by COLIN RENTON
World Rugby Has Georgia on the Mind
World Rugby has sanctioned a test match between Georgia and Italy to take place in November 2018. Claims that Georgia should join the Six Nations in place of Italy, who are currently lower in the world rankings, have been regularly rebuffed. Although the match will have no direct consequences in terms of Six Nations promotion or relegation, a win for Georgia would surely increase the pressure for some form of restructuring.
Impressive Start by Scots in France
Four of the Scottish contingent currently plying their trade with Stade Nicois under an exchange arrangement with Scottish Rugby contributed to an opening day 23-12 win away to Sporting Club Royannais in the French fourth tier Federale 2 competition.
Peter Murchie, Dave Cherry and Bruce Flockhart featured in the starting line up for the away trip, while Josh Henderson, came off the bench for the Nice-based outfit, which is among the favourites to earn promotion having recruited heavily over the summer.
Flockhart was a stand out performer for the visitors, while Henderson was on target with a penalty and Cherry contributed to a powerful Nice pack that had the better of their opponents, although he also spent ten minutes in the sin-bin.
Elsewhere, Jade Konkel made a big impression as Lille Metropole started the women’s Top 8 competition with a 31-7 win away to Romagnat. Konkel led the way with the first of Lille’s five tries, while her fellow Scots Lisa Thomson and Chloe Rollie also weighed in, with Thomson providing the scoring pass for the second touchdown and Rollie setting up the third with a powerful break.
Joy of Being an Irish Ref
It’s not only Georgia who are unhappy with World Rugby. The governing body, which is headquartered in Dublin, frequently comes in for criticism of its apparent favouritism towards Irish referees. So it was perhaps no surprise that Irish official Joy Neville was one of the first females involved in a men’s match when she was appointed assistant referee in the Connacht versus Southern Kings Guinness PRO14 encounter, a game that had Scot Mike Adamson in charge. Neville had refereed the Women’s Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and England, which proved to be an epic, free-flowing encounter. If her arrival on the PRO14 scene heralds more rugby like that instead of the frequently dire fare ruined by over-officious whistlers, the days of Lacey, Doyle and co may be numbered.
Cardiff Afflicted by the Edinburgh Marketing Bug
An interesting blog from the Cardiff Arms Park Supporters Trust shows that it is not only Edinburgh Rugby that is suffering from a lack of imagination when it comes to the marketing department. Both could learn something from Glasgow Warriors who continue to play to sell out crowds in a family-friendly atmosphere. Players often make the trip along the M8 to help out the other Scottish Rugby-owned side in a playing sense. Perhaps that should apply off the pitch as well.
Charity Kicking Contest Hits the Target
The Oddballs Crossbar Challenge aims to raise awareness of testicular cancer. The challenge has captured the imagination of players at all levels of the game. You can see the attempts of Stuart Hogg, Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell and Ruaridh Jackson here:
Remembering Those Gone Too Soon
The word ‘peerless’ has been used to describe Graham ‘Greco’ Hogg, the influential coach and mentor to many at Currie over the years [now Currie Chieftains – a brand change he was instrumental in bringing about] . A programme note by current club president Phil Thomas summed up Hogg’s influence when he said, “We owe him a great debt. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten.” A constant memory appears in the form of the word ‘Greco’ etched into the shirts of the Currie Chieftains players.
In a similar vein, five years after Ulster’s rising star Nevin Spence died in an accident on the family farm with his father and brother, the team warmed up for the Guinness PRO14 match with Scarlets wearing replicas of the former centre’s number 12 shirt.
The club also produced the following half-hour long film in tribute to Spence, a modest and grounded individual.