by COLIN RENTON
Russell data showing good form
Finn Russell’s exclusion from the Scotland squad elicited mixed views in Scotland. The respected website www.statsperform.com also showed a balance of good and bad, although most of the news was positive for the 30-year-old Racing 92 man. The numbers, covering the current Rugby World Cup cycle, showed that, among Tier 1 players, Russell has the best combined output in terms of try assists and break assists. That places him ahead of French pair, Antoine Dupont and Matthieu Jalabert, with Irish duo, Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton completing the top five. However, Russell also conceded more turnovers than the others during the same period.
Selkirk star back in Pole position
Zenon Szwagrzak has been named in the Poland training squad, showing that playing in the Tennent’s Premiership is no handicap to his international aspirations. The Selkirk prop linked up with his colleagues for a camp in Wales, which includes matches against Cross Keys and Cardiff Metropolitan University. The get together is the first step towards the Rugby Europe Championship which kicks off in February.
Mental coach takes up SRU role
Aaron Walsh, a mental skills coach with the Chiefs in New Zealand has been appointed by Scottish Rugby on a 12-month agreement. But his arrival was not without its difficulties after he apparently acted prematurely in making the news public. Walsh tweeted that he had been appointed to the role then deleted the tweet before deleting the tweet that said he had deleted the first message. However, he was eventually confirmed in the post and made the trip to Edinburgh in time to attend the match against Australia.
Exiles ditch Super8 plans
A piece of news that may have slipped under the radar was the decision made a couple of months ago by London Scottish not to pursue the possibility of playing in an extended Super8 tournament. The club had previously indicated that it had been offered a place. However, the minutes of a summer meeting were recently published ahead of the AGM and this noted that the option to participate will not be pursued, with the club’s focus remaining on the English leagues and its new “strategic partnership” with nearby Harlequins.
International call-up for big Brian
Former Glasgow Warriors lock Brian Alainu’uese has broken through into international rugby after being named in the Samoa squad for their autumn tour of Europe. The 28-year=old could make his debut against Italy in Padua on 5th November. Samoa’s other opponents over the coming weeks are Georgia and Romania.
RFU criticised for hijacking video
The RFU has attracted some less than favourable news reporting over recent months, with bonuses for the England women’s team and apparent inaction over the bankruptcy of clubs topping the list of criticisms. The governing body also attracted some negative reaction from a media company that provides coverage of school rugby. Via its Twitter account, @NextGenXV took aim, alleging that the RFU had hijacked a video and removed the company’s logo before passing off the work as its own.
England Rugby ladies and gents, an organisation apparently happy to chop your logo out of footage you produced and then publish it as if it’s their own.
Tough to swallow after so many years slogging away to promote the schools and grassroots game in England https://t.co/A8tSAWYNee
— NextGenXV (@NextGenXV) October 21, 2022
MLR axes two teams
Major League Rugby in the US has dropped two of the teams that contested the most recent championship. Both Austin Gilgronis and Los Angeles Giltinis have been excluded for the new season because of uncertainty over ownership. One new team will be added, with Chicago apparently leading the way, leaving Eastern and Western Conferences each featuring six sides for a programme that will incorporate 16 matches and a play-off phase. Among the players who have played for Giltinis in recent years are Scotland cap Adam Ashe and his fellow ex-Glasgow Warriors Djustice Sears-Duru and DTH van der Merwe.
Scots saved from Premiership wreckage
Former Edinburgh prop Robin Hislop has returned to Saracens on a short-term contract after losing his job at Wasps when the club went into administration. The 30-year=old had a loan spell with Sarries in 2020, having played for Rotherham and Doncaster Knights after leaving Edinburgh. Meanwhile, another victim of the Wasps situation, ex-Glasgow lock Kiran McDonald, has also secured his immediate future after joining Munster for three months. Both clubs have seen positive progress in attempts to rescue them.
All Blacks under fire for fixture clash
New Zealand Rugby came under fire for arranging the match between the All Blacks and Japan in Tokyo at the same time as the country’s women went head to head with Wales in the World Cup quarter final. Critics of the decision pointed to the fact that the World Cup schedule had been confirmed several months ago and that, provided they made it out of the qualifying group, the women’s Black Ferns team, as tournament hosts, knew they would be playing at that time.
Ukraine return to the international arena
Almost a year after their most recent international outing, Ukraine’s men returned to action when they travelled to Zagreb for a match against Croatia in the Rugby Europe Trophy. With several players unavailable as a result of serving in the army, Ukraine fielded an inexperienced side, but still had enough to post a 27-22 win. Selectors had to obtain permission from President Zelenskyy to allow the team to leave the country. The squad also had help with coaching from Englishman Grant Hathaway, and the Penguin Rugby charity which provided financial backing for the trip.