So no sooner has season stopped than it’s up and running again. A thankfully drama-free summer for Scottish Rugby and the focus (albeit a very limited focus from the nations media) has at least been on developments on the pitch and not in the boardroom. Not that there has been much going on. The big name transfers that have been ongoing in the rest of rugby seem to have largely passed by Scottish rugby, with incoming players not being prepared to play for the packet of sweets and a ‘See You Jimmy’ wig being offered by Edinburgh and Glasgow. Regardless, the Scottish teams have attempted to build on the previous promising seasons and here are my quick thoughts on both:
EDINBURGH – Probably made the biggest signing of the summer by rescuing Chris Paterson from his miserable spell in England (well, it is England so you can kind of understand him being miserable!). The addition of Jim Hamilton will also add considerable bulk to the forwards (all 19+ stones) so Robinson will no doubt be hopeful that he now has a side ready to kick on. Last season turned into a sterling effort as Robinson’s impact started to show through in the later half of the season and Edinburgh will be realistically looking to claim their first ever Magners League championship. They are certainly equipped with some exciting youngsters with a year’s experience under their belts and if they can get a strong start to the season, then come the end of it I think they’ll be there or thereabouts.
As for Europe there is a real opportunity that they could at last qualify from the group stage. All 4 teams will fancy their chances but Wasps, Leinster and Castres will not be looking forward to a trip to Murrayfield. Edinburgh are outsiders to qualify but a strong home record coupled with a slice of luck away from home could well see them become the first Scottish side to reach the later stages of Europe’s premier competition.
Magners League – chance of the title but more likely a top 3 finish – 3rd
Heineken Cup – Mmmmmm, not sure….ach, early season optimism, 2nd in group.
Glasgow – a fairly quiet summer over in the West Coast. The arrival of Mark McMillan from Wasps could be a major signing for our Weegie brethren who will hope that he can fill the scrum-half position which has been a troublesome area for some time. If he can form a relationship with Dan ‘Parko’ Parks then Glasgow may then have attacking verve to trouble opposition defences. Lineen had a decent season with Glasgow last year and, like Edinburgh, I’m sure he’ll be looking to kick on again and push harder for success in the League. I don’t think they have the same depth as Edinburgh but Glasgow will certainly be pushing the top teams hard, and with some luck could still be in with a shout come the last run of games.
With regards to Europe I suspect 3rd in the group will be as good as it gets. Toulouse and Bath will be hot favourites for top slot with the Dragons and Glasgow fighting it out for best of the rest. I’m sure Glasgow will run both Toulouse and Bath close at home – indeed a sneaky win against either is possible – but away from home they might struggle, difficult to see them getting anything from trips to France or the West Country. Still, they won’t be whipping boys and if you keep it close enough who knows what can happen.
Magners League – outside bet for Championship glory, likely to push the top teams though so I’m going to say an improvement on last year and predict 4th.
Heineken Cup – Strong displays but not enough cutting edge will see Glasgow come 4th in my opinion.
So, there we go. Told you it was ill informed. Let us know what you think…enjoy the new season!