Source: Harlequins

Rugby Update – August 2020 – From Colorno to Ontario

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What we do know:

The Six Nations Council has confirmed dates for replaying the outstanding six matches in the 2020 Championships

England’s Sevens players have reacted with aggrieved determination to the news that their contracts are unlikely to be renewed. They will still be training flat out for the Tokyo Olympics, but that doubt is a heavy burden. How many will see a return to 15s with their club as a sensible stop-gap?

The French see-saw continues to swing. The latest 15s training squad introduced three new young players Morgane Bourgeois, Charlotte Escudero and Maëla Mancip, who have all distinguished themselves in the Under 20s, and one returner, Alexandra Chambon. The vacancies were caused partly by the switch of Romane Ménager and Nassira Kondé to the Sevens squad. Kondé has merely returned, but Ménager’s unexpected change of course will cause some rejigging in the French back five. 36 players were called up at the start of August for preliminary training at Marcoussis.

Lauren Delany will not be joining Bristol as planned, a disappointment to her and the club.

Giada Franco is returning to Colorno from Quins. That is excellent news for the Italian club (after it lost the promising Francesca Sgorbini to Romagnat) and for Andrea Di Giandomenico, the Azzurre’s head coach. The more players he can keep an eye on at close quarters, the better Italy’s prospects become. But the Stoop loses one of its favourite magnets.

Quins will be using The Lensbury for training from now on, not Surrey Sports Park. No expense spared!

Bristol Bears have announced a new Pathway Programme, linked to local clubs and colleges.

Exeter Chiefs – they remain Chiefs – have established seven apprenticeships for young players. They are: Abby Middlebrooke, Amelia Dennis, Gabby Gower, Georgie Grimes, Meg Davies, Michaella Roberts and Milla-Lynch-Barsby,

Gwenllian Pyrs’ move to Sale is a major acquisition for the Sharks. She helped to give Wales some real go-forward in the front row against the Red Roses.

Rugby Canada announces that Elizabeth (Lizzie) Gibson (Ontario) has won the Young Player of the Year award, Sadly the ceremony had to take place digitally. She wore the No 7 shirt for Canada U20s in the Tri-Nations at Loughborough last year.

The XV Foundation, set up by leading USA Eagles Alycia Washington and Kristine Sommer, announces the start of a virtual fundraiser to support the Eagles’ advance to the New Zealand World Cup.

What we don’t know:

Overriding all else, as it has since early spring, is the doubt about resumption of play. Authorities have bravely posted schedules for the autumn. We can only hope they will be fulfilled. But mouth-watering encounters like New Zealand-France and Australia-England look like castles in the air. Far more likely are contests nearer to home.

Two major coaching jobs are still up for grabs, Wales and Harlequins. Sioned Harries reveals she has had five Wales coaches in ten years!
No Premier 15s club has yet felt able to publish a list of the forty players who will contest next season’s competition.

Will other Premiership clubs develop women’s sections? Leicester and Northampton are two who come to mind. They will realise that their first chance of joining the Premier 15s is 2023, scarcely long enough to develop a squad capable of holding its own at elite level. And the news of possible Welsh and Scottish additions already adds to the potential size of the tournament.

Most agonizing of all for England rugby, contracts. We are assured that a decision will be published by the end of this month.