That was the month that was: December 2017

Image credit: @gregortownsend

by COLIN RENTON

Jones was first for Pep talk  

Gregor Townsend recently met up with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in the latest sign that the Scotland coach is a master of leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of success. But it seems he was not the first rugby representative to seek out Guardiola’s expertise. According to the latest book on the man who has led several major  soccer teams to European success over recent years, Eddie Jones also sought out Guardiola while the current England coach was in charge of Japan at the last World Cup. In a quote from the book – Pep Guardiola: The Evolution by Marti Perarnau – Jones, says: “In terms of finding space and moving the ball, rugby and football are actually quite similar and I wanted to meet Pep Guardiola so that he could show how to make my squad more flexible tactically.”

Game time key for rising stars

Charlie Shiel is a young player with a big career ahead of him. Right now he needs to have regular competitive rugby and to that end he is first choice scrum-half at Currie Chieftains. However, such is his talent that he is on the radar of Edinburgh Rugby and he is a member of the BT Sport Academy. During a lengthy injury absence by Sean Kennedy, Shiel was called up to train with the professional outfit and he travelled as 24th man on several occasions. He never actually played for Edinburgh, meaning that he had almost three months with no game time. Project the youngster’s recent experience forward a couple of years and it is easy to see a similar situation occurring with some of the 35 men selected for the proposed Super 6 teams. While Shiel hopefully learned much during his secondment to the pro set up, game time is vital at this stage in his career. More ammunition perhaps for the anti-Super 6 brigade.



Is Lions cash funding Welsh rugby?

George North heads a lengthy and growing list of players returning to ply their trade in Wales. That is undoubtedly good news for the Guinness PRO14. One lure for those with international aspirations is that from next season only players with more than 60 caps will be eligible for Wales if they play outside the principality. So where has all the money to pay these returning stars suddenly come from? It may just be that this is the WRU starting to splash the cash it received in compensation for supplying the bulk of the British & Irish Lions squad in the summer, a situation that had conspiracy theorists suggesting that there was a reason other than personal bias for Warren Gatland favouring Welshmen.

More South African sides heading north

The Griquas and Pumas are set to play in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in the 2018-19 season after being given the nod by the South African Rugby Union, which had also considered the possibility of creating composite sides to compete in the cross-border contest. The teams currently play in the Currie Cup Premier Division but that competition’s schedule may be reduced to allow the sides to play in the Northern Hemisphere.

Top honour for Tyrese

Just under three years ago, Tyrese Johnson-Fisher became a YouTube sensation with a display of powerful running and impressive finishing skills while playing rugby for Oakham School in Rutland at under-15 level. Now 18, on the books at the Leicester Tigers Academy, and with a 10.73 seconds 100 metres to his credit, he has earned the rare honour of being named among the 100 players who will contest next month’s Under Armour All-America High School Football Game in Orlando, despite having no experience of playing Amercian football. The game regularly produces emerging talent that will go onto feature in collegiate and NFL football.

For those who missed it first time, here he is in action –

 

 

Rugby for remainers

The First Minister wants Scotland to remain part of Europe and it seems that she and her MSP buddies may have found a way to stay involved. On 10th February, the Scottish Parliament will play their French counterparts in Edinburgh on the eve of the NatWest Six Nations clash between the countries at BT Murrayfield – expect some debate over who occupies the left wing and right wing berths.

Clermont stars chill out

Clermont players found a way to pass the time as they awaited details of the rescheduled Champions Cup tie against Saracens. A snow ball fight and naked run in the snow set up the French outfit for a 46-14 trouncing of the defending champions in match that was eventually played behind closed doors for safety reasons.

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Colin Renton
About Colin Renton 64 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on a range of subjects including sport, food & drink, travel and finance for more than 20 years. During that time, he has contributed to over 75 publications and websites. He is also an experienced proof reader and editor. Colin covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel to ply their trade. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his own work fits that bill!