That was the month that was: July 2022


Louise McMillan
Scotland international Louise McMillan has left Hillhead/Jordanhill for Saracens. Image: © Craig Watson.

Smart mouthguards to help player welfare  

Smart mouthguards will be worn at this year’s women’s World Cup in New Zealand, as well as in the Gallagher Premiership and Allianz Premier 15s for the coming season. Every player will be offered a mouthguard with the technology installed to help identify concussions. This includes a facility that allows researchers to assess the frequency and scale of head contact.

New deal for Nakarawa 

Former Glasgow Warriors favourite Leone Nakarawa will spend another season in France after signing for Top 14 runners-up Castres Olympique. The 34-year-old had two spells with Warriors either side of a season at Racing 92 which ended with him being sacked for failing to return on time from a holiday in his native Fiji. He spent last season at Toulon, making 15 appearances, but his contract was not renewed. Castres have made no secret of their ambition to compete for honours on both domestic and European levels – they will face Edinburgh in the Heineken Champions Cup.

Legend McMillan heading South 

Hillhead/Jordanhill and Scotland lock Louise McMillan will play her rugby south of the border next season after signing for Allianz Premier 15s side Saracens. The 24-year-old, who has earned 36 international caps, was granted ‘legend’ status by Hillhead/Jordanhill in June for her seven-year contribution to the club on and off the field.

Dupont is flying high  

Proof of Antoine Dupont’s status as the French sporting hero of the moment came in July. First, the scrum-half currently recognised as the world’s best player joined the national air force’s demonstration team to fly above Paris as part of the Bastille Day celebrations. Dupont’s status was reaffirmed a few days later when he was given a coveted place in the director’s car for stage 17 of the Tour de France.

Graham back in the game  

George Graham has returned to rugby to take up the post of head coach at North Division One East outfit Carlisle. The former international prop was part of the Scotland coaching set-up under Frank Hadden before taking charge at Petrarca Padova in Italy and more recently at Gala and Hawick, where he had two spells at the helm. Graham, who lives in Carlisle, takes up the new post as the club moves into its 150th season.

Freddie features for hosts   

Former Musselburgh player Freddie Roddick has continued to make a mark at sevens rugby with his inclusion in the England squad for the Commonwealth Games. The 23-year-old played mainly at stand-off for the Stoneyhill side while studying at Heriot Watt University. He made a breakthrough at international level when he represented GB Sevens last year and is now a contracted member of England sevens.

Youth development in focus 

Scottish Rugby is recruiting contractors to record the action at youth rugby matches. The role entails filming the action and analysing the footage to help the Game Development team work on age-related law variations and player welfare, as well as helping officials to develop.

Birmingham-bound All Blacks visit Borders   

Clark Laidlaw was back on familiar territory when he led the New Zealand sevens squad in an open training session at Melrose during the build-up to the Commonwealth Games. The stop off in the Borders meant that Laidlaw, who has been at the helm of the squad for five years, was able to drop in and see his parents in Jedburgh before heading for the Commonwealth tournament in Coventry. The visit to the home of the abbreviated game took place on the same day as an announcement that the Scotland men’s and women’s sevens squads would effectively be disbanded to become part of a wider Great Britain set-up for the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Richie lured from Lyon 

New Toulon coach Pierre Mignoni has arrived on the Mediterranean coast with several of his former colleagues in tow. He left Lyon a year before his contract expired and took three of his backroom staff. They included performance director, Sebastien Bourdin, Cedric Beal, who is in charge club’s player development, and Scot Richie Gray. Mignoni valued the breakdown specialist’s work at Lyon sufficiently to offer him a position as ‘contact attitude consultant’.

‘Burgh bench is mental-health initiative  

Members of Musselburgh can now take advantage of an initiative aimed at supporting mental health. The club has placed a ‘wellbeing bench’ on the hill overlooking the Stoneyhill pitch. The aim is to encourage a moment of contemplation or a meeting with others – pre-arranged or impromptu – as a way to bring people together.

World Cup qualifying continues 

The line-up for next year’s World Cup in France has moved closer to being finalised. A win over Hong Kong in the Asia/Pacific play-off means Tonga join Scotland, South Africa, Ireland and Georgia in pool B. Namibia will compete for the seventh successive tournament after beating Kenya to clinch the African place.

Meanwhile, Chile booked a slot at next year’s World Cup finals with a stunning aggregate win over USA in the Americas 2 play-off. Chile, who had warmed up against Scotland A, lost the home leg of the play-off 22-21. And it looked to be all over when they conceded three early tries in the second leg and still trailed the Americans by nine points entering the final quarter. However, they battled back and a late penalty by Santiago Videla snatched a 31-29 win to secure overall victory by 52-51.

Chile will play in Pool D alongside England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa. The players celebrated their success with a dip in the hotel pool and a rendition of the national anthem:

About Colin Renton 238 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!