That was the month that was: March 2020

Uruguay appears set to be the next nation to link up with Scottish Rugby after promising initial discussions between the two governing bodies

Uruguay have made positive noises about their burgeoning relationship with Scottish Rugby.
Uruguay have made positive noises about their burgeoning relationship with Scottish Rugby.

Uruguay happy with SRU relationship

The Uruguay Rugby Union has commented favourably on the outcome of a recent meeting with Scottish Rugby. Tweets from the Uruguayan federation refer to the recent get-together, and underline a desire to strengthen the relationship.

“We discussed the possibility of being closer institutionally to help the development of club and youth rugby. Also, rugby as an educational tool and as a form of social inclusion. It was a very good meeting,” said the first of two tweets dated 7th March. “The SRU has shown great desire to collaborate on these topics and others with Uruguay Rugby, whose movements it has been following in the last couple of years thanks to international achievements,” adds the second tweet.

The nature of the relationship and its longer-term goals are not clear. A request to Scottish Rugby for clarification has not yet had a response.

Scott instead of Steadman

An early casualty of the RFU’s decision to cut funding to Greene King IPA Championship clubs is London Scottish head coach Graham Steadman. The former Scotland defence coach has stated that he wants to have a full-time position and this is not possible given the reduced financial position. Stevie Scott, another former national team assistant coach, has assumed the role on a temporary basis.

McMillan to deputise for Gatland

Clayton McMillan has been handed the task of filling in as Chiefs head coach while Warren Gatland is absent on British & Irish Lions duty. Gatland signed a four-year contract with the club after leaving his post with the Welsh international side. However, he has a clause that gives him 12 months away from the job, starting this August, to fulfil his Lions obligations. McMillan is currently in charge of the Maori All Blacks.

All Blacks 2 – the second string

New Zealand Rugby is launching an All Blacks second team in an attempt to discourage fringe internationals from moving to other parts of the world. It will support the development of players who are viewed as future All Blacks. It should also help the federation’s finances. The squad will come together later in the year and is scheduled to tour in October, playing three matches, with the opponents likely to be second string line-ups from northern hemisphere countries. The timing will coincide with the full All Blacks tour.

Record viewing numbers for World Cup

Stats from World Rugby show that last year’s World Cup attracted a record television audience of 857 million viewers, an increase of 26% over the 2015 tournament in England. Almost 45 million watched South Africa beat England in the final. The largest Japanese television audience was 54.8 million for the host nation’s victory against Scotland. The figures threw up some surprises, with Germany the seventh highest viewing territory, attracting more viewers than Italy.

Greig’s gunning for more glory

Greig Laidlaw may be leaving Clermont Auvergne in the summer. But the former Scotland skipper is living up to his reputation for total commitment to the club by making clear his desire to win further honours before he quits – assuming the season resumes after the current shutdown. “I’m making the most of every minute because I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” he said in an interview with the rugby paper Midi Olympique that was published before the full impact of the coronavirus was clear. “But it’s not finished. I will be there until the final day of my contract and I will give everything for my team right to the end because it’s been such a great experience. I’ve been involved in a Top 14 final and a Challenge Cup title, and I don’t want to stop there.”

Baldwin reveals recovery from gambling addiction

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin has admitted that he lost tens of thousands of pounds through an addiction to online gambling. The 31-year-old finally recovered in 2015, when having a family convinced him it was time to take action. Baldwin’s problem started when he was a teenager, and reached its peak while he was on loan to the Italian outfit, AS Rugby Milano. He lived alone and played online roulette using his mobile phone. As he lost more money, the size of his bets increased and his habit spiralled out of control. Until his revelation on a BBC podcast, Baldwin was best known for having been bitten by a lion while preparing to play for Ospreys against the Cheetahs in the PRO14 three seasons ago.

Climate change behind Championship revamp

The structure of the Rugby Championship will change from 2021 when organisers will implement a change to travel patterns. The aim is to reduce the competition’s carbon footprint. From next season, the All Blacks will travel to either Argentina or South Africa and will play two Tests there rather than one, as is the case at the moment. The country they do not visit will travel to New Zealand to play two tests and will welcome the Wallabies for two tests.

However, the All Blacks and Australia will still play home and away each year, and this will also be the case for Argentina and South Africa.

Parisse positive on Azzurri outlook

Sergio Parisse had planned to make his final international appearance in the Six Nations match against England. The intervention of the coronavirus has placed that on hold and may mean that the counter stops at 142 Italian caps. The 36-year-old will be sorely missed by the Azzurri, but he is optimistic about the future for Italy. He believes that the squad is currently going through generational change, and he is encouraged by the talent currently coming through at age group level. However, he has hinted at the need for change by the Italian federation to ensure the emerging players are supported in their development.

Max respect for Mbanda

Parisse’s international colleague Maxime Mbanda has used the lay-off from the game to help the many coronavirus victims in Northern Italy. The 26-year-old, whose father is a doctor in Milan, wanted to help Italy’s efforts so he volunteered as an ambulance driver with the Yellow Cross in Emilia-Romagna, which is one of the country’s hardest-hit regions. Initially, Mbanda was involved in distributing food and medication, but a shortage of personnel meant he was soon moved to helping transfer patients. Despite long days that have included 13 hour shifts of physical work, he has remained fit by training when he returns home in the evening. Mbanda has committed to continuing his voluntary work when normal life eventually resumes.

Scottish 2019-20 club season declared null and void by the SRU

About Colin Renton 293 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!