October 2017: The stories that didn’t make the headlines

Josh Henderson - currently with Stade Nicois Image; ©INPHO/Craig Watson

By Colin Renton

Scotland’s Opponents On The Brink of Bankruptcy

Players in France, England and, increasingly, the other home nations continue to benefit from rising salaries. There should be few complaints provided it does not cause financial difficulties – one English club is rumoured to be close to bankruptcy and others are struggling. But spare a thought for Scotland’s autumn test opponents Samoa. The Samoan Rugby Union is understood to be close to going bankrupt and asked World Rugby for financial help in the shape of a $200,000 fee for playing England on 25 November. However, the global governing body will only sanction revenue sharing for matches outside the international window. It was reported that the Samoans, who will arrive for matches against Scotland, Romania and England knowing that it may be their last tour, will earn £650 each for facing England in a match for which the home players will pocket £22,000 a head.

Samoa players battling for financial survival

England Worried About Player Poaching

During October, it was reported that the RFU is planning to approach World Rugby to seek advice on preventing other countries from stealing its young talent. The move was proposed in reaction to Scottish Rugby formalising its structure for tracking down exiles qualified to play for Scotland. It seems the English are miffed that they could lose the product of the 14 academies for which they spend over £4 million a year. The RFU already benefits from a compensation structure under which, when a player represents another country, a compensation payment of £5000 is made for each year the player has been in the academy system, starting at 17 years old and ending at 23. Wales have a similar set up for tracking down talent in England – the same England whose squad for the 2017 RBS Six Nations included seven foreign-born players (a tally that excluded the unavailable Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi.)

Irish Women Downgrade Coach to Part Time Post

Money appeared to be at the root of the Irish Rugby Union’s decision to dispense with a full time coach and appoint the new incumbent for a six month period on a part time contract. The previous coach, Tom Tierney, who quit after this summer’s World Cup, was employed on a three-year deal. The IRFU has said that it will review the position after the Six Nations. Several former players have blasted the move, suggesting that it devalues women’s rugby.

Tigers Still Roaring Despite Increased Loss

Leicester Tigers, a club with 14,500 season ticket holders and an average attendance of around 21,500, made an operating loss of £686,000 before tax in the 12 months to June, up from a deficit of £424,000 the previous year. However, the club, which sacked Richard Cockerill in January, raised money through a share issue earlier in the year and, according to the annual report, plans to continue paying the maximum permissible under the salary cap.

Rugby in the Blood    

Former Scotland forwards coach George Graham said recently that it was impossible to avoid being involved in the game as rugby is in his DNA. Maybe that is also the case with former international back row Budge Pountney and Graham’s erstwhile boss Frank Hadden. Both are now involved in meting out penalties to miscreants in their capacity as independent disciplinary committee members. Indeed, Hadden was part of the group that cleared England hooker Dylan Hartley who was yellow carded for a punch while playing for Northampton Saints against Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup.

Scots in France Unbeaten

The idea of sending promising Scots youngsters to Stade Nicois and Lille Metropole was to expose them to a new rugby culture and a different environment. The women’s side has proved to be a success in that regard with Jade Konkel, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson all playing – and scoring – during an unbeaten start to the Top 8 campaign. The experiment with Nice is the more controversial of the two French connections and appears to be offering mixed benefits. Dave Cherry, Bruce Flockhart and Josh Henderson have played some rugby for the club which tops the fourth tier Federale 2 table with five wins from five. All three started in the team’s third match, with Cherry among the try scorers for the second week in a row, and both Flockhart and Henderson – who booted ten points in a 25-9 win – were starters in match five against Martigues at the end of October, while Cherry came off the bench. None of the Scots had featured the previous week and Peter Murchie and Tyrone Holmes have not yet been involved. Debate will no doubt continue over whether Flockhart and Henderson in particular would have seen more action – and at a higher level – with Glasgow Hawks in the BT Premiership.

Started So They Will Finnish

Things are looking up for the international side that was once officially the worst in the world. Finland triumphed 15-8 against Norway in their recent Europe International Championship clash. The Finns, who were rock bottom around five years ago, remain 101st of the 103 teams in World Rugby’s global standings. But they have now edged closer to Greece, the side immediately above them.

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Denmark hosted Luxembourg in the same competition. The visitors took the honours 18-3 after a tense encounter which saw Luxembourg’s loose head Matthew Dennis-Sotto and his Danish counterpart Michael Larsen yellow carded after clashing 11 minutes from the end. The pair duly took their place on the bench that doubled as the sin bin, and led to the following exchange: https://twitter.com/RugbyDenmark/status/919347044912975872


About Colin Renton 293 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!