Category: Pro Teams

In these pages you will find all our articles on Scotlands rugby Pro Teams gathered together, including Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 league and in European rugby competition.

Quelle différence?

Stade Francais 31-7 Edinburgh
Glasgow 18-22 Biarritz

Ugh. Edinburgh flatter to deceive (get hammered) and Glasgow come close but fail to squeeze out the result they definitely deserved. So far, so Scottish teams in the Heineken Cup. I thought there were a few positives to be taken from the weekends defeats though.

Johnnie Beattie finally took it to the next level with a great performance level that if maintained could and should see him challenge Hoggy and Simon Taylor for the Scotland No 8 shirt. Won’t matter to Jonathan Davies who can’t tell the difference.

Thom Evans is rediscovering form with every game and was a palpable threat whenever he had the ball. He just lacks the opportunities in the right spaces without his brother inside him, but Dave McCall is also getting up to speed with each game and building on his solid defence. In the Glasgow backline, Colin Gregor continues to be a hive of activity with a wee bit of flair and Rob Dewey looked a little more at home at centre than his recent home on the wing. Still, they weren’t quite able to put it together in the midfield when needed in order to win the game.

Dan Parks is at least doing what he does very well – kick the ball around Firhill on a bit of invisble string. But he still made two silly choices when the run – and scoring opportunity – was clearly on. With the Glasgow backs’ handling skills and pace, such negligence borders on the criminal. Parks can run the backline very well but it seems his instinct is still to kick. What price Ruaridh Jackson or even Colin Gregor marshalling the onslaught on Biarritz’s try line that often went unrewarded?

Glasgow’s front row is developing into a powerful scrummaging unit, and the props are both under 24 so well off propping “peak”. Still (as with Edinburgh) the lineout was fairly abysmal and led to the slightly iffy try that in the end decided the match. With Ford and Hall both having dreadful days at the lineout, who does Robbo turn to for the Scotland No 2 shirt? (Although some of the “not straight” decisions were a mile straighter than the ones allowed regularly in the scrum. However, the Feeding At  The Scrum and Lineout Equality Group (aka FATSLEG) is yet to be convened and start its world-conquering grass-roots petition, so that will have to wait – watch this space!). Glasgow are definitely gettting there, and so to Edinburgh…

Mossy looks in good form, his work on sprinting has paid off and he seems to have developed a yard of pace to go with his eye for a wee gap – he should be back at 15 on merit. Cairns looks good but rarely saw the ball. If Houston is injured, I still reckon Cairns should be playing 12 and De Luca 13. Regardless, there was some slack midfield tackling that gave Stade an unassailable lead far too early on, and Scottish teams always struggle trying to force the game.

Umm, that’s about it for Edinburgh. Okay so they won the second half 7-3 with a well taken try but by then Stade’s foot was so far off the gas that they resembled someone dropping a bucket of paint over a traffic jam (slowly) rather than the confident riot of colour and pace from the first half. Roddy Grant looks fully at home in the 15s game, and is it just me or were Edinburgh much better when Hogg was captain? Perhaps it was just poorer opposition early on in the season. Far too many handling errors, no lineout control and lack of quick ball for/from Blair basically put the dampeners on Edinburgh’s match. At least it is a game out of the way that they would not perhaps realistically have targeted as a “Win” in their battle to escape the pool, but one wonders if it will prove a damaging blow to the confidence of a team that we felt had moved forward so much under Andy Robinson.

UPDATE: Rob Dewey seems to have broken his ankle, keeping him out well past the Autumn Internationals. DTH Van Der Merwe has also broken a bone in his hand.

Heineken Cup Preview

So Europe’s finest club competition shuffles into view, unloads its wagon, sends the freaks round the back to get the candy floss machine running and erects a big top suitable for showcasing some of the finest club rugby teams known to man, and er, our lot. Here are the games on this weekend, sadly unless you have Sky you are probably screwed for watching them (most are on Sky Sports unless indicated otherwise). Several are mouthwatering:

Castres vs Toulon (Amlin Challenge Cup) Fri 5.30 – only one reason this is on the telly, and his name is Jonny. Might get a squizz at Rory Lamont in action though. At least, that’s what you think until you look at the team sheet and find that the only names you recognise are Tom May and Phil Christophers (who has been at Castres since Goggsy was). Unlucky Jonny watchers, there’s little here to get you back from the pub/work early.

Ulster vs Bath Fri 7.30pm – Ulster should be strong enough to win this one but it might help Edinburgh if Bath can nick a result at Fortress Ravenhill. Danielli is on the bench, and it’s not on the telly.

Leinster vs London Irish Fri 8pm – Could be the game of the weekend, which would leave the weekend downhill from here. Leinster’s Lions seem to have found form where their Welsh counterparts have struggled, while the non-Irish Irish are playing sparkling rugby without a host of stars. Blarney begorrah and bejesus will be in full attendance. Big Nathan starts at 5 for Leinster.

Gloucester vs Dragons Fri 8pm – if you have Sky but not Sky Sports you might catch this on S4C, Sky Sports have it on Red Button though so whether there is an English commentary is open to debate. Practically a local derby, it should see Gloucester win but given their form of late who knows? Would a Dragons win help Glasgow in the group? Dicko, the two Lawsons and the big Stroker all start for Redpath’s men.

Cardiff vs Harlequins Sat 1.35pm – Battle of the slow starters, but if they live up to last season’s play it could be so much better. Little Scottish interest but doesn’t mean it won’t be work a watch. But wouldn’t you rather watch…

Stade Francais vs Edinburgh Sat 1.35pm (2.35pm local) – What to say? Things were looking pretty good up until the Ospreys last week. But Moffat’s put the proper team back together and if they can find some of their early season spark against a Stade side who have been struggling until recently then Edinburgh could sneak a home result. Home field advantage with the accompanying razmatazz could be irresistable though. Several of the guys who have impressed so far – Cairns, Grant, Houston, Robertson have a real opportunity to stake a place for caps here. No sign of a Stade team yet so Hugo may yet make an appearance. Red Button on Sky for this one.

Edinburgh: Chris Paterson, Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser, Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt), Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg. Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Ryan Grant, Steven Turnbull, Scott Newlands, Greig Laidlaw, Nick De Luca, Steve Jones.

UPDATE: Hugo is indeed starting at 15 against his former teammates.

Scarlets vs Brive Sat 3pm – Chance for Sean Lamont to continue his try scoring form. Not on telly anywhere.

ASM Clermont Auvergne vs Viadana Sat 3pm – Little known Scot Garry Law appears at full back for Viadana while big Jason White could be in the as yet unannounced team. Not on TV.

Glasgow vs Biarritz OPB Sat 3.45pm – having (apart from a blip at the Dragons) mostly maintained the consistency that often eludes them, Glasgow have a real chance to lay down an early marker provided the team have shaken off the big that has dogged Chris Cusiter and Kelly Brown in particular. Jon Welsh continues to impress although Rob Dewey needs to find a bit more spark to convince us he can play at wing. Talk coming out of the camp is good, and as usual it depends if the French come to play or not. Biarritz should be pool favourites, so a win would send a message out to the other teams, both of whom should be beatable. Hard to tell who a kicking fest would favour, Parks or the French who should have siege gun Traille on side, but it could turn out to be another one of those tight games that see Parks turn from liability into lifeline.

Glasgow Warriors: Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Dave McCall, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (capt), Richie Vernon, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements:Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Kelly Brown, Hefin O’Hare, Colin Gregor, DTH van der Merwe.

Northampton vs Munster Sat 6pm – another of those “could be a classic” matches so often thrown up by this tournament. No Euan Murray yet and no Tom Smith now either, but the ever reliable Scott Gray continues to add to Robbo’s back row riches.

Leicester vs Ospreys Sun 1245pm – And another one. Nikki Walker continues a rich vein of form and the Ospreys are starting to spark in a backline that should be a match for any team, even the Tigers at Welford Road. If they don’t fire though, expect Leicester to win, ugly or otherwise.

Toulose vs Sale Sharks Sun 3pm (4pm local) – Should be a comfortable win for Toulose, but could out of form Sale cap the weekend with an upset?

Phew. I won’t be doing that every Friday. Enjoy the weekend!

