News Roundup

Summer Tour

Scotland’s first series of test matches under incoming Head Coach Gregor Townsend have been confirmed for the summer tour this June.

The national team will face a trio of opponents on consecutive Saturdays, starting with the first tier one international to be played in Singapore against Italy (10 June). This will be followed by Australia in Sydney (17 June) and Fiji in Suva (24 June) which means a fair bit of travelling for the Scotland squad, but there’s nothing like bonding during long-haul flights especially with the missing Lions contingent looking like it will be quite small.

Broadcast details are still to be confirmed but BT Sport is likely, having picked up these games in the past.

  • Saturday 10 June – Scotland v Italy; Singapore National Stadium, Kallang, Singapore (kick-off TBC)
  • Saturday 17 June – Australia v Scotland; Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia (kick-off 3pm local, 5am BST)
  • Saturday 24 June – Scotland v Fiji; ANZ Stadium, Suva, Fiji (kick-off TBC)

Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow’s season is all but over following another narrow 10-7 defeat to Munster over the weekend. A Stuart Hogg try aside, Glasgow struggled to break Munster down after they opened the scoring in the 5th minute – Hogg’s try didn’t happen till the 69th in a low scoring affair that puts the Irish province 4 out of 4 against the Warriors this season.

Even with a run in that includes Zebre and Edinburgh, Glasgow currently lie in 6th position which makes European Champions Cup rugby fairly secure but the playoffs agonisingly out of reach as things stand.

That just leaves the 1872 Cup then.

Mark Bennett has undergone ACL reconstruction at BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow and is expected to be out of action for 9-12 months, while Josh Strauss, who sustained an injury to his kidney playing for Scotland against France in February, is “healing well”. He’ll require a further six weeks of non-contact work before he can return to full training which will most likely be with new club Sale Sharks. He could still make the Scotland tour on that timescale though and Bennett’s news is worse for Edinburgh than it is for Glasgow.

Bennett and Strauss will be at Glasgow’s home game against Zebre next Friday night where supporters will get the chance to show their appreciation to them and the other players leaving the club this season. Grayson Hart is another; he’s following Rory Clegg to Ealing Pathfinders.

Glasgow Warriors have finally announced that they’ve signed Adam Hastings on a two-year contract from English Premiership side Bath, but we’ve known that since Todd Blackadder all but announced it ages ago. Hastings has made 12 appearances for the Bath first team, since joining their junior set-up in 2014 and then earning promotion to their Senior Academy in 2015.

Locally grown BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players George Horne (scrum-half/standoff and brother of Peter) and Paddy Kelly (centre) have also signed professional contracts with Glasgow Warriors. The pair made their Warriors debuts together earlier this season, both coming off the bench in a home game against the Ospreys and will be on one year deals. Horne and Kelly currently play with Glasgow Hawks and have previously spent time with London Scottish in the English Championship. Both have age-grade caps and while Horne has spent time with the Sevens squad, Kelly has also spent time in France playing for Le Parc in National B.

Another positive note to finish: Finn Russell is apparently still in the hunt for the PRO12 Golden Boot award, sitting in 4th place currently with a percentage of 83.33%, just ahead of former clubmate Duncan Weir.*

*UPDATE: 13/04 He’s now 3rd equal with Dan Jones of Scarlets on 83.87%. Tyler Bleyendaal has the lead with 88.14% while Duncy Weir has dropped off the pace. Exciting stuff.

Edinburgh Rugby

Edinburgh suffered another loss again this time to champions Connacht to make it eight defeats in a row, despite three late tries including a penalty try and another from their player of the season Hamish Watson, rapidly assuming a Sergio Parisse-like ability to do things himself in the absence of a cohesive team around him. It finished up 19-22 to the visitors.

To cheer themselves up, Edinburgh Rugby announced the signing of BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy back-row Ally Miller on a two-year deal, which will see him serve his hometown club until May 2019.

Miller was one of a number of players who moved south to London Scottish as part of Scottish Rugby’s partnership with the Richmond club, making 15 appearances during his tenure in the English Championship. He’ll join up with Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury as part of a young unit looking for game time. The back row competition has eased slightly with news that Super-15 winning Highlanders captain Nasi Manu will move to Treviso next season having struggled to make the impression that John Hardie did at Edinburgh. No word yet on a new deal – or a move – for Hardie.

Sevens & Clubs

When not signing new contracts, Ally Miller was named in the Scotland Sevens squad for this year’s Hong Kong Sevens, which also featured Blair Kinghorn and new captain Hugh Blake.

They won three games on the final day in Hong Kong on their way to lifting the Challenge Trophy following a mixed tournament, where they underperformed on Day One.

