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Weir’s Way: Lonely in the Lothians

Duncan Weir
Duncan Weir in action for Edinburgh Rugby vs Benetton Treviso in the Guinness Pro14 at Myreside, Edinburgh - pic © Al Ross/ Novantae Photography

Edinburgh’s backroom department have been busy in recent weeks with Richard Cockerill wasting no time plugging gaps in the areas he must feel lack depth and also in putting his own stamp on the Edinburgh squad for next season. Whilst Glasgow fans may moan that this is Finn Russell’s contract fee going up in smoke as he legs it to France with a fat wallet, I’m not sure that’s how it works with the funding. Edinburgh are also historically funded less than Glasgow and are probably due a shot in the arm.

In recent weeks he has signed up player of the autumn Stuart McInally and lineout wizard Ben Toolis to contract extensions, and last week the capital side announced John Barclay as a marquee signing for next season. While this may mean another openside John Hardie’s days are numbered at the capital club – the silence over his disciplinary issue remains deafening – I would imagine that particular recruitment news would have delighted fans of the Black and Red.

Scottish-qualified prop Elliot Millar-Mills has also been recruited to provide tighthead cover from Yorkshire Carnegie. He has a sister who has played rugby for Scotland and another for England – sure to be lively round the dinner table at Christmas. He’ll be at Edinburgh for the rest of the season and was also with the squad last weekend in South Africa. Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie have today arrived as reinforcements for the second game of the tour against the Southern Kings this weekend.

It is fair to say that the big signing drive has been for playmakers, with three announced in the last two weeks.

23-year-old former Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt (23) joined in sufficient time to do the 3 year project thing and also to head back to his homeland last weekend for the 33-13 loss against the Cheetahs where he replaced Jason Tovey for the second half.

Castleford Tigers U19 stand-off Callum McLelland has come across from League via the new Scottish Qualified programme and some monitoring by our most successful convert Alan Tait. The former England U16 captain’s long term ambition as stated on the Castleford website was to be playing rugby (league) in Australia – but that may change if he can find a foothold under Richard Cockerill in the Edinburgh development system. I’d need someone more versed in the other code to tell me if all standoffs are created equal, but he did play union until the age of 13 so it won’t be wholly unfamiliar.

Joining next season from France is former Auckland Blues, NZ U20 and Bordeaux-Begles standoff Simon Hickey. He has made 16 Super Rugby appearances and 28 Top 14 appearances but is still only 23. He’s got a decent pedigree via King’s College, Auckland but no mention has been made as to whether he is Scottish qualified as he won’t be here in time to do the Project thing, at least not within 3 years. Looking at it from a purely Edinburgh point of view, of the three he’s a signing a cut above Nick McLennan (now with Scotland 7s), Hagen Schulte (now playing in Germany) or even Phil Burleigh (now a Scotsman) of this world in terms of potential.

There is a Duncan Weir shaped elephant (admittedly, not a very big elephant) sitting in the room when discussing the 10 shirt at Edinburgh now that the competition is becoming crowded. Weir has not featured since Edinburgh lost to Zebre in October, although that is largely down to injury. All these new signings could mean that either he or Jason Tovey (the Welshman’s contract expires in May 2018) could be moving on next season.

Or maybe even both.

It would be a shame for Duncan to disappear when Scots 10s are so thin on the ground but with Scotland on the up following a strong autumn, there is no question that Finn Russell and Pete Horne are some distance ahead of him now both in attack and defence. Is our favourite meatball destined to join a fairly lengthy list of workmanlike Scotland standoffs including Dan Parks, Phil Godman and Gordon Ross who often – but not often enough – punched above their weight?

76 Responses

  1. Alas whilst Weir is a solid enough 10 the way Scotland play now it would almost be a shame to ask him to take the field, no threat whatsoever ball in hand he would be a barrier.

    Its clear what RC thinks………………I really hope he makes a success of his career (most likely in the 2nd tier somewhere) where his kicking game may be better utilised.

  2. Unfortunately Weir is yesterday’s man. Had some great times at Glasgow but some of his performances for Edinburgh have been embarrassing. Could do a job for someone who likes to play a territory based kicking game.

    1. Unfortunately that’s out of fashion now……

      I was a bit surprised GT stuck with him at Glasgow as long as he did. Maybe finance..

      Hastings has got off to a decent start at Glasgow and should get plenty more opportunities this season. Hope he kicks on.

      1. Hastings is class. If Townsend is willing to cap a scrum half of Tovey’s ability he should be willing to cap a fly half of Hasting’s. I’d say throw him in sooner than later if he continues to show the kind of form he produced against the Ospreys.

      2. I hope his name is not an obstacle. They will test him just to be sure they are not accused of cronyism. I have to say he looked a cut above even at Bath.

  3. I find it strange to read comments about Weir being one dimensional, capable only of playing a kicking game. In his last season at Glasgow he played a much flatter game as Townsend built the style of play that can now been seen with Scotland. Sure, he isn’t the attacking threat that is Finn Russell, but being honest, who is?

    Hickey and van der Walt are both a bit younger than Weir and Tovey, possibly they being brought in to develop over a couple of years, so the present incumbents are still in the hot seat. The side effect is that Cockers gets two hungry young 10s, keen to make an impact, which will hopefully give him a bit of leverage to inspire a greater degree of consistency from his squad.

    McLelland, unless he is a truly exceptional talent, is one for the medium to long term. I don’t think he will be running out at Myreside in the immediate future – although I hope I’m wrong and he turns out to be some sort of hard-edged RL mix of Russell, Townsend and Rutherford by the age of 19.

    If Weir does get shown the door then I think it could be an opportunity for a Ruaridh Jackson style career reboot. Head south, get exposed to a different rugby culture, improve as a player. Given that fly half is probably the one remaining position where Scotland don’t have huge depths of cover, then we can hardly afford to cast anyone into the wilderness.

  4. Duncy was the man for Glasgow for a long time and really for me has every right to celebrate Glasgow’s success as much as Finn Russell does, in the earlier days he was an able deputy for Dan Parks and at times even Finn was his deputy, thank you for all the work Duncan and you know what he deserves a big payday!

  5. Stand off definitely our position with the least proven depth. Finn is the man obviously. Hastings looks a prospect for the future, Horne is able but suffers slightly from being a ‘utility back’ or at least having come through the ranks with that not always helpful tag. Heathcote is potentially worth another look as he’s got another few years of English prem experience behind him since his last caps. Then there is Weir who at one point we all thought was the great hope at 10. Hoping he gets a suitable move and rediscovers his best form. Eastgate looks another prospect though so it would be good to see a few lads challenging to be Finn’s backup in the next few years.

  6. Does anyone else feel sad and disconcerted about the silence over John Hardie? That man put his body on the line for Scotland again and again. Why is it taking so long for this process to come to an end?

    If the allegations are not true, then he needs to be reinstated as soon as possible. If they are, then let’s get on with it. It seems to me indescribably sad that a man with such gifts, and who seemed like a real gent, would throw it all away in this way. Of course, it’s a serious matter and drug-taking needs to be dealt with strongly, but he also needs support from the rugby community, not a conspiracy of silence or whispers in the background.

    1. Absolutely, couldn’t agree more. Whatever has or hasn’t happened, he should be fully supported and I hope he is being. If he has made a mistake, we all make them!

    2. I really don’t think drug taking needs to be dealt with strongly. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest if he uses drugs in his free time, and I’d go so far as to say it’s no-one’s business but his own unless it interferes with his performance at work, in which case it’s between him and his employers. It’s farcical that it’s taking this long, though.

      1. His alleged personal drug use does impact on his professional self though. Cocaine is a WADA banned substance which carries a minimum 2 year ban, depending on a few things including his previous behavior, willingness to admit to it and the circumstances in which it came to be in his system. Lots of things have to happen before we would be able to know anything. Not least on a personal level, if he has an addiction rather than this being a one off, perhaps he’s seeking treatment and the spotlight being off him would help.

        I’ve no idea if he’s guilty or not and I really hope it isn’t true as he’s a quality player.

      2. I get that it’s banned, but I still don’t care. If he wants to spend his time and money using illicit substances, that’s none of my business.

      3. It’s really not a hanging offence – O’Connor is at Sale no questions asked, it’s an in-competition banned substance which means within 24 hours of a match, if we go down this route then we’re going to lose Russell to MDMA (the man shuffles on the touch-line) and besides the whole Irish squad is up for the craic [allegedly].

      4. I’m with you on this one. If it isn’t a steroid or ‘performance enhancing’, it’s all just media froth. I’m always amazed at how much fuss is made about the use of recreational drugs. Simply don’t see these in the same light as the ‘real cheating’ type drugs.

      5. I am not with you lads on this one at all, think you must be having a bit of fun. For me rugby is a dangerous game.You depend on the guy next to you, which is hard enough given the range of personality and mental disorders out there. Taking unregulated drugs, in unregulated quantities, could lead to injury to self and others on the pitch, simple as that.

        I think, it is the unregulated part of it all we need to consider. Where do you draw the line!! How do you write a regulation about use of unregulated drugs in rugby !

        If you have a president lets hear it? If not lets get realistic.

        Once you sign a contract for pro sport , you need to abide by the rules . This is not a day job , it is a lifestyle. I agree , it may well be commercial in addition to common sense, if he blanks out, takes a heart attack for example, on the pitch, who is responsible, his club, the player who tackled him, his doctor, the club doctor or himself.

        I have seen a former drug user take a knock on the head and he spent the rest of the day recalling strange incidents from a life long left behind.

        Now you say , don’t we all let our hair down. The truth is doctors can work out what is going on if they understand symptoms and medical history. Medical history with non prescription drugs can be hard to work out (no tests done and no documented history of use) what condition the patient is in, when he takes those accidents that will happen in rugby. In addition, a club doctor prescribing drugs along side undeclared drugs !

        Now by all means argue with me, but that argument will serve to give an indication of all the issues under consideration and the time taken.

        No one, especially me, wants to see JH lose his job or not on the pitch wearing our jersey. The man puts his body on the line every game. If he goes, he will be remembered for that and not this episode of his life.

        But this is sensitive stuff and I wish he had just stuck to the wine-gums.

      6. I agree, from what I understand he didn’t fail a drugs test. For all the rights and wrongs taking drugs such as cocaine is basically socially acceptable now a days, no one bats an eyelid.

        He should know better though, professional sportsmen are always going to being in the spotlight and he should know to treat his body more carefully.

        I think it would be double standards to forgive Wilson for his chipshop gate display of drunken thuggery and then lynch Hardie for doing a bit of Charlie.

      7. @1.8T: I wish you were right. This is not the same as Wilson. This is about appearing for work in a an unfit state. Now I do know of players who have appeared for training under the influence and they were dealt with (I will not say more on how or who).Unlike alcohol, the impact of drugs can be longer lasting.Once again, that opens another argument and brings us into why this might be taking time to deal with fairly and equitable.

        No one wants to see JH walk. He needs our support right now, but we also need to maintain standards. Cannot help feel for him, lets hope there is a face saving way we can manage him back.

      8. I’d be surprised if there is an allegation you cannot depend on Hardie. I’d be even more surprised he rocked up at training on the gear or even after heavy one. It’s bound to be a night out and at that point, it just isn’t as bad as assaulting someone.

        WADA and the SRU have already set out the law, ‘in-competition banned substance’. So there is the absolute line. OK, so there’s bound to be an illegality provision in his contract, but there’ll be discretion. So, give him a severe rap him on the knuckles, and maybe a team warning if worried about example, and move on. And actually unless there really is proof, he could kick up a stink.

        In all seriousness, does your view change if we are talking about Finn or Hogg or Watson / Barclay have broken their legs and we’re two weeks away from the World Cup. Regardless of the morality: needs must and people make mistakes.

        Get him to say sorry internally and get him back out on the pitch.

      9. @NRS: I dont know who the question is for, but as for me the name does not matter, it is not personal. If it did/was , JH would be almost the top of that list of guys I would want to hang onto, though I would prefer to see nobody dealt with like this.

        We agree on one point, find a way to keep him. I am just pointing out what I believe they will be considering. I am just saying and not judging whatsoever.

        BTW I am the old fashioned type, I value a ‘players player’ . I don’t care much for a fan’s player, they have other demons. JH is firmly a players player, you would trust him to selflessly look out for you. He is unseen but very effective.

      10. Am I in the minority and being naive to be surprised to hear a comment that taking cocaine is ‘socially acceptable’? As you can see from my first post, my main emotion is concern for JH and, like others, I would like to see a clear path back for him instead of just pretending he doesn’t exist any more – all the more so for a man who is thousands of miles from his family/support structures and has had multiple injuries in the Scottish cause, which could only lead to massive frustration.

        However (and not presuming this is true of JH), it seems to me a totally pointless and frankly stupid thing to do for a professional sportsman who would be fully aware of the professional consequences if he is reported, not to mention any wider health risks. In my social circle, I’ve never known of anyone who has used cocaine, and none of them are professional sportspeople. They would just think it was too risky and not remotely worth whatever feeling it gave them. 1.8T, I’m genuinely not wanting to sound holier-than-thou here; just expressing surprise at the idea that it’s ‘socially acceptable’ as that’s not my experience.

      11. I’m as liberal as they come but, sorry, I really don’t think it’s appropriate to describe cocaine use as “socially acceptable”. Neither for that matter is it at all acceptable for a professional sportsman.

        It is not by any stretch of the imagination a victimless crime given the links between suppliers and serious organised crime. Anyone thinking themselves blameless when snorting a bit of charlie are deceiving themselves. They will be likely be funding all manner of depravity from enforced prostitution to people smuggling.

        Like it or not, this guy must conduct himself as a role model for kids as an Edinburgh and Scotland player.

        Glad he’s been given a second chance but the SRU need to send out a message. I don’t want to support a group of charlie snorting screw ups when I go to Myreside or Murrayfield. Isn’t the thrill of playing for Scotland (and the kudos that will now bring) enough?

    3. I would just like to say on the John Hardie front, Ryan Wilson was convicted of something much worse than recreational drugs in his own time. If the SRU can forgive Wilson for assault then they should offer the same to Hardie. The man has been a great servant to Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh in his short career over here and it should be allowed to continue. If it isn’t he will have no problem finding another contract else where to bring in the money.

      1. Cocaine is only banned in competition which means having it in your system within 3 days of a game finishing.

    4. I totally agree with you, but I’m concerned that the ego of a wee baldy man will end up losing us the respect and services of one of the hardest and most committed rugby players I’ve seen for a long time. If John needs support, I hope to hell the SRU are giving it to him as he’s a hell of a long way from family – and that one way or another, he comes through this difficult time positively.

      1. Perfect – great news. A fully rested John Hardie back in action in time to prove himself for the 6 nations. Complete with appropriately contrite reaction from the player. Well done, Edinburgh and the SRU. A sensible response. Everyone’s human / horse.

      2. Pretty reasonable sanction imo – hope Hardie feels suitably grateful and signs another contract!

        Also hope he gets back on form and into 6N squad as there is always a lot of attrition and we need all the class we can get.

  7. I hope Wales continue their “quest” to play a more expansive style into the 6N, should be a tremendous game.

    Adam Hastings looked impressive on Warriors TV.

  8. There was some chat that because Hickey has been signed before the deadline he qualifies for 3 year residency. I’m not sure if that is the case, but it may be an attempt to qualify him if he isn’t already.

  9. I do wish folk would stop this misleading Glasgow are funded better than Edinburgh,or if have to mention give the context. Both teams were given equal funding and have been for a decade. Both were given a big increase when McKie left and Dodson took over,since then Glasgow’s has increased to reflect they have been losing far more players to Scotland than Edinburgh (and that will change if Edinburgh supply more on a consistent basis)
    As it is last season Glasgow player budget was £5.1m against £4.8 for Edinburgh, hardly an earth shattering difference.
    Historically there was only ever one or 2 seasons when one team was funded higher based on previous season performance, and the team that benefitted was edinburgh

    1. What is misleading about it? You’ve just stated that Glasgow’s playing budget was £300k more than Edinburgh last season. That’s a Finn Russell size hole! (or it would’ve been, last season).

      1. its misleading because it says Glasgow have been historically better funded
        a) isn’t true and
        b) can be taken to imply the funding helped them over Edinburgh, when in fact it didn’t

      1. Glasgow wanted him to stay, Weir wanted to stay in professional sport he stays. When Murrayfield interferes, its amateur hour

  10. I have to say I’ve always been a big fan of wee Dunc. He’s always played better than his detractors have perceived. I cannot see him playing in for Scotland again (unless he has that Ruaridh Jackson shot in the arm) but ‘m hoping that Cockerill keeps him and he gets a chance to play with a proper backline at Edinburgh.
    As for John Hardie – if he has used cocaine then that is stupid and he deserves the ban. Not because it is illegal, but because he’s a professional sportsman and anyone looking to play at the pinnacle of their sport should be careful about what they are putting in their body. However, what happened to innocent until proven guilty? I’m guessing it is as Cameron says – he’s seeking treatment/therapy and it’s only fair to keep it under wraps until he comes out the other side.

    1. I would be surprised if Weir never plays for Scotland again, as long as he is given an opportunity to play for a professional outfit with some regularity. We don’t have many options at stand off and his experience of big matches (including his last-minute match-winning drop goal against Italy) would make him a useful option if we have a 10/12 injury crisis. Especially as Gregor is Scotland coach and seemed to get the best out of him at Glasgow. It’s only two years ago that he made one of the tries of the tournament at the World Cup.

      1. Caught drinking the sponsors drink! That could get you something much better than a ban.

        That is the kind of thing a man in his position might want to get caught for. Good publicity and promotion, clever lad.

        I wonder if he used Gillette or Brylcreem !!! Come on Huw Jones, 10 games , 7 tries , time to get in on the act.

  11. I understand that Cockers really rates Weir, and sees him as his number 1 and by all accounts Toonie had him in his Autumn Squad before his latest injury. Like most stand-off’s, he needs game time to get match sharpness – and for the past 4 or so years, every time wee Dunc managed to get a run of a few games together he’d get injured, and not just a wee niggle, but something that would put him out for months, meaning loss of form and fitness.

    What is he now? Mid 20’s? If he can get back playing sometime this season from what I hear is a particularly complex injury, then his immediate goal has got to be one more contract at Edinburgh to prove that he can reclaim and hold on to that jersey. After that – who knows? Maybe a move to AP/France?? Afterall, he previously turned down a move to France to go to Edinburgh, so there is clearly interest over there and god knows he’d deserve it.. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of wee Duncy in a Scotland jersey, and as the North Stand Massif will tell you….”WE ALL DREAM OF A TEAM OF DUNCY WEIRS”

    1. Weir was left out of Toonie’s summer ‘let’s get everyone along’ camp during which time he wasn’t injured, which suggests he’s not in contention for Scotland at all. He was injured before the Autumn squad was pulled together, so no idea how Toonie had him part of it until he got injured.

      I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Cockerill rates Weir and by signing 3 new flyhalfs, one very much for the future granted, but the other two established pros, one of whom is going to be on a reported £300k a year, I can’t see anything from that to suggest that Weir would be first choice.

      Also I don’t want to sound harsh but his level is at best championship, there isn’t a chance he would get into an AP team or a T14 team, other than as back up to the back up.

      Lastly he doesn’t suit the style of play Edinburgh, Glasgow or Scotland play any more, so unless something changes massively, I can’t see him playing for Scotland again.

  12. I see Brandon Thomson is back for Glasgow. Is
    he a 10/15 international prospect? He’s Scottish qualified.

    1. Based on what detail? He’s played for SA U20 in the junior WC.

      I look forward to your case against the SARFU complaint.

      1. playing for U20s then didnt capture a player unless it was SA nominated 2nd most senior team AND they played against either Wales or France (who had U20s as their 2nd most senior team.

        If Thomson has a Scottish parent or grandparent or stays 3 years (yes still 3 for him new reg not in force yet) then he can play for Scotland. Glad to help

      2. Yea he started against France U20’s in that JWC but he’s got a Scottish dad, so his granny can step aside for now. All good for everyone then.

  13. Weir, no matter how flat he plays does not have the skills to play the game Toonie wants to play. He has weak distribution, little pace – yes he’s got a big heart and boot but it’s not 1990 anymore – 10s need so much more.

  14. Thomson’s father is Scottish. Others have gone from u20 to play for another country. The question was how good is he.

  15. I’ve cussed Weir, as well as Laidlaw, plenty of times for Scotland because their style of play and natural ability contributed to us being a laughing stock. But, I have no issue with the guy trying to scratch out a living at club level. Now handling in the forwards is all the rage, could he do a McInally and convert to front row? A reverse Vernon?

  16. Weir is always going to be a good number 2. I could see him slotting into a side where the key 10 is long term injured and a gap needs to be plugged (number 2 or 3). Short term contracts, (Andy Goode sort of thing) .

    Good luck to him, he is a solid player (all round good egg) and has pulled both Glasgow and Scotland out of ruts but in truth , I cannot see our pro teams wanting to build a side around him. The shifting sands of Scottish rugby are much more structured now.

  17. I think the real issue with the Hardie situation is that the players are supposed to be role models for young scottish talent and younger kids , i think this is more valued at a club like edinburgh or glasgow due to them also representing scottish rugby. if it happens at say a top 14 or AP club its less of an issue bringing them back in such as james o’connor, at the least hardie would be given a suspension till the end of the season by the sru if he is lucky , no way he is back for rest of season if its true and likely not back at all in scottish rugby.

  18. Getting back to the original article. What was the rationale for the move to Edinburgh for Duncan Weir? He is not getting game time at Edinburgh, I suggest less than he was getting at the other side of the M8 so , is it just that time. According to Wikipedia he is only 26. Feels like he has been around much longer.

    1. The intention was for him to advance, nail down a starting position and get more game time. Injuries and the fact he isn’t as good as first though appears to have put paid to that.

      1. @Stu, Thanks , I was sure it was along those lines, if I was being cruel a chance to re-establish himself , or maybe managed out. He needs a move and not in Scotland.

  19. Great news…………………… a fully fit, refreshed, eager to please John Hardie for the 6N.

    Hardie is a world class 7.

  20. Great news about Hardie glad that a way ahead is finally published though It does not feel like he is out of the woods. Will he be ready for 6N ? His contract is up at the end of the season !

  21. Just a comment on Duncan Weir. As I was entertaining after the Australia game Duncan walked past unassumingly and I shouted “How you doing Duncan?” He gave me a wee wave of acknowledgement and was going to go on his way. I called him back and he came over. We had a wee chat and he told me the extent of his injury and the issues with it getting infected so it could be a while till we see him as it looks like it is taking ages to heal.

    Duncan is a wee warrior and I couldn’t believe how wee he actually was. To get to the top of your game and be a starter for your national team with that stature is credit to him. That try he made against South Africa years ago with an intercept was incredible. I was jumping about in front of the laptop scaring my child with the emotion of that one. His drop goal to beat Italy. He has brought us some great memories but the thing that highlights him above many is what I wanted to speak to him about.

    Many are pleased when their teammates do well but I’ve watched Duncan clearly genuinely joyus of others success. He seems like the kind of apple you want in the fruit bowl . There are many who are like this in the Scotland Squad but the spirit and belief they have now is in my mind no small part to Duncan ‘s attitude in the past and he should be applauded for his way he goes about stuff. He doesn’t let the criticism get him down and gets on with what he can do with the cards he has been dealt.

    He is clearly not the most gifted but I hope he still has a part to play with Scotland in the future.

    1. Spot on, Rennie talks about needing ‘good men’ in a team – Wee Dunc’s got that in spades.

    2. Good post!

      Weir does not possess the talents to play the game we want to see it played and the way GT wants team to play…but he has the right character & determination. The guy gets knocked down and gets back up.

  22. Duncan Weir in a siding who basically needs game time at Edinburgh, or an agent, or a contract for a reality game show ‘I’m a wee kicking standoff , get me out of here’. Has anyone who has accepted the M8 transfer actually made it work ?

  23. Ryan Grant
    Rob Dewey
    Dougie Hall

    Actually – it’s all been a bit one way traffic…..I’m not sure it’s worked as well heading east – unless we’re allowed to count Jon Petrie??

      1. Why don’t we let Glasgow and Edinburgh train together to form a ‘B’ team ie; the top 23 players from each play for Glasgow and Edinburgh and the rest will form a ‘B’ team this would allow younger players to develop and to gain experience with players that they are likely to play with in the Scotland squad.

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