That was the month that was: October 2019

Colin Renton's unique take on the news stories from around the world of rugby during September 2019 which you maybe didn't see anywhere else

A Vern Cotter return to Scotland won't be happening any time soon. Image: © Craig Watson -
A Vern Cotter return to Scotland won't be happening any time soon. Image: © Craig Watson -


Vern staying put

In the wake of Scotland’s World Cup exit, there was the inevitable clamour for a change of coach, and many calls for the return of Vern Cotter. The Kiwi evidently tops a few wish lists. Stade Francais lead the way to secure his services at club level, while the possibility of a return to international rugby as coach of Italy increased following the tribulations of Rob Howley, the front-runner for the Italian job. However, Cotter’s current employer, the Montpelier owner Mohed Altrad, moved to quell speculation by insisting that Cotter will not be released from his contract mid-season. His current deal ends next June and he may move on then. Michael Cheika, who stepped down from the Australia job after the World Cup quarter final defeat against England, is among the front runners to replace the former Scotland boss.

SRU lawyers keeping busy

The SRU’s lawyers have had a busy time of it lately. There was the well-publicised spat with World Rugby over the possible postponement of Scotland’s match against Japan. While there was sympathy in many quarters for the sentiment of the message, the manner of its delivery lacked empathy with the host nation. Mark Dodson’s performance might have been a ‘don’t mess with me’ effort, but its belligerent nature did not earn him many plaudits. The aggressive tone chimes with other events, such as the Keith Russell affair and a recent legal threat to Matt Vallance, a blogger and contrbutor to this website, who was ‘invited to discuss’ his critical references to SRU officialdom. That was a sign of the Murrayfield bosses being desperate to control all forms of communication. And they appear to have many sources of information. A weekly round-up of Tennent’s Premiership action on the governing body’s website is written by a member of the SRU’s lavishly resourced communications team. On more than one occasion, the round-up has included a quote from a club coach that was identical in every detail to the content on The Offside Line, whose reporters had obtained it in a one-to-one post-match chat.

World Cup is not Taylor-made for Paris

Spare a thought for former Glasgow Warriors winger Taylor Paris, whose contribution to Canada’s World Cup effort was short and painful. And this is just his latest unfortunate experience of the global jamboree. Paris came off the bench in the match against New Zealand but was restricted to a 12-minute appearance after a clash of heads with Ardie Savea. In 2011, he was an unused member of the squad and four years ago he suffered an injury in a warm-up match that ruled him out of the competition. At 27, he may yet make it to another World Cup. However, it’s all over for his fellow Canuck, Glasgow Warriors winger DTH van der Merwe, who has announced his retirement from international rugby. The 33-year-old appeared in four World Cups and earned 61 caps.

Canadian class a great example

Canada’s match with Namibia was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis. With nothing at stake, that decision was not controversial, although obviously disappointing for the two teams. However, the Canadians earned admiration and credit for using their unscheduled day off to help with the communities that were hit hardest by the typhoon. Perhaps a similar approach by SRU employees after the loss against Japan might have offset some of the ill-feeling. Many on the Murrayfield wage bill have shown their ability to continue digging when many others would stop, so it’s a shame they were unable to channel that shovel-wielding talent in a positive direction.

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Ramos recovery raises questions

World Rugby officials did not cover themselves in glory with their reaction to Scotland’s complaint surrounding the match with Japan. Dealing with that issue may have caused them to take their eye off the ball. Otherwise, they might have noticed the strange case of French full-back Thomas Ramos. He was invalided out of the competition with an ankle injury sustained in the narrow victory over Argentina. It was therefore surprising to see him play 80 minutes at stand-off for Toulouse in the local derby against Castres the following weekend.

No escaping politics

The World Cup has been a welcome diversion from the unseemly behaviour of our politicians who have attempted to mask personal ambition as acting in the electorate’s best interests. And yet, it appears that rugby has not completely escaped political machinations. One newspaper suggested that plans are being drawn up by the European nations to overthrow current vice-president Agustin Pichot, who is thought to be too vocal in his support of Tier 2 nations. The likely beneficiary, according to the rumour, could be Scotland’s John Jeffrey.

Italian outfit goes bust

Away from the World Cup, financial struggles have taken their toll on the Italian side L’Aquila. The Serie A club, which was formed in 1936 and won the Italian championship on five occasions, has gone out of business. L’Aquila played in the European Shield just over a decade ago and had Scot Colin Quigley on its books. An attempt to join forces with neighbouring clubs has failed and L’Aquila’s place in the league has been taken by Civitavecchia.

Simon Hickey hopes Edinburgh’s new style will be his key to No 10

Dumfries Saints double-down on promotion push after cup exit

Opinion: Warriors supporters should shed few tears over loss of Rennie

We moustache Wainwright about his facial hair

Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright has explained why he was sporting an impressive moustache for the quarter-final tie against France. Wainwright, who scored the opening Welsh try with an impressive turn of pace, was in Japan while his mates were on a lads’ weekend in Prague. They had all agreed to sprout some facial plumage for the trip and suggested that if Wainwright did likewise, they could photoshop his head onto their pictures.

All Black humour from Kiwi airline

Air New Zealand took a light-hearted pop at Irish rugby ahead of the World Cup quarter final, with the following film:

The response to the semi-final defeat at the hands of England was a little briefer:

Opinion: Warriors supporters should shed few tears over loss of Rennie


About Colin Renton 288 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!