That was the month that was: February 2019

French connections, crazy money for Sonny Bill, destiny conspires against England, frisky fundraising and rugby porn

Gary Graham
Gary Graham exchanges pleasantries with Louis Picamoles and a few other Frenchmen. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson


Scotland beaten by a Scotsman

With Scotland suffering a back-row crisis for the game against France, there must have been a sense of frustration when the player who sealed the win for Les Bleus with two late tries after coming off the bench turned out to be Scottish qualified. Grégory Alldritt, the La Rochelle No 8 has a Scottish father and dual nationality. The 21-year-old, who is tipped to eventually replace Louis Picamoles in the French side, has an aunt and a cousin living in Edinburgh, which is also where his elder brother works.

Blondeau bolsters mental strength

Eric Blondeau was a little known member of Vern Cotter’s coaching team while the Kiwi was in charge of Scotland. But before the Guinness Six Nations, Blondeau claimed credit for the much improved mental state of the Scottish players. He explained in a newspaper interview that he had found a squad that struggled to react after conceding points. He spoke favourably of the Scots and their openness to his suggestions on how to address the problem. “The result is that today Scotland are not easy for anyone to beat at Murrayfield and the two Scottish provinces have qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions Cup,” he boasted. After recent results, it may be time for Blondeau to pay a return visit.

Why did they bother playing?

The win for Wales over England in the ‘Grand Slam decider’ was surely a foregone conclusion. The victory simply extends a winning run for the Welsh in the fixture in years ending with nine – 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009, 2019.

The power of rugby

The Guinness Six Nations offers a chance for all kinds of companies to promote their products, however tenuous the link to rugby may be. But the efforts of the energy supplier, Opus Energy, deserved a special ‘so what?’ award after the company issued a press release stating that the combined energy of all the players in the competition would be 46wKh. Apparently, that is sufficient to boil 460 kettles, charge 3,066 mobile phones or could power enough ovens to cook 848 pizzas. Well, who knew?

Cheque books out for Sonny Bill

Sonny Bill Williams is out of contract with the New Zealand federation this year, and it’s no surprise that he is in demand. Even at the age of 33, SBW is attracting interest from several clubs in England, both in union and rugby league. But the front-runner to secure his signature is the Canadian rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack, which currently plays in the English (yes, English) second tier. That’s no deterrent to club owner David Argyle whose ambition knows no bounds. He is reportedly prepared to pay around £3 million to bring Williams to the Wolfpack for one season.

Sponsor forced to cover up

Being creative in attracting sponsorship is an essential part of survival for rugby clubs. US Carcassonne of the French second tier ProD2 certainly achieved that. For the match at home to Biarritz on 1st March, the club secured backing from the website Jacquie et Michel. However, the deal was scrutinised by league officials who banned all of the sponsor’s advertising in the stadium, a decision that was accepted by Carcassonne. The league found that the sponsor’s product was unsuitable for a public audience – Jacquie et Michel is a porn site.

A vintage way to raise money

A more successful fundraising exercise was that of Bordeaux-Begles. The club raised a whopping €310,000 in funding for its academy, whose former players include Scot Ben Chalmers. Among the 700 who attended a dinner cooked by a celebrity chef were sponsors, politicians, actors and former players. There were 40 auction lots provided by Bordeaux winemakers – a 3 litre bottle of Petrus raised €37,000 – as well as rugby memorabilia.

Dancing in the aisles

As the build up to this year’s Canada Sevens tournament gathers momentum, a reminder that crowd participation is encouraged, particularly in the abbreviated game. BT Murrayfield continues to be labelled ‘The Library’ by many visiting supporters, so a tip for Scottish Rugby marketing folks ahead of Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup quarter final – there may still be time to book this guy –

Joy for Joy

While the Guinness Six Nations has been contested, the second tier countries in Europe have been battling it out in the Rugby Europe Conference competition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Georgia look the strongest side. However, there have also been good performances from Romania, Spain and Russia. The clash of the latter two ended in a hard-fought 16-14 win for the Spaniards. The match was also noteworthy for the fact that it was refereed by Ireland’s Joy Neville, who continues to blaze a trail for female officials.

Nifty footwork

And, finally, this action from an Irish club game gives a whole new meaning to a chip and chase –


About Colin Renton 238 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 Comment

  1. You need to follow up on Brazil’s forward domination in the America Cup just now……awesome old style scrumming !!

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