That was the month that was: April 2023

Colin Renton provides a news update from across the globe

Fists flew between Houston SaberCats coach, Pote Human, and his New York Ironworkers counterpart, Ollie Richardson, during a recent MLB game.
Fists flew between Houston SaberCats coach, Pote Human, and his New York Ironworkers counterpart, Ollie Richardson, during a recent MLB game.

Dodson talks of stronger Italian links

Talking to the BBC Radio Scotland Rugby Podcast, Mark Dodson spoke of working more closely with the Italian Federation on player development. His plan spans various age groups as well as Super Series. Dodson referred to joining a league that might include teams such as Rovigo and Padua. He also spoke of regular A team fixtures with Treviso and Zebre.

MacLeod on the move

Scott MacLeod is ending an 11-year spell at Newcastle Falcons, where he is currently line-out coach. The 44-year old, who earned 24 Scotland caps, played for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Llanelli Scarlets and Kobelco Steelers before joining Falcons, and subsequently moving into the coaching set-up where he has earned plaudits for the improvements he has made to the team’s line-out.

Nowell pays the price for referee criticism

Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell was fined £10,000 and was ordered to undertake a refereeing course after criticising an official on social media. Nowell commented on the performance of Karl Dickson, who awarded a penalty try and issued a second yellow card of the game to Olly Woodburn – making it red – in the Leicester Tigers versus Exeter Chiefs match. The proceeds of the fine will be paid to charity.

Durham University take the honours at Earlston Sevens

Melrose defeat Gala in Kelso Sevens final

Franco Smith’s ‘dad joke’ can be the key to success for Warriors against Munster, says Jack Dempsey

Cotter not heading back to France

Former Scotland coach Vern Cotter will not be taking the helm at Perpignan after the Top 14 outfit revealed Franck Azema as incoming head coach. Club president Francois Riviere confirmed that Cotter had been a contender for the post and ticked many boxes, but his overall case was less compelling than that of Azema, who is currently at Toulon and was Cotter’s successor at Clermont Auvergne when the Kiwi took the Scotland job. The new coach played at Perpignan and was in charge of the club’s academy as well as being in charge of the backs early in his coaching career.

Double shift for veteran prop

DHL Stormers prop Brok Harris shrugged off the effects of advancing years to feature in two games on the same day. First, the 38-year-old came off the bench to feature in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter final win over Harlequins, his 250th appearance for Stormers. He was then a replacement for Western Province when they clashed with Griquas in the Currie Cup, coming on after 54 minutes. However, he was unable to make it a double, as Western Province went down to a 32-13 defeat.

Burrell achieves racism closure

An RFU inquiry found that racism existed in all areas of elite rugby. Former England centre Luther Burrell had sparked the investigation with allegations in June 2022 that racist behaviour was rife and had become normalised. The RFU looked at events which occurred while Burrell was at Newcastle Falcons, although it stated that there was insufficient evidence that all of the abuse the player suffered occurred during his time with Falcons. The governing body accepted that the claims were true “on balance of probability”. Burrell has acknowledged the findings and says that he now has a sense of closure.

McGuigan takes on Sharks coaching role

Former Scotland winger Byron McGuigan has announced his retirement from playing to take up a coaching role with his current club, Sale Sharks. The Namibia-born 33-year-old – he has a Scottish mother – joined Sharks from Exeter Chiefs in 2016, having played for Scotland sevens, Glasgow Warriors and Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. While playing at Sharks he has been involved in coaching at grassroots level with clubs in north-west England.

Kolisi a World Cup doubt

Siya Kolisi may be unable to lead South Africa at the World Cup after suffering a knee injury in the URC match with Munster. Reports suggest that the 31-year-old will require surgery on the damaged anterior cruciate ligament, a process that usually requires a recovery period of up to nine months. In that case, he would miss the global event in France, where the defending champions are in a pool that includes Scotland.

There is also concern about Scotland second-row Jonny Gray, who suffered a dislocated knee during Sunday [30th May] afternoon’s Heineken Cup semi-final defeat for Exeter Chiefs versus La Rochelle.

Cowan-Dickie move in the balance

The transfer of Exeter Chiefs international hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie to Montpellier is set to fall through after he missed a medical at the French club following a drinking session. Cowan-Dickie, who has been suffering from a neck injury, was due to meet Montpellier staff for two days of tests. However, according to local media, he spent a night visiting bars in the city and ended up in a sobering up cell then failed to show up for the medical.

Leinster coaching coup

Leinster have secured the services of Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber to replace the departing Stuart Lancaster. Nienaber was previously defence coach with Munster before returning to his native South Africa six years ago and taking the top job with the Springboks in 2020. The 50-year-old will take up his new post after the World Cup.

Kerr seeks new challenge after Bears exit

Jake Kerr is on the hunt for a new club after being released by Bristol Bears. The 27-year-old hooker, who was capped fr Scotland in the Six Nations match against Italy in 2019, joined Bears in 2021 after four seasons with Leicester Tigers.

Coaches banned after punch up

Houston SaberCats coach, Pote Human, and his New York Ironworkers counterpart, Ollie Richardson, received six week bans, fines that will be given to charity, and community service after the pair came to blows during a water break in the Major League Rugby encounter between the sides. Houston were 34-27 winners in the match.


About Colin Renton 296 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!

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