Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 19: Edinburgh team for Ulster

Hamish Watson
Hamish Watson - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Edinburgh had plenty of news announced this week with Hamish Watson set to undergo shoulder surgery that will keep him out until the end of the season and into the summer – though he should be fully rested for preseason going into a World Cup year. Until the end of term, Edinburgh will have John Hardie to fill the slot (although Jamie Ritchie starts this weekend), but he was one of around sixteen players confirmed by Richard Cockerill who are on the way out next season.

Most of the names were known already but a few, like the Bryce brothers and Neil Cochrane, may have come as a surprise. Here’s the full list:

Kevin Bryce, Glenn Bryce, Neil Cochrane (retirement), Robbie Fruean (injury/retirement), John Hardie, Elliot Millar-Mills, Matt Shields, Cornell du Preez, Jason Harries, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Jordan Lay, Duncan Weir, Jason Tovey, Tom Galbraith, Phil Burleigh, Junior Rasolea.

Glenn Bryce may continue with the Sevens in a like for like swap with Dougie Fife, while Cornell du Preez already has a job in place at Worcester. Cochrane has been a great servant to his hometown club since he appeared from Wasps but for me the biggest losses will be Duncan Weir and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne with Edinburgh still struggling for direction from halfback. A shoutout too to Jason Tovey who did some admirable work in an Edinburgh shirt during his time here.

In his mission to recruit non-International props, Cockers has signed, um, Italian international prop Pietro Ceccarelli on a one year deal. He’s well down the Italy pecking order, apparently and according to reports over on The Offside Line they’ve a gentleman’s agreement he won’t be getting picked for Italy any time soon, so I suppose it sounds ideal all round? He’s also confirmed today a signature from South African Under-20 international prop Pierre Schoeman.

Thoughts of next season will be put aside with the visit of Ulster and here is the team announced:

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Phil Burleigh, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Duncan Weir, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Jordan Lay, Stuart McInally (capt), Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Bill Mata.
Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Lewis Carmichael, Cornell du Preez, Sean Kennedy, Jaco van Der Walt, Chris Dean.

Ulster: C Piutau, L Ludik; D Cave, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; J McPhillips, J Cooney; A Warwick, R Best (Capt), T O’Toole, M Dalton, I Henderson, M Rea, N Timoney, J Deysel;
Replacements: R Herring, T O’Hagan, R Ah You, A O’Connor, S Reidy, D Shanahan, A Curtis, T Bowe.

BT Murrayfield, 7.30pm, coverage on BBC Alba.

A victory this weekend can secure a playoff spot. There’s a phrase you hear a lot of these days: “a year ago Edinburgh wouldn’t have won that”.

A year ago, who would have put money on them making the playoffs? It is so close they can almost taste it….

26 Responses

  1. Plenty of depth in the back row so that should not be a problem, although they got bullied last weekend, so not too worry there. Always going to need a few props around as was demonstrated earlier in the season and with Edinburgh losing so many to Scotland going to need even more.
    Big worries are at half back. Both the best performers at 9 and 10 are leaving and the other options were a major factor in Edinburgh’s battering by Cardiff. It’s not easy to come across quality 9s and 10s so its got me worried. Hopefully Cockerill has a plan up his sleeve.

    1. Edinburgh have got Simon Hickey coming up from Bordeaux next season which should go some way to sorting the problem of number 10. Scrum half is more of an issue however, as neither Fowles or Kennedy are the answer. Who can come in and do a job? Scott Steele from LI? Maybe get Pyrgos across from Glasgow? Maybe even get Finlay Christie up from the ‘Canes!

      1. Purgos form Galasgow is maybe not a bad shout, given that he is now 3rd choice there and is still a good quality player. Scotland as a nation not bably off for 9s but seems to be a problem at Edinburgh now

  2. A good strong team (even without Watson), but I’m concerned that last weekend’s disaster will have destroyed Edinburgh’s fragile confidence. Hope I’m wrong.

      1. Disappointed to be proven right so far. Edinburgh have the better team, but aren’t playing as such. That said, Owens is only reffing the offside line for one team, and it ain’t Edinburgh. Also, forward passes.

  3. Pierre Schoeman from the Bulls Super Rugby team in SA is joining. Edinburgh at the end on Super Rugby.

    Mobile prop with a mean streak. Good signing. I thought he would make the Bok training squad but despite being the incumbent starting prop he doesn’t get a look in because of “policy ” selections.

  4. A bit off topic :) but struggling where to share this info otherwise, latest news on the Spain vs Belgium RWC19 qualifier (impacting Scotland’s pool A group)…according to the Telegraph paper, World Rugby have ordered a full review and quote from World Rugby:

    “World Rugby was deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding the Belgium versus Spain Rugby Europe Championship match, a match that was decisive in the context of Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification,” World Rugby said in a statement on Thursday.

    “Specifically, concerns related to the process and perception of Rugby Europe’s appointment of a match official team that was not neutral in the context of qualification and failing to act on Spain’s concerns in respect of the appointment.

    “Having considered all available information, the World Rugby Executive Committee and Rugby World Cup Board felt that a replay would be in the best interests of the game. Since expressing that view, new information relating to player eligibility in the Rugby Europe Championship has been presented to World Rugby by the participating unions.

    “Given this information concerns potential breaches of World Rugby regulations, and given the complexity and interconnectivity of the issues, a full and independent review is warranted. This is in the best interests of the sport, teams and fans and is fully supported by Rugby Europe.”

    1. I think it’s pretty remarkable that (1) WR have decided a replay is necessary (2) WR expresses this view before a review of the eligibility issues which could very well impact Spain’s qualification as well as Romania’s.

      This suggests to me they were of the view that the referee intentionally influenced the match outcome – you don’t replay games because of poor quality refereeing even if questions have been raised about the process of appointing them.

      If they didn’t have this conclusion they could have deferred expressing an opinion until after the review and hoped to bury the ‘crooked ref’ issue by disqualifying Romania and/or Spain for fielding ineligible players.

      I think they have fired a warning shot across Rugby Europe’s bow here to show how dissatisfied they are at its governance.

      Can’t see any happy outcome to be honest.

  5. Another off-topic. HK sevens off to a decent start by dismissing our pals from south of the border in the only game today.

  6. I think Rory Sutherland opting out of tackling right at the end there nicely summed up Embra tonight.

  7. So much for a response. Ulster were ok. Edinburgh made them look like heroes. Cockers has exceeded expectations hugely, but needs to adapt continue progressing.

  8. No cutting edge evident in Edinburgh’s backs last night. There were plenty of opportunities to exploit possession that just fizzled out. Ulster delivered an object lesson in defending and in taking their own try scoring chances. There’s a huge imbalance between Edinburgh’s pack and their backs. Something that needs to be corrected next season. Sooner than that actually if they hope to make a play-off and qualify for the Champions Cup this season.

    1. Nope, no change in the running I fear. Cockerball dictates forwards are better than backs: cheaper, more trainable and more reliable.

      A high level of mediocrity is sufficient to look good at Edinburgh, and so that is the aim.

    2. Surely players like Hickey, Scott and Socino joining the likes of Dean, VDM, Kinghorn and Bennett hints at a much improved back line. There may be some concerns at SH but I’m sure Cockerill is working to address that despite his protestations to the contrary. They may still need some more depth but you can’t fix everything in one off season and I’d argue the likes of Fife, Brown, Johnstone and Hoyland are good pro-14 level players and Graham’s potential is often touted.

      1. Exactly. Improved. Not “good” though…zero first choice internationals, a few junior/fringe squad members and some prospects/projects.

        Versus the pack with some very high profile names.

        I don’t think it’s really Cockerill’s ideal team choice, but rather a limited budget and the existing talent dictating the options…nonetheless Barclay I presume doesn’t come cheap and that would have gone a long way to getting a decent halfback pairing.

        Top half is where I think Edinburghs prospects lie for 2019…hence the focus on being “solid”.

      2. Give it a rest Alanyst – Embra had a side last night to beat Ulster. Like the week before the choked when they had to win.

        Winning games mid season in the Pro14 matters little.

  9. Edinburgh’s season is over with a small o…can’t see them winning either of their remaining games….Despite Edinburgh’s best efforts, Ulster I think will not be able to catch up but the chance to overtake Scarlets has pretty much gone.

  10. Poor result. 3 first half line outs for ulster, three quick balls off the top, three tries. They were almost identical with one quick ruck and then our midfield defence got lost and gave Ulster spac our wide.

    For Edinburgh it was a tale of three kicks: 1st half when Edinburgh we’re getting momentum Kinghorn kicked too long when there was a chance for a foot race to the line and then SHC kicked out when there was a chance for a race to the corner; second half Weir tried a cross field kick at the end when he should have pumped it to the corner and Ulster go on and score the bp try and deny us a losing bp.

    Very frustrating.

  11. I think that’s about they 6/7th time in his 60th game Kinghorn has messed up diving on a ball. It’s amazed he finds such a simple task difficult.

    Shame he was never given a run at 10. After watching Patchell yesterday, a big aggressive 10 could’ve been good for Edinburgh. It’s probably too late to switch him now.

    1. Kinghorn is an amazing runner – he glides and 9times out of 10 he beats the first man.

      But we need to talk about a couple of things, he’s brainless in defence and his rucking is woeful. He could take the skin off a rice pudding, it’s a terrible technique and one that needs sorted as soon as possible. Back three players spend quite a bit of time clearing out rucks in the wide channels – they need to be able to ruck as well as anyone else on the field.

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