Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Huw Jones Set For Glasgow, Bennett Out?

Huw Jones - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Huw Jones - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Glasgow Warriors have signed Huw Jones ahead of the 2017/18 season, confirming a deal that has been much-rumoured in recent weeks.

Edinburgh-born Jones, who currently plays Super Rugby in South Africa with the Stormers, has signed a two-year-deal at Scotstoun.

He made his Scotland debut against Japan in 2016 and scored two tries during a Man of the Match performance against Australia at BT Murrayfield later that year and is currently with the Scotland squad as the only 6 Nations player attached to a Southern Hemisphere club. He has 4 international caps so far.

Capable of playing at centre, full-back or on the wing, the 23-year-old is committed to the Stormers and Western Province for their respective 2017 Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns so may well not join up until after Dave Rennie; the Currie Cup runs until October and Western Province are usually there or thereabouts in the later stages.

To date, Jones has made 24 appearances for the Stormers in Super Rugby, scoring five tries during his time in Cape Town. He has also played 16 times for Western Province and finished 2016 as the joint top try scorer in the Currie Cup with seven in six appearances.

Speaking of the deal, Jones said: “I really like working with Jason (O’Halloran) as a coach, we work well together at Scotland and obviously he has worked with Dave Rennie before. I’ve never worked with Dave but he’s been really successful with the Chiefs, so I’m really looking forward to working with world class coaches.”

The move also adds weight to suggestions (in the Sunday Times) that Mark Bennett, who has yet to sign a new deal, will be on the move from the Warriors. Newcastle and Edinburgh have been touted as possible destinations for Scotland’s other fleet-footed centre. Edinburgh’s midfield in particular would benefit from a touch of International class and although on paper today it seems like a step down, based on Edinburgh’s ambitions as a club it would be a sensible if less glamorous move for now.

UPDATE (7/2): Further fuel to the fire today with the news that back up centres Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg have also been retained by Glasgow. Johnson has signed a new two-year deal while Grigg a one-year extension to his existing deal. As mentioned above, Glasgow already have Jones and Dunbar signed up and the rumours when Seymour and Swinson announced were that Horne’s deal is also done; they may be waiting for his return to fitness to announce. That leaves Bennett and Richie Vernon (also due an injury comeback soon) as the only centres at Glasgow without new deals. Edinburgh could do worse than snap up Vernon too…

74 Responses

  1. Great signing for Glasgow, Jones has the same ‘x-factor’ that Hogg has and will strengthen an already excellent backs division.

    Bennett worries me. In 2015 he looked almost as good as Jones does now, but now he looks short of confidence and a half step slower than he was. I think that a move to Edinburgh would dent his confidence further, but he’s too good for the likes of Newcastle. Perhaps a return to France?

    1. I agree that he shouldn’t go to the Falcons but he’ll walk into the Edinburgh starting XV and I think he would flourish given extra game time. If his confidence is battered by not being first choice (not saying that is the reason) then it is a move that makes sense. Playing off Watson, Tovey and Hoyland and in with the young guns might suit him.

      1. Edinburgh’s problems run much deeper than a lack of quality in the centres. Will his development benefit from playing for a club that floats around 8-10 in the league and plays in the challenge cup? It seems a very poor club for a young player who is still one of our brightest talents.

      2. As an Edinburgh guy I really hope Bennett comes over to us but, looking at the Munster game on Friday especially, I can’t see anyone playing well off Tovey, he had a nightmare and the sooner Edinburgh get a 10 who can launch a backline the better – Hastings?

      3. Josh Henderson played pretty well for the U20s on Friday, very sharp and (barring the last place kick) good off the boot. Not to mention the puddin’ putting in his best Scotland performance to date on Saturday.

      4. As I said several blogs ago Bennet is a home bird. I cannot see him going to Edinburgh however Newcastle is commutable . It didnt do Jonny Wilkinson’s career any harm though he needed to tackle till his shoulders were suspect. I would say MB needs to get away from the SRU rotation policy, get a game every week and get noticed. Falcons is a gamble, however if that is the career plan, I can see the logic.

