That was the month that was: July 2021

Colin Renton provides his monthly round-up of rugby stories from around the globe including the latest on Leone Nakarawa, Kyle Rowe and Rory Hughes

Leone Nakarawa has picked up a contract with Toulon. Image: Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Leone Nakarawa has picked up a contract with Toulon. Image: Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

A new home for Nakarawa

Leone Nakarawa has ended uncertainty over his future after agreeing terms with French Top 14 side Toulon. The Fijian finished his second spell at Glasgow Warriors on a low note after failing to recapture the form that had earned him rave reviews during his first stay at Scotstoun. He was set to join Ulster but the deal fell through following an unsatisfactory medical report. Before re-joining Warriors in January 2020, Nakarawa, an Olympic sevens gold medallist in 2016 and European Player of the Year in 2018, was sacked by Racing 92 for a lack of professionalism. He is now set to link up in the second row with Springbok star Eben Etzebeth. His colleagues at Toulon include another former Warriors lock, Brian Alainu’uese, and Scotland international flanker Cornell Du Preez.


Signing up for shorter suspensions

Argentina full-back Juan Cruz Mallia and England flanker Lewis Ludlow have had suspensions reduced after signing up to World Rugby’s Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention Programme. Mallia was red carded against Wales for a dangerous tackle that involved contact with an opponent’s head and, at his disciplinary hearing, admitted having committed a reckless act. He was handed a three-week ban. However, he has applied for a place on the intervention programme and, in return, has had the suspension reduced to two weeks, meaning he can play in Argentina’s test match against South Africa on 21 August. A committee that featured Scottish QC Roddy Dunlop and former national coach Frank Hadden suspended Ludlow for four weeks for a red card offence Canada. The player has also applied for the programme, and his ban has been cut to three weeks as a consequence, meaning he can play for Gloucester against Northampton on 18th September, a match he would otherwise have missed.


Continental competition for emerging nations

Rugby Europe has launched a cross-border club competition for emerging rugby nations. The Rugby Europe Super Cup features two teams from Russia and one each from Georgia, Israel, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. They will be split into two pools and will play on a round-robin basis, with the top two in each group contesting semi finals, and the trophy decider taking place next May. Rugby Europe hopes to involve additional countries in future editions of the tournament.


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Internationals heading south

Two more Scotland internationals have signed up to play their rugby south of the border in the coming season. Kyle Rowe has joined London Irish. The 23-year-old, whose prolific try scoring exploits for Ayr earned him four appearances with the Scotland sevens side, moves from Edinburgh, having made his debut for the BT Murrayfield outfit in June’s Rainbow Cup tie against Scarlets. Meanwhile, Rory Hughes has re-joined London Scottish, where he had a brief loan spell while contracted to Glasgow Warriors. The four times capped winger was without a club after completing a loan deal with Leicester Tigers last year. He has agreed part-time terms and his move has been facilitated by the club’s sponsor Cairnhill Structures.


Barrow takes on Wasps role

Former Glasgow Warriors centre Scott Barrow has moved up the coaching ranks to take on a role at Wasps as backs transition coach. The 41-year-old, who was aligned to Aberdeen Grammar while at Scotstoun, has experience of rugby league as well as union and his other jobs have included a position as performance coach at Yorkshire Carnegie Academy which he combined with the role of head coach at National Division Two side Sedgley Tigers.


Samoa book ticket to France

Samoa became the first team to secure World Cup 2023 qualification through the knockout process with an aggregate win against Tonga in a two-legged Oceania decider played in New Zealand. The Samoans posted a 42-13 success in the opening tie and completed the job with a 37-15 victory. They now join a pool that includes England, Japan, Argentina and a qualifier from the Americas. The result preserves Samoa’s record of nine successive World Cup appearances – their only absence from the global contest was at the inaugural tournament in 1987. Tonga, who have also missed only one event, can still make it to France via the Asia/Pacific play-off.

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Aki signs up for Dragons assignment

Former Glasgow Warriors prop Aki Seiuli wasted little time in finding a new club after being released by the Scotstoun outfit. The 28-year-old, who made 29 appearances in two seasons with the Warriors, has made the move to Rodney Parade after signing for Dragons.


Livingston show ambition with development appointment

Livingston’s commitment to nurturing homegrown talent was underlined with the appointment of Alex Toolis as the Almond Park club’s development officer. The 29-year-old was born in Australia to a mother who hails from Carluke. Toolis and his twin brother Ben signed for Edinburgh Rugby in 2013 and he spent three seasons at the club, which took in loan spells at London Irish and Glasgow Warriors. He subsequently played in Australia and Japan before joining London Scottish and then signing up at French outfit Blagnac for the past season. His role will enable him to share the experience accumulated during his time in the professional game as he seeks to help Livingston build for the future.


Eddie considers sporting switch

New Zealand rugby could be set to benefit from an infusion of searing pace as sprinter Eddie Osei-Nketia mulls a switch from athletics. The 20-year-old was overlooked for an Olympic place after selectors decided he was unlikely to finish in the top 16 in the 100 metres in Tokyo. He posted a lengthy criticism of that decision on social media and is now understood to be in discussions with Crusaders. Osei-Nketia has clocked 10.12 seconds for 100 metres, a hundredth of a second outside the New Zealand record, which his father, Gus, set at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.


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About Colin Renton 195 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!