Barry P takes a look at doping in rugby. Is there a problem?
With the news that Scott MacLeod is off to Japan to ply his trade, those of us turning thoughts to Rugby World Cup 2011 and who should go on the plane just found our lives a lot easier. Assuming that Robbo takes 4 locks (plus a back-rower or two with a bit of time in the second row perhaps) and that the front runners are most likely Gray, Kellock and Hines, the debate was always going to be over MacLeod or Hamilton for the extra cover berth. Now MacLeod’s move has forced him to recuse himself from World Cup duty, the door is wide open for big Jim. Not always the most mobile, his undoubted contribution has always been general grunt, lineout height and some extra power behind Euan Murray in the scrum. But this news, coupled with decent form for Gloucester should see him tie up the fourth lock slot. Unless Fraser McKenzie gets back to his early season form, then it could get interesting again…
Amidst the mess it is easy to forget there’s an important Test to be played, one the Springboks will win comfortably. Scotland were woeful against the All Blacks and won’t make the exponential improvements needed to beat the Springboks.
Ryan Vrede, Telegraph Rugby Blog
A new look Edinburgh team under new coach Rob Moffat will seek a return to winning ways in Cardiff on Friday. Some of the changes are enforced by injury – Edinburgh still have a long list of injured including Jim Hamilton, Dave Callam and Ross Rennie – while others like Lions Ross Ford and Mike Blair are rested. While the bench looks a little youthful/undercooked, look for sevens man Roddy Grant to lay down a marker, while Scott Macleod will look to continue his road to redemption in the second row. We also have Holland’s sole pro rugby player and new signing from Newcastle Falcons Tim Visser hoping to pin down a wing spot. And let’s not forget the return of Chunk!
Given performances in the pre-season it’s difficult to tell if the players will be able to live up to last seasons results but I reckon Cardiff may be too strong for them, especially as they will be smarting after home defeat to Edinburgh at the end of last season. Hope Moffat’s boys can prove me wrong though.
Edinburgh team to face Cardiff Blues: Chris Paterson, Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser, Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (captain)
Substitutes: Sean Crombie, Kyle Traynor, Steve Turnbull, Fraser McKenzie, Ross Samson, David Blair, Nick De Luca.
The game will be shown live on BBC2 Wales – see our Scottish Rugby on TV page for details of how to view this (basically have Sky or live in Wales).
Losing weekend for our pro-teams which was hardly inspiring, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
Glasgow were beaten by a strong Ulster team with Simon Danielli having a hand in both tries. Glasgow will however have been buoyed by the news that the Evans brothers Thom and Max are to stay at Glasgow until after RWC 2011, despite being courted by English and French clubs.
Edinburgh lost to Scott MacLeod’s old team Llanelli in a pretty dire game that was there for the taking. MacLeod had a reasonable 60 minutes before being warmly applauded from the pitch. In the battle of the full-backs, Mossy was the resounding winner simply by virtue of the fact he ran more than he kicked and when he did kick it wasn’t rubbish. Sorry Hugo, but you screwed the pooch there. Whether or not Southwell was hampered by a different set of tactics in the first half is open to debate but there was some pretty dire ping-pong and Hugo and Blair Jr did not show themselves in the best light. Worryingly, Cairns and De Luca also did not seem able to string much together in the centre although De Luca forced himself into the match as it went on. Apart from Paterson and perhaps Malkovich Webster, no-one really stepped up to say “Hoy Frank, I should be in the team.” Edinburgh were still in it at the end, and a lack of passion/commitment/skill in the first half prevented them from nicking the away result they probably deserved on the basis of the second.
Scott Gray, Sean Lamont and Euan Murray all played for Northampton in their win over Worcester, with Gray picking up both a try and a yellow card. Al Strokosch got on for the last 20 in Gloucester‘s loss to Leicester while Rory Lawson picked up a yellow card too. And Big Jason White had a pretty good game for Sale in their brilliant match with Newcastle which saw former Borders men Steve Bates and Alan Tait’s resurgent Falcons team eke out a win. That game also illustrated what a team can do with a solid scrum platform led by a class tighthead, and while our Euan is no Carl Hayman, he’s still vital to Scotland’s set piece efforts. After doing some digging online it looks like Chris Cusiter and Simon Taylor were also rested by their French teams at the weekend.
Also major plaudits should go to Ayr, who secured their first Premiership Division 1 title in 112 years of trying at the weekend, and the Scotland Sevens Squad who managed to see off Australia in final of the Plate (middle level runners up competition). The Dubai World Cup event also saw a number of upsets including Kenya beating Fiji, and (eventual winners) Wales reaching the main final against Argentina, between them having seen off New Zealand and South Africa. Wales, World Cup Winners eh?
Hugoooooooooo vs Mossy, head to head for the Scotland full-back shirt, being given 40 minutes game-time apiece vs Llanelli Scarlets at the new Parc Y Scarlets (my Welsh is good, eh?), Sunday, 4pm ish, S4C (English commentary on the red button). Who will emerge triumphant?
My guess would be whoever plays the second half, which seems to be when Edinburgh wake up and throw the ball about. Scott MacLeod is also taking the next step in his comeback, hoping for a start to prove his fitness.
In other news, Glasgow face an Ulster team on Saturday (that one’s on Setanta) including Simon Danielli but none of their Irish starters. Cheers Matt.
Scott Macleod has announced he is signing for Edinburgh, part of the SRU’s growing effort to herd in some of our lost sheep and get them playing rugby in the Scottish meadow again. Apologies for the over-extended pastoral metaphor there.
He has recently been out of favour for Llanelli following a second drugs testing incident – both of which he has been cleared over and only recently got back on to the bench. It’s a shame as he was playing a blinder down there for a while and was a fixture in their second row. However Edinburgh could always use more locks and with the pairing of Jim Hamilton and Scott MacLeod they now have some real potential there. No word on Rob Dewey’s mooted move to Glasgow as yet, but the SRU are definitely pushing to have a core of players in country where their availability can be controlled.
Lovers of all things Aberdonian such as the above mentioned newspaper may be interested in rumours that Chris Cusiter is not coming “home” to Glasgow (and possibly crippling the SRU salary budget) but off to join fellow North East man Jason White at Clermont Auvergne. According to an article in French sports paper L’Equipe (and I’m paraphrasing here from the French):
This is not yet official, but Chris Cusiter should play for Clermont next season. After two years in Perpignan, the Scottish international scrum-half (age 26, 39 caps) chose to join the Auvergne club where he will be in competition with Morgan Parra of Bourgouin. Indeed, the French international has just signed to ASM for the four next seasons. This transfer confirms a little more the departure of Pierre Mignoni. The international (age 31, 28 caps) will leave Clermont after six years of faithful service, and should join Toulon, the club where he began his professional career.
To be honest it’s probably sensible, given Glasgow’s Mark McMillan was going well until his injury and they have backup in Colin Gregor and I suppose Sam Pinder. It might hurt his international chances but Hadden has so far been fair. When he wasn’t playing for Perpignan, he wasn’t for Scotland either. Now he is playing and in form too, he’s back in the squad and sure to hold down at least the bench scrum half spot. Maybe out of favour Rory Lawson should come back to Glasgow instead?
Further information on some other potential Scotland transfers mentioned a while back can be found in the Telegraph, of all places, including news that Edinburgh may be after lock Scott Macleod but are definitely not after Rob Dewey… which is fair enough as locks are what they need at the moment…
Bit of breaking news: ahead of Frank Hadden’s announcement of his reduced squad to face New Zealand next month, lock Scott MacLeod has thrown his availability into severe doubt with the revelations that he has reportedly failed a second drug test, this time for “higher than permitted levels of testosterone”. MacLeod has insisted he is innocent and awaits the results of testing on his backup B sample. In the mean time he will be suspended from training or playing. Which makes it look even more likely that Hadden could be playing a back rower – or Scott Murray – in the second row come November. With White short of game time and Taylor playing regular first team rugby in that position, it looks like Taylor could be the answer. Unless of course Perpignan were just hiding big Nathan to keep him fresh for the Top 14 and he is fit and healthy…