Category: Site News

News relating to the ongoing development of the Scottish Rugby Blog website including new rugby writers, new features and announcements.

STV to Screen Scottish Magners Games?

As usual, I trot back on to the pitch with a whimper rather than a bang.

I had planned a grandiose piece to open the new season about how this was the summer that rugby found its soul (on the marvellous but ultimately non-victorious Lions tour) then lost it again (gouging) and again (armbands) and again (fake blood), and how this was to be an important season for us all where rugby should step up to the plate and try and reclaim some of its honour. About the new hopes we have for Scotland under Andy Robinson, about whether Edinburgh and Glasgow can continue to / compete and how the Magners League will fare with playoffs at the sharp end of the season. I was going to call it “What I Learnt on My Summer Holidays” and everything – all without using anything “-gate”. But as usual, time is my enemy and some news more worthy of your attention has appeared. Like some sort of tubby West Ham fan taking off his pie-stained t-shirt and jumping a barricade in order to do a one-man conga round a pitch similarly crowded with idiots, it has hurdled into the lead position for “first new post in ages”. Such tidbits will keep appearing in the press and online, demanding an airing on this platform, until the polemic once so clear in my mind to kick off the season has faded to nought but a distant memory, beaten into submission by harrowing viewings of Scotland’s rugby finest trying to cross a line less than four inches wide.

So I guess: we are back. Welcome to the new rugby season.

Lewis Stuart in The Times is reporting that there may be an announcement this week that STV will show some form of  footage of the missing gaps in the Magners League schedule available to view on TV, namely the Edinburgh and Glasgow matches not BBC Wales/S4C. The report reckons it could be limited to just a highlights package, however that is better than nothing. Look for updates to our Scottish Rugby on TV page as soon as I hear. Hopefully this will be well supported enough that they may be encouraged to show the odd live game – for example the 1872 cup matches. but look what happened with STV’s last foray into rugby. Now that STV have opted out of airing almost all of ITV’s dramas there should be plenty of room in the schedule. What else have they got to show?

The Times also reports that Max Evans and Mike Blair are rushing back to fitness. The article is not online yet so you’ll just have to trust me or rush out and buy a copy.

Edinburgh utility back Calum Macrae has signed with Mike Ruddock’s Worcester Warriors. I would have thought he might have stuck around to try and fight incomer Steven Jones for Mossy’s 15 shirt but perhaps he felt it time for pastures new.

And the SRU have introduced a new “Any Game” voucher which can be bought in advance at £5 off full ticket price – putting the price back to an almost reasonable £15 – that allow you access to (almost) any of your chosen pro-team’s Magners and Heineken Cup matches. Buy them in bulk in advance and turn up to whichever game you want. It sounds like a good plan especially if the weather suddenly turns nasty at 5pm on a Friday, you can save your ticket for the next game rather than going and getting wet sitting by yourself in the West Stand. Details on the SRU website.

Also, I know I said we should never play New Zealand again, ever. Except in the RWC final in 2011. But they have looked pretty inept of late, with their back line firing as well as, well, ours. Tri Nations: pretty dull so far.

Comeback Kings

Scottish Rugby Blog will return soon as the season is almost upon us and exciting things are afoot (well, Chunk is coming back). Anyone interested in writing for us during the new season? See the About Us section (link above) to find out what areas we are looking to cover.

News Round Up

Bit of a news digest this week, hope you are enjoying the off season!

Andy Robinson has announced his 44 man Scotland training squad for later in the month including all four Lions, several fresh faced youngsters like Ruaridh Jackson, Alex Grove and Richie Gray, and missing Simon Taylor who has requested not to be involved at this stage. All very mysterious. Nick De Luca has been named, but I think he is carrying an injury so presumably won’t be doing any physical training. Good to see the Rory Lamont Helicopter back and challenging for the full back shirt…

Scotland squad for three-day training camp at St Andrews – Monday 17-Wednesday 19 August:

Backs – Mike Blair, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Thom Evans, Max Evans (both Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), John Houston (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), Nikki Walker (Ospreys), Simon Webster (Edinburgh)

Forwards – John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton (both Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allister Hogg, Allan Jacobsen (both Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald, Scott MacLeod (both Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors), Jason White (Clermont Auvergne).

Speaking of Clermont, Glasgow take them on in the Challenge Auvergne mini-tournament tomorrow night, having won their previous game 20-11. Lineen seems to be rotating the squad and blooding plenty of the new signings, but Rob Dewey seems to be in the thick of the action whether at wing or centre.

Glasgow Warriors team to play Clermont Auvergne at the Challenge Auvergne in Issoire, France, on Friday 7 August (kick-off 8pm local time)

Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Peter Horne, Colin Shaw, Ruaridh Jackson, Mark McMillan, Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Hamish Mitchell, Richie Gray, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s)*, Johnnie Beattie

Not present will be scrum half Sam Pinder, who has announced he is leaving Glasgow for a coaching position in Hong Kong. With Cusiter coming in as clear number one scrum half it was always going to be tricky given McMillan and Gregor are probably ahead of Pinder in the pecking order too…

UPDATE: Glasgow lost 12-0 to a Clermont side featuring Jason White, with the only serious news being that young Richie Gray mentioned above dislocated his elbow and will be out for a few months.

BBC Takes Aim At Murdoch’s Crown Jewels

The BBC have just published their list of the proposed protected “free to air” sporting events, seen as invaluable in promoting sport in Britain and being accessible to the widest possible audience. Broadcast rights to several of these lie in the clutches of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports or elsewhere.

The BBC’s proposed list for protected free-to-air Rugby events (* denotes additions):

A1: UK conversation events (Live)

No rugby, it being stuff like the Olympics and Football World Cup

A2 List: Resonance in the Nations (Live in relevant nation)

Welsh rugby union Six nations and autumn internationals (Wales)*

A3 List: Pinnacle sports events (Live)

Rugby union World Cup final

B List: Events of UK importance (Highlights)

Rugby union World Cup
Six Nations rugby tournament (extended to all games*)
British and Irish Lions tour*

Why do only Wales get to have their Six Nations games protected as the highest priority? Removing Scotland’s games to ESPN Sports Extra 2 (highlights only, at half past midnight) will hardly help the cause of the game here. S4C seem to have enough cash to throw about on such things that Wales would probably get coverage anyway. I am pretty sure the Beeb recognises the Six Nations for the ratings winner it is and would fight to keep it, but still.

While the idea of the Lions being viewable to a largely ambivalent community outside the immediate rugby one fills me with joy, the idea of listening to Brian Moore commentating on it does not.

Full list of all events here.

Sorry…

…for not spouting any of my rubbish lately, I was down in London with Al checking out the Boss at Hyde Park – awesome show. However we did find time to take in the second Lions test in a pub in Putney, an area riddled with South Africans it seems. Good times were had by all, although that was about as gutted as I have been after a game of rugby (save for getting pumped out of the RWC by the Argies), yet mixed with a curious elation at having seen such a decent game of rugby. Say what you like about the Lions (I see the commenters have been busy) but that was as fine a game of actual rugby as I have seen in a test match for many a year, and for promoting such an approach Geech and his team are to be applauded. Shout out to pub pundit and all round drunk South African Phillip Le Roux (and mates) who bravely recommended betting all our money on the Lions third test victory. Remains to be seen what is left of the team, of course…

A Scot With Killer Instinct?

Not rugby related, but good luck to Andy Murray as he kicks off his Wimbledon campaign today. Al played his brother once in a junior tournament in Inverness we think. Humpings all round. Back with Lions etc tomorrow. Heard rumblings in the Sunday Times that ex-Bristol man Richard Hill and shatterer of our World Cup dreams Marcelo Lloffreda are interested in the vacant Edinburgh post… also the SRU are re-creating the Director of Rugby to supervise development and hunt for Kiwis with Scottish grannies, but hopefully not interfere with the national team.

Parks and Recreation

Troubled Glasgow fly-half Dan Parks may have played his last game for Glasgow after recent troubles – a meeting with the SRU next week should clear up as to whether or not his contract will be renewed or any disciplinary action will be taken. Meanwhile Glasgow trundle on with a visit from Connacht to finish off a fairly dissappointing Magners season that has seen several of their players step up to the national rank while still struggling to achieve consistency at club level. The good results they have had – away wins in Toulose, beating Edinburgh and Heineken Cup finalists Leinster – and the incoming talent (Cusiter, Dewey) auger well for next year though. There are also a few youngsters coming through the ranks, with Ruaridh Jackson now well and truly leading the way from 10 if Parks does indeed go, along with the likes of beanpole lock Richie Gray. Perhaps look for Colin Gregor to fill in less at 9 next season and more at 10. This match is I believe on Setanta.

Edinburgh have decided to rest newly-minted Lion Mike Blair in the match against Cardiff which does not mean all that much, but if results go their way they could move up into third or even second. Other than Greg Laidlaw filling in, Andy Robinson has named a pretty strong team with the replacement of Alan Macdonald due to injury the only other major change. Ally Hogg takes over the captaincy in a game that will be shown on Sunday on S4C.

The SRU have also announced a progress report on their hunt for a head coach which doesn’t say very much of anything, other than it won’t be Mike Brewer and consequently he has chosen to seek pastures new, presumably in search of a head coaching position..

UPDATE: Parks has been fined £3000 and banned for 18 months for his driving offence. Like the last time caught in a car under the influence, he was apparently screwed by one of his mates who buggered off with a bird leaving him facing a night in a car. Mates, eh? Still, taking the decision to turn the engine on this time is not a good example to set in his position as a role model for young kicking stand-offs and interception throwers everywhere, and may turn out to have fatal repercussions for his playing career here. Al will no doubt pop up shortly and point out how Parks was never the same after an encounter with me in St Etienne…

A Note on Our Feeds

We recently outsourced our RSS feeds to Feedburner in order to reduce a bit of load on our bandwidth which was getting hammered by feed-crawlers. If you were a previous subscriber, all traffic to the old /feed/ address should be getting forwarded to the right place through the magic of Quantum / Gaia / Tim Berners Lee (delete as applicable). Regardless, the address for the main RSS feed is now:

http://feeds.scottishrugbyblog.co.uk/ScottishRugbyBlog

If you’re having any problems, please let us know. The new feedburner format should be browser friendly and readable in all sorts of devices too so you can read us on the train, your phone or whatever. Of course, old fashioned readers who just turn up and look at the actual pages here are most welcome. Don’t forget to support our advertisers! Thanks for reading, now back to normal service…

Fantasy Rugby Round 3

Don’t forget to change your teams ahead of the next round of matches. Some people (ahem, Al) suffered from making no changes in the last round… Still got Andy Goode in your team? Is Euan Murray worth the gamble? You should have got an email from scrum.com with the latest teams all handily laid out for you…

If you are in the game but wish to join our mini league see this post.

Life Outside The Six Nations

Edinburgh field a reasonable strength team to travel to Munster this weekend including a number of international squad players released back into Andy Robinson’s care. Although the Munster team has not been announced it will probably make up for a lack of the core Ireland players with the likes of Doug Howlett, and Mafi and Tupoki in the centre so it will still represent a tough challenge for Ally Hogg and his men. This one is live on Setanta Sports 2, Saturday 7.15pm (7.30 k.o).

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Andrew Turnbull, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Mark Robertson, 10 David Blair, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Allister Hogg (captain), 7 Alan MacDonald, 6 Simon Cross, 5 Ben Gissing, 4 Craig Hamilton, 3 Ryan Grant, 2 Andrew Kelly, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Steve Lawrie, 17 Bruce McNeil, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Scott Newlands, 20 Ben Meyer, 21 Jim Thompson, 22 Roland Reid.

UPDATE: Glasgow team to face Cardiff. This one’s on BBC Wales if you have Sky, kickoff 1905hrs. See our TV page as usual for channel details. Again, decent team but might struggle against Cardiff’s overseas talent (Tito, Rush). Low, Kellock and Brown should be out to make an impact while McMillan will be looking for form ahead of the arrival later in the year of rejuvenated Chris Cusiter… good to see Fergus Thomson coming back, you’d think after his decent season last year he’d be in with a shout ahead of Dougie Hall if he got form and fitness back…

Glasgow: Bernardo Stortoni, Hefin O’Hare, Jose Nunez Piossek, Ruaridth Jackson, Colin Shaw, Dan Parks, Mark McMillan; Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Dan Turner, Alastair Kellock (c), Stevie Swindall, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Opeta Palepoi, Calum Forrester, Colin Gregor, Chris Kinloch, Peter Horne.