That was the month that was: October 2020

Colin Renton's round-up of last month's news stories from around the world takes in Leone Nakarawa suing Racing 92 and David Pocock giving up rugby to chase birds ...

Glasgow Warriors' Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa has some unfinished business in Paris. image: © Craig Watson
Glasgow Warriors' Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa has some unfinished business in Paris. image: © Craig Watson

Nakarawa makes his case

The employment tribunal in Leone Nakarawa’s case against his former club Racing 92 heard that the player is alleging unfair dismissal and seeking €770,000 in salary arrears plus €300,000 in damages. French media reported that Nakarawa’s lawyer argued Racing had falsely stated that the player was late returning from a trip to see his family in Fiji. He suggested that the motive may have been removing the biggest wage bill from Racing’s books, making it easier for the club to remain within the salary cap. In response, the Parisian outfit’s lawyer stated that this was not the first time Nakarawa had been late in travelling back to France after visiting his family. The club’s representative claimed that the delay meant the second-row missed the Paris derby against Stade Francais and the European clash with Saracens at the end of October last year. Nakarawa is said to have been helping his father to build a house and insists he had been given permission to return late, an assertion that is disputed. The outcome is set to be announced on 14 December.

Italians seek third league berth

Alfredo Gavazzi, president of the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR), has revealed his hopes for the country to have a third team in an expanded PRO14 league. Gavazzi stated that the FIR had officially requested an additional spot in the competition although he has not placed a timescale on this and does not anticipate it taking effect as early as next season.

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South Africans plan tournament switch

It’s not only the Italians who are looking to increase their participation in the PRO14. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has been in discussion to boost the number of its teams in the competition. SARU is looking to involve the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers in a 16-team league, with Cheetahs dropping out – South Africa’s other representatives, Southern Kings, having gone into administration. SARU also hopes to retain one place in a revamped Super Rugby competition.

Townsend takes on World Rugby role

Gregor Townsend has been appointed as a coaching representative on World Rugby’s High Performance 15s Committee. He is joined by Rassie Erasmus, Steve Hansen, Eddie Jones, Fabien Galthié, Mario Ledesma, Lesley McKenzie and David Nucifora. Bryan Habana, Conrad Smith and Rachael Burford plus Jamie Roberts and Araba Chintoh – both of whom are doctors – have been appointed as player representatives with medical expertise. The committee is one of three which have been established to help expand participation, the others being for community rugby and sevens. The latter is chaired by John Jeffrey.

English clubs threaten Murrayfield boycott

The announcement of a pre-tour match between the British & Irish Lions and Japan at BT Murrayfield on 26th June next year did not meet with universal approval. Premiership Rugby’s initial reaction was to state that the timing of the match – outside the official international window – meant that clubs would not release players unless compelled to do so by World Rugby or compensated financially. The Murrayfield encounter will clash with final of the Gallagher Premiership.

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Farrell tackles his technique

England captain Owen Farrell has been using a five-match ban for a dangerous tackle to improve his technique, according to coach Eddie Jones. Farrell has been regarded as fortunate to escape unpunished for no-arm tackles in the past, but was red-carded against Wasps in September following a seriously misjudged effort on teenager Charlie Atkinson. Jones has backed his skipper to become a better and safer tackler as a result of work during his suspension.

Mbanda rewarded for unselfish contribution

The Italian international flanker Maxime Mbanda earned well-deserved praise early in the Covid-19 pandemic when he signed up as a voluntary ambulance driver in the Emilia-Romagna region, which was one of the worst affected. The 28 year old Zebre player earned recognition for his selfless contribution when he received an award that made him a Knight of Merit of the Italian Republic (Cavalieri al merito della Repubblica). Mbanda intends to continue combining his sporting commitments with his work as a volunteer. He had a further honour bestowed on him when he received the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Chairman’s Award.

Finn Russell and Adam Hastings injuries open door for Duncan Weir

Richard Cockerill furious with ‘nasty’ tackle on George Taylor

UPDATED: Finn Russell and Adam Hastings out for rest of Autumn

Cash shared equally by RFU

The RFU sealed a sponsorship deal with the telecoms company O2 that broke new ground when it ensured equal funding for both men’s and women’s team. The five-year partnership is the latest extension to a relationship between the union and the company that has been in place for 25 years.

Pocock moves to a new environment

Former Wallabies skipper David Pocock has called time on his rugby career. But there was no hanging around waiting for the next challenge as the 32-year -ld immediately switched focus to his passion for environmental issues. Pocock moved to Australia from his native Zimbabwe with his parents in 2002 to escape the land seizures of Robert Mugabe’s government. He carved out a reputation on the rugby field for his skills at the breakdown and earned 45 caps for Australia. He has had an interest in conservation for some time, and now plans to become more involved. He confirmed his credentials in that regard by taking on the role of a counter in the Aussie Bird Count during October – announcing his involvement on Twitter, of course!


Finn Russell and Adam Hastings injuries open door for Duncan Weir

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!