Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Solomons departs, but what has he left behind at Edinburgh?

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

With the door closed on the Alan Solomons era, and Duncan Hodge installed as the club’s interim head coach, what positives can be taken from the South African’s time at the helm?

The first would be the enhanced reputation of the club’s forward pack – with the trio of Dickinson, Ford and Nel regarded as one of the finest front row trios in the land. Backing them up, Solomons promoted Rory Sutherland through the ranks, taking over from Wicus Blaauw as Dickinson’s deputy for both club and then country in the process.

Stuart McInally’s transition from barnstorming back-row to combative hooker has been equally as successful, and Rambo’s stock is such he is co-captain of the Capital outfit for this season.

He is pushing Ross Ford hard for the number two jersey, and credit must be given to Solomons and Stevie Scott for their part in McInally’s transformation.

Cornell du Preez - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Cornell du Preez – pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Another Scotland cap, Hamish Watson, has equally turned into a fine performer on the openside, while Cornell Du Preez – Solomons’ best signing for Edinburgh – has been a revelation and should make his Scotland debut next month.

Despite losing Denton, Coman and Grant last year, the Edinburgh back-row is still a formidable one, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury, particularly in the early weeks of this season – the youngsters have been magnificent.

Behind the pack it has also been a story of big-name departures, but with far fewer positives to fill the void.

Tom Brown has successfully taken over from Tim Visser on the left flank, but with less try scoring panache then the now-Harlequins winger.

Filling the boots of Matt Scott has been harder for Solomons and Hodge this season though, with Junior Rasolea, Michael Allen and Chris Dean all giving it a go; the latter is the best prospect of the three.

There have been success stories, though – the introduction of Damien Hoyland, who has gone on to win international honours at both 7s and 15s, while Blair Kinghorn looks a star in the making.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - pic © Al Ross / Novantae Photography
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Solomons’ biggest success in the three-quarters was the rapid rise of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.

A “very talented kid” when the South African took over, the former Merchiston man took on the number nine shirt when Greig Laidlaw left for Gloucester and never looked back – another to win full Test honours.

Solomons may have departed, but he has left the capital club with the likes of Sutherland, Bradbury, Watson, Hidalgo-Clyne and Kinghorn to pin its future on.

There have, of course, been failures – the hoards of players imported from the Southern Hemisphere and elsewhere will forever be Solomons’ legacy at Edinburgh (Andries Strauss anyone), as will the kick-and-chase style of rugby he employed.

Finding a way to make the back line move like their Glasgow counterparts, while retaining the grit of the pack, could be the key to turning Edinburgh Rugby into a success story.


14 Responses

  1. Getting the back line to move like their Glasgow counterparts would be a plus, but how much of it is personnel versus style? I agree that Edinburgh do have talent in the backs, however, if I think Pyrgos, Russell, Sarto, Dunbar, Bennett, Seymour, Hogg, plus Horne to boot. Notwithstanding that the individual performance reflects that of the whole, I’m not sure any Edinburgh player would trump that line up in their respective positions…

    1. It’s a very good point and one that will be wheeled out in similar fashion throughout this Lions year (usually to denigrate our Scottish lads vs English or Welsh counterparts) – how many of the Edinburgh backline would get in the Glasgow team, never mind Scotland?

      1. I think SHC, Kinghorn and Hoyland could be in the mix, but probably in a development sense, rather than even making the bench (not considering injuries), at least for Scotland. I could see each of them fitting into the Toony rotation at some point at Glasgow.

      2. The paucity of the Edinburgh back division is an indictment of Solomons and his backs coach (whoever that might be?). The departure of established Scottish internationals can be attributed in part to the style of play. Promising young players are being given their chance because there isn’t anyone else of quality. Some will make the grade as club players, even internationalists, but it will take several years to develop that level of consistency.

        The scattergun recruitment policy failed big time and I for one am surprised that the micro-managing SRU put up with the policy for so long. Someone needs to be held to account as to why Solomons had his contract renewed last season when it was clear club performance had plateaued at a moderate level and players weren’t happy.

      3. I don’t think there was any general sense players weren’t happy – developing the squad morale and ethos is something most players have said is one of Solomons achievements. No doubt his reign peaked in season two, and collapse in the second half of season three. I stonily suspect he was begged to stay in another season because the SRU were struggling to identify a decent replacement – Solomons has hinted before he’s on the brink of retirement and he might have just had enough. I’ve been impressed with the SRUs recruitment of coaches in general under Dodson – let’s see who they can rustle up.

  2. Quite right to say Solomons did some good stuff, and of course the huge success down the M8 didn’t help. But he looked like a forwards coach, and some of the backs stuff is pretty clueless.
    SH-C is a conundrum – shows no signs of throwing off the “difficult second season” syndrome. If he’d even stayed at the same level I would have him in the Scotland team ahead of Laidlaw.
    I’m keeping my powder dry on Hodge – I remember very clearly announcing to the whole pub that while he was solid and wouldn’t throw away games, he wasn’t a game changer and winner at international level. That was lunchtime on 1 April 2000 . . . .
    But ditching the co – captain nonsense would be one way of Hodge making his mark immediately.

  3. I’d add that I’m a bit surprised that we’ve not seen more of Jamie Farndale. I know he had a bad injury a couple of years ago, but I thought he was back and playing well at 7s. He was a trying scoring machine in the U20s. With Hoyland that could be a lot of scoring potential. Is his defence mince?

      1. Can’t say Scholes has looked up to much. Allen has a couple of tries but isn’t exactly a top draw wing. I think Farndale’s size should be a point of difference with those two.

  4. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but for me it was when NDL left Edinburgh that the backline lost its cutting edge.

      1. Agree wholeheartedly. Always felt that de Luca was treated very unfairly as both an Edinburgh and Scotland player. At a time when our back division consisted of big hearted, committed men, who lacked the vision available to other teams, a player like de Luca was an easy target when things went awry. Some of the abuse handed out to him, Sean Lamont and others was despicable.

  5. I reckon presently few Edinburgh backs would be in the Glasgow 2nd string back line up , its quite paradoxical that AS has done an excellent job with the forwards & a lamentable job with the backs.
    I wish Hodge well but with no track record I don’t hold too many hopes.
    Several backs required..

  6. The trouble is, Scotland needs at least two successful pro-teams to provide a sufficient pool of talent for success at international level. Edinburgh for too long have failed to rise above the mediocre, though their spirited performance tonight, admittedly against one of the league’s weakest teams, may promise better things to come under Hodge’s coaching.
    If both our pro teams could compete in the top quarter of the league, Scotland could prove to be a formidable international side.

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