by COLIN RENTON
Greig’s million euro kick
Greig Laidlaw’s calm conversion in the dying minutes of Scotland’s NatWest Six Nations game in Rome was worth €1 million to Scottish Rugby. Had he failed with his attempt, the Scots would have finished fifth and would have received €1.3 million in prize money instead of the €2.3 million that was the reward for third spot. Meanwhile, Ireland celebrated St Patrick’s Day in style with a victory over England at Twickenham that secured a Grand Slam. The Irish squad had already clinched the title and the €4.5 million prize money before lining up in London. The win over Eddie Jones’ men brought a bonus worth an additional €1.2 million. The IRFU will share some of that with the players, who were reported by Irish media to be in line for individual payments of €70,000 each.
Edinburgh move is Cherry on the cake for Dave
Dave Cherry’s move from Nice to Edinburgh is reward for his consistency for the fourth-tier French outfit over a season in which they remain unbeaten. Scottish Rugby may point to the move as evidence that the Mediterranean club is a legitimate pathway to joining one of the two pro teams. However, it remains unclear whether the Scots in the team are operating in a tougher environment than they would face at home.
That point was underlined in a recent fixture that saw Josh Henderson, playing at full-back, bag three tries and kick 13 conversions for a 41 point personal haul on the way to a 101-7 win over Martigues. That match, which also saw Bruce Flockhart play in the back row, took place a day after the duo’s club Glasgow Hawks had been due to play Boroughmuir in the BT Premiership. The fixture was postponed and when it eventually took place, Hawks were beaten in a hard-fought encounter that had both sides scrapping for top flight survival, and now face a play-off to remain in the Premiership next season looms for the Anniesland outfit.
Women’s rugby making progress
March was a good month for women’s rugby around the world. The Six Nations clash between France and England in Grenoble attracted a crowd of 17,434 – a record for the championship. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s women – the Black Ferns – learned that they were to be paid to train and play for their country. The top stars will earn around NZ$33 (£17) an hour which will require a commitment of just under 20 hours a week. Players will need to juggle their rugby with work or studies. They are expected to spend around 50 days in training camps this year. Those at the top end of the pay scale will earn around NZ$34,000 (£17,000).
Referee withdrawn for his own safety
The Romanian Rugby Federation offered a new interpretation of referee welfare when it withdrew the services of Vlad Iordachescu, who had been named as fourth official in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter final between French clubs Pau and holders Stade Francais. Iordachescu had been criticised for a poor performance during Spain’s 18-10 defeat by Belgium, a result which clinched World Cup qualification for his homeland in place of Spain and led to him being escorted from the pitch. In a statement the Romanian federation said that the appointment had been was cancelled for security reasons as Pau given the geographical proximity to Spain and the fact Pau have several Spanish internationals in the side.
Warm up becomes overheated for Du Plessis
Montpellier coach Vern Cotter suggested that “things boiled over a bit” after two of his players came to blows during the warm up for the match against Racing 92. Hooker Bismarck du Plessis and prop Mohamed Haouas had a difference of opinion as they prepared for the game –
The altercation did little to knock Cotter’s men off their stride as they went on to post a 41-3 win on their way to ending the month five points clear of Racing in the Top 14 table.
Du Plessis, of course, has previous form as Ruaridh Jackson will attest following an incident during last December’s European Champions Cup clash between Glasgow Warriors and Montpellier –
Meanwhile, in Wales…
The Welsh Rugby Union has announced plans to reduce the size of its board in order to modernise its governance structure. The proposal, to be put to a ballot at October’s AGM, will see the board cut from 20 members to 12. The move was felt necessary to curb the power of amateur clubs who were seen as having too much influence over the professional teams. Their representation will be reduced from 14 to just five. Meanwhile, the WRU, which funds the 16-team Premiership to the tune of £1.7 million, is reviewing that competition and is likely to demote four clubs, leaving only a 12 team league, with clubs below that level operating as amateurs. Sound familiar?