Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Everyone hits the road

Chris Cusiter - pic © Al Ross
Chris Cusiter - pic © Al Ross

Sale Sharks scrum-half Chris Cusiter announced his retirement this week, with his spot already filled in Manchester by Mike Phillips. Cusiter has announced plans to relocate to Los Angeles to sell whisky and craft beer to Americans which sounds like a going concern for a man of his affable nature. Cusiter retires with 70 Scotland caps – eight of them as captain  – including two Rugby World Cups, and six appearances for the British and Irish Lions. During his club career he had two spells for the Warriors as well as time at the Border Reivers and Perpignan before finishing at Sale.

Hot on the heels of Mike Blair hanging up his playing boots, it all but closes the book on a golden generation for Scottish scrum halves. Cusiter was always a favourite here at SRB towers with the trademark tenacity and defensive workrate that has long been a trademark of the navy number 9 shirt. His attacking skills may have been underestimated in comparison with Blair but his break could be equally effective and his passing was arguable the better of the two.

What price those two playing with the Scotland team we have now?

We wish Chris all the best with his future plans.

Another retiree this week was former Glasgow lock Tom Ryder, who earned 2 caps for Scotland on the tour of the Pacific Islands and made 87 appearances for Glasgow Warriors.

Speaking of Mike Blair, he’s off to the Canterbury high performance unit as one half of the Macphail coaching scholarship alongside Ayr coach Calum Forrester, where he’s sure to pick up a few tricks.

Not everyone hits the panic button when approaching the 30-mark though. New Edinburgh loosehead prop Nick Beavon has been given a one year deal at the golden age of 29. Beavon, who started playing for Melrose Minis and worked his way through the Borders age grades, made his club debut in the black and yellow when he was 17.

Until the age of 15 he played fullback/centre, citing Alan Tait as a role model. Beavon also took time out to play rugby during time spent in Australia and New Zealand. A self-employed joiner, Beavon has been training with Edinburgh on a trial basis since January and Solomons clearly likes the look of him. The only shame would be if he turns out to be a diamond that he wasn’t unearthed sooner.

Down south, Ruaridh Jackson has escaped the prospect of benchwarming for Danny Cipriani at Wasps with a canny move to Harlequins where he should be more likely to get regular starts – if he can stay injury free. He’ll also get a chance to team up with Tim Visser.

No word yet on the squad of Scots at London Irish who have been relegated (Cowan, Maitland etc), although rumours are that Sean Maitland may be off to Saracens which seems a distinct possibility given he was thought to be unhappy even when Irish were still in the top flight.

Finally here are the teams for the big games this weekend, Edinburgh vs Cardiff and Glasgow’s winner-takes-all semi-final decider over in Galway.

Glasgow Warriors team to play Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday 7 May, kick-off 3pm, live on BBC One Scotland:

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Alex Dunbar, 12. Peter Horne, 11. Lee Jones, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Gordon Reid, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Sila Puafisi, 4. Leone Nakarawa, 5. Jonny Gray (Captain), 6. Rob Harley, 7. Ryan Wilson, 8. Josh Strauss
Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Simone Favaro, 21. Grayson Hart, 22. Mark Bennett, 23. Sean Lamont

Not available due to injury: Alex Allan (concussion), Junior Bulumakau (foot), Rory Clegg (ankle), Jarrod Firth (concussion), Ryan Grant (arm), Sam Johnson (hamstring), Henry Pyrgos (neck), Fergus Scott (shoulder) and Richie Vernon (shoulder).

A strong team this one and a strong bench too. The loss of Pyrgos aside, Gregor Townsend is going all out for that home semi with the tantalising proposition of a final at Murrayfield at the end of the road and every advantage to get there being used. Hopefully three huge games ahead, but this one will have a strong bearing on how the next one goes. The Warriors still look a little unsettled up front and that I’m sure will be an area Gregor looks to strengthen.

Edinburgh team to play Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield on Saturday 7 May, kick-off 3pm

Dougie Fife, Damien Hoyland, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss, Tom Brown, Jason Tovey, Sean Kennedy; Rory Sutherland, Ross Ford (captain), WP Nel, Anton Bresler,, Ben Toolis, Nasi Manu, Hamish Watson, Cornell Du Preez.
Replacements: Stuart McInallys, Allan Dell, John Andress, Alex Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, Chris Dean, Will Helu

Interesting one this, with a backline that will almost completely change next season although Tovey may well be offered an extension to keep Duncan Weir on his toes and add valuable depth at 10. There is a welcome sign of what Edinburgh might offer next campaign with Nasi Manu finally returning to the team after a long layoff. While a back row of Manu, Hardie and Du Preez would be a serious unit it does mean the younger Scottish lads will have to truly earn starting places, something they have been able to do recently.

9 Responses

  1. That would look to be arguably the strongest team Glasgow can put out with the full squad available. The only exception would be Pyrgos, I hope he becomes available for the semi-final.

    Ruaridh should be in for a few starts, someone mentioned Ben Botica is moving and it seems to have been confirmed that he is going to Montpellier. Good news for Jackson next season.

      1. Props are always a bit later to hit their prime, will be exciting to see the likes of Fagerson when he gets to late 20’s early 30’s. Nick Evans is 35 and definitely getting on a bit, for reference Andy Goode is 36!

  2. I just LOVE reading through that Glasgow teamsheet. The smile just gets wider and wider. YAHHH!

  3. Does any Scottish player have more Lions caps than CC. At least since the days of Hastings and Calder?

    1. what 1?!

      Since you mentioned Hastings (so 1997 is earliest tour we can count players from)

      6: Tom Smith
      2 Bulloch, Townsend, Tait
      1: Cusiter, Wainright, R.Gray, Ford

      1. When it comes to the British Lions there is one name that stands apart, the late Gordon Brown, Three Lions tours and 8 caps. If you were not around in his day, look him up, great player and all fun off the park.

        Broon fae Trron made friends whereever he went ,was taken much too young, but what a legacy.

    1. Think Rory was just making the reference about beavon being just ready to enter his prime at 29 but Evans being past it at 35. Definitely a difference positionally. You would almost certainly not sign an amateur stand-off at such a late stage in his career but it seems fair game for a prop.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion