In which Rory takes a look at the opening weeks of next season’s Heineken Cup fixtures. With Sean Lineen looking to prove his underperforming squad has not been destroyed by further departures, and Michael Bradley looking to make an instant impact at the helm of Edinburgh, it should make an interesting return to high intensity rugby following all the World Cup madness.
Like an overheard conversation, we all have some nagging doubts in our mind about how Edinburgh and Glasgow are going to progress next season.
Despite my earlier piece on this weekend’s rugby being of little interest to Scottish fans, the Gods of Rugby have seen fit to water my fire by serving up several good performances, including Glasgow’s first away win of the season and some good play from Edinburgh’s centres for the try in their losing performance against Dan Parks and Cardiff. Most heartening though, was the try count from Scotland’s senior squad backs who obviously felt this a last chance to put a marker down for the Six Nations. Nikki Walker, Simon Danielli and Rory Lamont all crossed for five-pointers but the performance of the weekend was surely Saints’ Man of the Match Joe Ansbro, who scored one try and created another for Northampton as they topped the qualification table for the Heineken Cup. Joe’s runs displayed power, awareness and good hands – all qualities that should see him well placed when the Scotland squad comes together shortly.
Glasgow Warriors: B Stortoni, H O’Hare, M Evans, G Morrison, DTH van der Merwe, R Jackson, C Gregor, J Welsh, F Thomson, M Low, R Gray, A Kellock (capt), R Harley, J Barclay, R Vernon.
Replacements: P McArthur, R Grant, K Tkachuk, A Muldowney, C Fusaro, H Pyrgos, P Murchie, F Aramburu.
Note due to sitting on a plane tweeting all day yesterday in bad weather, Glasgow’s game has moved back to 2pm GMT tomorrow (Sunday).
Edinburgh : C Paterson, L Jones, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser, D Blair, G Laidlaw, A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, S Turnbull, C Hamilton, S Newlands, S McInally, R Grant (captain)
Replacements: A Kelly, K Traynor, D Young, E Lozada, A MacDonald, N De Luca, J Thompson, S Webster.
Sunday, Murrayfield, 2pm GMT. Good to see Nick De Luca back!
Don’t forget to check out our competition in the post below this one to win a copy of the IRB Yearbook for 2011 – thanks to everyone who has posted so far!
UPDATE: Edinburgh will go ahead at 2pm today (Monday) at Murrayfield behind closed doors, in another rather ludicrous example of Health and Safety gone mad. Apparently there will be a radio commentary available online via BBC Scotland, keep an eye on this page. Glasgow will go ahead tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6pm GMT in Toulouse if the Warriors kit shows up in time. Hopefully they can get back hope in time for Christmas, along with the 20 hardy souls who have travelled in support. Sale vs Brive has also been moved to Netherdale in Galashiels tonight at 5pm, so there is plenty on – if only we could see it!
As Robbo prepares to stop being in the crowd at every single Heineken Cup game on Sky and actually name his 33-man squad on Wednesday, he must have a few headaches. Even the distraction of B & I Lions manager Andy Irvine claiming Robbo is in the running for Lions head coach will take some heat away from the fact that some key injuries, poor performances and the inescapable need to select Dan “I’m enjoying the Leek and Mutton pies a bit too much” Parks could make selection a stingy issue.
So in the end last week wasn’t so bad. Glasgow conquered the Dragons. Edinburgh where unlucky to lose (Thanks to the ‘Knee of God’). In Delhi Scotland just missed out on a semi-final place, and finished a respectable 6th. This is almost erring on the side of a positive week! Throw in some liberated miners, some fat-headed American tycoon-types getting chased out of Liverpool, and some posh people getting slagged off on the Apprentice. Yup…good week so far!