That was the month that was: October 2021

Colin Renton provides his monthly round-up of some of rugby stories from around the world which may have passed you by

The month ended with Scotland picking up big win over Tonga at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson -
The month ended with Scotland picking up big win over Tonga at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson -

Thornton rejoins Ampthill mob

George Thornton is the latest player to graduate from the FOSROC Super6 Championship to a full-time contract. The 24-year-old loose head, who starred for title winners Ayrshire Bulls, has joined Ampthill for the remainder of the 2021-22 Championship season. The Scotland Under-20 cap, He was dual-registered with Ampthill while part of the Wasps Academy four years ago, so is returning to familiar territory. He made his first appearance for the club off the bench in last weekend’s narrow loss to Doncaster Knights.

Benetton pop the corks on jersey sponsorship

Expect champagne rugby from Benetton after the Italian outfit signed a sponsorship deal with the trade body that supports makers of Italian bubbly. Prosecco DOC has become jersey sponsor for the United Rugby Championship outfit that is based in Treviso, the heartland of Italian sparkling wine.

Uruguay secure World Cup berth

Uruguay will join a pool that includes France, New Zealand and Italy at the 2023 World Cup after overturning a first leg deficit to beat USA 50-34 on aggregate. The Americans will now face Chile, who defeated Canada, to decide the other qualifier from the region. It will be the first time that Canada will not be present at a World Cup since the competition started in 1987. The Canadians held a one-point advantage after the first leg, but went down 33-24 in the second match.

Groom and Strauss help Israelis win

Former Edinburgh scrum-half Nic Groom started life at his new club, Tel Aviv Heat, on a losing note. Groom and his colleagues lost 33-10 to the Georgian side, Black Lion, in the opening round of matches in the Rugby Europe Super Cup. However, he was joined by Scottish international Josh Strauss as the Israeli outfit bounced back the following week to beat the Russian side, Enisei-STM, 34-31 in Moscow, in a match refereed by Scotland’s Ian Kenny. The tournament features eight teams divided into pools of four and playing each other home and away, with the top two in each pool qualifying for the semi finals. The final will take place next May.

Premiership: The Sunday Summary (for Saturday 30th October)

Scotland v Tonga reaction: Townsend encouraged but step-up required for Australia challenge

Southern Knights beat Newcastle Falcons to claim Doddie Club Trophy

Wray sells up

Nigel Wray has sold most of his stake in Saracens in a deal worth £32 million. The club is now owned by a consortium that includes World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar, Marco Masotti, who also owns the South African franchise, Sharks, and Dominic Silvester, chief executive of Enstar Group, a multinational insurance company. Wray, who has owned the club for 26 years, will retain a small shareholding.

A tights decision from World Rugby

World Rugby has approved the wearing of tights or leggings during matches. Previously allowed only in the women’s game, they are now permitted for all players due to welfare and accessibility. The decision has been driven by the growing use of artificial playing surfaces, which have increased the susceptibility of some players to abrasions. It is felt that the decision should make the game more accessible as a result. World Rugby is also working to ensure thorough maintenance programmes for artificial surfaces.

Jalibert not replacing Russell at Racing 92

French international Matthieu Jalibert will not be replacing Finn Russell at Racing 92 next summer. The 22-year-old has been linked with a move to the Parisian outfit, making Russell available to any club prepared to buy out the remainder of his contract. However, Jalibert has signed an extension to his existing deal at Bordeaux-Begles and will remain at the club until 2025.


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Charity helping to grow the game

Rugby charity, SOS Kit Aid, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Recent activity included a gift of equipment to the Paraguay Rugby Union (URP) in October. The charity distributes second-hand and unused rugby kit to disadvantaged youngsters around the world, boosting participation in rugby and preventing the dumping of unwanted items. SOS Kit Aid was founded in 2001 by John Broadfoot, whose sons played the game. During a trip to Romania he saw an eight year old boy running with the ball under one arm and holding up his shorts with the other. Broadfoot addressed the problem by collecting kit from his sons and 10 schools then delivering it. The exercise proved successful, and since then, SOS Kit Aid has made more than 700 donations.

A sub by any other name

We know them best as substitutes or replacements, but there seems to be a growing need to find an alternative name. First we had England coach Eddie Jones referring to them as ‘finishers’. That term has now been adopted by London Scottish for the men numbered 16-23. Fellow Championship side Ampthill refer to them simply as ‘bench’. Meanwhile, Nottingham’s team sheet lists them as ‘impacts’. Waid Academy FP in Caledonia Division Three prefer to call them ‘game changers’. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before we see a proxy prop, a surrogate scrum half, a swapped stand-off or a locum lock.

Rock beats scissors

The Belgian Championship match between ASUB Waterloo and Kituro featured an attempt by Waterloo scrum half Mikael Guerin to wind up an opponent with a game of rock-paper-scissors at the breakdown. This excerpt from the match coverage, filmed by weSTREAM Brussels Streaming Company and included on the Rugbynistere website, shows the moment. Perhaps it worked, as Waterloo went on to win the game 13-12.

Premiership: The Sunday Summary (for Saturday 30th October)

About Colin Renton 281 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!