That was the month that was: February 2023

Colin Renton reports on Scots on the move, a promoted position for Hollie Davidson and Rob Harley braving the elements in France

Rob Wainwright led a 200-strong peloton on a 555-mile, 48-hour cycle to deliver the match ball for Scotland's Six Nations clash against Wales in support of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rob Wainwright led a 200-strong peloton on a 555-mile, 48-hour cycle to deliver the match ball for Scotland's Six Nations clash against Wales in support of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Hollie joins new organisation

Hollie Davidson has underlined the high regard in which she is held among her refereeing peers by being named in a six-strong management committee elected to the representative body for international high performance match officials. The Scot, who took charge of the women’s world cup final in New Zealand last year is joined by Jaco Peyper, Mark Egan, Jordan Way, Lauren Jenner and Brian MacNeice at the head of the International Rugby Match Officials’ (IRMO) organisation, which was formed last December with the goal of contributing to discussions with World Rugby on the laws of the game and encouraging others to become officials.


All change for Cotter and Cockers

Former Scotland coach Vern Cotter announced his resignation from the role of head coach with Fiji, citing personal reasons. That sparked an immediate response from the Fijian federation which needs to fill the post quickly given the rapidly approaching World Cup. It was perhaps a sign of desperation that the federation’s president is reported to have called Bernard Laporte to offer him the job! However, the Frenchman declined, preferring to keep a low profile after a court recently handed him a two year suspended jail sentence for corruption. Cotter’s assistant Richie Gray also stepped down. The pair have worked together for eight years, including a spell at Montpellier, the French Top 14 outfit which has appointed ex-Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill as forwards coach.


Interview: no regrets but Mike Blair glad to be stepping down as Edinburgh head coach

2022-23 Premiership Leaderboard – after all 18 regular season matches

2024 Six Nations schedule announced


Scots hit a trail that does not lead to promotion

Former Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh lock Andrew Davidson will extend his stay south of the border after signing for Ealing Trailfinders. The Scotland Under-20 cap had three seasons with Newcastle Falcons earlier in his career then, after a spell at Edinburgh, joined Gloucester in 2021. He has added to the Scottish contingent at the Championship table-toppers, who recently re-signed hooker Alun Walker and also have ex-Edinburgh man Kyle Whyte as a regular starter in the front-row. However, Trailfinders will not be promoted to the Premiership, even if they go on to win the title after failing to satisfy the RFU’s criteria of having either a 10,000 capacity stadium, or planning consent to achieve that level.


Scots Howay

Former Glasgow Warriors lock Kiran McDonald has signed a two-year deal with that will see him join Newcastle Falcons for next season. The 28-year-old left Warriors for Wasps in 2021 and moved to Munster on a short-term deal after Wasps were ejected from the Gallagher Premiership after suffering financial problems. Joining him at Kingston Park will be fellow Scot Murray McCallum, who has also signed for Falcons following a period of uncertainty that has seen him play for Worcester Warriors, Montauban and Edinburgh over recent months.


Super6 recruitment drive

A New Zealand based recruitment agency has been circulating an advert for a Super 6 club seeking props, locks, scrum-halves, stan0 offs and centres. The package on offer includes a retainer, accommodation, flights and employment. According to the blurb, applicants must have an EU passport, and preferably be Scottish qualified.


 

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Tigers endangered by lack of cash

Two directors of Leicester Tigers will invest £13 million amid claims that the cash is needed to prevent the risk of the club becoming the latest to go into administration. The financial struggles at the Welford Road outfit have arisen despite Tigers winning last year’s Gallagher Premiership and receiving around £1 million in compensation after Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield were poached to become England coaches. The club’s chief executive Andrea Pinchen suggested that the relegation of Wasps and Worcester Warriors has led to a substantial loss of revenue and an anticipated breach of Tigers’ bank overdraft limit. Tom Scott is believed to be investing £10 million, while Peter Tom is set to invest £3 million, subject to approval by ordinary shareholders.


Zen and the art of try-scoring

Selkirk prop Zen Szwagrzak helped Poland to a 21-15 home win over Belgium in the Rugby Europe Championship when he bagged one of his side’s two tries. The result had extra satisfaction for Szwagrzak as the Belgian side featured Ryan Godsmark at scrum-half – the pair lined up together for the Philiphaugh club in the Tennent’s Premiership earlier this season.


Ireland raising women’s involvement

The Irish Rugby Football Union has proposed an increase in female representation on its committee by the end of 2023. The aim is to have 40 percent of the posts filled by females in order to reflect the growth in the women’s game at all levels.


Hardy Harley chilling in France

Former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland man Rob Harley has been building a reputation at his new club, Carcassonne, as a tough and uncompromising individual. And that image was enhanced when, during a recent cold spell, he was the only player to turn up for training in shorts and a t-shirt. The 32-year-old will need to show his mettle over the coming weeks as Carcassonne seek to move away from the lower half of the PRO D2 table.


Interview: no regrets but Mike Blair glad to be stepping down as Edinburgh head coach

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!

9 Comments

  1. Let’s hope that Hollie Davidson’s upwards trajectory continues, has always looked capable and authoritative.
    I wonder why the sudden cheerio to Fiji from Stern Vern I hope the personal reasons are not family ones, if you get my drift. With his ‘sidekick’ also handing in his Jotters: they couldn’t be heading to Edinburgh, could they!
    A bit of information about, the way Ealing have been treated in the Championship is a disgrace and shows very clearly the RFU and EPL are in all but name ring fencing the Premiership.
    The Ealing ground has a capacity just over 5,000, the RFU insist on 10,001 however Ealing’s capacity is about the same as Bristol Bears who are in the Premiership but not allowed to improve their council owned ground and Ealing are in the same supporter catchment area as Harlequins, London Irish, Saracens, all former senior clubs with a significantly greater traditional support than Ealing. No doubt that’s why Ealing are reluctant to throw good money after bad upgrading their ground to join a league that has had two financial failures with a possible two more on the way and no guarantee that they will be able to maintain their promotion, they are not in debt at the moment and that’s they way they wish to remain.
    Is there any point in questioning the governance or ‘Mission Statement’ of Super6? We have just witnessed the level of opposition they have to face with a good proportion of their opposition coming from top Top14 or URC club players some of them even regular starters. There has to be a better way, the question is how many SQ players have emerged from S6 to play regular first choice or regular bench places in either Warriors or Edinburgh. Surely somebody at Roseburn Street can grasp that the gulf for the U20’s is massive and there needs to be a rethink.

    • Bristol’s ground is not council owned. And its capacity is 27,000, more than 5 times Ealing’s.
      What is there better way that there must be? Revert to 12 teams who were not developing to a high enough standard?
      I lost count of the number of younger players who featured last season. We do have a problem with a couple of franchises, especially Watsonians, so maybe a minimum should apply

      • Yes a bit of a Brain fade, the Club I should have mentioned was Bath not Bristol [well both begin with a B] and the ground was owned by the Council till 2015 which means the capacity they had owing to some restrictions is now being increased to 14,000, however it was much limited before and it was an older than I thought article that I referred to.
        But I am grateful to you for taking an interest in my ‘Jottings’ thanks for the correction but the way Ealing are being treated remains the same.
        All the best.

  2. Soooo with a record of only one win since adopting S6 and the majority of our young players getting little or no game time….we are trying to recruit even more players from NZ instead of developing our own. What an utter farce. Can’t be too long before we just ban Scottish kids from playing rugby!! No wonder so many young players give up on the sport.

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    • It’s an advert. Doesn’t mean any of the Super 6 clubs will react. I know last year the Super 6 clubs had a self imposed max of 4 players who were not qualified to play for Scotland playing for them. It’s not a farce, the Super 6 is playing it’s part in a very successful time for rugby.
      The U20’s and their equivalent on past years have struggled for consistency but their real role is to produce players that can play at the very top. Given we have our strongest national squad in history of the game something is working.
      Super 6 already giving aspiring coaches a chance to show their skills.

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      • Whatever part Super6 is playing, it is stretching it a bit to say it is playing its part with a ‘very successful time’, a single victory marvelous for the lads as it is, surely ‘the successful time’ can’t refer to them.
        Could it be you are including the excellent National squad and their recent performances, the S6 has little to do with their success, how can it, it hasn’t been there long enough.
        The questioning of the Super6 and its efficacy is similar to recent questioning as to the teams/squads that were being selected in the not so distant past, we have arrived, eventually with a good squad with a bit of depth excellent, however lets not be complacent, where is the follow up?
        The primary question that is pertinent, is there a better format for the development of our National side the Scottish U20’s in view of the standard of opposition they have to face in comparison to the competition they are getting, even the most ardent proponent of S6 can’t be myopic to our U20’s turning out on occasion for Ayrshire Bulls or Southern Knights when they are on the field up against players from Racing, Treviso, Leinster, Stade Francais or Montpelier.
        If people are asking the question it suggests to me there is a reason for it, and if they question ‘an advert’ it’s because it has a relevance to the Grassroots game in Scotland, even though there are no doubt many SQ players in New Zealand, surely it is more gratifying to be viewing a home grown product in 5 or 10 years time.

    • The reliance on Scots Qualified players from the Southern Hemisphere is like many aspects a diminishing source. Once there was an exodus of Scots to predominately NZ and to a lesser degree SA and Oz, that is no longer the case, they will soon be Great Grandparents by the nature of things.
      Can the SQ’s from other parts of the UK fill the requirement if we don’t manufacture a method of improving our own Internationals from within, I am not sure, however self dependency of producing surely has to be the ‘Goal’ albeit with a supplement of SQ’s and in this day and age the residency 5 year rule no doubt.
      SQ is a diminishing prospect and residency could be scrapped any time World Rugby deem it to be in their interest.

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