That was the month that was: May 2023

Colin Renton reports on some fond farewells, clubs in peril and a top award for Scottish flyer Rhona Lloyd

Scottish flyer Rhona Lloyd scored the HSBC World Sevens Series try of the season. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scottish flyer Rhona Lloyd scored the HSBC World Sevens Series try of the season. Image: © Craig Watson -

Leah leaves Loughborough for Leicester

Scotland international prop Leah Bartlett is on the move after agreeing a switch from Loughborough Lightning to Leicester Tigers. The 24-year-old, who qualifies to wear the thistle through her Scottish-born parents, has been at Loughborough since the club was formed in 2017 and has earned 26 caps since making her international debut in 2020.

Tartan twang to title triumph

There was a strong Scottish accent in the pack that propelled Jersey Reds to the Greene King IPA National Championship title. Props Adam Nicol, Sam Grahamslaw and Steve Longwell, lock Hamish Bain and flanker Lewis Wynne, who was co-captain, featured during the victorious campaign. However, there is no promotion as reward for the success, and there was further disappointment as the Channel Islanders were thwarted in their bid for a trophy double when they were pipped 35-31 by Ealing Trailfinders in the final of the Championship Cup competition.

Grahamslaw and Longwell made the Championship team-of-the-season with Nicol named on the bench.

It’s Montau-bean for Lewis

As mentioned in the March news round-up, Lewis Bean is leaving Glasgow Warriors. His departure was subsequently confirmed by the Scotstoun outfit and his new employer, Montauban announced in May that the 31-year-old lock has signed a two-year deal to play in France. Also heading for French rugby is former Edinburgh player Hamish Bain. He is leaving Jersey Reds to join PROD2 outfit Vannes where he will link up with another ex-Edinburgh man Anton Bressler.

Colour changes to prevent kit clashes

World Rugby has recommended that teams take steps to avoid kit clashes during this year’s World Cup. New rules will be implemented in January 2025, but the governing body is encouraging countries to make changes now. Estimates suggest that one in 12 men and one in 200 women suffer from ‘colour vision deficiency’. World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont is among those who live with colour-blindness. Meanwhile, Saracens and Sale Sharks wore their change strips in the Premiership final to avoid a colour clash. In addition, Premiership referees will wear orange shorts in future, rather than the current pink kit.

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Clark Laidlaw appointed Hurricanes head coach

Heriot’s unveil new Blues Women coaching team

Lengthy ban for short-tempered Aussie

An unnamed player in Australia has received a 96-game suspension for assaulting a referee. Rugby Western Australia announced that it had banned a Perth Bayswater player for almost five years following the incident during the WA Rugby Premier Grade clash with Associates. The player hit the referee in the back with his shoulder and knocked the official to the ground. The referee took no action at the time but the player was later cited. The initial suspension was for a longer period but was reduced owing to mitigating factors.

Fond farewell attracts hefty fine

The French League fined Mont-de-Marsan 10,000 euros after forming a guard of honour for club legend Julien Cabannes, who was making his final appearance in the PROD2 match at home to Rouen. The 33-year-old winger, who has been associated with the club for 27 years, left the field after 61 minutes, with players on both sides lining up to applaud him. The disciplinary committee stated that this constituted a lack of respect for the rules, although its decision drew widespread criticism for a lack of appreciation of rugby values.

A warm welcome from World Rugby

World Rugby has added Nepal, Qatar and Turkey as full members, with the trio upgraded from associate status. Their promotion takes the number to 114 nations enjoying full membership, with 18 now being associates. Qatar’s accession came days after claiming the Asia Rugby Championship Division Two title with wins over India and Kazakhstan.

A sting in the tail for struggling Wasps

Wasps have suffered another blow with the news that the club, which was thrown out of the Gallagher Premiership after suffering from financial problems, has now been cast aside completely by the RFU. The Coventry-based outfit initially suffered relegation to the second level, but has now been placed in tier 10, at the bottom of the rugby pyramid in England.

Meanwhile, the future of London Irish also looks bleak at time of publication. The club, which finished fifth in the Premiership this season and has Scots Ben White, Kyle Rowe and Logan Trotter on its payroll, is set to be ejected from the English league system this evening [Wednesday 31st May] unless it pays players and staff their full salaries for May [worth £500,000]. Irish’s owners have been in protracted takeover talks with an American consortium, but the proposed buyers have missed numerous disclosure deadlines over the past five months, with the RFU still waiting for details on who is behind the bid and where the money is coming from.

Kelly calls time on Sarries sojourn

Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown has left his role as a coach at Saracens and is taking on a new challenge at Places for People, a social enterprise organisation, where he will be part of the affordable housing leadership team. Brown earned 64 caps for Scotland and featured in the Saracens squad that won the Premiership and Heineken Cup before moving into coaching.

Retirements add to Welsh woes

Two of the titans of Welsh rugby have added to the current negative mood surrounding in the principality by announcing that they will not be going to the World Cup. Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones both retired from the game on the same day, the latter bringing down the curtain on a career which saw him earn a world record 158 international caps.

Fans flock to cheer champions

Supporters were out in force for an open-top bus tour after La Rochelle squeezed past Leinster at the Aviva Stadium to retain the European Champions Cup. The town’s harbour area was a sea of black and yellow, as the triumphant team returned from Dublin having retained the trophy.

Rhona races to sevens award

Scotland’s Rhona Lloyd earned recognition for her pace and finishing power when her score for Great Britain in the Hong Kong Sevens against France was named try of the World Rugby Sevens Series. The 26-year-old emerged with the honour after beating Portia Woodman-Wickliffe of New Zealand, and France’s Seraphine Okemba in a public vote on social media.

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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!