If you are a Scottish rugby fan it has been a pretty dispiriting start to the season. This weekend proved no exception with Glasgow providing Connacht with their first away win in about 2 years and Edinburgh once again turning in a better performance, but nonetheless one of the schizophrenic, ramshackle ones that have personified their season so far.
Tim Visser – still a Dutchman for a year or two – remains far and away Edinburgh’s dominant force in attack. When he gets ball, he scores tries. Although Alex Grove is improving steadily and proving himself a bit more of a presence going forward, Cairns had (his try apart) a pretty off night and Phil Godman is still looking uninspired at 10. Blair started the season looking sharp but still seems to have lost the will to attack that made him a nomination for IRB Player of the Year in 2008. So far Greig Laidlaw has been denied a chance to show if he still retains last season’s form, but surely such a chance is not far off.
However it is Edinburgh’s overall lack of direction, ideas and solidity at the set piece that remains a worry. Fijian Number 8 Talei looks a solid signing, but there still seems to be a recklessness to the team’s play that reminds you more of sevens – and there are a lot of former sevens specialists in the team. There seems a marked difference between the offloading game espoused by Andy Robinson – that has its foundations in direct running, possession and solid set piece – and this headless chicken stuff which is but a poor imitation of Edinburgh a few seasons ago. Should this be laid at the head coaches door?
Few of the new signings have been given a shot, and perhaps a game against the wounded lions of Leinster is not the perfect situation, but how do you know the likes of McInally or Blair Jr Jr are not ready unless you try them? With Connacht winning away and increasingly hard to beat in Galway, and Treviso certainly coming into the Magners with winning intent, there are no warm up games any more, despite what the Irish provinces might seem to think. Or maybe it is just the Scottish teams are back to being the warm up games? They say that if you are sitting around a poker table and you can’t tell who the chump is, it’s you.