by COLIN RENTON
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.
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…”
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.
New Zealand and Australia join together in solidarity at the #HK7s, as a mark of respect and rememberance to those who lost their lives in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March. pic.twitter.com/7XoVBBKg9Y
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 5, 2019
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.