That was the month that was: September 2018

International coaching appointments, high-tech gum-shields, players on strike, political manoeuvring in Wales and much more ...

Graham Rowntree
Graham Rowntree is back in action as a coach, helping Georgia prepare for next year's World Cup. ***Image: Fotosport/David Gibson***


Vorsprung Durch Ford for German World Cup Bid

Germany have added weight to their bid for World Cup qualification with the appointment of Mike Ford. The former England and British Lions defence coach has worked with Bath and Toulon – where he was replaced by current Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill – in recent seasons, and was latterly with Dallas Griffins, who will play in the US Major League next season. A spokesman for the German Federation said that Ford was on ‘sabbatical’ from Dallas. Having lost to Samoa in the qualifying play-off, Germany will play Hong Kong, Canada and Kenya in November’s repechage in the hope of booking a ticket to Japan.

Rowntree has Georgia on his mind

Joining Ford on a foreign assignment is another ex-England and British Lions coach, Graham Rowntree. The former international prop left his post as forwards coach at Harlequins during the summer. He will now link up with Kiwi Milton Haig to prepare the Georgians for next year’s World Cup when they are drawn in the same pool as Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay.

Canada Cash Cuts Cause Conflict

Another nation involved in the repechage will be Canada. Ahead of that competition, Canada’s sevens players staged a boycott when their pay was reduced following the decision to merge the squad with the 15s. Those playing the abbreviated version were offered a new deal after their previous contracts expired in August. The lower salaries were designed to make more cash available for the full squad. The new plan would see an expanded group of up to 50 players covering both versions of the game. The 15-a-side team is currently ranked 23 in the world and must qualify via the November play-off to maintain a record of never having missed out on the global jamboree. The sevens squad was ninth in last season’s HSBC World Sevens Series. The players are now considering the possibility of joining a union, with membership of the United Steelworkers being mooted.

North End Fans Join Happy ‘Hoppers

Looking to boost the crowd for their match at home to Fylde, Preston Grasshoppers took the unusual step of inviting football supporters to sample the delights of the oval ball game. With Preston North End having no Sky Bet Championship fixture, Grasshoppers sought to entice the footie fans with a half price ticket offer. And those who took advantage of the deal were rewarded with an 18-15 win for the hosts.

Troubled Cecillon Back Behind Bars

Former French skipper Marc Cecillon returned to familiar surroundings when he was jailed for 12 months, six of them suspended, for driving while drunk, driving without a licence, speeding, violence and theft. Now 59, the back-row, who captained his country on five occasions was also fined €350 and ordered to do community service. In 2006, Cecillon was sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing his wife while under the influence of alcohol. That was later reduced to 14 years, of which he served seven before being released.

Stade pay the price for pitch invading brother

Stade Francais were fined €30,000 and given a suspended one match ban from their stadium after the brother of Stade flanker Sekou Macalou invaded the pitch during a skirmish between players of both sides towards the end of the Top 14 clash with Toulon. The Ligue Nationale de Rugby held the club responsible for the interloper’s actions after the incident was included in the match officials’ report.

Jonny Still Focused on Wellbeing

As a player, Jonny Wilkinson was an obsessive trainer and perfectionist, so it will come as no surprise to many with knowledge of his commitment to making the most of his talents that he has launched a health drink. Boasting flavour, health benefits and a low calorie count, No 1 Kombucha is also made in an environmentally friendly manner. Wilkinson is promoting it with the same vigour he showed when he was in his pomp on the rugby field.

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Heated Welsh AGM in prospect

The Welsh Rugby Union is seeking a mandate to modernise the structure of the game in the Principality and improve its governance. WRU chairman Gareth Davies has written to the 320 member clubs and districts seeking authority to reduce the number of Board members from 20 to 12 and to establish a WRU Council, a Professional Game Board and a Community Game Board. The AGM next month will need a 75% majority to pass the proposals. Included with the letter was a detailed explanation of the proposal and its implications if approved. The aim is to increase the power of the nine Welsh districts. However, there are concerns that power and finances will be controlled by fewer people and this will eventually lead to the demise of many clubs.

Calls to extend mouthguard trial

Also in Wales, the WRU is looking at the possibility of extending the use of microchipped mouth-guards in an effort to reduce concussion levels. The guards are already being worn by Ospreys players as part of a trial and their effectiveness has been welcomed by senior medical staff in the game.

Hats Off to Kelpies Kids

Kelpies Rugby, an amalgamation of the youth sides at Falkirk, Grangemouth Stags and Hillfoots, played their first match against Montrose. They earned plaudits for their conduct on the pitch as well as for their behaviour off it following this little post-match message…

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About Colin Renton 279 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!