        I wonder who might be next to head south !!

    2. I would have thought that Bennett could do a lot better than Newcastle. They always seem to be floating near the bottom of the premiership. Look at the damage the London Irish move did to Maitland.

      1. To be fair – what ever way you cut it Maitland is now playing for the European champions so maybe it wasn’t all bad being at LI. As for Newcastle, I think they are expected to get Mermoz aswell after his short term deal with the Tigers finishes – a backline of Mermoz, Bennett, Goneva, Watson and Alex Tait isn’t too shabby – don’t think it would be as bad a move as some predict.

      2. It would be great to see Bennett at Edinburgh, he’d be wasted as a sub at Glasgow. It’s not like guys like Watson, Bradbury and Kinghorn aren’t flourishing there, it’s a decent squad of players that is underperforming right now. Edinburgh really need a class centre. Regarding Tovey, i’m wondering if it might be worth poaching Dan Parks as backs coach to get it sorted. Get Parks and Tovey should flourish.

      3. Martin: I am a critic of Maitland however have just seen him play an outstanding role in the best game we have seen at Murrayfield in the 6N (IMO) so something is working. He was a bit lazy at Glasgow but based on last week ends performance , he is sharp as a dart now.

  2. Jones coming under the wing of the SRU is great news in terms of his game time management. It would be a shame if Bennett was to move outwith Scotland and be put on the Aviva or Top 14 treadmill. I’d prefer if both were retained in Scotland.

    I think that the SRU would love to move Bennett along the M8 as it would be hugely beneficial to Edinburgh to have his talent in the backs alongside Hoyland, Kinghorn etc, but is that necessary? Why not keep him at Glasgow? Richie Vernon is coming back to fitness and has been good enough to play for Scotland at 13, so why not move him to Edinburgh, and keep Bennett at Scotstoun? You could even add in someone like Nick Grigg so that Edinburgh build some depth.

    Can you imagine Dave Rennie being able to work with a midfield group of Russell, Horne, Dunbar, Jones and Bennett? This is the sustained level of quality that clubs such as Saracens, Wasps, Toulon etc aspire to build. The added benefit for Scotland is that each player gets regular game time, but the Glasgow squad doesn’t suffer when they are rested.

    If Bennett must move outside Scotland – possibly because of overall increases in wage bills at Edinburgh and Glasgow – then I have no problem with him going to a club like Newcastle. They are beginning to turn the corner from being perennial strugglers and Dean Richards has them playing a tidy brand of rugby. This season they have beaten most of the teams above them, only getting turned over properly in 3 games against Sarries, Wasps and Bath. Much the same was made of Matt Scott going to “mid-table” Gloucester, and look at the debate about him missing out on VC’s 6N squad.

  3. Can’t agree with some of the comments here that Mark Bennett would benefit by moving to Edinburgh?
    Like Ade says, he’d be better off going to one of the bigger English or french clubs like Bath, Gloucester, Clermont or Montpellier.
    That’s assuming that he is leaving. I’d have thought it more likely that Richie Vernon (remember him) would leave.

  4. Bennet would be best heading somewhere that isn’t Edinburgh just now. I’d be delighted if he came but honestly, might be best for him to get a gig elsewhere. I’d love to see him in France where his defense would be improved and his attacking flair would be appreciated. Going to the dirge of the Aviva would be a waste.

    1. In fairness I’d say the English league is less of a dirge than the Top14. The Pro12 is probably the NH league with the most expansive rugby on show.

    2. What are you on about. The top 14 is utter garbage. There is no back play. It’s is the definition of durge.

  5. Should we be concerned that Jones won’t be playing Super Rugby any more? Can’t help but wonder if he’s the player he is due to his development at the Stormers, facing Super Rugby opposition.

    I know we want to keep as much top talent playing at Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I just hope he continues to develop and expand his game at Glasgow

    Speaking of Super Rugby converts, what’s the latest on Hardie? Can we say his form hasn’t dipped a little after a few seasons in the Pro12?

