alongside the Rugby World Cup, France was the venue for global tournaments contested by parliamentary and military representatives. Eight teams battled it out for the political trophy, but the competition, originally introduced by Nelson Mandela in 1995, attracted controversy when the United Kingdom and South Africa refused to play against mixed teams, insisting that it was on grounds of safety. This created ill feeling among some of the other teams and meant the matches they played were male only. New Zealand beat Ireland in the final, while the UK finished outside the top four with results that included a defeat against the European Parliament in the first meeting between the sides. Meanwhile, the British Army beat New Zealand in the third-place play-off at the World Military Championships in Brittany, with France edging out Fiji in extra time to take the title.

Dramatic finale in Championship clash

The clash between Darlington Mowden Park and Cinderford in the RFU Championship produced a dramatic finale. Mowden Park, with Yaree Fantini – the former Ayrshire Bulls flanker who left Scotland for a year in Italy before joining the Darlington outfit – among the try scorers, led for much of the game but Cinderford battled back and had a chance to nick the win with an injury time penalty.

The story unfolds in the following video:

Scotland v Spain: six-try triumph for Bryan Easson’s squad

About Colin Renton 279 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!


  1. I hope Mr. Renton doesn’t get annoyed at my using his article to call attention to the following.
    I think there needs to be a discussion on the Refereeing in France and using the excuse that Scotland in the September part of the RWC suffered some suspect decisions regarding Ritchie and Dempsey and the inconsistency of the officiating on field and in the ‘Bunker’ an appropriate tag when I consider it’s connotation with a property in Berlin.
    For the first time ever, EVER, I stopped viewing an International Rugby match, Australia v Portugal in disgust at the Referee and Referral. The officiating at this World Cup is inept at best and corrupt at worst and this game offered those sentiments in Spades.
    I suggested in a previous comment that World Rugby have behind the scenes told Rolland Garros to make every effort to find a reason not to upgrade from Yellow to Red and with the recent cards and in particular this game suggests that my suspicions have more than a little foundation.
    As for the Referee, Amashukeli, useless: remember when the French forward Haouas dived in and ‘Nutted’ White at Scrum Half he, Amashukeli, even stood arguing with the TMO “I am seeing head-on-head direct contact, but I am not seeing a high danger in this.” the other officials persuaded him to look again, then after talking to his assistants at length, he said: “So, what you are saying is it’s direct contact to the head with full speed, so it’s a red card.”
    Another obvious case of ‘Box-ticking’ and promotion above ability, and yesterday a similar story, an inability to take decisions exacerbated no doubt by what I suspect is an unofficial directive from World Rugby regarding Cards.
    A total disgrace, if I was a Portuguese supporter I would be livid there were at least two Yellow cards that previously in the competition would have been upgraded to Red.
    A total disgrace is my lowest level of comment, the real thoughts wouldn’t get passed the ‘Moderation’.

    • The only way to describe the refereeing and officiating at this RWC is corrupt. Other sports would regard the actions of match officials as match fixing and life bans would take place. It’s abundantly clear though that this is instruction across the board. Social media is full of people who aren’t close followers of rugby who can see the obvious pattern here. The lawyers for the class action will need extra staff for the evidence that is accruing because well being certainly isn’t a priority. There are multiple examples of the lower ranked teams being completely screwed over, which then has ramifications in later games in terms of bans or indeed non bans in the case of A etc.It’s maybe going to take a law suit for lost revenue from a team to initiate changes in the way world rugby instructs referees which noone really wants to see…but what else will cause change??

  2. I think an ‘Asterix’ ought to be put alongside the Jersey Reds paragraph, the Bath side they beat, just, only had two or three ‘first on the team list’ players the remainder were 2nd or 3rd choice plus some Academy players, secondly having been around 4th to 7th in the Championship in previous years they determined to ‘buy in’ in order to beat Ealing who for the previous 5 or 6 seasons were the team of the Championship, the demoted Premiership aside. Yes the RFU have treated the Championship with disdain, but Jersey just like many teams in the English Premiership overspent and Jersey follow Worcester, London Irish and Wasps in spending far more than they could afford, imagine if you will the travel costs alone from Jersey to the mainland.

    • Ps: I think you will find Cinderford are National League 1, they are not in the Greene King Championship.

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