Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Prop crisis looming for Cockerill at Edinburgh

WP Nel - pic © Al Ross
WP Nel - pic © Al Ross

Edinburgh have been plunged into a second prop crisis of the season after Simon Berghan was banned for six weeks for stamping on the head of Scotland team-mate Fraser Brown.

It means not only will the tighthead, who made his first Test start in the thrashing of Australia in November, miss the Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff, he’ll also be unavailable for his club through the early part of 2018.

With WP Nel already on the sidelines, and loosehead trio Allan Dell, Darryl Marfo and Al Dickinson also still on the treatment table, Cockerill is light on front-row options. Most of those players would also have featured in Gregor Townsend’s thoughts.

He this week recruited Samoan international Jordan Lay until the end of the season, but he was hardly eye-catching when the Pacific Islanders played at BT Murrayfield at the beginning of last month.

Michele Rizzo, the hardened Italian international summoned earlier this season, appears to be required by Leicester Tigers, the parent club from whence he came to ease the first prop crisis of Cockerill’s tenure. They’ve re-registered him from Europe and tugged the reins to bring him home.

That means that ‘Cockers’ is now left with:

  • Rory Sutherland – himself only recently back from a lengthy lay-off
  • Matt Shields – on loan from Rotherham, who struggled at times when he filled the spot Berghan vacated in the first 1872 Cup tie and will have to back it up again this weekend
  • Kevin Bryce – unconvincing since his switch from hooker
  • Murray McCallum – playing at loosehead this weekend and his ability to cover both sides of the scrum could prove crucial.

With Melrose going so well in the BT Premiership – there could be an avenue to restore someone like Grant Shiells, the former Newcastle Falcons and an ex-Scotland ‘A’ cap to the professional game to take the pressure off Edinburgh’s ever-decreasing front-row stock. You can bet that Cockerill has been thumbing through the files of the Exiles programme this week…

11 Responses

  1. We have got some good young props about like Dan Winning, Ross Dunbar, Duncan Ferguson as well as the likes of Shiells and Kyle Whyte who have played at pro level before so it would be nice to see the likes of these given a go. What happened to the lad Cosgrove wh did so well when pitched in with McCallum last season?

  2. Cant be far off Toonie calling for uncontested scrums in the 1872 Round 2 to ensure he’s got some international quality options left for the new year.

    Of course that won’t happen but we’re only a Fagerson injury away from a full blown crisis at TH.

  3. Any idea on whether Marfo and Sutherland (absent on sat and seen with arm in sling last week) are likely to be fit for Wales?

    McCallum could well see himself pitched into the Cardiff cauldron at this rate.

  4. The prop crisis is here already .
    Rory Sutherland was injured last week so should be moved from the left with section .
    Is Bryce injured ? as he does not feature in the 23 this week that could be the case as the LH on the bench has just arrived and the TH has only been with the club a few weeks and has yet to feature in a matchday 23 as far as i am aware .

    1. Someone get down The Railway Tabern, Preston Pans. I’m sure he’ll be propping up the bar there and he’s still worth 30 minutes.

  5. Talking of props does anyone know why Steven Longwell at Ayr has never got a shot at pro level? He’s surely the most destructive scrummager in the club game and a big unit so could be worth a look.

  6. Does anyone else think Berghan was a bit hard done by? When you hear stamping it sounds savage, like booting someone in the face but watching it it was a bit strange, it was more like an old school stud rake and kind of like Berghan was looking for somewhere to put his foot down. I think in the not too distant past that would have been fair game on someone lying around on the wrong side of the ruck. Don’t get me wrong, it’s defiantly a card, probably a red one but to me it doesn’t look as malicious as it is portrayed to be.

    1. It is inconvenient , but he was dealt with fairly in line with the rules of today’s game. He will be suffering, no question.

      Facial injury’s are for life, not just for Christmas, ask Dr JPR Williams.

      I was irritated today when Price could not put his shoe in. Gilchrist had his hands all over the ball on the the floor. Feels wrong and Adamson let him away with it, you need to ref it man. Feels like the refs are still adjusting to being judge on that old skill.

      How far has this game changed ! old school raking, how old do we mean! This is perhaps the worst example of inappropriate footwork. No one would encourage kids to play the game as it used to be played. I wouldn’t …..and I was there.

      1. Berghan could have put his foot anywhere else and would have been OK. The fact that he looked down and still put his foot on Brown’s head, would have been a sending-off, even in the old days.
        It wasn’t a stamp, as the studs were pointing backwards (old definition of rucking). However, anywhere near the head was always illegal, at least since the early 80s.

      2. Well they may have been removed if the referee spotted it and decided it was malicious etc.

        TV gives the benefit of a rerun in these games or does it ! full speed, slow motion, who knows what was the intention, personally I think he was in danger of losing his balance and opted to stabalise rather than tumble. We have not actually heard what Berhan thought he was doing, nor will we.

        Original point is he is out and we are either stuffed or have the opportunity to bring on a newcomer , depends how you see it. Another one will prop up. I can hardle believe we are considering a prop is that important. The majority of rugby folk find it offensive that the front row are atheletes same as the rest of the squad.

        Incidently I do not believe Ashworth was removed from the field of play for the JPR stamping or was it raking , if anyone knows otherwise , let me know !

        As for Shelford, he came back on to deal with the offender himself. Right enough that was his chuckies and nowhere near his cranium ( had to watch I did not say ‘head’ there, as it was close enough to his you know what head.)

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion