Doddie Weir welcomes talk of SRU link-up with Newcastle Falcons

Former Scotland and Newcastle forward Doddie Weir has welcomed claims that the Scottish Rugby Union is interested in buying a stake in the north-east club.
Doddie Weir has welcomed the prospect of the SRU buying a stake in his former club. Picture: Ian RutherfordDoddie Weir has welcomed the prospect of the SRU buying a stake in his former club. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Doddie Weir has welcomed the prospect of the SRU buying a stake in his former club. Picture: Ian Rutherford

A report on Monday suggested that the SRU is investigating the possibility of acquiring a shareholding of up to 20 per cent in the Kingston Park outfit as it attempts to increase its playing base with only two professional clubs currently operating north of the border.

Weir, who played 61 times for Scotland and won the Premiership title with Newcastle, gave a guarded welcome to the idea.

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He said: “I think that would be a great idea, but whether that would come about, I’m not entirely sure.

“I didn’t know that, but the more players that Scotland has in the professional game is great for the game within Scotland.

“Currently they have only got two [clubs], so if they can be involved in other places, it would be absolutely fantastic and with Newcastle, it would be just brilliant.”

The SRU’s interest in Newcastle, which would require Rugby Football Union approval, was reported by the Times.

However, Falcons owner Semore Kurdi told the paper that no formal discussions had yet taken place.

Kurdi said: “What we are talking about is a marriage and we haven’t even gone on our first date.”

The SRU already has a stake in French club Stade Nicois, where it sends developing players, and an outlet on Tyneside would allow it to school senior players in the heat of the Aviva Premiership.

However, Kurdi added: “We are an English club and my alliances and links are all England-based. There is no way I would step back from that and say, ‘I am probably better off with Scotland’. I am not.

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“I may have a small advantage by doing more in Scotland, but this is an English club in England and everything in the club is set up for England.”

Meanwhile, Weir is backing Scotland to upset England’s Grand Slam bid when they contest the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield on Saturday.

England have held the trophy since 2009 and won the corresponding fixture at Twickenham last season 61-21.

However, lock forward Weir, who pulled on the Scottish jersey on 61 occasions, is convinced this could be the year it is wrenched from their grasp.

Asked how he saw the game going, he said with a smile: “It’s only one way, isn’t it? History. It’s not been a good hunting ground for Scots in the past. They had a bad encounter last year.

“I just think if it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year. The anticipation is quite interesting and exciting. I would hope they do very well and I think this year, Scotland might edge it.”

Weir said: “Scotland sometimes don’t fire when they think they’re the favourites in a game, and that was an occasion there down in Wales.

“But anyway, they have re-grouped and it’s exciting that they have got the show back on the road.”

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That said, Weir admits Scotland will have to play with their heads rather than their hearts if they are to get past Eddie Jones’ men.

He said: “They have got the passion, they have got the crowd, they have got the home environment and with any luck, that’s what should make the difference.”

• Doddie Weir was speaking at the launch of a new charity shirt to be worn by his former club Newcastle Falcons in their Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints on March 24.