**It’s the start of a fresh week and the rugby world is busier than ever as the much-anticipated return to action comes more clearly into view.**\n\nWe begin today’s round-up of all the weekend’s happenings with some good news for **Scarlets** fans, as talismanic centre Jonathan Davies moves closer to a return to fitness.\n\nThe Welsh star hasn’t played since having knee surgery following last year’s World Cup [but *The Rugby Paper* reports he has been taking part in weekly exercise classes](https://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/latest-news/37351/scarlets-talisman-jon-davies-nearing-return-from-knee-issue/) with fellow Scarlets players via Zoom during lockdown.\n\nHe appears unlikely to be match-fit in time for the resumption of the Guinness PRO14 on August 22, although the possibility of him playing a part hasn’t been ruled out.\n\nAcross the Irish Sea, **Connacht** have bolstered their playing squad by signing Alex Wootton on loan from **Munster** until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.\n\nThe back-three speedster has scored 13 tries from 39 appearances since making his Munster debut in September 2016 and Connacht coach Andy Friend [believes his time in Galway will help the 25-year-old’s](https://www.connachtrugby.ie/connacht-rugby-announce-loan-signing-of-alex-wootton/) rugby development.\n\n“I am really pleased to welcome Alex Wootton to the province,” said Friend. “Alex is a very exciting back-three player who has all the talent to take his game to the next level. \n\n“His versatility across the back line will also help us as we look to compete on both fronts next season. As a team, we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the Sportsground and integrating him into the playing squad.”\n\nEx-**Edinburgh** star and Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is also on the move after confirming he will [link up with Japanese Top League side NTT Shining Arcs](https://www.rugbypass.com/news/former-scotland-captain-laidlaw-confirms-move-to-japan) when the season begins next year.\n\nThe 34-year-old scrum-half retired from international rugby in December and left Clermont Auvergne in May, setting him up for his next challenge.\n\n“At last year’s Japan World Cup, I was able to experience the culture and meet wonderful fans,” said Laidlaw. “Every time I have visited Japan, I was welcomed with a wonderful hospitality.” \n\nDanny Wilson is in situ at **Glasgow Warriors** as Dave Rennie’s replacement and the new head coach is [turning his attentions to naming a captain.](https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/sport/18562201.danny-wilson-still-pick-captain/)\n\nRyan Wilson and the now-departed Callum Gibbins shared the duty this season but Wilson is confident he has plenty of options to wear the armband and it may be a while before he selects one.\n\n“Once we get in and start training, some of the meetings behind the scenes will be around what the leadership group looks like,” explained Wilson.\n\n“They’re built around the people who have been leaders in the past – Fraser Brown, Ryan Wilson, Pete Horne, Ali Price, those types of guys. But we are yet to sit down and say ‘This is our leadership group’."\n\nBack over in Wales, **Dragons** director of rugby Dean Ryan believes a pair of Welsh derbies will be the perfect preparation for a mouth-watering European quarter-final.\n\nDragons face Ospreys on August 22 and Scarlets a week later in their return to Guinness PRO14 action [before facing high-flying English outfit Bristol Bears](https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/sport/18562175.pro14-derbies-perfect-build-up-dragons-euro-clash---ryan/) on the weekend of September 18 in the last-eight of the European Challenge Cup.\n\n"The derbies are important to close off the PRO14 – especially for the clubs at the top of it as they'll have done a lot of work to get to that point," said Ryan.\n\n"It would be impossible for us to go into a European quarter-final without some sort of competitive action. To have the derbies means the intensity will be through the roof. \n\n“There is no danger of the games being slow starters. It will be a big challenge and the PRO14 games will be good preparation."\n\nAnd to help **Dragons** in both their domestic and European endeavours, ex-Scotland international Gordon Ross [has been appointed as backs coach](https://www.dragonsrugby.wales/news/2020/july/ross-appointed-new-backs-coach.html) after leaving his previous role with Worcester Warriors.\n\n“We’re pleased to confirm Gordon’s appointment as we continue to invest in our coaching set-up and environment,” said Ryan.\n\n“I worked closely with Gordon during our time together at Worcester and know he is a talented and ambitious coach who is excited about the opportunity to work in Wales.”\n\nAnd finally, **Doddie Weir** turned 50 years old this weekend, with an induction to the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame as one of his gifts.\n\nThe ex-British & Irish Lion confirmed in 2017 that he had motor neurone disease and his My Name'5 Doddie Foundation has since raised more than £5.8m for MND research.\n\nThe charismatic Scot has been the inspirational face of the campaign despite his deteriorating health and [was honoured to earn a place in the Hall of Fame](https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/53282468).\n\n"I owe so much to the game of rugby, and to our great rugby family in particular,” said Weir.\n\n"The support I received from players and supporters throughout my career and now in my battle to find a cure for MND has been immense, and has given me the strength to keep fighting.\n\n"Thank you so much for honouring me with this award – and on my 50th birthday too. What a great present."