Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that there is a massive rugby event this weekend.
A highly-anticipated sporting event to rival even the Tokyo Olympics, all within the rugby union community will be anticipating a momentous clash between two truly world-class teams. Everyone will be tuning into this real grudge match, a feisty battle for the ages, between two familiar foes with no love lost between them. And the players? They’ll have a rare and exciting opportunity to follow in the footsteps of rugby legends like Andy Irvine and Bruce Hay. Make no mistake, this is war.
We are taking them to the hurt arena, boys, and we are going to make them pay. Expect to see a fiery and combative display at the breakdown, two teams going hell-for-leather on each other with every morsel of energy they’ve got.
It’s Boroughmuir Bears vs Heriots.
Friday night lights are returning to Meggetland and the teams of the FOSROC Super Six. The Bears and the Bulls are returning to their habitat. Nature is healing. And even better, you can watch it, too!
All Friday-night Super 6 games this season can be watched LIVE on the BBC Sport Scotland website, or on BBC iPlayer! You don’t even need a Premier Sports subscription. Thank Christ (it’s actually mad that the Super 6 not only has better TV coverage than the Pro14 ever did, but probably has better TV coverage then the actual Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics, too.)
So what better way to celebrate this momentous event than by previewing the season-opener, and running the rule over both teams?
Home ground: Meggetland
Head coach: Ex-Scotland internationalist Graham Shiel, father of Edinburgh’s Charlie Shiel
Team captain: Co-captains Dan Winning (prop) and Craig Keddie (back-rower)
Former legends: Boroughmuir has produced Lions aplenty in the forms of Iain Paxton, Bruce Hay, Peter Wright, Chris Cusiter and Mike Blair – also Sean Lineen, the original Kilted Kiwi. It would be remiss of me not to mention Ken Ross, the club’s first ever Scotland international, who passed away on Tuesday.
More recently, Damien Hoyland, Magnus Bradbury and Jake Kerr have come through at the club, while hooker Johnny Matthews has become one of the first Super Six players to play himself into a full-time pro contract, at Glasgow Warriors.
Last time out: Boroughmuir were sadly the weakest team last year – and it wasn’t particularly close, with the Bears losing all but one of their ten games. The upside? Well, the one game that they did win was against Heriots at Meggetland. (In the reverse fixture, they were pummelled 53-10 at Goldenacre.)
It’s also worth noting that the Bears were within five points of their opponents on three different occasions – now can they push on and turn those close results into wins? In a league where four of last season’s top try-scorers were hookers, will the Bears’ penchant for more expansive backline play bear fruit?
Recruitment: Boroughmuir’s squad looks a fair bit stronger than last time out. The eye-catching addition is Scotland internationalist Tom Brown, who has scored exactly 100 points for Edinburgh in Pro12 and Pro14 games, while former Scotland Sevens and Stade Nicois scrum-half Kaleem Barreto can spin and step with the best of nines. (During lockdown, Barreto also devised this workout, which symbolises the missions run by Araminta Ross – more widely known as Harriet Tubman – to free 70+ slaves prior to the American Civil War.)
Due to the geographical imbalance of the Super6, Boroughmuir players are allocated to Glasgow Warriors, which feels wrong – but it *does* mean that you can look out for Glasgow centre Robbie McCallum at #12. Entering his fourth academy year, McCallum will be looking to break through at Meggetland this season. No.8 Rhys Tait is a thrilling prospect for years to come, while loosehead Ross Dunbar, like Barreto, also comes to Meggetland having played at Stade Nicois.
Home ground: Goldenacre
Head coach: Former Edinburgh hooker Andrew Kelly
Team captain: Iain Wilson, who was part of an impressive back row last time out
Former legends: Andy Irvine is a true rugby legend. Then there is Ian Smith, tied with Tony Stanger for most Scotland tries ever scored; Ken Scotland, a Scotland and Lions full-back to rival Irvine; and more Lions in Iain and Kenny Milne, Dan Drysdale, Roy Kinnear, John Beattie and Simon Taylor. More recently, there’s Chris Fusaro, while Cornell du Preez and Murray McCallum both played parts in Heriot’s victorious 2015-16 Scottish Premiership season.
Last time out: In 2019-20’s COVID-curtailed season, Heriot’s finished second, and may well have gone one better had the play-offs been played. An impressive back row complimented strong backs – winger/centre Rory McMichael demonstrated intelligence and workrate while centre Cameron Hutchison has earned himself a partnership contract with Edinburgh, and scrum-half Andrew Simmers was described by coach Phil Smith as being “possibly the most coachable player I have come across”. Sadly Simmers has now departed for pastures new.
Recruitment: Heriot’s have kept the nucleus of their squad intact from last season. Three quarters of their players were at the club for 2019-20 and clearly Kelly and co are seeking to enrich a successful formula rather than disturb it. Callum Marshall at lock is an exciting addition, though, as is young fly-half Bruce Houston. Outside centre Ben Evans, young loosehead Mikey Jones and tighthead prop Dan Gamble are the pick of the academy players, with Gamble set to move onto a full pro contract with Edinburgh next year.
Kick-off time: 19:30
Boroughmuir Bears have named a strong team with an unconventional 6/2 bench split – perhaps borrowing from the Rassie Erasmus playbook. There’s experience throughout the team – Winning particularly has impressed for Edinburgh at pro level, and should prove to be a “grizzly opponent” for Heriots, while winger Jordan Edmunds came out of the Bears’ wretched 2019-20 with real credit, scoring five tries. Benched forwards Euan Ferrie and Tait are also worth keeping an eye on.
Heriot’s coach Andrew Kelly has also gone for a 6/2 bench split, and former Glasgow Warrior Jason Hill is part of their benched ‘bomb squad’. Starting ahead of him at #8 is Jack Mann, one of 2021’s Edinburgh academy leavers. There’s also ex-Edinburgh hooker Cammy Fenton, a fine player. However, as it’s Edinburgh’s preseason at the moment, there’s no sign of Hutchison – so this Heriots side is not quite at full strength yet. Keep an eye out for openside Jack McClean – he tackles and jackals like Justin Tipuric. And on the blindside, Iain Wilson is the kind of gnarled pack leader that the Scotland national team has often wanted after.
Boroughmuir Bears: Tom Brown; Jordan Edmunds, Ronan Kerr, Robbie McCallum, Callum Ramm; Tom Pittman, Kaleem Barreto; Ross Dunbar, Craig McKenzie, Dan Winning (cc); Ewan Stewart, Jack Fisher; Craig Keddie (cc), Scott McGinley; Rory Drummond
Replacements: Finlay Scott, George Cave, AP McWilliam, Euan Ferrie, Trystan Andrews, Rhys Tait, Kyle McGhie, Glen Faulds
Heriots: Ross Jones (vc); James Couper, Rory McMichael, Bobby Kay, Callum Young; Bruce Houston, Alex Ball; Andrew Nimmo, Cameron Fenton, Josh Scott; Callum Marshall, Ruaridh Leishman; Iain Wilson (c), Jack McClean; Jack Mann
Replacements: Michael Liness, Chris Keen, Struan Cessford, Ronan Seydak, Frasier Hastie, Jason Hill, Lloyd Wheeldon, Stuart Edwards
The teams are roughly even, and while Heriot’s will likely edge the forward battle, the Bears have home advantage. This could be a humdinger of a season opener – let’s hope it lives up to expectations! Although the Thistle boys are certainly making their allegiances known…come on guys, whatever happened to #UniteTheCity?
Anyway, I’m predicting a slim win for Boroughmuir. Come on you Bears!