If you’re a little depressed by the fact that discussion of the World Cup Final – which should really be the pinnacle of our game – has degenerated into tit for tat claims about foul play and the IRB stepping in to fine one group of men for holding hands while watching another group of men dancing, then I offer you the ultimate antidote to depression. Um, Scottish professional rugby.
Edinburgh vs Leinster
Murrayfield, Friday 28th, 7.30pm
TV coverage live on BBC Alba
Edinburgh Team: Chris Paterson, Simon Webster, Nick de Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Harry Leonard, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Esteban Lozada, Steve Turnbull, Dave Denton, Roddy Grant, Stuart McInally.
Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Kyle Traynor, Lewis Niven, Grant Gilchrist, Netani Talei, Mike Blair, Jim Thompson, Tom Brown
Having only seen one RaboDirect match so far this season it’s tough to say much about this Edinburgh team except what they’ve done on paper, and it looks to be a case of business as usual with an impressive win over Munster in front of a decent crowd followed the very next week by a fairly pathetic loss away to the Scarlets.
Still they – like Glasgow – are signing up the key young talents to contract extensions and if they can grow as a team, the distant future looks hopeful. Man of the moment Lee Jones has been rested in favour of bringing oldsters like Webster and Paterson in while unsurprisingly the first choice front row slots right back in. We’re off to see this one, and experience first hand the new “down in the thick of the action” options for supporters at Edinburgh Rugby. Leinster have named a strong team with 10 Ireland internationals in the lineup.
Glasgow vs Ospreys
Firhill, Friday 28th, 7.05pm
TV coverage live on BBC Wales
Glasgow Team: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Rob Dewey, Graeme Morrison, Colin Shaw, Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter, Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Mike Cusack, Richie Gray, Al Kellock (captain), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Gordon Reid, Ed Kalman, Tom Ryder, John Barclay, Colin Gregor, Troy Nathan, Federico Aramburu
Glasgow don’t have much of a record against the Ospreys, and this is only going to get trickier with the Ospreys able to call on a few players returned from World Cup action and high calibre imports such as Tommy Bowe and new signing (and one of the standouts of the RWC pool stages) Samoan No. 8 George Stowers. Even with Hook, Byrne and Phillips off to pastures new after the World Cup and reducing somewhat the “galacticos” feel (and hairgel bill) at the Ospreys, the Welsh region are unbeaten so far in this league campaign.
Still, the Warriors have a few of their fit World Cup players back from Scotland duty too including both first choice second rows, Cusiter and Morrison in the backs and John Barclay on the bench, all of whom should be looking to making up for inneffectual or insufficient performances in Scotland shirts.