That was the month that was: September 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

Canada v New Zealand
A Canada team with some strong Scots connections took on the might of New Zealand. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson


Made in Glasgow

The Canada squad competing in Japan features a few names that will be familiar down Scotstoun way. Djustice Sears-Duru and Taylor Paris both had spells with Glasgow Warriors, and DTH van der Merwe – who will be playing in his fourth World Cup – is now in his second spell at the club. Also lining up for the Canucks is former Stirling County scrum-half Gordon McRorie, who qualifies on residential grounds.

Hansen has a pop at Six Nations

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes the Six Nations is to blame for the limited development among Pacific Island countries. He has spoken of the constraints caused by a rugby calendar that he claims is controlled by northern hemisphere federations and is focused on Test matches between major rugby countries. And that, he claims, prevents the islanders from playing against Tier 1 nations and, as a result, restricts their development. However, Hansen didn’t comment on the damaging impact of islanders being ‘stolen’ by New Zealand and Australia.

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A wee dram for Warren

Warren Gatland will sign off from the Welsh head coach job after the World Cup. The New Zealander will leave the principality with the good wishes of supporters ringing in his ears and a case of Welsh whisky in his luggage. The Penderyn distillery has paid its own tribute to Gatland by creating a single malt Grand Slam edition which was presented to Gatland at the team’s headquarters before the squad left for Japan.

Pichot rants against residential rules

Left out of Ireland’s World Cup squad Devin Toner received a conciliatory word from the man who is driving change in the rules for qualifying on residential grounds. Toner, who has 67 caps, was overlooked in favour of Jean Kleyn, a South African who completed three years residency in August. Agustin Pichot, World Rugby’s number two and the man who pushed to extend the period to five years before a player is eligible for international selection, offered Toner some advice. “If I was Toner, I would ask questions of World Rugby,” said the former Argentina scrum half. “I’m really sorry that this happened to him.”

Springboks II

South Africa is the best represented side in Japan. In addition to those in the Springboks squad, 15 others who could have been donning the green and gold jerseys will appear in the colours of their adopted countries. Among them are Jockboks WP Nel and Allan Dell, while others are featuring for the United States, Canada, Australia Japan, Ireland, Italy and France.

Shameboks are top cheats

Not so good for the Springbok image, the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport announced that it carried out 342 tests on rugby players in 2018. Of that number, 16 returned positive results, making rugby the sport with the highest number of cheats in the country. Disturbingly, six of the cases involved junior players taking anabolic steroids.

Glasgow v Scarlets: rousing fightback comes too late for home team

Scotland v Russia: call up was just what doctor ordered for Henry Pyrgos

Scotland v Russia: Danny Wilson praises Russian boss Lyn Jones’ rugby brain

Docs driving safety measures

Player safety in England has received a boost with the news that independent doctors will attend all matches in the Gallagher Premiership, Premiership Rugby Cup and European home matches. The initiative is being funded by the Premiership Rugby member clubs. The doctors will be responsible for decisions regarding replacements for blood and head injuries, and will work alongside team doctors and medical staff.

Sibling rivalry

While Matt Scott was lining up for Edinburgh in their pre-season match against Ospreys at BT Murrayfield, a few miles along the road, his younger brother Fergus led out Currie Chieftains for their Tennent’s Premiership fixture at home to Selkirk. With 21 minutes played, Matt crossed the whitewash to tie the scores – Jaco van der Walt’s conversion gave them the lead. Not to be outdone, news of the score had just been retweeted by the Chieftains social media man when Fergus charged over to give Chieftains the lead. And it was the younger of the two who had the last laugh as Chieftains took all five league points, while Edinburgh lost by a point.

A mixed bag for Exiles

There were mixed fortunes for the Scots making their debuts in the French Top 14. Alex Dunbar marked his first appearance for Brive with a try, but it was not enough to prevent a 16-10 defeat away to Edinburgh’s European Shield opponents Agen. Dunbar made a 56 minute contribution before being replaced. However, the 29-year-old lasted only a few minutes in his next appearance and missed the next two matches. Meanwhile, having been left out of Gregor Townsend’s Japan-bound squad, Josh Strauss signed for Stade Francais and went straight into the side that travelled to meet Bordeaux Begles. It wasn’t a good day for Strauss and his colleagues who suffered a 52-3 hammering.

Manson makes trans-Atlantic move

SRU partner club Old Glory will benefit from John Manson’s organisational skills. The former Scotland prop has moved from Glasgow Warriors to become operations manager for the Washington-based outfit. The move is initially a 24-month secondment.

Barry’s a local hero

One of Manson’s clubs as a player was Hillfoots, and a young man currently coaching at the Tillicoultry outfit has earned recognition for his work with youngsters. Barry Munro, a diminutive 22-year-old, has been coaching touch rugby since he was 16, and works with local primary school children during their lunch breaks. He has overcome a difficult start in life to become a highly regarded member of the rugby community in the town and has been selected for training and development training under the TSB Young Leaders Programme in conjunction with the charity, Sported.

Mongolia making strides

Rugby growth continues outside the sport’s traditional areas. Taiwan may not be rugby giants – they are outside the top 60 in the World Rugby rankings. But taking their scalp and recording a first international win was a major achievement for Mongolia, whose federation is an associate member of the global governing body.

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. What’s your definition of “stolen” with regards to Pacific island players?

    Is the northern hemisphere competition structure/calendar more of a barrier to reduce inequality in international rugby and improve player welfare than all blacks selecting players from Pacific nations on residence?

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