Scottish rugby has been rocked by a further disciplinary storm just three weeks from the start of the autumn Test series with the news that another international player from the Edinburgh pro-team is subject to an internal investigation.
Openside flanker John Hardie, who has 16 caps, has been suspended from Edinburgh and Scotland duty with immediate effect for an unspecified reason.
Edinburgh captain Magnus Bradbury has been told to stay away from the club after injuring his head in a city centre incident a fortnight ago which left him unable to play in last weekend’s game at London Irish, which Hardie started.
It is understood that there is no link between the two matters and an SRU spokesperson would not comment when asked if there was any police involvement in the Hardie case, saying the union would stick to an official statement, which read: “Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby confirm Scotland international and Edinburgh forward, John Hardie, has been suspended from duty pending an internal investigation.
“As a result the player will not be available for selection for Edinburgh, or the Scotland National Team.
“It is normal practice with such matters that we are unable to comment further given the nature of the investigation.”
Edinburgh are currently in Russia for today’s European Challenge Cup match against Krasny Yar and last week coach Richard Cockerill said that the Bradbury matter would be dealt upon his return next week. The news about Hardie, who did not travel to Moscow, came out of the blue in an SRU statement released late yesterday afternoon and means he will not be named on Monday in Gregor Townsend’s squad for next month’s Test series, which starts against Samoa on November 11.
The New Zealand-born 29-year-old, who has a Scottish grandmother, arrived in Scotland as a free agent after leaving Otago Highlanders in the summer of 2015 and went straight into Vern Cotter’s Rugby World Cup training squad. He made his debut in a warm-up game against Italy in Turin before starring for the Scots in the tournament in England and then signing with Edinburgh.
In better news for Scotland, Stuart Hogg makes his highly-anticipated return to action in today’s must-win European Champions Cup clash with Leinster at Scotstoun, going straight into the Glasgow starting XV.
Hogg hasn’t played since a fractured cheekbone ended his Lions tour early in the summer and he subsequently had a clean-up operation on a long-standing shoulder problem.
“He’s gold to have back in. His energy has been really infectious around the group,” said coach Dave Rennie.
Hogg’s return is also a boost for Scotland coach Townsend but one player who won’t be available is hooker Fraser Brown, who injured his knee at Exeter. He has been ruled out for eight weeks but does not require surgery.