Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Heineken Breakdown: Munster 33 – 0 Edinburgh Rugby

In the face of a determined Munster Edinburgh simply whimpered, pulled a pout and took a battering, with three tries coming in the last ten minutes.

This 33-0 thrashing came so soon after the lesson handed down by Saracens. Edinburgh should have popped up with a fresh approach and renewed vigour. Instead, they marched like zombies into Thomond Park and displayed the same fumbling misunderstanding of the basics of the game.


In the first half this was impressive. After splitting like wet rice paper last week they had obviously been handed to Billy McGinty for a large period of time. The drift defence was clean, with defensive wingers tucking in behind the last man to catch Munster’s glide towards the touchline.

Greig Tonks and Nick De Luca came into the defensive line well, and Edinburgh were happy to sit patiently and hug the oncoming Doug Howlett, Casey Laulala and touchline tracking Donncha O’Callaghan.

However, in the second half Edinburgh shut down on the edge of the ruck and maul to allow Conor Murray to score a nipping try and Peter O’Mahony to bludgeon his way over. Sean Dougall picked and plopped for his score after a long break.

Edinburgh wilted in the face of an old-style Munster game. By the time the team in red had poured over the line for the fourth time Edinburgh looked like they had already thrown in the towel.

Six times Munster were able to ride passive tackles and offload. Ian Keatley had time and space to place his kicks and passes. Edinburgh allowed Dave Kilcoyne, Peter O’Mahony and Laulala to run in tight once Munster’s style changed from a drift to a direct punch.


Losing two games by an accumulation of 78 points is bad. Nevertheless, not scoring a single point yourself is much, much worse.

As with last week Edinburgh used no disguise, allowing one-out runners to charge upright into the likes of Paul O’Connell, O’Callaghan and O’Mahony. Dougall could nip away and Murray had advantage ball to play with.

They looked bereft of ideas. To the extent where Natani Talei and David Denton should have called a Time Out after 30 minutes so they could walk off and punch their 9, 10, captain, and coaches for making the game plan so one dimensional for them.

The pair had to run boring ball after boring ball into waiting defenders. No wonder Dougall and O’Mahony greedily latched onto the ball so often. It was like they had phoned ahead for a delivery.

On top of this, the Scots’ side mistook quantity for quality at the breakdown. Munster were clean, precise and strong in their targeting of the ball. Their body angles and shape were beautiful. On the 35 minute, Mike Sherry thumped Gregor Hunter out of a ruck so hard that his spine may have fused. Edinburgh responded with clumping together as high as they could and giving Munster the ball.

Quite simply, Michael Bradley must be asked why his team are slipping away from last season’s successful game plan of moving the point of attack, throwing strike runners at holes and using quick ball, rather than waltzing towards the opposition’s best defenders.

Set piece:

Ross Ford had a nightmare at the lineout, but only because he kept getting told to throw it to a static jumper, who stood beside Paul O’Connell too often. No movement and no quick thinking made the whole thing look amateur until it was too late.

As well as this John Yapp and Geoff Cross were having a woeful day in the scrum. Yapp was hit backwards by BJ Botha almost every time, even if just by a matter of inches, and Cross turned inwards so that his head was facing his hooker far too often.

Cross was able to turn his hips out because of a looseness that has haunted Edinburgh for years. They have had a second row that ill matches the likes of Munster and Saracens for too long. They still need a grunter who weighs half a planet and is only allowed to scrum and ruck. Either that or they stop letting Cox carry ball.

Again Neil Back must be asked questions. The scrum has looked great in the RaboDirect Pro12, but the big teams save themselves for the Heineken. More detailed work is needed. They need Allan Jacobsen back desperately, but they also need told that everything gets that much harder in the Heineken.

And they should know. They went all the way to the semi-final last year.


Key decision makers, captains and coaches need called up on these results.

With the level of investment, numbers of signings and PR that Murrayfield have themselves created, fans are well within their rights to be disgusted with Edinburgh so far. Those fans must be given answers.

As well as that, poor old Andy Robinson has to pick a team to play New Zealand out of this…

2 Responses

  1. How about Bradley’s decision to have no open-side flanker – not even on the bench, against one of the best breakdown teams around. McInally looked lost at sea.

  2. One comment for both pro teams after the weekend results says it all about the expectations of Scottish Rugby

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion