That was the month that was: August 2020

From Russian World Cup bids to Duncan Weir's barnet, Colin Renton summarises the rugby news from around the globe during the last month …

Could the break-dancing New Zealander Scott Robertson be part of the Lions coaching team next season. Image: © Andrew Cornaga /
Could the break-dancing New Zealander Scott Robertson be part of the Lions coaching team next season. Image: © Andrew Cornaga /

Russians bid for World Cup  

The Russian Rugby Federation has thrown its fur-flapped hat into the ring to host the 2027 World Cup. Having been the venue for the FIFA football equivalent in 2018, the country has shown that the infrastructure is in place to welcome a global event. The Russians face a challenge from Australia, with the winning bid being announced in May 2022.       

Vodafone to sponsor Lions 

Vodafone will be the official sponsor of the British & Irish Lions for the tour of South Africa next year. The deal will see the mobile phone company pay a sum believed to be around £6-£7 million for the privilege. That is very similar to the total handed over by Standard Life Investments to back the 2017 tour to New Zealand. Meanwhile, Sky will again have the television rights.

Robertson pitches for Lions job 

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has sought to make up for missing out on the All Blacks top job by bagging a role as assistant to Warren Gatland with the British & Irish Lions. Robertson, who has led the Crusaders to three successive Super Rugby titles, admitted that he had approached Gatland after learning that Ian Foster would succeed Steve Hansen in the New Zealand role. His unsolicited approach has met a mixed reception as the general view is that coaches are normally approached rather than the other way round, while Robertson’s knowledge of northern hemisphere rugby is also open to question.        

Scottish Rugby agree deal with professional players’ association on salary cuts

Will South Africa replace Japan in ‘Eight Nations’ tournament?

Edinburgh v Ulster: Duhan van der Merwe eyes Scotland cap but club comes first

Parisians take a wage cut 

Finn Russell and his colleagues at Racing 92, including coaches and management, have reached agreement on salary reductions aimed at helping the club through the Covid-19 crisis. The official announcement declined to detail the extent of the cuts but confirmed that the amount had been proposed by the players and accepted by the club, and that it was ‘significant’.       

Another brick in the wall supports education 

Toulouse announced that the club had raised an impressive total of €1.3 million to fund its education and socially responsible activities in the local community. The club sold bricks in its ‘Wall of Support’ which is to be built at the recently revamped Stade Ernest-Wallon starting next month.   

Isles mulls Tokyo options   

Former Glasgow Warriors winger Carlin Isles confirmed that he is in good shape to make a case for a unique double at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo with an impressive 100 metres outing at the ‘Back to the Track 2020’ meeting in Texas. The 30-year-old clocked 10.34 seconds on his first track appearance for four years, although he later admitted that a change to the schedule meant he did not warm up properly. Isles has a personal best of 10.13 seconds and believes he can dip below the 10 second barrier. Should he achieve that, it might bring him into contention for a place in the US sprint squad as well as the sevens team.    

Ulster hit by Covid oubreak  

Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final opponents Ulster have had their build up to the clash at BT Murrayfield interrupted by a Covid-19 outbreak among its academy players. One member of the senior squad was identified as a potential contact after the club revealed ‘multiple’ positive tests at the academy. As a result, training was suspended for both groups.      

Roberts unhappy about health leak 

Welsh international centre Jamie Roberts was forced to delay his return to PRO14 action after testing positive for Covid-19. The 33-year-old, who had signed for Dragons earlier in the month, was set to make his first appearance in the derby against Ospreys. However, Roberts, a qualified doctor, who spent the summer working as a volunteer for the NHS, had to self-isolate. He tweeted his thanks for goodwill messages, and confirmed that he is recovering well. But, as a professional well-versed in medical law, he was less than impressed by the fact that details of his illness had been leaked into the public domain.

Graham signs up for more at Falcons 

Flanker Gary Graham has penned a new deal that will keep him at Newcastle Falcons for the next three seasons. The 27-year-old was a man in demand two years ago as Scotland and England engaged in a tussle for his services. Gregor Townsend eventually won that particular battle with Eddie Jones and capped Graham off the bench in the Guinness Six Nations win over Italy at BT Murrayfield in February 2019. Injury curtailed Graham’s appearances for Newcastle Falcons last season although he proved the value of his combative style which yielded five tries in seven appearances as the club earned promotion to the Gallagher Premiership.      

No Scots at Nicois 

Scottish Rugby’s much-vaunted link up with Stade Nicois appears to have hit a barren spell, with the third-tier French outfit releasing a squad list that features no Scots. All four of those who spent last season on the Cote d’Azur have now moved on. The club has made several new signings – the highest profile being Springbok international Lionel Mapoe who has moved from Stade Francais – ahead of a campaign that will see Stade Nicois compete in the newly formed National Championship that offers promotion to the fully professional ProD2 league.   

A hair-raising effort by Weir 

Worcester Warriors and Scotland stand-off Duncan Weir is spurning a visit to the barber until next year in order to raise money for charity. Weir had an impressive post-lockdown thatch when he resumed training. And he is continuing to let it grow in a bid to support Acorns Children’s Hospice. Another Scottish international, and a former Warriors player, Alex Grove, recently raised more than £30,000 for the same charity by swimming the English Channel. Donations to Weir’s fundraising effort can be made HERE.

Scottish Rugby agree deal with professional players’ association on salary cuts

About Colin Renton 294 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!