After a disappointing pool stage that saw them lose three games, Scotland responded magnificently with wins against Samoa, France and Kenya to pick up some silverware. This can hopefully arrest the minor slump they are in after a bright start to their World Series campaign.

Melrose 7s

Harlequins vs Melrose in the Final of the The 2017 Melrose 7s at The Greenyards, Melrose. pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

In the weekend’s other big Sevens down in the Borders, hosts Melrose were unlucky to come up against a determined Harlequins side who ran out winners in a high-quality final. In lovely sunny weather the sides were pretty evenly matched physically, especially after a couple of home-favouring decisions from (Scottish) referee Cammy Rudkin kept the scores close around half time. Following the decisive try in the second half, Harlequins another late try to put a gloss on the scoreline and lift the Ladies Cup, 30 years after they last won it.

Melrose will hope to overcome that disappointment in the BT Premiership final against Ayr back at the Greenyards this Saturday.

Finally, another one to keep an eye on: 20 year old Watsonians scrum half/wing Reiss Cullen has signed a first pro contract with Bristol.

That’s it for now, but we’ll have a word on the retirement of Kelly Brown tomorrow.

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8 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Ross on

    The game is going on a slippery slope in Scotland again!

    Glasgow – Generally a good team but going through a massive period of change, meaning that they are suffering in results and with them propping up Scotland it’s not the best.

    Edinburgh – Well…. We’ll say no more on that!

    • JohnMc on

      Not sure it’s quite a slippery slope, but agree Edinburgh have been in lamentable decline while Glasgow have slipped from their heights of a couple of seasons ago. Set against that, the national side has definitely moved on which is good news – except it has cost Glasgow in particular dearly in the Pro 12 this season.
      Assuming the pipe-dream of a third pro side will never come true, surely the best we can hope for in the coming seasons are two pro side squads strong enough to make roughly equal contributions to the Test squad yet still hold their own in the Pro 12. With the Test squad reinforced by quality players plying their club trade outwith the Pro 12.
      Big challenge then for the SRU to level up the Pro sides’ standards (sorting out Embra the much bigger challenge), increase the Academy output, and be prepared to see pro side players move elsewhere to further their own careers and our Test team interests and create room for players coming out of the Academy or, like Huw Jones, being uncovered from relative obscurity.
      I really hope all the extra cash generated by sponsorship and ticket sales in the Cotter-led resurgence will be used to meet the aims above.

      • Highland Bear on

        Not so sure whether Glasgow have slipped backwards or whether other Pro 12 teams have overtaken them. The European Championship campaign was a major step forward for the club.

        My assessment is that their dynamic style is effective and if anything their attacking play is improved on two seasons ago.

        A Plan B is lacking against the very best teams who can nullify Plan A. The forwards lack that aura and ability that can crush an opposition in a tight arm wrestle and grind out results. I would argue that the pack of 2 seasons ago was more suited to that style of play.
        They are lacking is strength in depth. The 6 Nations campaign saw effectively the first team away for a couple of months with a significant drop off in performance.

        My views on the current Edinburgh clusterf*ck are well known! Roll on the the Cockerill revolution.

  2. Busy Little Bee on

    Cockerill has taken on a very good job. He almost cannot fail to bring some improvement, there’s only upside from his point of view. If Hardie stays and he, Nel and Dickinson get fit by August then that will improve things massively overnight. The pack on paper looks formidable, major bummer about Bennett though and a spark is needed in the backs. Did Glasgow’s Jones in Bennett out deal happen after Twickenham? Edinburgh been stitched up again if so.

    Darcy Graham looked quite sharp in his camoes at the HK sevens. The other young boys, Kinghorn and Miller, looked a bit off it. Kinghorn is not a sevens player and presumably was taken for a wee holiday after playing so many pro 12 games this season.

  3. Kev on

    I still believe that there is a requirement for our pro clubs to have A teams. Players play together on a more regular basis should they not be selected for the 1st team, allowing them to keep their club “style”. Academy/Prem players would then play up if required to fill any positional hole or on a trial basis.

  4. pragmatic optomist on

    Very pleased to see that Big Brian A has accepted a two year contract extension.
    A cracking player, as big as they come, unassuming and tough as old boots.
    Great signing by Glasgow.
    (wrong thread I know, but the Glasgow threads seem to be shut)

    • Andy on

      This is really good news for Glasgow. I thought he was just a big plodder when he arrived but now that he has gotten up to scratch fitness-wise he has turned into a very useful player. Once all the locks are fit then Glasgow have a surplus. Will Uanivi and/or Swinson be deployed more as a flanker? What about Cummings as well?

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