    Glasgow are an exiting club with a bright future, fingers crossed he likes it there

    1. Hardie-wise might also be a) second-season syndrome, b) a hangover from essentially 2 seasons back to back plus c) injuries. I guess time will tell if he picks up again.

      The main thing I think is probably to keep Jones’s workload fairly low through Oct-Nov and into Dec, working towards 6N 2018.

    2. Maitland is another one, was he not top try scorer one year? Since coming here he has been good but he hasn’t really set the heather on fire either. While I feel Bennett will not flourish initially at Edinburgh, they won’t get better unless they get better players. Some spark in the backs is what they need and Bennett offers that.

      If Jones is as good as people in the know make out then the prospect of him, Russell and Hogg playing together makes my mouth water slightly!

    3. Nicholas : wise council ineeded , he was happy in SA and I suspect the whole package suited him there, on and off the pitch. It takes a certain type of athlete to perform on in the drizzle on a wet friday night at scotstoun, with a 4k strong vocal crowd, in temperatures anywhere between 2 and 6 degrees Centigrade. Like you I think this move is a few years too early however , if it works out what a combination we will have at Glasgow. I am wondering if the rest of the squad are ready for an ex Millfield boy.

    4. Jones may well be the player he is because he played in Super Rugby but rather than stunt his development a move to playing in the Pro 12 and Champions Cup can only aide his development .Playing with and against different players and learning from different coaches can only be a positive,
      “on Hardie? Can we say his form hasn’t dipped a little after a few seasons in the Pro12?” Hardie first played for Edinburgh after the Autumn Internationals in 2015 and has played in 1 game since the Autumn Internationals 2016 . Not sure where you are getting a few seasons from , he has appeared in a grand total of 16 games for Edinburgh!!

      1. 2 seasons: 2015 with Highlanders in NZ, 2015/16 with Edinburgh.

        This is also his second season ate Edinburgh…

        I think that adds up? (From memory)

  6. Disappointing that Favaro and Strauss are being let go. Glasgow dont really have a tackle buster in the back row to speak of.

    1. £££ I guess – Rennie probably going to have a hand in more signings anyway and mom-capped Super Rugby players aren’t particularly expensive

      1. Favaro is true blood and guts, a warrior in every sense, we must be running out of blood transfusions down at the Princess Elizabeth, sorry to see us lose him. I am not looking forward to Edinburgh derbys watching them chosing between Watson and Hardie while the only one of their type has left Glasgow . However , we have been here before, have faith.

  7. Very disappointed if Strauss and Favoro leave Glasgow.
    Two of my favourite players who have contributed much.
    Favoro particularly is a kamikaze. I love watching him play and admire him greatly. There is no one on the books currently like either of these players.
    Does anyone have a handle on the real reasons, and whether the new coach is being contacted on contracts and new players?

    1. Should be absolutely astonished if Rennie isn’t being consulted on the comings and goings. He and Gregor go back a bit, so I imagine there’s no lack of communication.

    2. Strauss is a sizeable wage bill (if rumour is to be believed) and with only 4k men, women and children through the gate, the income is capped . I hate to talk money but I wonder if there is a mismatch in expectations. I doubt he will be able to justify an increment elsewhere so it might just be his time.

      1. Think you are selling the Glasgow crowd short. I haven’t been at a game this year that hasn’t been full or nearly full. Think crowds are generally 6.5-7k. There are 5,000 season ticket holders according to email today about Saracens tickets.

      2. Sean i think the size of the Glasgow crowd wont play into it too much. I would be surprised if the ticket sales for the full season even cover Stuarts Hoggs wages never mind all the rest of the sqaud. The vast majority of the budget will come from the SRU .

      3. Hi billy, sorry i think we are talking at slightly cross purposes. My point is that a couple of times in this thread there has been reference to Glasgow’s 4,000 crowds. Maybe two or three years ago but not now. I think that Glasgow selling out Scotstoun for nearly every game is a positive.

