As of Friday Scotland utility back Rory Lamont was released from his French club Toulon by mutual consent. He was citing lack of game time whilst his employers claimed he had distanced himself from the rest of the squad and was just not interacting.
It appears that Lamont enjoyed himself very little while he was in France. When the news broke of his release he said on Twitter: “I want to play for Scotland and I have to find a club where I can play more rugby – and I promise it will not be in France! Thank you to everyone at Toulon for an amazing time. I am sad to leave – but the possibility of playing has been limited this season.”
Meanwhile Bernard Laporte and Toulon owner, the comic book magnate, Mourad Boudjellal released a statement that looked personal in nature.
“The reason for releasing Rory during the second year of his contract here has not been a sporting one. We have taken the decision because since his return from the World Cup in New Zealand he has had difficulty re-asserting himself within the life of the club.
“He has been holding himself apart from everyone and not integrating.”
Whichever one it is Lamont needs someone to put their arm round him and make him feel wanted again. During the World Cup Andy Robinson and Gregor Townsend used him fleetingly. He was often restricted to watching from the stands and only played against Georgia. Now he is available for some team with the funds readily available and place for him in the team. It is unlikely that he would go through the trouble of releasing himself from a contract because he wants to “play more rugby” and then opt for an employer unsure of whether he is a full-back or a wing.
Edinburgh and Glasgow may well be interested. However, now Lemi has signed for Glasgow and will be given ample time to bed into the squad. After the Friday night defeat of Ulster no one thought to ask Sean Lineen if he would be interested in re-signing Lamont, but yesterday Glasgow told me that “as things stand, there is no comment to make.”
Perhaps next week the questions will begin. One thing is sure, though. With Mark Dodson claiming that funds will be made available for playing additions and Glasgow already taking advantage of this, Edinburgh may look into adding Lamont as a 15 with a view to using him as a winger when he cannot play at the back.
At the moment he would not be able to play in the Heineken Cup because the registration window is closed. After the pool stages three additional players can be added to Heineken or Amlin squads, and one player can be swapped in during the pools. However Lamont is tied by the persistent regulation within the ERC rules: “Clubs must ensure that these players have not been nominated in a match squad with another club for the Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments during the current season.”
So whoever comes in for Lamont must be someone that can ensure him competitive rugby whilst also knowing he is not needed for the Heineken or Amlin competitions. Someone with a use for him but not a need. It is indeed a difficult one, particularly with a player who seems to want a lot more game time.
In the end he may well come back to Britain but he would certainly be an asset for any team in need of a hard runner who will consistently challenge for kicks. Perhaps the likes of Ulster could want him with their issues at full-back. He would get Pro12 game time and they may not make it out of the HC group stages. Maybe Sale will yet again look for their cheque book. The SRU may enquire about his services over the heads of Lineen and Bradley.
I cannot imagine that Lamont will be available for long. At this stage of the season he would be a nice fillip for a battered squad looking to a future in domestic and continental competition. We know he can cut it in any league in Europe. It will just come down to his personal preference.
His mutual departure raises another interesting question, though. Would other players opt for this? I bring this up merely because the headlines about contracts have been around young players like Richie Gray and John Barclay or vastly experienced players like Euan Murray and Rory Lamont who have cancelled their contracts in search of match minutes.
We have a player in Scotland who has proved his international quality but is struggling both to break through again and also to look interested. Glasgow Warriors have stated that Johnnie Beattie has had back problems for the last two weeks, but when he was fit he was farmed out to Ayr anyway. Perhaps it is a case of ‘who blinks first’, but with his contract up in the summer and his recent decline at Glasgow would either party say no to a mutual termination?
It is perhaps a controversial question but the undoubtedly talented Beattie needs a shot of life and the Warriors seem perfectly happy with Wilson at number 8.