Edinburgh Rugby today confirmed that Welsh internationalist Richie Rees will leave at the end of the season to join RaboDirect PRO12 side Dragons while over at Glasgow it was confirmed that John Barclay is to leave the club he has faithfully served all his career.
The mutually agreed transfer was negotiated a year into Rees’ two-year contract to increase the opportunities for Scottish scrum-halves at the Murrayfield club, combined with the Newport side’s desire to attract experienced Welsh talent to their ranks.
The return of Scotland A internationalist Sean Kennedy from his loan at Glasgow Warriors means he will now compete with captain Greig Laidlaw, Chris Leck, Alex Black and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne for the number nine jersey.
Edinburgh Rugby managing director, Craig Docherty, said: “There are a number of young talented scrum-halves coming through the ranks at Edinburgh Rugby, who we feel are ready to take the next step as senior professionals at the club.
“This deal allows us to continue developing top quality Scottish talent, while allowing a player of Richie’s quality to pursue his career in his homeland.”
Rees had a great start to the season but then has found himself stuck in the mud with the rest of the Edinburgh squad, unable to work his way out. A popular figure in the squad, his banter will no doubt be missed but few could argue that with Matawalu currently on fire at Glasgow, had Rees stayed there could be a bit of a development logjam created at 9, a position of traditional strength. Glasgow’s problem will be keeping hold of their players – the likes of Matawalu in particular you can’t help feeling would be a prime target for some rich Frenchman.
With this seemingly the mantra going forward, Edinburgh’s accountants must be looking at a few contracts that have been worth less than their paper as a new regime sweeps in. While freshmen Tonks and Nel are sure-fire “keeps”, the likes of Penn, Francis, Leck, Parker and Atiga have all made sporadic and not greatly impressive appearances while there are a couple of locks being held back by the unexpected blooming of McAlpine and Gilchrist. Which only goes to show…
Speaking of youngsters coming through the ranks, 26-year-old John Barclay has been with the Warriors since the age of 17, after joining as an apprentice in 2004. He made his debut in the November of that year, as a substitute against the Borders.
Barclay, a classic Scottish open-side flanker, has since made 146 appearances for the Warriors and has amassed 41 caps for Scotland to date, having made his debut for the national side a day after his 21st birthday. Some had him ear-marked for the Lions and captaincy from an early age, but that John Barclay has not quite materialised yet despite a long run unchallenged in the Scotland 7 shirt. Now entering his prime, he still represents a top signing for someone.
John Barclay said: “The club has been a huge part of my life since I turned professional and I’ve learnt a lot from the coaches and players that I’ve worked with at the Warriors.
“I’d like to thank everyone associated with the club for their support over the last nine years and I’m looking forward to being involved in some big games between now and the end of the season.”
Over on Twitter though he cast a slightly sadder figure, saying “Disappointing not to be a Warrior next season. This squad will go far.”
With no announcement of a destination – although Lyon are rumoured to be close to capturing his signature and Leicester have also been mentioned out in the ether – it seems like perhaps his wage was deemed too much to carry at the Warriors, as it seems like he would have been happy to remain at a club clearly going places.
However with the other two Killer B’s thriving in Montpellier and, um, Watford and both back in the national side, perhaps Scotland’s dream team of recent years may yet be reunited via paths unknown.