        I do agree that the limiting factor is the size of the stadium which is why the SRU attempting to sell the franchise will be difficult, I would expect.
        I would estimate that Glasgow generate about £1.4m from ticket sales (5,000 x 200 + 1,500 x 20 x 14 – hopefully that takes into account children’s tickets as these are bottom price adult tickets and dont assume the ground is sold out) – this is a sizeable contribution to the total ticket sales in 2015/2016 of c£7m (SRU total) from such a small stadium and a team who has increased attendances from 2.5k about 4 years ago to 7k now – this is what I was suggesting should be applauded. To grow rugby in Scotland I think it is important to have a strong Glasgow side therefore i think it is entirely reasonable for the SRU to provide funds to Glasgow (and Edinburgh) as required.

  8. Apparently Callum Gibbins is coming in from the Hurricanes as a replacement openside. But a lack of big ball carriers is a real worry in our back row. Wilson and Harley are big units but aren’t really suited to breaking tackles and getting across the gain line. Fusaro has been a great servant to the club but he’s not really achieved the same levels as the others. I wonder if John Barclay could be tempted back?

    1. Wouldn’t really class Barclay as a ball carrier either. If Strauss goes the Ashe is the main backrow ball carrier left. Im looking forward to seeing how he develops after his promising start was stalled by injury. I’ll be very surprised if Rennie doesn’t bring in a NSQ ball carrier to replace Strauss though. Him and Favaro going will be freeing up a lot of wages.

      As fantastic as Favaro has been I think the management probably think he’s a bit too much of a luxury. Injury prone, partly due to his incredible kamikazee approach, and away for both AIs and 6N. He’ll not be short of suitors in England and France though, so good luck to him

  9. I’m a bit gutted Favaro is leaving, he always gives 100%, but clearly his wage demands didn’t balance with the amount of time he is lost to injuries and International commitments.

    Don’t know much about Callum Gribbins but you don’t play more than 20 games for the Hurricanes without being halfway decent, and being kept out the side by Ardie Savea is no disgrace. I wonder if Dave Rennie had a say in this particular signing. Might we expect some more Super Rugby squad players to make the trip to Glasgow?

    1. Scotland having an upturn in performance over the last 2-3 years plus the success of the likes of Strauss, Nel, and to a lesser extent Du Preez, coupled with the appointment of Rennie will IMO make Scotland a more popular destination for Kiwis in their mid 20s who think the chance of the ABs has gone.

  10. It’s a shame that the LangiLangi experiment didn’t work. It was probably the Glasgow weather which was responsible. (Can’t create LA at Scotstoun)
    Our single back row tackle breaker (Strauss) is now leaving and I’m wondering where the go-forward will be in tight matches.
    I suppose the locks are all big lads (Gray, Peterson, Brian, Uanivi and Cummins) but our back row are a bit lightweight.
    Stewat Simpson – I like Barclay as well, but you can never go back.

    1. pragmatic optimist – sometimes you can go back – Sean Lamont didn’t work out too bad!

      1. Agreed. I was reading that John Barclays kids speak Welsh. It probably means his kids can play for Wales. That would be a shocker.

      2. Considering how often I read snide comments from Welsh rugby people getting on their high horse about other nations playing “imports” of some form or another, that would be hugely ironic.

  11. Bennet could be a great player. He has obviously lost confidence and stagnated.
    He really needs to increase his muscle mass to reach his potential. Far too slight to be a successful test level centre.

    A good French side would be a great move for him..where he would learn to defend better and also be encouraged to use his flair.

  12. They have to break the bank for Strauss, unless they have a ready made, sufficiently mature replacement. They surely can’t be relying Ashe given the length of injury!

  13. How big a ball carrier is Strauss actually? Yes he’s a big guy but if you compare him to all the number 8s in the six nations for me he’s significantly behind everyone else faletau, picamoles, heaslip, vunipola, parisse in terms of his ability to break the line and offload. We just don’t have many great alternatives at the moment.

    Think it’s Almost certain Rennie will bring in more super rugby players and one out and out 8 to compete with ashe and Wilson. That’s no bad thing as think Ashe could be very good and Wilson has improved greatly, especially in his discipline.

