What to do about Scotland’s player jam

Scottish Rugby does a good job of pulling off this almighty juggling act, but problems are inevitable as long as you have just two professional teams. A total of 46 matchday places are up for grabs on any given weekend and the result is a large number of good rugby players, who play very little top level rugby. In Scotland, you can be one injury away from a Champions Cup match; otherwise you are the captain of the Bin Juice team.

Too many sound players are languishing on the periphery right now. George Horne He could use a move somewhere to become a first-choice scrum-half. Thomas Gordon was excellent last season, but has fallen into the long shadow cast by rory dargewho got stuck in the Edinburgh jam in the back row before your turn west. on that front, Mike Blair must find a way to keep Lucas Crosby, jamie richie, hamish watson, nick haining, ben muncaster, Connor BoyleKwagga van Niekerk, Bill Mata, Mesu Kunavula and, very soon, Rudy Brownsatiated with game time.

Glasgow is leaving grant stewart Y hamen bain wow because they are stacked on hooker and lock. Edinburgh have dispensed with nathan chamberlainpartly a victim of Blair Kinghorn’s excellent transition to fly-half. Stafford McDowall, Charlie Shield Y jackblain have seen little action this term. They are all good enough to be regulars at the URC level, but without a team that realizes that potential.

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pierre schoman Y hamish watson are among the high-profile Scottish internationals to have signed new deals (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)

Added to this is the adjustment of belts in England and regulations in France. if you are a stuart hogg, jonny gray either finn russell, their prospects are largely unaffected. But if you belong to the increasingly restricted middle tier, who are qualified in neither English nor French, and who make up the vast majority of today’s market, you are embarking on a quest to find Lord Lucan. . The list of free agents this summer, most with plenty to offer, would bridge the Clyde. Some are forced to consider early retirement.

“Scottish players won’t want to hear this, but their appeal to Premiership clubs is dwindling,” says Jan McGinity, a former head of sporting operations at Scottish Rugby who has spearheaded recruitment at leicester Y Worcester and worked as a prominent player agent.

“They have to be released for international windows. There is always pressure for the players, if they are not involved with the club, to go to training with Scotland even if they are not really meant to. You know you’re going to be without them for the Fall Trials, the Six Nations.

“Look at someone like Dan Biggarwho earns £650,000 a year, played around 10 games for Northampton last season: £65,000 a pop is pretty expensive.”

This, combined with the falling salary cap in England and declining interest in mid-level foreign players in France, has inadvertently endowed Scottish rugby with a new financial clout. They can afford to keep many of their best dogs at home, rather than resign themselves to losing them to much higher salary packages.

Glasgow has two phenomena in lioness nakarawa and Niko Matawalu. Nakarawa was signed for a pittance and his final contract at Scotstoun was said to be worth just £80,000 a year earlier. Racing 92 I added a zero

watson-richie, Zander Fagerson, darcy grahamPierre Schoman and ali price they have signed new agreements in the last year. Edinburgh can offer more money to sam skinner than Exeter Chiefs, a laughable notion a few seasons ago, while huw jones is returning to Glasgow, a move that will cole forbeswho has impressed early in his Warriors career, few favors. Joseph Mackaya serious trader, is already in Glasgow and his fellow New Zealander wes goose he’ll be an Edinburgh man next season, an addition that sets the Hurricanes’ pulse racing.

Scottish rugby folk have long lamented the influx of signings from abroad, fearing the path for young Scots could be drowned. This is where the recruiting supremes really earn their cut. Perhaps nowhere else in elite rugby are these decisions so vital. If a Scottish club is signing from abroad, they need to mark a game changer. Or they need someone who, through his personality, experience and leadership, can have a transformative effect on those around him.

Glasgow landed two phenoms in Leone Nakarawa and Niko Matawalu. Nakarawa was signed for a pittance and his final contract at Scotstoun was said to be worth just £80,000 a year before Racing 92 added a nil to it. Mata has been immense for Edinburgh and rejected the interest of France Y Ulster because it has been very well taken care of. You can run the range from jack dempsey Y Emiliano Boffelli this season, to joseph strauss Y netani taleiDTH van der Merwe and Nel of WPall the way back to Brendan Laney and Todd Blackadder.

Not surprisingly, many of the featured imports have been number eight, a position Scotland has long struggled to produce its own homegrown colossus: Dempsey, Mata, Strauss, Talei, Cornell du Preez, Nasi Manu. tongan giant Sione Vailanu It’s on its way to Glasgow from Worcester shortly. South African and Pacific Island beef complements the local harvest.

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Leone Nakarawa was a great success in his first spell with the Glasgow Warriors (Photo – Photo Getty Images)

But for every Nakarawa, there has been a Langilangi Haupeakui. For every Boffelli, a Sam Beard. For each Strauss, a Tevita Tameilau. Get it right and pro teams will be regulars at the URC play-offs and European qualifiers. Get it wrong and you end up with waste and blockage; it’s hard to know which is worse.

Beneath the elite game, the semi-pro Super6, now entering its second full season, is beginning to serve its purpose. After being beaten beyond repair in the Under-20 Six Nations, Scotland manager Kenny Murray admitted his players were not physically ready to handle the intensity of their opposition. The Super6 is the main tool for tackling this, but only recently have more under-20s been welcomed into men’s rugby. They cannot be so desperately failed again.

For the first time, Scotland have been able to satisfy the players’ desire for market value, so they don’t have to go.

However, finding slots for these players further up the ladder is difficult. Take Robbie McCallum, for example, one of the standout players in the Super 6, a 21-year-old academy center with national age-group experience and a lot of love about his game. There was nothing for him in Edinburgh and Glasgow, while the Premiership clubs were unwilling to accept a clearance based on semi-professional matches alone. McCallum heads to the English Championship, where he will combine a part-time gaming contract with an office job in London.

“For the first time in history, Scotland has been able to satisfy the players’ desire for market value, so they don’t have to go,” says McGinity. “Those gaps in professional teams will not appear if fewer players move.

“Where there is a backlog of talent in positions that Scotland traditionally produces, that will be a problem later on.

“Does that mean we have to look at, and I know this is an old argument in Scotland, a professional third team? I don’t think the finances are there. If it wasn’t for covid, in one or two more seasons that could have been viable. It could be ten years later now. If you were to bring another franchise into the URC, I don’t know how big it could get, and I don’t see another franchise being welcome right now, because it would just dilute the problem. Is far.

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Wallaby number eight Jack Dempsey has been an excellent addition to the Glasgow team (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“They’re going to have to find a middle ground to allow some of that talent to get that exposure and that playing time and come back. Does that mean better relations with the Premiership or Championship teams in England? There was a French connection with Stade Nicois but you had to sign for the season, you couldn’t be loaned from one side to another.

“You have to think outside the box. Gregor Townsend will have that question: where are these guys getting rugby? He will be concerned that even if there are boys coming to Scotland to qualify for residency, they will probably block the way”.

Edinburgh next season will have a budget of around £8m. I think Glasgow will be closer to £7.6m-£7.8m. In fact, you have a significant number available to you, much higher than the English teams, which has never really been the case.

But amidst the complexity lies an interesting nugget. This season, Premiership clubs were allowed to use “plus one” contracts, activating extra years on existing deals that don’t count towards the new £5m salary cap. Some, particularly Bristol board Bears, they’ve burned their fingers while cutting costs and cutting wages. Next term, those plus ones are up, the players leave, and a more real picture of a £5m cap will emerge. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow will have bigger war chests than all of their enemies south of the border and that’s a big deal.

“If you ranked where you could make the most money, you would go Japan First France then, then in some cases the URC teams, then the Premiership,” continues McGinity.

“Edinburgh, next season, will have a budget of around £8m. I think Glasgow will be closer to £7.6m-£7.8m. In fact, you have a significant number available to you, much higher than the English teams, which has never been the case.”

Opportunity is knocking at the door, if not then maybe for the young people coming through the system. So what does Scottish rugby do about it? Where is the best place for your money? The top-down approach, investing heavily in the elite game in the hope that success will inspire a nation, has not paid off. A third pro team would be a losing exercise in the immediate aftermath of a pandemic, and where should it be based? Would the Premiership welcome Scottish fingerprints on one of its top 13 teams, and would there be any merit in Scottish rugby investing in a championship league that the RFU has significantly underfunded? That’s before we get to the women’s team, which needs and deserves full professional status with a World Cup in sight. For those at the top, there are no easy solutions.

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