Edinburgh land Luan via Leicester
Tighthead Luan de Bruin looks to be the latest South African heading for BT Murrayfield. The 27-year-old has been released from his contract with Toyota Cheetahs. He will initially link up with Leicester Tigers on a short-term deal that will keep him at the Gallagher Premiership outfit until next summer and will then move north on a three-year deal, according to OFM Radio. He made 25 appearances for Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14, including a 28-minute shift off the bench against Glasgow Warriors in Bloemfontein last September. In 2013, de Bruin played for the Junior Springboks side that finished third in the World Rugby Junior World Championships.
Solomons anxious about Springbok exodus
Former Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has voiced his concerns over the exodus of Springbok players. The signing of JP Du Preez for Sale Sharks takes that club’s contingent to 11, and means there are now 44 in the Gallagher Premiership. Solomons has seven South Africans in his Worcester Warriors squad although only two have played international rugby.
Encouragement for US bid
World Rugby is keen to have the US as host for the World Cup in 2027 or 2031 according to Brett Gosper, the global body’s CEO. Gosper has cited the potential in player and supporter numbers as the main reason for wanting to see the tournament awarded to USA Rugby whose CEO, Ross Young, was instrumental in the organisation of three World Cups before moving to the States in 2013. The selection process opens in February and the right to host the tournament will be awarded in May 2022 using a new open voting process.
Stateside challenge for Scottish leavers
The US Major League is proving to be a popular destination for players leaving the two Scottish professional teams. Hard on the heels of Dougie Fife, who quit Edinburgh for New England Free Jacks, former Glasgow Warriors duo Adam Ashe and DTH van der Merwe have signed for LA Giltinis and ex-Warriors co-captain Callum Gibbins is heading for SRU partner club Old Glory. The season is due to kick off in March. Since leaving Warriors at the end of last season, van der Merwe has been keeping himself in shape, most recently by turning out for Miami Sun at the World Tens Series in Bermuda. Also lining up at that tournament was Heriot’s centre Robbie Chalmers, who featured in the Phoenix Middle East squad. The event was won by the South African outfit SX10.
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A tip of the hat for new salary cap
Premiership Rugby has announced a set of possible penalties for any club that breaches salary cap regulations over the next two seasons. For the current season, the cap in the Gallagher Premiership is £6.4 million. Clubs will be given a credit of £50,000 for home grown players and £80,000 to cover international absences, as well as an allowance for injuries, while two players will be excluded completely from the overall total. The cap will be reduced to £5,000,000 for season 2021-22. Sanctions can include a 50-point deduction, financial penalties, relegation, removal of titles and a return of prize money.
Code switch for Cheika
Michael Cheika helped Argentina post a win over the All Blacks and a draw against his former side Australia in the Tri Nations Series having joined the Pumas in an advisory capacity. However, Cheika, who resigned as Wallabies coach after the 2019 World Cup, has already secured his next role. He has switched codes to become coach of the Lebanon rugby league side and is tasked with preparations for next year’s Rugby League World Cup in England. He has a strong connection with his new employer, as his parents are from Lebanon.
Ratana remembered by rugby friends
A charitable foundation has been formed in memory of Matt Ratana, head coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club and a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, who was shot dead while on duty at Croydon Police Station in September. Several current and former rugby players including Maro Itoje and Kenny Logan, plus high profile media figures such as Nick Knowles and Piers Morgan, are lending support to the charity. Ratana, who was born in New Zealand, moved to Britain in 1989. The aim is to support the East Grinstead club, as well as providing financial backing and training facilities for clubs and schools. The fund will also facilitate exchanges with clubs in New Zealand and South Africa for young players.
Charity benefits from Covid cancellation
The late cancellation of the France v Fiji match in the Autumn Nations Cup left more than 400 unused meals that had been ordered for officials, volunteers and media. The decision to call off the game, scheduled to take place at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, after the Fijians suffered a Covid-19 outbreak prompted the French Federation to donate the supplies to a local branch of a national food charity, Les Restos du Coeur.
Galthié’s clear vision
Although the focus has been on the exploits and evolution of his team, France coach Fabien Galthié has also drawn attention for his choice of eyewear. The former scrum-half sports an unusual type of wraparound specs that many observers have assumed are a fashion statement similar to his decision to wear white trainers with his tailored team-issue suit. Apparently that’s not the case. Galthié recently told Le Parisien newspaper that an optician friend had recommended sports glasses, similar to those worn by basketball players. The coach accepted the advice and now wears them for squash, golf and running around during training sessions.
Rugby spreads to new areas
World Rugby has expanded its global reach by welcoming three new full members and two associates. The inclusion of Burkina Faso, Iran and Laos illustrates the extent to which is the game is evolving around the globe. Nepal and Panama have joined as associates, taking total membership to 128.
It’s just balls
World Rugby will surely have incurred the wrath of the Plain English Society with a press release announcing that Gilbert will be the official ball supplier for next year’s women’s World Cup. Clearly, it’s tricky to find the words to talk up such a mundane object. However, that did not prevent the media team from giving it a go. “Taking inspiration from the vitality and connectivity of the RWC 2021 brand, the ball design works seamlessly to showcase an unstoppable energy, with key single colour focal points on either end to encourage player performance”, the release gushed. And who could argue with that?