Singing In The Rain

Well done to Edinburgh for a good result away from home facing down an admittedly poor Cardiff team and coping with the usual performance from G. Clancy esq. Did I say Edinburgh? Oh, I meant Glasgow. Telling the difference between the Scottish pro teams must be getting hard for poor old BBC Wales, who made several references to John Beattie, Firhill, and playing Biarritz next week during the coverage of Edinburgh’s pisspoor display against the Ospreys. Granted, Beattie (junior, I can only imagine) and Ally Hogg may share a hairdresser and Edinburgh have “Aberdeen” on their shirts to confuse matters further, but it’s pretty commentary standards (never mind the bias).  This gave me something to get excited about and shout at the telly for (not really the TV’s fault I suppose), given I was long past the point of shouting at Edinburgh’s general ineptitude.

Roddy Grant looked sharper at the breakdown than pretty much the whole team put together, and Ospreys turned Edinburgh over almost at will. A few chances went begging but inability to (or lack of desire to) keep ball proved pretty foolish against an international class (and in many places Lions/world class) backline who promptly cut them to shreds. Good to see Nikki Walker looking sharp though. Godman kicked perfectly from tee so Mossy was not missed in that regard, but as one of the chaps pointed out on the BBC boards, his marshalling of the defensive line was sorely absent. Stand in full back and new signing Steve Jones didn’t cover himself in glory, shall we say, but he should not be the scapegoat.

Meanwhile new Glasgow full back Peter Horne got one kick of the ball on Saturday and sclaffed it into touch, but as it was to end the match I can’t really complain. Still, it’s a good sign for a youngster that he looked thoroughly disappointed in himself even for something that had no bearing on the game. The match had long since been won by the combined work of Colin Gregor and Thom Evans behind a sturdy pack effort and this time Glasgow did not surrender their half time lead. Huzzahs all round for pseudo-Highlander Moray Low’s boot up field that eventually led to Johnnie Beattie’s try (see Jonathan, he was playing for Glasgow). With Cusiter undoubtedly the best 9 Glasgow have, perhaps they should find somewhere else to bring Gregor’s skills into play on a more regular basis – 10 or 15 perhaps?

Big Nathan looks like he would have had fun during the Leinster 30-0 demolition of Munster that brought several tries, a bit of controversy and no doubt plenty of niggle. A much better range of highlights from STV this week too – they are learning a game of rugby is not just the penalty offences that lead to points and I reckon it’s getting better.

Next weekend – Heineken Cup!

Edinburgh Steel Themselves For Europe

Edinburgh team to face Ospreys: Steve Jones, Mark Robertson, Nick De Luca, John Houston, Tim Visser, Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt), Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Scott Newlands, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg. Replacements: Ross Ford, Ryan Grant, Steven Turnbull, Roddy Grant, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, Ben Cairns.

At first glance at this squad you think, what the hell is Rob Moffat doing? Just when momentum was needed and Edinburgh were looking sharp, he’s taken out most of the players in form like Ben Cairns and Roddy Grant leaving Edinburgh looking slightly under strength for an encounter against a star-powered Ospreys side who are starting to splutter into life. But then you look at the fixture list for the next month – Stade at the pink palace followed by Ulster who were only narrowly beaten last time out. After that they’ve got Munster, so it doesn’t really get “easier” until the visit of the Dragons in November, and you write them off at your peril. Besides, Edinburgh still have Blair and Godman at half-back, and you suspect Blair in particular will be keen to match up against the man who dominated the scrum half berth on the Lions tour, Mike Phillips. Houston, Visser and Robertson are still there and so is Hoggy, all fit and playing well. The Ospreys on Sunday is arguably the least important fixture of the coming month and based on that, well, it looks not a bad team.

Hopefully this team selection is not a reflection that the squad is crocked after 4 weeks, and instead means Edinburgh aim to make a real stab at the Heineken Cup, the stage on which true rugby respectability is earned in Europe. Let’s face it, second in the Magners last year or not, in the pre-match punditry you won’t hear many people giving them a chance of progressing out of their pool – if they even show the Scottish matches at all. The other regions (Munster, Leinster, Cardiff) have stepped up and earned some respect for their clubs and for Celtic rugby. Now it is the turn of the Scots to do their bit.

Pro Teams On TV This Weekend

In addition to STVs ever improving highlights package on Sunday, this weekend you can also catch the Cardiff vs Glasgow game on S4C at 1820 on Saturday and Ospreys vs Edinburgh on Sunday at 1550, giving you the full selection of Scottish pro rugby excitement to clog up your social schedule. While to some extent normal service resumed with both teams losing last weekend – you could hear the roars of despair coming out of Murrayfield from down the road at fellow SRBlogger Al’s birthday party – Edinburgh still top the table (what my Australian friends would call the ladder) and will be looking to finish off an Ospreys team that Glasgow should have put away. Roddy Grant, Phil Godman and Ben Cairns continue to look sharp as does Mossy’s play with ball in hand, and I think Nick De Luca may struggle to get off the bench when Houston is making powerful breaks at 12. Much of the Edinburgh back division looks to have kicked on from last year and some of the less well known names may be challenging the overly familiar from recent years (Walker, Webster, Lamont) for Scotland squad places.

Glasgow can put some of their inconsistencies down to a bout of flu running through the squad but still lacked concentration at key moments of the match. Seemingly it was ever thus, so I wonder what more Sean Lineen can do to fix it? He has tried both giving the team a chance to make amends and droppings en masse (as it were) but neither with much success. Cusiter still looks good when not ill, Rob Dewey looked pretty good with a solid break up the middle, and would perhaps merit a run in the centre until either Peter Murchie or Max Evans is fit (which should be pretty soon). Especially as he won’t get much ball stuck out on the wing with Parks kicking inside of him.

Edinburgh Still Top

Congrats to Edinburgh who scraped a win at Ulster over the weekend. Things are looking good if they can still nick an away victory even whilst under the kosh and in front of a partisan crowd. Mossy seems to have kicked well and Mark Robertson continues to look sharp. Good also to see a World Class drop goal from Phil, I hope he’s been practicing as it is one thing (among many) we could use for Scotland. As long as he doesn’t start trying from inside his own half ala Hernandez or Franc Steyn.

Glasgow were beaten by their bogey team the Dragons, while in other more surprising news perennial underachievers Connacht beat Cardiff who now find themselves draped over the bottom of the league table.

Catch the highlights show here (UK only).

Meanwhile in the absence of someone stepping forward to fill the role of Top 14 correspondent, I did a bit of digging on Eurosport site and managed to find that Rory Lamont played at the weekend (at fullback) for Toulon in their defeat of Toulose. Jonny is back to his best, according to Al’s nemesis Freddie Michalak. Speaking of Al, happy birthday for tomorrow big man! While digging I couldn’t see any sign of Hugo at Stade but that is less than surprising given the depth of their squad and recent coaching turnaround. Haskell seems to have been in Stade’s back row while Simon Taylor was MIA (as was Big Jason for Clermont), and Andy Henderson stayed on the bench for Montauban.

I was hoping to catch the Leinster game this week as I will be down in the big smoke and wanted to see if Edinburgh can make it four in a row and stay atop the table, but alas stupid Setanta scheduling has the kickoff at 630pm which clashes with an important social engagement. Whatever happened to 3pm on a Saturday?

Team Line-ups for Tonight

Glasgow Warriors (to face Dragons tonight):

Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Graeme Morrison (capt), Colin Shaw, Dan Parks, Mark McMillan, Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Ed Kalman, Tim Barker, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Alastair Kellock, Kelly Brown, Colin Gregor, Peter Horne, Hefin O’Hare.

Edinburgh (to face Ulster tonight):

Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (capt).
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Allan Jacobsen, Steve Turnbull, Scott Newlands, Mike Blair, Steve Jones, Nick De Luca.

Neither of these games are on TV, BBC Wales having opted for the delights of Leinster vs Ospreys. But we still get the highlights show on Sunday, huzzah! Edinburgh’s test looks the sterner of the two with Ulster welcoming back Stephen Ferris into their team and already operating at somewhere near full strength. The Dragons are a good test for Glasgow though, to see if they can kick on and put last season’s worrying inconsistency behind them.

Oh and here is the squad for the “Gael Force”, the third team that will take part in the new British and Irish Cup that will prove a stern test for this lot, along with existing sides Ayr and Heriots. No word on what will happen to those players like Grant Anderson or young stand-off Rory Hutton who could potentially appear for both.

National Academy players: Grant Anderson (Ayr), Alex Blair (Edinburgh Accies), Chris Bloomfield (Currie), Fraser Brown (Watsonians), Tom Brown (Edinburgh Accies), Tom Bury (Boroughmuir), Nick Campbell (Glasgow Hawks), David Denton (Edinburgh Accies), Struan Dewar (Heriot’s), Michael Doneghan (Stewarts-Melville), Alex Dunbar (Selkirk), Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s), Grant Gilchrist (Heriot’s), Finlay Gillies (Heriot’s), Robert Harley (West of Scotland), Robin Hislop (Boroughmuir), Stuart Hogg (Heriot’s), Rory Hutton (Heriot’s), Peter Jericevich (Glasgow Hawks), James Johnstone (Currie), Nicky Little (Hawick), Ashleah McCulloch (Watsonians), Stuart McInally (Watsonians), Lewis Niven (Edinburgh Accies), Neale Patrick (Boroughmuir), Neil Rodger (Haddington), Joe Stafford (Glasgow Hawks), Steven Wilson (Edinburgh Accies)

Scottish Teams Top Table

http://www.magnersleague.com/matchcentre/table.php

You might not see the likes again! It was also good to see Sean Lamont having a decent game against Glasgow, no doubt Andy Robinson would have been watching. Worrying to see Moray Low and Thom Evans leave injured but hopefully neither is too serious. As for Edinburgh annihiliating Connacht, that was brilliant and glad to be able to watch some highlights on the telly too! Sorry for the brevity but I had a busy weekend of partying with Aussies who have taken steps to explain AFL to me. Without much success.

Also if you are interested in some rugby in Edinburgh check out the comments in the previous post, Queensferry RFC are looking for players…

Oh and I just noticed the Argies are being let into the Tri Nations which was in danger of becoming overblown – hopefully this will turn it into a more rounded competition though it may be hard with the timezones…

Weekend Round Up

So this weekend we had both Edinburgh and Glasgow beating top clubs (if not their top teams) and the arrival of a new TV programme. Marvellous!

First up were Edinburgh who took Cardiff to the cleaners in the first half through some solid forward play from the relatively under-rated talents of Hoggy, Roddy Grant and Alan MacDonald in a bizarro South African style double open-side back row that seemed to go nicely. Edinburgh had fairly comprehensive control of the match save for a ridiculous non-try that put Cardiff back in the match. Turns out the touch judge may have been Welsh (hence why he was looking at the ball grounding, not Czekaj’s foot in touch) so a diatribe against Irish referees may have to wait till Al manages to climb the steps at SRBlog Towers once again… Cardiff came fairly storming back in the second half, but a couple of duff Mossy kicks kept them in a game they barely should have got a bonus point from save for an excellent Alfie try (highlights here on the BBC). Next up they face Connaught, and if they can control the pace of the game again they should be looking for five points. The offloading ALL the time may have to be curbed a bit though…it looks nice but Cardiff soon worked out where to stand to intercept them!
High points: Mossy try from a cross field kick, Roddy Grant, Mark Robertson, Greg Laidlaw’s impressive diving/sliding catch, hanging on for the victory.
Low points: Fitzgibbon not going upstairs for a “try” that even Jonathan Davies said wasn’t legit.

Glasgow of course won also, but that one wasn’t on the telly so we had to wait till STV’s new Sunday night highlight’s show arrived to catch some of the action. Fronted by Andy Nicol and Scott Hastings, the show gave us a decent amount of action and possibly a bit too much chat. Nice to have a round-up of the weekend club results too. Some of the editing of the footage was a bit wonky – penalty offences don’t necessarily count as “highlights” but it was good to see something on our TVs at last! Ditch the chat about the wider game – we can get that on the Rugby Club and let’s keep the focus Scottish and have a few minutes more action, though the Lions chat was interesting. Maybe switch Scott and Andy round, Hastings is a better presenter and Nicol pundit. Much improved on STV’s last effort though.

Up at Firhill, Glasgow were putting Munster into tricky situations thanks it seems to their youthful front row and some placekicking from Parks. Reports were of Graeme Morrison’s barnstorming runs, but on the TV highlights I only saw one of these that led to Jackson’s try and sadly his injury also. Damn shame that, I think we were all looking forward to seeing what Jackson could do this season so here’s to a speedy recovery. I had never heard of Jon Welsh before last week but I suspect we will hear a lot of him this season, Parks apparently said it was the best scrum platform he had ever played behind. Cusiter seemed to show up everywhere too so he’s looking like the excellent signing we all thought he’d be. Anyone actually at the game see how Peter Murchie went in the centre? Glasgow host Sean Lamont’s Scarlets next weekend which I think is on S4C.

Speaking of which, Lamont scored the opening try and looked strong in defence in the Scarlets’ victory over Leinster. Northampton Saints had only Scott Gray on the bench – with (unbanned and uninjured) Best, Wilson and Dowson in the back row I think he might not have quite as many chances to catch Andy Robinson’s eye as he did Hadden’s last season. On the losing end of that game, Worcester’s Alex Grove had few chances to shine but did not badly. Gloucester’s new Scottish coach Bryan Redpath got off to a good start as well, fielding last season’s fringe man Scott Lawson as his starting hooker who repayed him with a solid performance. Rory Lawson and the big Stroker were reliable as usual. No word on the French contingent – anyone with ESPN want to join in?

Onwards and upwards, Scottish Rugby folk!

STV Will Indeed Show Magners League

Yes indeed the news you have all been waiting for has arrived. Everyone can watch the 1872 cup games live on terrestrial TV, plus highlights from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Magners games this season. Huzzah, perhaps STV has pulled out of all the national ITV dramas to bankroll this. Whatever, as I never watch anything on STV anyway now that Ultimate Force is no longer, suits me fine!

Enough from me, here’s the press release – it seems they may have poached Andy Nicol from BBC and Scott Hastings from Sky but I reckon they will more than likely pop up in their old stomping grounds as usual, there are only so many Scottish pundits to go round…

SRU Release

SUNDAYS, 5.30PM. Starts on the 6th. Better get writing those witty links now, Andy.

EDIT: I wanted to see what was jerked from the schedules, but the Radio Times already has it listed! I have updated the TV page now too. Also anyone out there got ESPN keeping an eye on the Top 14? Get in touch we’d love an update…

Glasgow team to face Champs

Sean Lineen announced his first Glasgow Warriors squad of the season, fresh from a narrow pre-season victory over Kelly Brook’s boyfriend and the rest of the Wasps. They take on champs Munster who may play more of their big guns early on in the season (rather than save them for Europe) now that a top four place is all that is required…  Pity we won’t get to see Max Evans match up against De Villiers till later in the season though… No, I’ve never heard of young prop Jon Welsh either but I think Scottish rugby may have finally woken up to the reality that young talent needs to be brought “on stream” earlier than was previous to keep the level of depth and competition for places strong. Chuck ’em in at the deep end – it seems to have worked for Ruaridh Jackson last season. I’m particularly excited to see what impact Chris Cusiter can bring to a Glasgow backline with a fair amount of potential with newcomer Peter Murchie, Rob Dewey and Thom Evans (especially with the likes of Jackson, Colin Shaw, Peter Horne, Max Evans and Colin Gregor challenging  too). After many of us thought he had disappeared without contract, Dan Parks continues his career resurrection, holding off Jackson’s challenge at 10 for now. Consistency is the watchword for this season – if they can find that, Glasgow can do better than many expect.

Glasgow team to face Munster:
Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (captain), Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie

Substitutes: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Richie Vernon, Mark McMillan, Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Shaw

It’s not on TV this one, but you can catch Nathan Hines’s new team Leinster in action against Sean Lamont’s new team the Scarlets on Saturday evening on S4C (Lamont starts, Hines is rested).

UPDATE: you can now see highlights on Sunday, 5.30pm, STV though!

Dutch Rugby’s Finest To Start for Edinburgh

A new look Edinburgh team under new coach Rob Moffat will seek a return to winning ways in Cardiff on Friday. Some of the changes are enforced by injury – Edinburgh still have a long list of injured including Jim Hamilton, Dave Callam and Ross Rennie – while others like Lions Ross Ford and Mike Blair are rested. While the bench looks a little youthful/undercooked, look for sevens man Roddy Grant to lay down a marker, while Scott Macleod will look to continue his road to redemption in the second row. We also have Holland’s sole pro rugby player and new signing from Newcastle Falcons Tim Visser hoping to pin down a wing spot. And let’s not forget the return of Chunk!

Given performances in the pre-season it’s difficult to tell if the players will be able to live up to last seasons results but I reckon Cardiff may be too strong for them, especially as they will be smarting after home defeat to Edinburgh at the end of last season. Hope Moffat’s boys can prove me wrong though.

Edinburgh team to face Cardiff Blues: Chris Paterson, Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser, Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (captain)

Substitutes: Sean Crombie, Kyle Traynor, Steve Turnbull, Fraser McKenzie, Ross Samson, David Blair, Nick De Luca.

The game will be shown live on BBC2 Wales – see our Scottish Rugby on TV page for details of how to view this (basically have Sky or live in Wales).

STV to Screen Scottish Magners Games?

As usual, I trot back on to the pitch with a whimper rather than a bang.

I had planned a grandiose piece to open the new season about how this was the summer that rugby found its soul (on the marvellous but ultimately non-victorious Lions tour) then lost it again (gouging) and again (armbands) and again (fake blood), and how this was to be an important season for us all where rugby should step up to the plate and try and reclaim some of its honour. About the new hopes we have for Scotland under Andy Robinson, about whether Edinburgh and Glasgow can continue to / compete and how the Magners League will fare with playoffs at the sharp end of the season. I was going to call it “What I Learnt on My Summer Holidays” and everything – all without using anything “-gate”. But as usual, time is my enemy and some news more worthy of your attention has appeared. Like some sort of tubby West Ham fan taking off his pie-stained t-shirt and jumping a barricade in order to do a one-man conga round a pitch similarly crowded with idiots, it has hurdled into the lead position for “first new post in ages”. Such tidbits will keep appearing in the press and online, demanding an airing on this platform, until the polemic once so clear in my mind to kick off the season has faded to nought but a distant memory, beaten into submission by harrowing viewings of Scotland’s rugby finest trying to cross a line less than four inches wide.

So I guess: we are back. Welcome to the new rugby season.

Lewis Stuart in The Times is reporting that there may be an announcement this week that STV will show some form of  footage of the missing gaps in the Magners League schedule available to view on TV, namely the Edinburgh and Glasgow matches not BBC Wales/S4C. The report reckons it could be limited to just a highlights package, however that is better than nothing. Look for updates to our Scottish Rugby on TV page as soon as I hear. Hopefully this will be well supported enough that they may be encouraged to show the odd live game – for example the 1872 cup matches. but look what happened with STV’s last foray into rugby. Now that STV have opted out of airing almost all of ITV’s dramas there should be plenty of room in the schedule. What else have they got to show?

The Times also reports that Max Evans and Mike Blair are rushing back to fitness. The article is not online yet so you’ll just have to trust me or rush out and buy a copy.

Edinburgh utility back Calum Macrae has signed with Mike Ruddock’s Worcester Warriors. I would have thought he might have stuck around to try and fight incomer Steven Jones for Mossy’s 15 shirt but perhaps he felt it time for pastures new.

And the SRU have introduced a new “Any Game” voucher which can be bought in advance at £5 off full ticket price – putting the price back to an almost reasonable £15 – that allow you access to (almost) any of your chosen pro-team’s Magners and Heineken Cup matches. Buy them in bulk in advance and turn up to whichever game you want. It sounds like a good plan especially if the weather suddenly turns nasty at 5pm on a Friday, you can save your ticket for the next game rather than going and getting wet sitting by yourself in the West Stand. Details on the SRU website.

Also, I know I said we should never play New Zealand again, ever. Except in the RWC final in 2011. But they have looked pretty inept of late, with their back line firing as well as, well, ours. Tri Nations: pretty dull so far.