Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Laidlaw to France; Hogg stays in Glasgow

Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross
Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross

A flurry of transfer news yesterday as it was announced that Stuart Hogg has committed his future to Glasgow until May 2019, while Gloucester and Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is off to Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season.

Hogg has recently married and had a child so staying settled for a while seems like good business all round. Some reports suggest that the contract offered by the Warriors is a good one, and it would have to be to keep Hogg at Glasgow a little longer. The draw of seeing what Dave Rennie might do – and what talent he might attract if the SRU can find the money – must have been a key factor.

He’s still only 24 but despite this has 87 appearances for Glasgow, 45 International Caps and was the youngest member of 2009’s winning British and Irish Lions tour (a Lions test cap is sure to be next on his to-do list). By 2019 he should still have plenty of years ahead of him with which to venture further abroad should he choose. He will be arguably at his peak as a rugby player – which could be quite a peak if he continues climbing on the same gradient.

Speaking of which, Greig Laidlaw is off to France, a country where the goal-kicking, Petit General style of scrum-half-ery is much revered. He should slot in well over there assuming he’s been brushing up on his Fijijan, and the less charitable amongst us might argue that his more relaxed approached to quick ball will fit in to a French system that seems to have long since lost the flair for which their national team was once renowned.

Laidlaw (31) has been at Gloucester since 2014 and is currently the club captain, which shows the regard he is held in down in the West Country. He’ll be following in the footsteps of Paul Burnell, Jason White and Nathan Hines pitching up in Clermont-Ferrand. Gloucester Director of Rugby David Humphries said:

“While we are sorry to see him go, the offer Greig received from France was too good to turn down and, at the end of the season, we will wish him all the best for the rest of his career.”

The move to Vern Cotter’s old club Clermont could well see him through to the end of his career – he’ll be 34 by the end of the contract – hard to argue against if the money they put on the table was silly.

19 Responses

  1. Great news for Glasgow. A wee bit of luck perhaps that Hoggy has put down strong roots, but never the less excellent work by the management/SRU in securing him for at least a couple more years. He must be worth a fortune. Fair play to Greig as well. He has done very well at Gloucester and I’m sure the move will help him build up a bit of a nest egg. I really hope I get to hear him speak French (with just a wee hint of Jed…) at some point.

    1. This is an excellent piece of business by the SRU. Hogg is probably our ‘showcase’ player. To keep him at Glasgow with the vast sums being bandied about is great news. Good for Glasgow, good for Scotland.

      1. I’m sure it’ll help keep other big names at Glasgow too. I think the recruitment of Dave Rennie probably has a big role to play. Who wouldn’t want to stick around and see if he can repeat his magic at Glasgow?

  2. France always the place for those who have and can played both 9 and 10. And whilst I don’t think he was ever an international 10, I saw him run and win the game for Glaws at Sale from outside half last season.
    There are whispers that CA want Laidlaw to pack in Scotland in return for the contract, but we’ll see. But totally agree it’s a move anyone would be silly to turn down at this stage of their career.

    1. I also heard they were looking for him to give up his international duties but can’t remember or find the source.

      Scrum half options for the national squad are interesting. Pygros hasn’t done much on the international scene and I have a feeling that Price might offer something more at that level. He looks really sharp. What do you think?

    2. Laidlaw has been responsible for more winning games for Scotland over the last 5 years than probably any other player. Second test v Japan for starters. It’s crazy how Scotland fans underrate him.

      1. Good point, FF. For me it’s not so much underrating him as being frustrated by him at key moments in games when he appears languid or is at least not concentrating enough. He’s still a great soldier though and his place kicking from inside 40 metres is right up there with the best.

  3. Glasgow’s retention of Stuart Hogg, probably the best attacking full-back in the British Isles with an (often underused) siege gun boot, is good news for club and country. Well done, Warriors/SRU.
    Good luck to Greig. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea when wearing the thistle, but few could ever doubt his commitment. I hope he does well and earns very well overseas. On Jimmy Bond’s question, tough to pick an obvious SH successor to Laidlaw (assuming he does give up or is removed from the Scotland scene). Pyrgos remains a strong contender, and from what I’ve seen and read, Sam H-C seems not to be delivering on the promise he showed a season and a half ago. Think we will see Greig keeping the shirt for the AIs, with lots of thinking for selectors to do in the run up to 6N 2017.

    1. I don’t think Pyrgos is ever going to make it as an outstanding test player to be honest. He’s had a few chances and not really risen above mediocre. At pro-12 level he is classy and smart and makes Glasgow tick, but he needs to take it to another level. I think Price has more potential, he looks pretty precocious to me and if SHC ever gets out of his funk he has all the necessary attributes. But I’ve never seen any of them boss a game as well as Laidlaw, when he dragged us over the line against Samoa after our midfield decided tackling was optional for the day, or for our great victory against Argentina last time they visited Murrayfield. We’ll miss him when he’s gone, I tells ya…

  4. Great for Glasgow that Hogg is staying but lets be honest, that would have cost a lot of cash. One of the best attacking players in the world must have been on the radar for every top club in England and France. Will be interesting to see the balance.

  5. For me Price and Fraser are the heirs apparent to the 9 and 21 jerseys. Price to bring the excitement and pace and Fraser to bring the control and direction. Mini Horne and Vellacott will also be up there if the former can refine his passing from the base and the latter can avoid any further injury. Horne also has the added advantage of an accurate kicking boot.

    For me SHC is a fullback being played out of position. All of his best contributions come in broken field play, he is an intelligent reader of the game, has real pace and a clever boot. Hope his talent doesn’t get wasted…

    1. Robbie what do you make of Kennedy at Edinburgh? He looks to me to have taken a decent leap forward based on what I’ve seen of him this season vs previous efforts. Price is definitely the front runner of the next generation though.

      1. All three of the Edinburgh scrum-halfs are potential losses come the end of the season. They only re-signed Fowles and Kennedy for a year, which doesn’t exactly bode well.

        Before this season started, I had Kennedy down as the most likely to be replaced by Fraser next summer, but SHC going off the boil has raised questions, though I still believe him to be the most talented rugby player of the 3, if not truly a scrum half (yet).

        Kennedy’s been around too long and hasn’t done enough to excite. He directed the game well against Treviso the other day but he doesn’t ask enough questions of opposition teams (and tbf, it was Treviso).

        I believe Laidlaw will be the Scotland 9 this year and then for 1 year of his Clermont contract. That gives everyone else two years to put their best foot forward.

        For me, the likes of Price, mini-Horne, Fraser, Shiel, & Vellacott are on a different level to either Kennedy or Fowles.

  6. I don’t really think Pygros can be written off, he has played some wonderful rugby for Glasgow. Vs Japan in the RWC Scotland only got on top when a combination of Nel, tiredness & Laidlaw where introduced to the game.

    1. Think you mean v USA in RWC. Laidlaw and Nel started against Japan.

      I didn’t mean to write Pyrgos off, Laidlaw only really emerged slowly from Blair’s shadow when he was already quite a senior player. But Pyrgos is more experienced than most of his peers at Glasgow and Scotland, but he only looks like a leader for the former. He’s a scrum half so that needs to change and Scotland needs all the leaders it can get as we still look a bit callow.

      1. Or the second test against Japan in the summer? Either way, it’s true that Laidlaw has been central to many of our victories, or better performances of late. When the pack are going forward, Laidlaw plays well. I think one of the key things is that he commands the game. When he came on in that 2nd Japan test all of the players upped their game. He seems to instill belief and suddenly everyone looked like they knew what they were doing. He will indeed be missed (unless someone else steps up a few notches with their game management and composure – not to mention goal kicking).

  7. Yes FF you are correct, it was USA (did have several beers in Leeds that day). Actually last night was a fine example of Pygros – he had a very good game, the Glasgow forwards put in a great shift & that meant that Pygros had foot front ball & was able to supply Russell crisply & quickly. I still think Pygros is better suited to the Scottish style but Laidlaw has won us a few games.
    On another note Fagarson had a great game last night v Genge (England squad member & very highly rated at England/Leicester) & latterly a big wild haired Samoan internationalist (immediately YC’d when he came on)

  8. So Autumn Internationals Squad/team thoughts?

    It’s a strange one at the moment with a few question marks around injuries and more positions that usual facing a fair bit of competition (fantastic to have).

    If we played tomorrow and based on current form and injuries I would go with:


    That said come next month I could easily see any of Dickinson, Brown, Ford, WP, Gilchrist, Hardie, Strauss, Du Preez (debut), Taylor, Dunbar, Maitland or Hoyland in that line up. Then Sutherland, Ritchie, Barclay, Pyrgos, Weir and Lamont offer some pretty good replacement options on top.

    It is great to see Fagerson on such top form but that doesn’t stop me really worrying about our tighthead options if the rumours that WP’s injury is worse that first thought prove to be true. There’s not really any other international quality options and Fagerson still only has, what, 1 cap?

    Laidlaw will and should stay as starting SH through the rest of Vern’s tenure. Can we not forget that he was shortlisted for player of the RWC just over a year ago and I think it took him about 4 or 5 matches this season to miss a kick for Gloucester. Pyrgos is a fine replacement though to be sure in the case of injury, international retirement or the need for a more Glasgow-esque attacking game.

    I would like to see a similar team to previous played against Australia – nothing too unfamiliar – then start mixing in more of the Hoyland, Reid, Watson type players (maybe Du Preez?) against Argentina. I would also like to see Pyrgos promoted against Georgia with Fowles or Price coming on to the bench and maybe even a chance for Bryce, Grigg or Kinghorn in the backs.

    My dilemma comes in at hooker, given the form of McInally and Brown at the moment. For all his faults, Ford is still a great and exceptionally fit player and as a unit with Nel and Dickinson one of the best front rows in the world. I think I would fall down on Starting McInally or Brown, especially if Ford is injured much longer. Who gets the nod would be based solely on their form at the time (or else pick the one that has played with the starting props). It’s close though.

    What do you guys think? Who is replacement tighthead if Nel is injured? Who do you start at centre and on the wings? Does Cowan make the squad? Does Du Preez? Any other young guys or outside shots that you would give a chance to?

    1. Forgot about Huw Jones!

      So that takes it to just the 8 centres that I would happily see make the squad against Georgia. Not bad depth…

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion