Scotland rugby captain Greig Laidlaw has opened his heart to blast the Scottish Rugby Union’s policy of making so-called “project” signings.
When it came to highlighting who may or may not be in the Scotland squad, as at least three South Africans, one of whom is a natural Afrikaans speaker, close in on qualification on residency, Laidlaw was forthright.
“It breaks my heart. To play for Scotland is my Holy Grail. I grew up wanting to play for Scotland. If someone took my place that never had the intention to play for Scotland, I would find that very hard to stomach.”
Laidlaw was equally open about what attracted him to leave SRU-owned Edinburgh.
“What interested me about Gloucester was the fan base and heritage,” he said.
Scrum half Laidlaw, with team-mates from his new club, Gloucester, was on a panel at this week’s Cheltenham Literary Festival discussing the state of rugby ahead of next year’s World Cup.
And Laidlaw’s remarks are highlighted in today’s Glouceser Citizen which notes: “One of the most honest and open answers came from Laidlaw when tackling the issue of rugby in his native Scotland and the state of the sport’s former heartland in the Borders.
“He was equally scathing when discussing time-serving mercenaries, who have qualified to represent Scotland on residency grounds.”
• Edinburgh forwards mentor Steve Scott has come out in support of the current coaching regime ahead of a potentially vital Guinness Pro 12 clash with Dragons at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
In maintaining there will be no u-turn in strategies despite just one win in ten league matches, Scott said of an Edinburgh set-up headed by South African Alan Solomons: “We’ve got our game plan and we stick to it. We need to bring loads of energy, cut out penalties and minimise errors. Take those three things into account then yes, the game plan will change, because we’ll have more ball, we’ll be giving away less penalties and we’ll get field position and territory.”
• Edinburgh have loaned centre Chris Auld to London Scottish and second row Alex Toolis to London Irish.