Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh’s Big Hopes for 2016/17

Alan Solomons - pic © Al Ross
Alan Solomons - pic © Al Ross

Since arriving at Edinburgh in 2013 Alan Solomons has had no problem releasing players and bringing in new faces, and this upcoming season is no different. A lot of the remaining old guard – Matt Scott, Mike Coman, Jack Cuthbert, Greig Tonks – have moved on, barring Scott, to lesser clubs. While backup players Sam Beard, John Andress and Alex Toolis have also left Scotland.

To replace them, Solomons has brought in some shrewd signings. In addition to keeping Jason Tovey at Murrayfield/Myreside, the South African has lured a couple of Scottish internationals to the capital club, as well as some exciting young backs with a mixture of PRO12, TOP14 and Super Rugby pedigree.

Duncan Weir

The biggest-name signing on offer, Scotland international Weir moves to Edinburgh in the hope of regular rugby and becoming first-choice 10 after continuously playing a bit-part at rivals Glasgow. A monotonous fly-half, there are no doubts about Weir’s kicking or passing but concerns over his defence and flair have plagued him throughout his career. Should still become Edinburgh’s main man with Tovey, Phil Burleigh and Blair Kinghorn behind him.

Rory Scholes

Another player looking for regular rugby at Edinburgh, clinical finisher Scholes signs from Ulster on a two-year deal after failing to oust seasoned wingers Craig Gilroy, Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble. With five tries in 25 Ulster appearances and 33 points in nine games for Ireland’s under 20s, Scholes is impressive in attack but expect Tom Brown and Damien Hoyland to keep their wing spots for the time being.

Glenn Bryce

He was never going to nudge Stuart Hogg out of Glasgow’s XV so it makes sense for Bryce to move down the M8. An impressive player whether it was with Glasgow or the Scottish Sevens team, the younger Bryce has a lovely turn of speed and is solid under the high ball. Very versatile in the backline and should see plenty of playing time, mainly at fullback.

Kevin Bryce

Glenn’s older brother joins Edinburgh after making a handful of appearances for Glasgow in his three years with the club, but he has a lot of work to do to beat Ross Ford and Stuart McInally for the hooker spot. Capped by Scotland in that ridiculous injury-ravaged 2014 summer tour, 27-year-old Bryce is one of the growing number of hookers that played flanker as a youngster, meaning he has a high-work ethic and is not shy of getting involved in the loose.

Nick Beavon

A Melrose prop nearly all his life, 29-year-old tighthead Beavon won’t see many opportunities with WP McNel ahead of him but might find himself in a few matchday 23s given injuries and form. The self-employed joiner has trained twice a week with the club since January but at over 120kgs, he’s a big boy.

Junior Rasolea

A Fijian-Australian centre with three years of Super Rugby to his name, Rasolea is a physical lad and can often come off as quite one-dimensional. Despite experience with the Australian Sevens team, Rasolea is shy when it comes to the try line and you have a higher chance of seeing him truck the ball straight up or trying to put in a big tackle. If Solomons wants to play a quick expansive game them unfortunately the former Western Force player is not your man. If he wants to slog the opposition into submission, he’s a better bet than Burleigh or Chris Dean.

Alex Northam

An almost Gregor Townsend-esq signing. By all accounts an absolute thunderbolt of a runner, young Australian winger Northam signs from Sydney side North Harbour Rays after spending the last few months on loan at La Rochelle. A previous under 20 international and Australia Sevens player, Northam looks good on paper but you’d think there could be a reason that no Super Rugby side looked closely at him. Will surely get game time during the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations.

Sasa Tofilau

Signed from Division Two side Kirkcaldy, young centre Tofilau could surprise a few people with his performances this season. Has previous with Waikato and Australia under 20s and he won the Melrose Sevens with Edinburgh in April. A typical Pacific Islander, Tofilau combines speed and size with some beautiful offloads and deft touches. Some decent cameos from the bench could see him secure a semi-permanent spot in the backline.

UPDATE (15/7): Edinburgh have also signed Tongan international back row Viliami Fihaki on a two-year contract. The 29-year-old joins from Sale Sharks and is a Number 8 who plays a bit of blindside. He made his international debut for Tonga against Japan in May 2013, and has eight Test caps for his country and two tries. Before his spell at Sale (where he played alongside Edinburgh scrum-half Nathan Fowles), Fihaki played with New Zealand provincial side North Harbour for over four years in the ITM Cup.


7 Responses

  1. Looks promising for the new season. From no out and out 10s to an embarrasment of richies. Weir better be careful: he could soon be displaced by Tovey. Suggests that Kinghorn is seen as a fullback long term.

    I was under the impression that Kevin Bryce would be retraining as a prop.

    1. I think Weir is better than he is being given credit here – he is comfortably better than Tovey and if he settles quickly could be a real boon for Edinburgh. Obviously likely to continue Edinburgh’s more limited style. I also think Bryce could really flourish given the chance at Edinburgh. They could actually put out a dangerous back line for the first time in years but there are a lot of callow players. Need SHC/Weir to gel quickly and gel well.

  2. I’d agree with FF – I don’t think Weir is as limited a player as he is sometimes painted. He is unfortunate in that his competition for the jersey for club and country is Finn Russell, who is outrageously talented (although can still be up or down in games)

    If he was competing with Dan Parks would Weir get the pelters he does now? I liked Parks as a person, and as a player. He did what he could, and at the time there was no-one who was more able to fit in with the style of play Scotland were restricted to due to the players available. We live in different times now – instead of Parks/Morrison/Henderson we have Russell/Bennett/Dunbar, but Weir is still the type of player who will give his all. I think more game time will develop him as a player in terms of attack and defence. I hope he goes well at Edinburgh.

    The Bryce brothers are canny signings. Glenn is a fine player, who’s skill set allowed him to drop into the 7s squad and not look out of place. Will he slot in at centre to allow Kinghorn to continue his development at 15? Kevin is a battler – if he does switch to prop as has been suggested then Edinburgh will have some talent in the front row.

    Don’t know about the others, but I think Edinburgh will struggle to fill Matt Scott’s boots, even with Weir at 10 providing control. I’m hoping that Chris Dean benefits from Weir being inside him – he looks a cracking player, but needs support round him to develop.

    Overall I think Edinburgh have a stronger squad going into the new season – and their twitter account is chirping about another new signing this morning. I hope it’s not another partnership with a gin company, but either a monster second row, or a top flight centre.

    If the new signings can gel quickly then I think we can expect a more consistent season from Edinburgh, eliminating the traditional drops in form which usually cost them dear. If they can do that then top 6 is well within their reach, top 4 not beyond them either.

  3. Scottish signings look no to bad but not sure if any of the foreign boys will add much over promoting the best of the U20 boys & maybe more pertinently speaking to The Stormers about the impressive Huw Jones

    Weir – I’m afraid I’ve lost patience with him for Scotland (looks like BVC has too) he simply hasn’t the game required (Hogg, Horne to cover Finn) but with AS still there playing a more limited game plan (and with SHC & Burleigh) he may be good for Edinburgh.

  4. See Gilchrist is staying on, no departure to Toulon, SRU apparently asking £240k compensation – per Sunday Times.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion