If you are on social networking sites your timeline will currently be clogged. In fact plugged or dammed are probably more fitting descriptions. Everyone is bleating about the weather. Somehow it has come to everyone’s attention that we are entering Scotland’s lengthy rainy season and we are ready to whinge about it as much as possible.
It seems, though, that those at EH12 have been saving for these rainy days. We’ve been alerted to something else via the social sites. It appears that now the World Cup is over we have entered Contract Renegotiation Season.
It was announced today that Ruaridh Jackson joins Chris Fusaro, Ryan Grant and Duncan Weir from Glasgow and David Denton, Steve Turnbull, Stuart McInally and Greig Laidlaw of Edinburgh in re-signing with the Union. All of them are now tied up until the summer of 2014.
This shows fantastic foresight by those at the SRU. They have highlighted those they think will become big players for the Scottish clubs and have tied them down for the years they will be moving into their prime. I would also not be surprised if the likes of Ryan Wilson and Rob Harley are being offered new deals whilst the likes of Gregor Hunter (or Matt Scott) and Stuart Hogg will get full-time contracts whenever their agents become brass-necked enough to ask.
This will happen, and when you add it to the facts that Lee Jones, James King and Tom Ryder all re-signed with the SRU during the summer it becomes obvious that both Glasgow and Edinburgh are planning for the future. And so they should.
Laidlaw has been tied down to Edinburgh because he is a leader and because sooner, rather than later, he will be the go to number 9 at the Capital club. At this stage in his career it seems unlikely that Mike Blair will make the same mistake he made a few summers ago and knock-back a large contract from a Heineken Cup team outwith Scotland. Everyone must have learned from Ross Ford’s error of judgement last season, and whether or not it has happened in the past is irrelevant: with the current financial climate and the state Scottish Rugby finds itself in, no major sponsor is going to come in and pick up half the tab on a big player’s contract.
There is also no way of knowing how much longer Phil Godman has at Edinburgh. It is already assumed that Ben Cairns and Nick De Luca are made-up on a move down South this coming summer. Perhaps Godman has had his mind made up for him. After all, as was demonstrated with the protracted and messy aftermath of Edinburgh releasing ‘unfit’ youngsters Alex Blair and Fraser Brown the hierarchy have no problem in saying “so long, and thanks for all the physio bills”.
For this reason King and Jones have most likely been earmarked to step into the shadows cast by internationals De Luca and Cairns. They may also be standing by to see which one of the four Elite Development or 7s stand-offs could replace Godman if they do decide to let him slip away.
At Glasgow it must surely be time to let John Barclay and John Beattie go. Both must be thinking that they made a miscalculation in staying as they have stagnated on the West Coast and Richard Vernon showing some ambition to test himself in the Aviva Premiership may have rekindled the back-rowers’ ambitions. Both could easily secure contracts at a Heineken Cup side.
When I interviewed Sean Lineen after the Ulster game he intimated that he was having to work with a new set of players every season. He said it was exciting, but uncertainty often means instability in sport.
By securing the next few years with the best of those youngsters and letting our recognised stars move on to pastures new we could ensure that there is competition for all. This is probably what is best for Scotland. If Graham Lowe is masterminding this then I must say it is a brave and sensible call from a man I was hoping to see more from. They just have to let those big earners move on, now.
There are four years until the next world Cup. Is this the beginning of the fresh start we need?