    1. Strauss has always been hugely destructive at Pro12 level, on a par with Stander in seasons past (at least to my admittedly biased eyes). However, whereas Stander took to international rugby like a duck to water, Strauss hasn’t replicated his club form for Scotland, at least not yet.

      I have confidence that he’ll grow into his role though. A good placeholder until our young 8s in Denton, Ashe and Bradbury mature.

      1. Ashe needs to get back to full fitness. A prospect, sure. Bradbury likewise. Denton – yes, a big guy, but one dimensional and on the periphery at Bath.

        Like to see CdP get a run, even if it’s the Italy game.

        If we don’t have behemoths then better to fully understand all the options. Back row has generally gone decently of late, and let’s remember BVC is one of that fraternity, so he ought to know much better than us.

        On that note, Sunday should be illluminating as to whether Scotland can do a Glasgow and run the big boys off their feet. Cut out the errors, and therefore the scrums, well possible.

      2. For me CduP goes ‘missing’ far too often and for far too long in games to be considered an improvement on Strauss – good skill set and physicality but too inconsistent

      3. Bradbury shows the potential to be a fully rounded 8. I know BVC has given Magnus homework on his breakdown work, but as a destructive ball carrying, line breaking, off-loading, hard tackling, breakaway he has pretty much all the credentials. At 1.93m and 113 kg he fits comfortably amongst most other nations’ 8s, and he’ll fill out a bit yet. He is also not adverse to sticking up for himself/noising up the opposition, which you need a bit of. Fairly precocious for a 21 year old.

  14. Number 8 is the one area where I feel we’re way behind the rest of the 6N. What wouldn’t I give for a Kieran Read type player, and for all that I think Ashe is a good player, he’s not ever going to be as good as the likes of Read, Picamoles, or Vunipola.

  15. Think we need a bit of patience here, yes we all want to hear positive news, but Rennie is a top coach by any standard. He and Gregor will have spoken, and I’m sure he will have identified what’s needed. This is (NH at least) when sides are built for next season.

    I absolutely agree that we really are short of a HUGE number 8. We’ve coped fine till now in the Pro 12, but if Glasgow are going to cut it regularly in Europe, that’s where I would see the major weakness.

    Might yet have to face Vunipola (not prop) at Sarries.

    Let’s see.

  16. Strauss looked like he was finally adjusting to international level against Ireland. He will get better and better from here on in , I feel.

    Bradbury and Ashe are excellent prospects…but they are a year or 2 short of challenging for 1st choice 8 at international level.

    Denton? I dont know what to make of him. The guy is built to be a top no8 but far too often plays like a fairy…I dont get it. Has the physical attributes but just doesn’t use them well.

    CDP should get a shot at it during this 6nations to show us what he can do. If Wilson could bulk up a bit he could be good nasty no8. Has the aggression and handling skills but not quite the physique…kinda the opposite of Denton.

    1. I don’t get the hate for Denton. He frequently runs through suckers (McCaw, Ross et al.) and was great in the RWC.

      1. Hate is a bit strong TeamCam! He’s been the subject of lots of comment on previous blogs. There is a line of thought, to which I admittedly subscribe, that he is one dimensional. He can charge into contact but can’t pass or offload, and generally doesn’t have the skill set for a top number 8.
        He can run through people when he’s in form, but not often enough. He’s also on the ‘sick list’ with monotonous regularity.
        Hate. I think not.
        We’re just looking for the Scottish Vunipola and are disappointed that he isn’t it.

      2. When Denton first came on the scene I was impressed, but for me he hasn’t lived up to his early promise and is, as has already been mentioned, a bit one-dimensional – smash into tackler then recycle, no pass, no offload.

        Tongue firmly in cheek but he may be a bolter for the Lions as he would be perfectly suited to Gatlandball!

      3. I don’t mean just here, but in general there seems to be a lot of hate for Denton, and I’ve seen him pass and offload like a rugby player, not least in the RWC. As Rory says, that injury has been really detrimental to him, but if he can get back to the level he was at in 2015, that’d be ace. IMO.

  17. I think the hand of the SRU is at work here, and deftly so. Strauss is now capped, so there will be an increase in his contract “demands” as he is a more valuable player – quite rightly so. The same case can be argued for Favaro – great player that he is, if he is playing for Italy, or on the treatment table, can you justify his wage?

    As a project player, the aim would always have been to get Strauss tied to Scotland if he proved his worth. I think he has, and will continue to do so, even at a club outwith Scotland. Although his game time will not be under SRU control, back row is a position where there is considerable depth at the moment, and this looks likely to continue. Hardie, Watson, Harley, Barclay, Strauss, Bradbury, Wilson, Ashe all strong contenders. Then you look at guys like Ritchie, Wynne and Fagerson Jnr and you have continuity. So is it really necessary to keep Strauss at Glasgow?

    I would expect that Rennie is having a considerable degree of input on who is retained/signed, but in conjunction with the SRU’s need to balance the books and continue to provide opportunities for developing Scots players. I think this is very sensible, and I hope that they can strike the right line between maintaining Glasgows’ current strength and success, and building the Scotland squad.

    As for Denton – make no mistake it would be great to have him back. He had an impressive RWC, but he needs to demonstrate that he can continue that form if he is to push his way back into the Scotland squad. If he reverts to the bosh merchant he was before the RWC then he is back up material only – Scotland need players with wider skill sets to play in the style we have seen in recent games.

    Which brings me to Cornell du Preez – with all the Scots qualified back row talent available, and in the pipeline, what does he bring to the table to earn a run in the blue of Scotland? Does he tackle like Wilson? Compete at the breakdown like Hardie? Make a complete pest of himself like Watson or Harley? For me CdP is a very capable club player, but as was mentioned above he can go missing in games. I’m not convinced that he has what is required at Test level, and I don’t think the Scotland team is in the doldrums of a few years back where we would cap someone just in case.

    1. I think CdP would be a good impact sub in a few of the six nations games, but probaly best to wait till the summer tour when watson and hardie are touring with the lions.

      1. I believe the World Rugby vote to extent the qualifying period via residency to 5 years is scheduled for a meeting in May. Would they introduce it with immediate effect? If so, CdP needs to be capped this 6N to qualify him now.

      2. I think you have forgotten who is picking the Lions squad!!

        Frankly for reasons stated by FF, I would get CdP capped sooner rather than later.

  18. Ade, you could very well be right, but………….

    Re Cornell Du Preez I get the impression he may could well be a big game player/ a guy who’d be “to the manor born” @ international level, he has more beef, better hands than the guys you mention & has a great broken game ability.

    1. You never know he could be more like Hardie and Nel than Strauss, who took a while to settle in at International level. The former two weren’t all that amazing in the Pro12 but were instantly effective at the top level.

      1. Rory I don’t think Hardie played for Edinburgh prior to the RWC so didn’t have the chance to amaze. CduP has a way to go to get to Hardie’s level.

      2. Only one way to find out. BVC has him in the squad so I imagine we will see him at some stage, even if it’s only off the bench against Italy. Plenty in front of him in the taxi rank, but IMHO nothing to lose by capping him and Italy game looks most likely right now. Couple of serious injuries (heaven forbid) might change that assessment.

  19. Really it’s a Great signing for Glasgow for 2 years in Scottish rugby. In 6 nations opening weekend Glasgow gives many dramatic action over Ireland. I appreciate it!

  20. BBC article says that Fagerson and Allen are the only props Glasgow have signed for next year. Rae, Reid and Sears Duru are out of contract. Even with Kibble, 3 props isn’t enough.

    1. I would expect them to be looking to tie up Rae and Reid at very least. DSJ I’m not so sure about. A full season will need at least 6 props to cope with injuries, call ups, loss of form

      What I would really love to see would be Magnus Bradbury make a switch to a warriors. Bad for Edinburgh but great for him and Glasgow

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