The mighty Captain Scarlet himself, John Barclay announced his retirement from international rugby earlier in the week.
As accolades go it’s a big one: he is probably the best player whose career has spanned the lifetime of this blog.
He will be missed for Scotland even though ultimately over the piece he was massively under-used during that time in the wilderness when Scott Johnson was in charge, and should really have gone to the 2015 World Cup too.
We look forward to seeing him tear it up for Edinburgh in the years to come and presumably moving on to a career as a pundit – something he is already better than Clive Woodward at – with a sideline in jumping out of Stuart Hogg’s cupboards.
Another sad retirement this week came from former U20 and Edinburgh prop Jack Cosgrove, currently plying his trade at the Dragons. He’s retiring age 25 due to a serious eye injury sustained in training.
Other news this week included new deals for Chris Dean, James Johnstone, Pierre Schoemann (Edinburgh) and Kyle Steyn (Glasgow). Edinburgh have taken to not announcing the length of the contracts recently, so if you’ve landed on this post from the future trying to work out when Schoeby-doo is out of contract, it’s not my fault I don’t have the answer. Best guess is 2 or 3 years.
Edinburgh v Wasps
Date: Fri 06 December 2019
Venue: BT Murrayfield Stadium
Edinburgh are doing well at the moment, but perhaps you could say underachieving. A draw vs a very strong Bordeaux side at home and a win in Cork against Munster are good results on paper – but the side Edinburgh sent over the Irish sea should have won by more, and likewise they should have got more from a home tie in Europe.
Double headers against Wasps then Glasgow will see out the year and Richard Cockerill welcomes back Nick Haining and Darcy Graham to the team, Haining after a brief ban for dangerous play. That does mean Edinburgh now have several ball-carrying threats across the back row and bench and Magnus Bradbury can still be rested! Also missing out is Mark Bennett but an injury to Matt Scott gives the impressive George Taylor another run in midfield.
In what seems a more regular rotation at half back than previously when both were fit, Simon Hickey is once again handed the reins at standoff and van Der Walt sits the bench. Edinburgh will be targeting more than a draw this time.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. James Johnstone, 12. George Taylor, 11. Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally (c), 3. Simon Berghan, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Nick Haining.
Replacements: 16. Mike Willemse, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Sam Thomson, 20. Viliame Mata, 21. Nic Groom, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Damien Hoyland.
Wasps: 15. Rob Miller, 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Dan Robson (c), 1. Zurabi Zhvania, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Theo Vukasinovic, 5. Tim Cardall, 6. Jack Willis, 7. Nizaam Carr, 8. Sione Vailanu.
Replacements: 16. Tom Cruse, 17. Tom West, . , 19. Brad Shields, 20. Thomas Young, 21. Ashley Johnson, 22. Will Porter, 23. Jimmy Gopperth.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Edinburgh unavailable: David Cherry, John Barclay, Eroni Sau, Luke Crosbie, Rory Darge, WP Nel, Matt Scott, Chris Dean, Fraser McKenzie, Lewis Carmichael.
La Rochelle vs Glasgow Warriors
Date: Sat 07 December 2019
Venue: Stade Marcel Deflandre
Having been dismantled by Exeter and Leinster (2nds) in recent weeks, a tricky away trip to France could be just the rejuvenation that Dave Rennie’s men need, or it could compound things further.
Huw Jones once again drops out of the 23 but the pack looks pretty hefty this week with Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray and Matt Fagerson all back in harness.
Tommy Seymour continues his stint at fullback while Adam Hastings is set to restore some verve at standoff alongside George Horne. Edinburgh will be licking their lips at Glasgow’s recent dismal form and these back to back European games will be vital to try and arrest the slide going into 2020.
La Rochelle: 15. Kini Murimurivalu, 14. Vincent Rattez, 13. Jérémy Sinzelle, 12. Pierre Aguillon, 11. Pierre Boudehent, 10. Jules Plisson, 9. Alexi Bales; 1. Dany Priso, 2. Jean-Charles Orioli, 3. Ramiro Herrera, 4. Thomas Jolmes, 5. Mathieu Tanguy, 6. Zeno Kieft, 7. Kevin Gourdon, 8. Victor Vito (capt).
Replacements: 16. Brendan Lebrun, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Sila Puafisi, 19. Thomas Lavault, 20. Paul Boudehent, 21. Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22. Brock James, 23. Brieuc Plessis-Couillaud.
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Tommy Seymour, 14. Niko Matawalu, 13. Nick Grigg, 12. Samuel Johnson, 11. DTH van der Merwe, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. George Horne; 1. Alex Allan, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson, 7. Callum Gibbins (capt), 8. Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Adam Nicol, 19. Robert Harley, 20. Tom Gordon, 21. Ali Price, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Kyle Steyn.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Glasgow unavailable: Nick Frisby (ankle), Siua Halanukonuka (calf), Rory Hughes (head), Lee Jones (calf), Oli Kebble (head), Paddy Kelly (hamstring), Kiran McDonald (hip), D’arcy Rae (hand) and Ratu Tagive (hamstring).
There will probably be more dotted about, but Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, Chris Harris, James Lang and Rory Hutchinson all start for their clubs this weekend while Greig Laidlaw, Alex Craig and Richie Gray are all named in the replacements for their clubs. No Maitland or Taylor for Saracens, with SuperDunc possibly picking up another injury last weekend.