Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Lockdown News Roundup

Matt Scott
Matt Scott on the charge for Edinburgh Rugby at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Day 363 in the Big Brother house.

Or at least that’s what it feels like. I’m grateful that I can work, but I expect like most of you I’m missing the oval ball enormously.

Incidentally, you can bemoan the fact that there’s no rugby and recognise there are more important things to worry about. Those thoughts are not incompatible.

Despite the lack of actual games there has been some rugby news so here’s a brief roundup of everything (maybe) that’s been going on. You may have read some of it already, but worst case scenario it gives you, our dear readers, a platform for a conversation should they wish it.


Edinburgh have stated that 9 players will leave the club at the end of the season. John Barclay’s departure has been well documented with injury and heavy competition affecting his game time.

John Barclay interviewed
John Barclay: destined for a career in front of camera? – pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Of the others perhaps only the announcement that Matt Scott has signed for Leicester Tigers will have raised any eyebrows. My information is that Scott was (inexplicably) not offered a new contract and I think that is borne out by the fact that there had been no official chat about him re-signing, whereas Simon Hickey’s contract status was discussed openly in press briefings by Richard Cockerill.

The other leavers are Stan South, Sam Thomson, Dougie Fife, Cammy Fenton, Jason Baggott and Pietro Ceccarelli who is off to Brive.

Just before the world fell off a cliff Edinburgh secured the signature of Fijian prop Lee-Roy Atalifo and have this week announced that they have secured the services of Australian backs Jono Lance (standoff/fullback) from Worcester Warriors and Matt Gordon (centre) from London Scottish for the new season. There are strong rumours that Sale hooker and U20s cap Ewan Ashman will be another signatory.

Keep an eye out for an article dedicated to John Barclay from Iain Hay in the not too distant future.


It was only back February, but in all the fun you may have forgotten that Glasgow signed Argentinian Tighthead Enrique Pieretto from Exeter Chiefs.

Since then Glasgow have announced that Nick Frisby as well as Siu Halanukonuka will leave the club at seasons end which probably won’t surprise many, albeit that the Nuke still had a year of his contract to run.

In addition Warriors have announced that DTH Van Der Merwe will also be leaving the club and that will fuel the rumours of a return for Sean Maitland.

DTH Van Der Merwe
DTH van der Merwe legs it into retirement after another spell with the Warriors – pic © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography

There are a further 10 or so out of contract at the conclusion of this season with a change of management at Scotstoun undoubtedly complicating things more than lockdown already has.


SRU officials have all now agreed to significant salary reductions. Those reductions extend to anyone within the umbrella organisation earning more than 50K and that is a welcome if somewhat tardy gesture.

Colin Grassie has resigned as chairman of the SRU board and is due to step down at the AGM In August.

Ian Barr who is due to succeed Dee Bradbury as president has been added to the SRU board ahead of that succession.

In the smoke filled rooms however, the machinations behind the structure of the organisation continue, and to paraphrase War of The Worlds – minds immeasurably superior to mine – will be required to get to the bottom of everything that is going on with that.  If you want to dive into that minefield then The Offside Line would be the best place to inform yourself.

Other News

The big bun fight for Chairmanship of World Rugby between Sir Bill Beaumont and Gus Pichot has begun in earnest in the last few days. Unions across the world are understandably falling into line behind the man they think will serve their interest best. The winner in this England v Argentina match up, or should that be Northern hemisphere v Southern hemisphere, will be announced on May 12, 2020.

The French Rugby league organisation (LNR) have announced that this year’s Top 14 and D2 leagues are now officially cancelled. This decision is expected to be ratified shortly. They have yet to decide if anyone will be named champions.

The implications of this decision in European rugby as well as league structure in France may well inform decisions closer to home in due course.

29 Responses

  1. Brive have released Alex Dunbar (as well as ex-Edinburgh wing Rory Scholes).

  2. Just rewatched the Edinburgh Ulster game from 2018. Just how well was SHC playing in his last 6 months in Edinburgh. If there was one Cockerell decision I could reverse it would be to not let him go.

  3. Sunday Times article recently a Nations League back in the agenda but likely without promotion/relegation to 6N.

    Tbh I can’t see how they have addressed any of the glaring issues of the previous model.

  4. Would love to see Edinburgh sign up Dunbar, physical and fits into the Edinburgh mold well.

    On another note, i am massively looking forward to what the pack could be at Glasgow next season if it’s true Sutherland is switching.

    1. Rory Sutherland
    2. Fraser Brown
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Scott Cummings
    6. Matt Fagerson
    7. Tom Gordon
    8. Leone Nakarawa

  5. Not sure if anyone else has been catching up on past glories with BBC Scotland’s “Scottish Rugby Classics”. This weeks match was the win in Cardiff in 1982 ending Wales 26 match run of not losing at home. We’ve also had the 1990 GS win against England and the match that had “that” flip pass from Toonie to Big Gav against France.
    There are a couple of interesting things I’ve noticed:
    1. In all three matches the starting XV had been as consistent as possible, with only enforced changes being made. Nobody would say that any of the sides were world-beaters but that consistency bred a team morale and “do it for your mates” mentality that was so evident.
    2. We’ve never had big forwards, and always struggled to get consistent first phase possession, but they threw their bodies into the tackles, the rucks, the opposition with such ferocity we won a lot of loose ball for the backs to run riot.
    3. Neither Colin Deans nor Kenny Milne could throw into the lineout, but that didn’t stop them becoming national heroes.
    4. My memories of Jim Renwick were accurate: In no way did he look like a rugby player but boy, was he good.

    1. Suggest you might want to review point 3….and quickly! :)

      In the days of compressed linouts and jumping all over the place, a premium was on accurate throwing. There was no synchronised lifting or protection against contact with the jumper in the air as we have today
      Many believe Deans was the best in the business…except for the Irish manager and Captain of the 1983 Lions who refused to drop himself for Deans (or Wheeler).

    2. Johnson was a lovely runner at centre as well. Also forgot about Ian Jardine

    3. “Neither Colin Deans ….. could throw into the lineout”.

      Probably the most nonsensical (and inaccurate) comment I’ve ready about anything to do with rugby in 40 years.

    4. The 1982 Cardiff win. Roger Baird’s break down the left wing leading to a stunning try scored by, was it Paxton? Anyway it always reminds me of a staple question in rugby themed quizzes : who played x number of full cap internationals on the wing for Scotland without scoring a try, yet has scored a try at full Test level?
      Answer, Roger Baird with his try v NZ on the 1983 Lions tour.

  6. I don’t remember who said it but one of the Scotland team said the best bit about that win in Cardiff was seeing Eddie Butler (Welsh Captain) crying in the changing room after the game!

  7. The Rugby Paper saying home unions looking to schedule emergency four nations championship in autumn to plug financial black hole caused by expected cancellation of autumn tours.

    We’ll also have rescheduled wales test probably at end of October.

  8. Jackson has hung up his boots; an underrated player IMO, and pre-Russell, was arguably the creative option at 10 though Wee Dunc (and even Godman) seemed to be more in favour. Remember one article when Geech picked him at 10 for the national team for bringing a bit more flair and perhaps a bit more unpredictability too. Long injury spells didn’t help his cause but then made a big contribution to Glasgow in his new role as 15 and while not the quickest, did add the experience and creativity needed. Good luck in your new career Jacko, I’m sure we’ll raise a glass of yours.

    1. I agree he was underrated, also feel he’s maybe retired a bit early, still contributed to Glasgow from what I saw this past season.

      1. I think his heart was very much in the gin business he’s started with Ryan Grant which it’s good to hear seems to be going well.

        Incidentally I think we will see more and more players retiring at 30 or not long after like Jacko at 32. The physical demands and attrition from injuries sustained over the years will add up.

  9. All good things come to an end, DTH retires in a world when face masks and toilet paper are in short supply. I hope Warriors fans get the opportunity to show our appreciation. They come , they go , some even come back , I always felt we were in for a great game when DTH was listed and I cannot think of anyone that has had that effect. Nakarawa comes close, Nico puts a smile on your face, however DTH Van Der Merve was in every Glasgow side that meant business.

  10. Always liked Swinson’s attitude, always gave everything. Glasgow do seem to be shedding players on a daily basis, not sure where replacements are coming from.Edinburgh seem to have a plan to structure their squad for next season whereas Glasgow appear to be shrinking rapidly …. or maybe that’s just how it’s playing out in the media. The momentum seems to have swung to the east end of the M8 for the time being, will be interesting to see how things materialise when the oval ball is finally flung around again.

  11. Tim was an excellent player, a shame to see him go. I was surprised to hear him retire I was sure he was going to move to Edinburgh he fit the description Cockerill gave. Anyone have any idea’s who the good, senior, Scottish lock that Edinburgh will sign is?

  12. Glasgow team for next season as far as confirmed signings.

    1. Oli Kebble
    2. Fraser Brown
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Scott Cummings
    5. Leone Nakarawa
    6. Matt Fagerson
    7. Thom Gordon
    8. Bruce Flockhart (showed up well whenever played)
    9. Ali Price
    10. Adam Hastings
    11. Tommy Seymour
    12. Sam Johnson
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Kyle Steyn
    15. Glenn Bryce

    16. George Turner
    17. Aki Seiuli
    18. Adam Nicol
    19. Richie Gray
    20. Ryan Wilson
    21. George Horne
    22. Peter Horne
    23. Niko Matawalu

    Not to bad.. Really that backrow has potential to excell, however depth there is the weakest, a nice backrow signing is needed.

    Reasonable signings we could expect ?

    A backrower… One of Bradbury, Crosbie, Haining, or Cowan would be reasonable. Wildcard would be Barclay if he has not retired from pro rugby… and his wikipedia says warriors now oddly.

    Depth at 10 is not ideal – So a random Kiwi or Saffer journeyman import if one of youngsters is not given a shot.

    Either Maitland or Duncan Taylor on a 1-2 year contract for the back three.

    1. There has been no announcement of new contracts for Nakarawa, Gordon, Flockhart, Turner or Bryce. However I think there is a good chance they are signed but not announced. Rae or Pierreto are currently better 18 s. Agree we need a back row signing and a better 15. I hope we do not sign Barclay – veteran back row benchmen are not a need.

    2. I wouldn’t be thrilled to see Crosbie head along the M8 but its a probably in his and Glasgow’s interests. Just too good to be a 3rd choice back row.

      Hope Glasgow unearth a couple of gems from the U20s in the back three. That trio is nowhere near good enough for a side with top-table aspirations. That said, if you can fix the back 3 and back row then thats a really solid team.

      I don’t expect Edinburgh’s 1st choice team to be any different than this season with the exception of George Taylor (probably) slotting in for Scott.
      Signings have been mainly about improving depth and the main leavers have been the 2nd string team. Whole squad is starting to look pretty settled which is a nice change.

  13. Scotland 1st XV

    1. Sutherland
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. J.Gray
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Ritchie
    7. Watson
    8. Haining
    9. Price
    10. Hastings
    11. Graham
    12. Johnson
    13. Harris
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    Scotland 2nd XV

    1. Kebble
    2. Mcinally
    3. Nel
    4. Cummings
    5. Skinner
    6. Bradbury
    7. Crosbie
    8. Fagerson
    9. Horne
    10. Russell
    11. Duhan VDM
    12. Scott
    13. Jones
    14. Steyn
    15. Kinghorn

    Scotland 3rd XV

    1. Dell
    2. Turner
    3. Berghan
    4. R. Gray
    5. Toolis
    6. Wilson
    7. Gordon
    8. Strauss
    9. Prygos
    10. Weir
    11. Tagive
    12. Hutchison
    13. Dunbar
    14. L.Jones
    15. Bryce

    Scotland 4th XV

    1. Bhatti
    2. Stewart
    3. Mcallum
    4. Mcdonald
    5. Hunter-Hill
    6. Carmichael
    7. Cowan
    8. Ashe
    9. SHC
    10. Jaco VDV
    11. Nairn
    12. Taylor
    13. Grigg
    14. Hughes
    15. Mcguigan

    Scotland 5th XV

    1. Reid
    2. Kerr
    3. Nicol
    4. Davidson
    5. Craig
    6. Hamilton
    7. Hardie
    8. Du Preez
    9. Shiel
    10. Horne
    11. Mcdowall
    12. Lang
    13. Bennett
    14. Blain
    15. Damien Hoyland

    And people say Scotland dont have depth…

    May have missed some obvious people who would replace people in the above, in which case let me know, i thought it would be fun to explore our options in lockdown boredom. I am quite happy with that depth.

    1. LOl, weirdly I also did something similar recently drawing on the 7’s squad and U20’s I came up with 8 possible Scotland XV’s.

      I see no room for Gary Graham, Rob Harley, Bruce Flockhart or Blade Thomson in your set up, they could perhaps replace Cowan and Strauss who have both retired from international rugby. Was it George Taylor or Duncan Taylor in the centre of your Fourth XV?

      1. George Taylor … wow cannot believe i forgot about Blade Thompson, was not aware Strauss and Cowan had officially retired which is interesting to know.

        I had Harley, Flockhart and Turncoat as my backrow for 6th XV, the only thing i could not work out was another 10, curious to know all the number 10’s you had ?

      2. Well it was getting very tenuous near the end. I had used Laing as a 10 and then fleshed it out with Brandon Thomson, Nathan Chamberlain and Jason Baggott.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion