Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 10: NikNaks Not Back (yet)

Duhan Van Der Merwe
Duhan van der Merwe sidesteps Ruan Pienaar during Edinburgh Rugby vs Montpellier at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Benetton Rugby v Glasgow Warriors

Date: Sat 4th January 2020
KO: 13:00 UK
Venue: Stadio Monigo

One player who isn’t listed and won’t be lining up for Glasgow Warriors any time soon is winger Rory Hughes, who is off to Leicester Tigers on loan.

Still here, for now, are both Jonny Gray and Nick Grigg, although it was announced today that Jonny Gray will indeed join Exeter Chiefs next season. Grigg starts in the centre while Gray is rested this weekend.

With the constant charge laid against Jonny Gray that despite being a consistent force in defence and the lineout he’s just too nice, a spell toughening up in the attritional forward tussles of the Premiership could be just what he needs. With Stuart Hogg and potential second-row partner Sam Skinner also at Exeter, it could be a canny move for Gray and Scotland to push him to the next level.

In addition to all the other holes in the squad he’s going to want to plug when he arrives, Danny Wilson will now need a top-quality lock to pair with Scott Cummings in the first XV. Although Leone “Uncle BigNaks” Nakarawa is back at Glasgow until the end of the season (he arrived this week), next season is a different matter and Rob Harley and Tim Swinson are solid if unspectacular choices. Richie Gray or Gloucester’s Alex Craig might be on the shopping list, although in Andrew Davidson there is another under-utilised talent waiting to come through (he gets a run this weekend from the bench, his first since October).

Grigg being courted by Wasps/La Rochelle/Japan could still be marked as “RugbyPass rumours” for now, even if it’s our old mucker Jamie Lyall doing the whispering. He’s been given a start by Dave Rennie for the trip to Italy, with Huw “finally found some form” Jones shunted back to the bench.

Elsewhere, the Horne brothers pair up at halfback so expect that chip kicky move to make an appearance at some point. With Nakarawa not quite ready to play, Niko Matawalu will bring the Fiji Weegie as he faces off against former Glasgow player Leonardo Sarto on the wing.

Whether it is test players being rested ahead of the 6 Nations, or just the new reality that an away trip to Treviso is a difficult fixture for most teams, there are plenty big names absent which will make this a nervous watch for the Warrior Nation.

Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward, Leonardo Sarto, Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, Luca Morisi, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage; Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Marco Riccioni, Irne Herbst, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri da Ollegio, Giovanni Pettinelli, Braam Steyn.
Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Niccolo Cannone, Eli Snyman, Marco Lazzaroni, Tito Tebaldi, Antonio Rizzi.

Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Kyle Steyn, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Nikola Matawalu, Pete Horne, George Horne, Aki Seiuli, George Turner, Adam Nicol, Rob Harley, Tim Swinson, Bruce Flockhart, Tom Gordon, Ryan Wilson (capt).
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, Petrus du Plessis, Andrew Davidson, Chris Fusaro, Nick Frisby, Huw Jones, Glenn Bryce.

Referee: Nigel Owens

Not available due to injury: Siua Halanukonuka (calf), Sean Kennedy (shoulder), Kiran McDonald (hip), Robbie Nairn (knee), D’arcy Rae (hand), Brandon Thomson (calf), Tommy Seymour (head) and DTH van der Merwe (knee and wrist).

Edinburgh Rugby v Isuzu Southern Kings

Date: Sat 4th January 2020
KO: 19:45
Venue: BT Murrayfield

As per usual, Richard Cockerill isn’t mucking about with the higher priority PRO14 and has named a strong side for the visit of the Southern Kings to Murrayfield. Edinburgh will be looking for a try bonus to keep the pressure on Munster, so this naturally has banana skin written all over it but the side selected should have enough nous to do the job.

Even without Hamish Watson, Bill Mata or Jamie Ritchie it is a typically tasty back row unit and stacked with impact from the bench.

A welcome sight with the 6 Nations fast approaching and the likely loss of both Kinghorn and Graham to Scotland is the return of Eroni Sau who looked good in his first few games, while at standoff Jaco van der Walt will make his 50th appearance for Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Eroni Sau, James Johnstone, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos (capt), Jamie Bhatti, Mike Willemse, Willem Nel, Lewis Carmichael, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, John Barclay, Nick Haining.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Pierre Schoeman, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Luke Crosbie, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, Mark Bennett.

Isuzu Southern Kings: Courtney Winnaar, Yaw Penxe, S’bura Sithole, Howard Mnisi, Erich Cronje, John Jackson, Stefan Ungerer, Schalk Ferreira, Jacques du Toit, Petrus Strauss, Jerry Sexton, Aston Fortuin, Ruaan Lerm, Thembelani Bholi, Elrigh Louw.
Replacements: Alandre van Rooyen, Xandre Vos, De-Jay Terblanche, JC Astle, Bobby de Wee, Theo Maree, Bader Pretorius, Andell Loubser.

Referee: Joy Neville

Unavailable: Fraser McKenzie, Chris Dean, Viliame Mata, Jamie Ritchie, Stuart McInally

Updated 3/1 to reflect confirmation of Gray’s deal

28 Responses

  1. Benneton have named a very strong side so could be a long afternoon for Glasgow. Hopefully some of the fringe players can stand up and make a case for selection. Tom Gordon should surely be getting more game time than he is currently getting. Someone saying on GW forum that Wilson started 9 games in a row?!

    Edinburgh should have enough to see away the kings with a bonus but won’t be completely straight forward and will need an 80 min performance to get the 4 tries possibly. Shows how much strength in depth Edinburgh now have when you make 11 changes and still have a starting XV that is better than what had been on show before cockerill arrived.

    1. Do you get the impression Glasgow intend to concentrate on the European Competition !

      1. Wouldn’t bother with that as they are pretty much out of contention there too. That is a poor Warriors side. Gray leaving just adds more doom to what now has gone from threadbare to the cupboard is empty. Going to be very difficult for Danny Wilson. Rennie had left nothing for him to work with.

  2. Wilson the moron does his usual – brainless penalty gives the Italians a position to score.

    WTF he’s captain is beyond me.

    All the great early work undone.

  3. Is there something in Glasgow’s bylaws that they have to have one useless PI prop on their books at all times?

    Rennie should be shot for putting out that front 5 – completely undone all the brilliant work and now they are only 7pts in front.

  4. Benetton vs. Warriors has been a good game so far, but Nigel Owens has made a mess of two key decisions: Steyn’s accidental contact in the air is a penalty, even though there was no negative outcome, yet Traore goes high on Grigg, seriously injuring him in the process, and ‘Nige’ decides it’s just a rugby collision. Rubbish.

    1. A much better performance from Warriors. 93% tackle completion, over 700m made, 42 defenders beaten, 6 tries (with more left out there) and, most importantly, serious attitude. Whatever Rennie and his team did in the build up, they need to repeat, because that was the performance of the season so far. Keeping Benetton to 236m from 40% possession is impressive when you look at how they’ve improved and that they have players like Ioane and Sarto in their backline. The only downside, other than Grigg’s horrifying looking injury (and Owens’ subsequent bottling) was that our starting front row got minced in the scrum. Still, this was corrected in the second-half. Premier Sports’s coverage was pretty pants, though. That Irish commentator is really not very good.

      George Horne was MotM for me, though we weren’t informed as to who was given the official MotM, Pete Horne put in a really good performance, too, as did Flockhart, Gordon and Grigg. Jones looked good when he came on. Hopefully this is the start of the Warriors’ resurgence. At least I hope so – I’m seeing them in Sale in two weeks!

    2. I agree with you. Owens should have had our Props yellow carded much earlier. He bottled it on that one.

      Scrum reset after reset, there is no consistency in this blog , a few weeks ago people were moaning about paying too much for tickets and watching scrum reset after reset. Card them and get on with it Nigel.

  5. First of all awesome performance by the warriors, so many good individuals I felt before that game that it was going to be a tough afternoon yet they were epic.

    I have to have a moan about Owens decision with the high tackle tho.

    First of all the high tackle laws are there for a single purpose – to encourage players to lower their tackle height.

    If you look at Mcinally’s yellow in the first 1872 match he does everything he can to effect a low tackle but circumstances result in a fairly hefty head on shoulder. To me it’s the definition of a rugby collision but the ref says red card mitigated down to yellow. Well it’s not the spirit of the law but it is the letter so fair enough.

    Then look at the Benetton tackle there was no intent but there was a massive head on something collision and he has done nothing to lower his tackle height.

    How can laws designed to encourage players to lower their tackle height penalise and card a player clearly attempting to lower his height while allowing a player making no attempt no sanction?

    That level of refereeing inconsistency is killing the game.

    1. I do not agree , Owens got it right. Just because it doesnt suit us , doesn’t mean the referee bottled it or got it
      wrong. Time for a bit of maturity IMO.

      1. If you think Owens got it right that’s fair enough. But then you presumably think that Ben Blain got the McInally one wrong. because I don’t see how you can think they were both right. That’s my point about inconsistency.
        I personally believe that Ben Blains decision was more easily explainable within the high tackle frame work.
        There will always be some margin for error between different refs But these situations where near identical incidents are having vastly different outcomes between one game and the next is no good for Rugby.

      2. Owens called it as he saw it, checked it out with the technology as well. Only one suitable response for you and it is the words of Owens himself. ‘Immm the refarrree ere, it’s got nothing to do with yeew, back you go.’

      3. Owens was wrong. The changes to the laws governing high tackles were made, according to WR consultants, to remove this kind of tackle. Owens bottled it because he decided he couldn’t see a point of initial impact (“it looks like it might be the showlderrrr”). Irrelevant. The tackler went high, the tacklee was incapacitated with a head injury. There was no mitigation. It’s a red card. Anyone who argues otherwise is simply wrong. It wouldn’t have affected the game, but the point of the law is to discourage such behaviour. Owens abdicated responsibility for player safety. Had that been Kebble on Ratuva, I’d be saying the same thing. How can Fagerson’s fend be a red card when no-one was hurt, but this wasn’t? And your invocation of the ultimate law re-enforces this: the referee is the arbiter of law on the pitch. Owens had the power and responsibility to do the right thing, yet he did not.

      4. I dont agree with you Team cam. This is rugby union and the referee is always right.

        My interpretation of the framework commences with the question was there direct or indirect contact and it was indirect IMO. If you start from that place and replay the steps , you will come out with a different argument.

        I am not getting into this further. Like I said earlier, Nigel Owens was the referee , not you , Nigel made the decision in consultation with three other Suitably Qualified and experienced Professionals.

        With the greatest of respect , for me , that was a decision made by men who are qualified , were on the spot and paid to make the decision.

        So in his own words, ‘I am the referee ere, it has got nothing to do with you’.

      5. Johnny is it your position that Rugby fans commenting on a Rugby fans forum should refrain from giving opinions, discussing or debating any refereeing decisions? Is this not an appropriate forum for that conversation? or Is this because you think that the almighty authority of the referee extends beyond the field of play and into the private lives of everyone in society and to question any decisions is some kind of sacrilege? Are the secret police going to come in the night and disappear my family and I?

  6. On the Edinburgh game: Joy Neville was spot-on. Again. If anything she highlighted how awful Owens was at key moments. On a more positive note: Kings never stopped. They lost heavily but played like they could win until the end. And Edinburgh played a wonderful offloading game. They look like Glasgow a few years ago…

    1. Spot on with regard to the red card and other non-red later on certainly, but she really needs to improve her positioning, particularly around tackles/rucks.

    2. Even though both head knock incidents were right in front of her, she didn’t blow up on either.

  7. The King’s were impressive early on winning the collisions, the kicking game and the set piece. Edinburgh looked pretty rusty. The game was crying out for Charlie Shiel in the second half and Edinburgh looked much better after he came on. Thought Matt Scott should’ve been MOM. Some of the decision about when to pass and when to hold on to the ball were poor. Still job done.

  8. Watched both games & it was the replacements that were one of the most interesting aspects – Kebble & Du Plessis solidifying the scrum greatly for Glasgow & Crosbie changing the game for Edinburgh with his physicality & attitude. Also Scotland should have fingers crossed that Allan Dell remains fit.
    Was Kebble’s qualification date ever confirmed??

    1. I dont think Kebble qualifies until the November internationals.

      I really hope we see Crosbie in the backrow mix and Alex Craig from Gloucester at lock. They might not be ready to start 6N games but they’re not far away so time to get them involved in the squads and competing for the bench.

      1. Yep…I like to see both Craig and Crosbie at least given a run from the bench during the 6N.
        Shiel needs to be selected as 3rd SH if there is one.

  9. My position is Owens got it right, I have told you why , I have advised why I think Teamcam’s position is different to mine. I think you will find that is fulfilling the posting rules and I am doing the very thing you are accusing me of not doing? You can disagree with me but this far you have not. Teamcam gave reasons for a counter argument and got my respect for that.

    As you mention it , I do believe Rugby is the one game where referees are respected and I will stand up for that value for obvious reasons, the rules are complex and if the referee loses his respect we will be watching a very different game in the future. I think that is all important but you can disagree.

    Either way, the secret Police are not involved for a very good reason, they are secret , aren’t they.

    1. I think this poster makes a good point , but badly. The refereeing standard is not perfect. We do have a few new entrants coming through that are setting better standards. We should be mindful about kicking the tits out of the referees. If they lose their authority on the pitch , it would be a horrible game to play or watch.

      1. Rugby is a difficult game to referee, and the very best refs allow some latitude in their interpretation of the laws, in order to keep the game flowing. But there are serious inconsistencies in some areas, (scrum resets and the high tackle). IMO, Farrell should have had at least three red cards for high/no arms tackles, during the last two seasons, and solve the reset problem by replacing the scrum penalty with a free kick.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion