Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh Rugby 22-32 La Rochelle

Hamish Watson vs La Rochelle
Hamish Watson on the charge during Edinburgh Rugby vs La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Edinburgh’s European Challenge Cup adventure came crashing to its conclusion at the hands of the impressive Top 14 leaders La Rochellae at BT Murrayfield last night.

Duncan Hodge’s men were slow out of the blocks and their visitors took full advantage as they scored two tries from scrum-half Arthur Retiere and tighthead Mohamed Boughmnmi inside the first quarter to take a 0-14 lead.

Chris Dean’s break down the right was the first glimmer of an Edinburgh chance but he neglected the potential overlap. It took them a while to build any momentum in the game but it was his midfield colleague who got the scoreboard moving, as Phil Burleigh profited from a scrappy line out to dive over.

Jason Tovey, preferred to Scotland stand-off Duncan Weir in the number 10 jersey, landed an impressive conversion to half the arrears.

The visitors struck back almost immediately, though, as their lively scrum-half Arthur Retiere broke up the touchline before running through Blair Kinghorn’s poor tackle attempt to score. Ex-Clermont veteran Brock James missed the conversion, but the Frenchmen led 7-19 as the game passed the half-hour mark.

Edinburgh’s only route into the match appeared to be from the boot of Tovey, who kicked a succession of penalties to within 5m of the La Rochelle line as Edinburgh struggled to make the territory count. The home pack finally ditched the bludgeon for a clever move round the front which saw Ross Ford barrel over out wide.

Tovey this time missed the conversion, but cut the gap to 12-26 at the break.

It was tough going for Hodge’s side, with the two tries really their only positives to take from a first 40 minutes that left them chasing the game through too many errors.

HALF-TIME: Edinburgh Rugby 12-26 La Rochelle

La Rochelle had the better of the game immediately after the restart, but Edinburgh struck first as they had to.

A great break from Hamish Watson built pressure for the hosts, then Cornell Du Preez found Damien Hoyland with a stunning offload, before two phases later, Watson re-appeared to dive over.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne took over the kicking duties as Tovey departed injured, and cut the gap to seven with the conversion.

Edinburgh were playing like a different side in the second half with Watson and Du Preez to the fore, and they cut the gap further when Damien Hoyland broke down the touchline.

He was pulled back illegally by the visitors’ replacement Lekso Jaulashvili, who was sent to the sin-bin, and Duncan Weir cut the gap to four points with a 65th-minute penalty that should perhaps have gone to the corner.

No sooner had Hodge’s side cut the gap than they conceded a penalty, and James kicked the French league leaders seven points clear once more with 10 minutes left.

A glorious chance to take the lead went begging on 71 minutes when, after sustained pressure near the La Rochelle line, Simon Berghan threw a wild offload to ground, and the visitors kicked to safety.

Edinburgh enjoyed another period of possession towards the end, but were unable to unlock the visitors’ defence as they bowed out of the competition.

James kicked a late penalty to move the gap to 10 points and seal La Rochelle’s semi-final place. On their first half form, they could well return to BT Murrayfield for the final.

Attendance: 5,488

SRBlog Man of the Match: There were few performances to crow about in the first half but Hamish Watson sparked the Edinburgh revival in the second half. Strong carrying, tackling and surprising pace. Typical Watson.

41 Responses

  1. If ever a film title summed up a game – the good, the bad and the ugly ( but not necessarily in that order ).

    1. Or maybe the film “a bridge to far” ,I’m sure a lot of films could be used to discribe the game, your choice though is a good one and more apt in my opinion, anyway to think more positive good luck Glasgow and let’s hope for an great game of rugby, thanks.

  2. I’m not even sure how Edinburgh managed to stay in the game for so long.
    No matter what good things then did, there was always some ‘eejit’ just waiting to make a schoolboy error and undo all of the good work.
    Sliced kicks, kick out on the full, not listening to the ref, dropping the ball, losing the ball in the tackle, bad communication, greedy players butchering tries, no leadership. The whole panoply of mistakes was on display last night.
    There was an incident when Gilchrist was lifted up to take a restart kick. He then left it to Brown at the very last nano-second. Brown wasn’t expecting it and immediately knocked it on, then let it hit his shin and spin away out of control. Dreadful stuff.
    If anything gets me shouting at the TV, it’s professional players managing to look like bad amateurs on a wet Saturday afternoon.
    How many of those kind of errors did La Rochelle make? I really don’t remember any.
    The highlight of the Edinburgh season, and they fluffed their lines badly.

  3. Game was over by halftime. Feel sorry for the Edinburgh supporters who continue to be let down big time by their shambolic team. The errors were similar to those on display at recent Pro 12 matches
    Looking forward to some of the village idiots on this site, who puff up Kinghorn as international quality, coming on here to apologise.
    Given the size of crowd it would have been better to have held the tie at Myreside, with a bit of atmosphere. Nothing to now play for till the end of the season. The Scotstoun match could be slaughterhouse.

    1. isint Kinghorn only 18-19 still and his preferred position is 10 ? plenty of time for him to develop if he gets good coaching.

      1. Exactly Neil, some of the comments from supporters knocking the young lad have frankly been embarrassing, Kinghorn has proved in games (Harlequins at home) that he’s got vast amounts of potential, but hes a young man with no other fullback to learn from, no leaders to look up too and a coaching team as useful as a condom vending machine in the Vatican to coach him.

  4. Kinghorn will come good don’t worry about that he’s just a part of the current malais about the side. Although there are several players who will be moved on, he won’t be one of them and in my opinion needs to develop at 10.

  5. There were glimpses of the potential Edinburgh have but they are in a spiral where ambition combined with a lack of confidence mean the keep making errors or taking the wrong option. I do think they were hard done by on a couple of occasions: La Rochelles fourth try was a blatant forward pass and when hoyland was tackled early, the ref should have given a penalty try imho as I doubt the cover would have got there (perhaps the ref thought he would knock on anyway!).

    Still, this inability to start playing from the first whistle has been a blight on Edinburgh this year. perhaps a more intense warm up would help, a proper beasting!

    Cockers has some have decent clay to work with in the young lads he has but gilchrist needs to show much more as a leader and Ford needs to learn to hook or retire, he’s an embarrassment

  6. Edinburgh are definitely a curates egg of a team, I do wonder how much of the current malaise is down to years of sub standard coaching (since Andy Robinson) the SRU have to take the blame. Glasgow have been very well served both as a team & concept leaving Edinburgh trailing in their wake.
    A question for Melrose watchers – Is Jason Baggot a viable alternative @ 10 for Edinburgh.

  7. I’d also like to see kinghorn given a run at 10 next year, or at least be in competition for that position, and only be used at full back for cover. The lad has potential and it’s worth investing time in him as opposed to a journeymen Welsh 10 who is not any use to the national side or Edinburgh long-term. He does make a lot of silly mistakes (i.e. Fumble against warriors, tackle on Friday) but he has lots of good attributes as well and as mentioned earlier he is only young so give the guy a chance.

    Think part of the problem for Edinburgh this year apart from the glaringly obvious ones mentioned so many times, is the lack of competition for places. It seems you can just turn up to training every week and get a game at the weekend regardless of form. Admittedly injuries have been cruel but every side has them so think Cockerills first tasks are to give the whole lot of them a right good kick up the proverbial and develop more competition for places which will hopefully kick out this “boys club” ‘mentality present just now.

    In terms of summer clear out I’d be happy to see any of the following depart from the backs….Michael Allen, tom brown (why was he given an extension?! Joe average winger), burleigh, helu, tovey, scholes.

    In the forwards think there’s a nucleus of a decent pack there, undoubtedly cockerill will have his eye on a few to come in. Probably need more depth at hooker, ford and Cochrane should only be called upon as back up so either mcinally makes the jersey his own this year or it’s time to move on for him as well.

  8. Edinburgh’s pack looks formidable, if Nel and Dickinson get back to their previous level and Hardie signs on and stays free of injury. Those 2 props, Ford/McInally, Bresler/Toolis/Gilchrist, Hardie, Watson, Bradbury/Du Preez should be able to at least hold their own against any other pro 12 side assuming the coaching is in any way competent. The backs are a different story, though Bennett is a good start. Who knows what’s gone wrong with Hidalgo-Clyne. Hoyland and Kinghorn are the only ones you’d definitely want to keep and work on.

    Edinburgh is more of a rugby city than Glasgow surely, but the difference in the teams is ridiculous and the way the attendances at Myreside cut in half almost straight away after a couple of losses was worrying. Cockerill and his team need to rattle some cages straight. Make Watson captain.

    1. Making Watson captain is by far from the worst idea I’ve heard, he’d lead by example.

      I think Chris dean is worth persevering with in the backs too, he has shown a fair bit this season and will benefit greatly playing beside bennet. Think there definitely is a need for more quality all over the backs division though.

    2. On the Hidalgo-Clyne problem, is it insane to suggest Cockerill gives him a go at 10 next season? As I understand it he was originally a standoff when coming through the age grades, and it doesn’t seem to be working for him at scrumhalf. I’d rather see him or Kinghorn (as RJ says above) being given a go there than Tovey.

  9. Rumours in Singapore that as Scotland and Italy are there at the same time a ‘friendly’ might be on?

  10. That looked to me like a team that has no leaders, no cohesion and no worry that their performance, good or bad, will hold any consequences for them. Basically, it’s been Groundhog day for the last 2/3 years.

    I know others have pointed to the bright spots of the pack being decent but when you look at it, they don’t attack well, their defense collapses very quickly and concentration lapses frequently. The two driving mauls they conceded try’s to were some of the absolutely worst efforts at defending a maul I’ve seen.

    Hopefully Cockerill comes in and is very much a new broom. Coaching needs to be torn up from top to bottom, a good few players need removed from the squad. The likes of Gilchrist, SHC, Weir, Burleigh, Ford have it in them to be, at the very least, quality performers for a Pro12 side. As it is, they aren’t leading or improving a team.

  11. Jason woodward could be leaving bristol , would be a good signing for edinburgh or glasgow if they want to to go for him. Pretty first class back 3 player and available during international periods

    1. I’d rather not to tell you the truth.

      13 appearances since joining in September after getting frustrated at not making it into the Hurricanes team on a regular basis. He sounds like exactly the sort of ‘Super Rugby’ player that we have been massively underwhelmed by in the past.

  12. think Hastings should have went to Edinburgh he might be 3rd choice stand off at Glasgow and weir showing tonight how God awful he actually is

      1. Must be confidence as a shadow of the guy who played for Glasgow.

        Do Edinburgh have a backs coach?

    1. He’s had an absolute stinker. Would have been better off hooking him at half time or shifting burleigh to ten. Mcinally bloody awful too. Ford, Weir, Mcinally all need replacing urgently.

      I’d rather see Josh Henderson in there at ten than Weir and Cochrane should be starting at hooker until a good youngster can be found. The academies can’t produce players soon enough imho.

      1. I am not keen on criticising individuals but Mata and Fihaki look like they are just marking their card. Watson carried the back row.

        I don’t see Edinburgh that often but when I do I am astonished how bad they are compared to Glasgow. I think Hodge has made them worse than they were under Solomon.

  13. R Ford is not the team captain that Edinburgh needs, especially if they are trying to play fast rugby. If fact, it would not surprise me if he gets much game time next season.

    1. ‘When a fish rots, it rots from the head’.
      The buck from this ongoing clusterf*ck stops with the SRU. Scott Johnson seems to be well and truly off the radar nowadays and accountable for nothing. He must have signed of the bizarre extension of Solomons’ contract, when it was apparent that Edinburgh had stalled as a team, and year on year were anchored in the lower reaches of the Pro 12 playing dire stuff. The contrast with a Warriors team competing for the title with an attractive brand of rugby couldn’t have been more extreme.
      Having backed Solomons, months later he was effectively sacked, although Edinburgh’s performance hadn’t deteriorated significantly from how they had been playing in the previous seasons.
      In a blatant display of nepotism, the SRU then appointed one of their ‘project coaches’ as Acting Head Coach. This individual has shown nothing in his previous coaching history, being a senior member of Solomons’ team, to suggest he was fit for the role. Instead he has failed miserably with the team deteriorating to an embarrassing shambles.
      The farce continues with the failure guaranteed a coaching role under a new head coach, hired from outwith the SRU to kick ass and build a professional rugby team.
      At last some of the long-suffering Edinburgh supporters are beginning to call out the serial flops and wage thieves who frequent Edinburgh Rugby from top to bottom.
      The loss of Nel and Dickinson for most of the season have been blows. Toolis and Watson have been carrying too many. I’m really struggling thereafter to identify anyone else who has consistently performed as a Pro 12 player this season. The back division is laughable. There may be some Pro 12 quality players in the squad but the coaching is so poor that currently I’d fancy Melrose or Ayr to turn over ‘Hodge’s Horrors’.

  14. Having read these blog comments and the match report on BBC online, I’m glad I wasn’t able to watch the game. Would probably have kicked the telly in. The new brooms can’t get in there soon enough.

  15. The season can’t end soon enough and Cockerill can’t start the job of rebuilding this basket case team early enough. I disagree that the squad is particularly bad, they are clearly appallingly coached and their morale is in the gutter. But I have to echo the disbelief that Hodge and Wilkins aren’t being sent packing – they have failed consistently and need to be accountable. Scottish rugby can’t replace half the playing squad but it can definitely replace coaches who’ve led the squad to this shambles. After some modest progress under Solomons we’re back to the Bradley-era rubbish. Let’s hope Cockerill is up to the task.

    1. Doesn’t help when the white flag is run up beforehand allowing Kinghorn to go to the 7s.
      I agree there are some good players there, mainly forwards. However the half backs and back line have just gone to pieces. Even Weir, who is a very solid PRO 12 fly half, was dire last night.
      I really feel for Watson, whose efforts continue ( or should continue ) to embarrass some of the others.

  16. The strangest, most dispiriting, moment for me was in the first half when Edinburgh had a dominant scrum in a great attacking position, and Fowles was trying to get the ball out of the scrum, but the No 8 (Fahiki I believe) simply wouldn’t let him get it out. He absolutely locked his feet together, preventing Fowles from getting it, and ultimately causing him to knock on. I thought Fowles was going to clock him, he was so angry. When your key combinations are that dysfunctional, it beggars belief and is indicative of huge fractures in morale, communication and planning.

    Having said that, despite the many, many deflating moments, the team did well to score three tries in 10-12 minutes and could have nicked it against a strong side. How ridiculous, though, that they put themselves in that position.

  17. Looked like another pitiful crowd at Myreside. The whole situation is depressing and Cockerill and his people need to knock some heads together. Making Hamish Watson captain would be as good start. Getting Nel, Dickinson and Hardie (will he re-sign?) back from injury would be a huge boost for next season.

    Probably a good decision to let Kinghorn go for a break in Hong Kong before the farce at Edinburgh breaks his confidence. Of the young guys at the 7s only Darcy Graham has looked lively, the team as a whole dreadful.

    Duncan Weir is going backwards and it’s a damning indictment on the coaching and morale as we know he’s a solid pro 12 fly half. I don’t think there’s any lack of effort from him but he could do with some specialist coaching from someone in his position who knows the highs and lows of playing pro 12 and for Scotland.

    1. Just following up on that BLB I believe Dan Parks would be a brilliant specialist coach for duncan weir , he has a world class winning mentality, his kicking % were top class , always solid in defense , could run a back line better than the legendary Quade ‘hotstep’ cooper, and was truly an inspiration to his team mates when playing for scotland

      1. Neil, I reckon Dan could help Duncan with kicking from hand and tee but I’m less sure about defence and getting a line going. Dan’s defence was not strong tbh and he didn’t very often light up an attack. To be fair to him, he didn’t have top class attacking backs outside him in his day.
        In any case, however well Weir is coached, unless he can step up several levels he will never be a proper Test 10 and on current form he is in danger of losing his status as a professional. Hate to have to say that (it is Weir’s living unless he has other income) but the SRU have to be ruthless as they go about weeding out players who can’t cut it and bringing on players who can.

    1. Seeing as Galthie is joining as head coach for next season that would be a pretty big turn up for the books.

  18. Glasgow having the life squeezed out of them by Munster. I remember after the pro 12 final Toonie had said they avoided rucks as much as possible offloading and passing before contact. Glasgow seem to have lost a bit of their offloading game this season. Surely not just because of nakarawa leaving….

    Can anyone more learned explain how Munster ALWAYS seem to have numbers at the breakdown in defence and attack? They seem to have at least 17 on the pitch

    1. I think a huge part of it is their high, focused workrate and fitness. They define themselves in large part by this. In 2014-16, with the same players, they weren’t anything like as dominant or ever-present. The death of Anthony Foley seemed to galvanise them to re-discover their commitment (not just ‘playing for Axel’ but re-discovering what they already had but had lost).

  19. I thought it was a tremendous display of heart by Glasgow, Munster are a formidable team & Glasgow stuck to the task admirably. As stated above the death of Foley has inspired them to even greater efforts, the Saracens game will be a memorable occasion. The small pitch and the swarming defence made it virtually impossible for Glasgow to run. Brilliant score by Hogg.
    Hoping Rennie can unearth a couple of explosive SQ NZ’rs to supplement the squad next season. (maybe a lock & a No.8)

    1. Glasgow look like they are running out of steam. Not surprising at all considering the ERC run and the fact that they are carrying Scotland as well, but Munster were there for the taking if Glasgow had managed even an 80% performance.

  20. After a fairly disappointing year club-wise, I think both Edinburgh and Glasgow will benefit from new coaches….the former for very obvious reasons.

    Glasgow have done well enough, but I feel that since last year progress has stopped, even reversed a bit. These repeated single-digit defeats to Munster are indicative that the creative thinking upstairs is fading….or failing to be effective.

    I hope that new coaching will spur both teams on for next season.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion