That was the month that was: April 2019

Mixed fortunes for Scots in France, rugby making progress in Iraq, goal-kicking heroics and Nigel Owens' retirement plans

Nigel Owens
Nigel Owens knows which way he wants to go when he finally gets round to retiring from refereeing. Image: David Gibson/Fotosport


Not Nice as penalty ends promotion bid

Stade Nicois ended the season on a winning note with a 27-10 victory at home to Bourgoin-Jallieu in Federale 1. The match had long been earmarked as a final day title showdown. However, Nice – Scottish Rugby’s partner club – were ruled out of contention by a 10 point deduction for the previous season’s financial mismanagement. Nevertheless, being ruled out of the promotion race was less painful than the two division demotion that had been mooted. Archie Erskine was a try scorer for Nice while Cameron Hutchison, Hamish Bain and Glasgow-bound Charlie Capps all started.

Lille miss out on play-offs

Lille Metropole, with Chloe Rollie back from Scotland Sevens duty, and Lisa Martin at stand-off, rounded off the French Top 16 campaign with a victory at home to Bordeaux. However, it was not enough to secure a play-off spot. There will be Scottish interest in the knockout phase of the competition with Helen Nelson expected to feature for Montpellier who welcome Grenoble in the quarter final.

Ali Price named McCrea Financial Services player of the season

Mark Robertson lands coaching role with Clermont Auvergne

Glasgow Warriors sign teenage prospect Jamie Dobie

Barkwill won’t be in Japan

Canadian hooker Ray Barkwill has been forced to retire from rugby as a result of an injury he sustained while playing in last November’s World Cup repechage. Barkwill’s story is a remarkable tale of persistence. Having first played the game at school, he had to wait until the age of 32 to earn his first international cap. He went on to amass 56 appearances. Sadly for the 38-year-old, his plans to sign off in Japan this summer have been dashed. In a statement announcing his decision to quit, Barkwill said, “…it was a dream come true to be capped for Canada as it was my goal since learning to play in high school. To earn it at 32-years-old allowed me to appreciate it more than ever…”

Toulon tie-up

Global tie ups are all the rage it seems. Scottish Rugby has added Washington to its growing list, while the new American set-up is also attracting investment from England and France. French money could also be finding its way into the Guinness PRO14. Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal is keen to broaden his sphere of influence and has been in touch with Southern Kings to explore the sharing of players, coaching expertise and commercial operations.

Warriors provide rugby for all

While many clubs in Wales are struggling to survive, Llanelli Warriors are going from strength to strength and recently played their 300th game. The club has a worthy aim of expanding involvement in the game. It is an inclusive organisation and, of the 50 or so members, around half are registered disabled.

Bending it like Parker

Sunwolves stand off Hayden Parker holds the current Super Rugby record of 38 successive kicks at goal and has a strike rate of more than 97% over the past two seasons. As the clip shows, he can bang them over from pretty much anywhere. However, his bid to break his own record foundered against the Rebels when he was off target with the conversion attempt after Semisi Masirewa touched down. That halted his run at 28 successful kicks.

Respect for rivals in Hong Kong

Rugby rivalries were briefly forgotten at Hong Kong Sevens when players from Australia and New Zealand stood together to pay their respects to the victims of the Christchurch shootings in March.

A different paddock for Owens

Nigel Owens has revealed his retirement plan. The Welsh referee has no intention of hanging up his whistle just yet. But he said recently that he will exchange the pitch for a different paddock when he does eventually call it a day. Owens plans to become a farmer.

Playing at the highest level

Richie Gray and his Toulouse colleagues had their European Champions Cup aspirations extinguished in the semi-final against Leinster. However, in one aspect the French outfit eclipsed the Irishmen. The combined height of Gray and his second-row partner Richie Arnold was 4 metres 14 centimetres (13 feet 6 inches) while Leinster duo Devin Toner and James Ryan measured up at only 4 metres 11 centimetres.

Rugby growing in Iraq

The first official rugby match in Iraq saw the hosts go down 22-5 against Kurdistan. Iraqi officials are looking to help the sport grow by applying to host the Arab championship. The opportunity arose after Libya withdrew.

Agen relying on fan loyalty

Agen tested the loyalty of their supporters when the club asked for help to pay a fine imposed by the French League after a coin was thrown during the match at home to Clermont Auvergne in March. Agen set up a crowdfunding page seeking contributions towards the €12,000 total. By the end of April almost half the sum had been raised, with one anonymous donor contributing €300. And, for those less keen on technology, there were collection buckets in the shops and sponsorship suites for the match at home to Lyon on 27 April.

Livi’s Lithuanian earns a cap

The number of international players operating in Scottish club rugby continues to grow. The Tennent’s Premiership has featured representatives of countries including Belgium, Holland and Poland this season, while the lower divisions have also been well represented in the international arena. And the latest to join the list is Livingston prop Marius Tamosaitis who made his debut for Lithuania in the home Rugby Europe Championship fixture against Portugal in Jurbarkas. The match was won 48-7 by the visitors.

Pete Murchie shows his coaching credentials with double success at Ayr




About Colin Renton 292 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!