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.

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.

Tom Smith Returns

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Ahh, there’s the “why didn’t I think of that” coaching appointment I was bemoaning the lack of in my last post. Rob Moffat has announced recently retired Northampton Saints, Scotland and Lions legend Tom Smith as his forwards coach. Having seen the improvements in Saints front row play in recent years and in particular the advances in Euan Murray’s game since being taken under Smith’s wing, I feel this can only be a good choice for Edinburgh, who have a stable of up and coming props as well as current internationalists like Geoff Cross and the inimitable Chunk. Unbeknown to most of us he has been working away in recent years to achieve his coaching qualifications, helping the Saints young forwards along the way.

SRU Release | BBC Report

Just the right sort of appointment!

Moffat To Take Over Edinburgh

Edinburgh have promoted backs coach Rob Moffat to the position of Head Coach, filling the vacancy left by Andy Robinson’s move to the national position.

BBC Report

Moffat seems to have done a pretty decent job with the Edinburgh backs, but is probably a journeyman appointment rather than the “oh, wow/really?” appointment of Robinson a couple of years ago. We of course wish him all the best in the job and hope he can take Edinburgh to greater heights or at the very least preserve their level of performance.

Other candidates known to have been up for the job were former Scotland front row merchants George Graham and Peter Wright, and I suppose it is a possibility that Wright may wish to make a move into the pro game as a forwards coach. Graham already has a head coaching job in Italy so I would think it unlikely he’d be interested in the lesser job. Moffat’s backroom appointments will be made in due course.

Heineken Cup Pools 09/10

Here are the just announced Heineken Cup Pools for next year. Edinburgh have a pool that could prove difficult with both Bath and Stade Francais – but as Glasgow showed, Bath and French clubs are nothing to be feared. Ulster could be a force if their new coach gets them ticking and Ravenhill will always be a tricky away fixture. Meanwhile Glasgow have a pool that has a pair of recent strugglers who have failed to return on their promise  – much like Glasgow themselves – and the Dragons. Lineen’s men could be in with a shout, but with the standards narrowing every year nothing can be taken for granted at this stage. I would question the BBC’s assertion that it is “joy” for the Scottish teams though. And what’s this, Shuggy – a new nickname for Hugo?

Heineken Cup Pools for 2009/10
Pool 1: Munster, Perpignan, Northampton, Treviso
Pool 2: Biarritz, Gloucester, Dragons, Glasgow
Pool 3: Leicester, Ospreys, Clermont, Viadana
Pool 4: Bath, Stade Francais, Ulster, Edinburgh
Pool 5: Toulouse, Cardiff Blues, Sale, Harlequins
Pool 6: Leinster, London Irish, Scarlets, Brive

If you are looking for info on the Scotland U20s match vs England, you can find a report here. Pretty sure there is no coverage online or off else it would be on this page. If it’s anything like the U20 Six Nations match it might have been uncomfortable viewing.

Magners Dream Team Scot Free

Here is the Magners League Dream Team as officially announced. Surprisingly despite Thom Evans being the top try scorer in the league and Edinburgh finishing second, there is no Scottish representation in the team. Still, they were probably all drinking cider when they made the list, weren’t they?

The Magners League Dream Team 2008/09

1. Gethin Jenkins – Cardiff Blues
2. Jerry Flannery – Munster
3. Adam Jones – Ospreys
4. Paul O’Connell – Munster
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys
6. Rocky Elsom – Leinster
7. Martyn Williams – Cardiff Blues
8. Jamie Heaslip – Leinster
9. Mike Phillips – Ospreys
10. Ronan O’Gara – Munster
11. Leigh Halfpenny – Cardiff Blues
12. Lifeimi Mafi – Munster
13. Brian O’Driscoll – Leinster
14. Tommy Bowe – Ospreys
15. Lee Byrne – Ospreys

In other news:

Head coach Matt “Silver Fox” Williams has parted company with Irish province Ulster to return home to Australia. Pity he’s just a wee bit too late to apply for the job of Scotland Coach.

Chris Paterson has been voted the 2008-9 Player of the Season by Scotland Rugby Supporters Club following the Scottish Rugby Awards dinner at Murrayfield, with new Edinburgh signing Roddy Grant winning Sevens player of the year. No sign of their Magners Player of the season Max Evans in the dream team above either.

Edinburgh beat Cardiff to finish Second

Cardiff 14 – 36 Edinburgh

Edinburgh put together a solid performance in defence coupled with some excellent counter-attacking rugby to snatch a record second place finish in the Magners League with an away victory in the last match to be played at Cardiff Arms Park. A few decisions from Irish ref Simon McDowell that were controversial to the home crowd but on the face of it probably correct helped too – notably a penalty try and sin-binning for the deliberate knock down of a pass to Godman about 2 metres from the line. That gave Edinburgh the space they needed to keep the scoreboard operator awake and turn the match in their favour. After a lot of loose play, several knock-ons and turnovers by both sides in the first half, this period proved decisive. It was also great to see a Scottish side capitalising on opposition mistakes with a degree of ruthlessness often absent from the national side.

Ally Hogg put in a captain’s performance at the breakdown alongside youngster Roddy Grant and was turning over ball almost at will against a Cardiff side shorn of much of its international talent. Ross Ford and Geoff Cross both had good games too, although Ford missed the odd lineout throw. Phil Godman marshalled his backs well on the counter in a loose game that suited Webster’s and Mossy’s style, although he didn’t always get the best service from scrum half Laidlaw in crunch situations. Nick De Luca popped up everywhere in  midfield, putting in some good defensive work and grabbing the interception try that put the result beyond doubt – regardless of the ability Cardiff have to conjure late points that scared Leicester so.

To be fair it was mostly a second string that faced Edinburgh here, the same sorts of second strings that the bigger clubs can afford to field. Such second strings allowed the results to go Edinburgh’s way earlier in the weekend (Ospreys losing to Munster and Leinster losing to the Dragons), and is probably a sign that at least until the play-off system next season Heineken Cup Rugby is still the bigger prize for the larger clubs. Edinburgh would have been guaranteed a play-off spot anyway if the system had been in place this year – probably facing Munster or Leinster if the usual 1 v 4, 2 v  3 model is followed.

At the end of the match, as Hugo Southwell came on for his last appearance in an Edinburgh shirt, the heavens above Cardiff opened as if to signal their displeasure not to see a home victory, but it was to be Edinburgh and Andy Robinson’s day. As the Blues and their fans prepared to mark the obsolescence of one of Rugby’s old icons in the shape of the Arms Park and celebrate their current successes past and present at season’s end, the match was largely forgotten by the locals in a matter of minutes. For Edinburgh though, the last trip home from Cardiff Arms Park will be a memorable, very happy one.

Vote For Your Magners League Dream Team

Time to select the end of season Magners League Dream Team. If you want to nominate anyone, please choose your starting XV and email MagnersLeague@brand-rapport.com. Voting closes at midnight on Friday 15th May and the Magners League Dream Team for 2008/09 will be announced shortly after. The player who polls the most votes for his position will be included in the Magners League Dream Team for 2008/09. There will be a prize for the entry which most closely resembles the final Magners League Dream Team for 2008/09.

Just out of interest, this would be mine:

15 Kearney (Leinster) – close with Ben Blair and Mossy whose boots have both been hugely influential but Kearney offers slightly more in attack.
14 T Evans (Glasgow) – top try scorer in the league, pace to burn. Narrowly missed out on being a Lion in the season he got his first International cap.
13 O’ Driscoll (Leinster) – largely written off last season, has rediscovered fun and his form. Max Evans would probably be behind Shanklin in 3rd but has had a hugely encouraging season at 13.
12 Mafi (Munster) – another import to Munster that has given their backs an edge to match the forwards. Close, with Jamie Roberts and D’Arcy’s late run of form.
11 Danielli (Ulster) – has been scoring tries by the hatful for Ulster and is enjoying working under Matt Williams so much he has signed a new contract. Deserves points just for that. Tommy Bowe a close second.
10 O’ Gara (Munster) I suppose, but let’s face it there’s not been much to whoop about stand-off wise anywhere in Europe of late. Hopefully the likes of Sexton, Biggar and Jackson will make next season more exciting.
9 Blair (Edinburgh) – remember, the start of the season counts too. Dropped off a bit in the Six Nations, but still made numerous opponents look foolish/inferior throughout the season.
8 Heaslip (Leinster) – Hoggy has been solid if unspectacular and Powell/Jones keep getting edged out by Rush/Tiatia. Heaslip has really found his form this season.
7 Barclay (Glasgow) – close between him and David Wallace but it is the Scottish Rugby Blog after all.
6 Elsom (Leinster) – several towering performances in defence, a true class signing.
5 O’ Connell (Munster) – Lions captain, speaks for itself.
4 Tito (Cardiff) – a real talisman for the Blues, the ginger “Maori” was greatly missed in Cardiff’s HC loss – possibly not during the penalty shoot out though. A testament to his leadership that he earned the captaincy after only one season.
3 Jones (Ospreys) – has matured from a hairy figure of fun to an excellent prop.
2 Ford (Edinburgh) – better form in his Edinburgh shirt than during the Six Nations for Scotland. Powerful in the loose, not so accurate with the throwing.
Jenkins (Cardiff) – stand out prop in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment. Phenomenal workrate has made him leading candidate to fill the Lions 1 shirt.

Edinburgh Back In Fourth As Glasgow Fail to Ignite

Edinburgh blasted the Dragons with a bonus-point victory at Murrayfield this weekend but Glasgow failed to do them a favour by beating an out-of-sorts Ospreys team. They did deny them a bonus point but the game was marred by Max Evans going off on a stretcher with what looked like a nasty knee injury and another schizophrenic refereeing performance from Irishman George Clancy. Ruaridh Jackson looked inventive at 10 and kicked most of his points and Lome Fa-Atau had a pretty good game on the opposite wing from Thom Evans. I have to say that Andrew Henderson looked pretty off-peak when he came off the bench with a couple of poor and late challenges – one of which he would have been carded for if Clancy wasn’t obsessing over sending off as many props as possible. The Ospreys now move third, equal on points with Leinster. Edinburgh can regain second if both those teams lose next weekend and they manage to beat Cardiff in Cardiff. Unlikely, I know. But Cardiff have a midweek game and must be on their last legs by now – paying for the silly Anglo Welsh Cup. Meanwhile Leinster face the Dragons but Ospreys have to play Munster. So third could be on and they are guaranteed to at least equal their best ever finish of fourth.

While he was always an outside chance to be called up to the Lions as a replacement for the injured Tom Shanklin – and it was interesting to hear Will Greenwood mention him as a possibility – this will almost certainly rule Maximus out. In the same game though James Hook looked pretty good from inside centre, and he might give the Lions some fly-half cover too. With Jamie Roberts going off injured in the Munster match last night too the Lions could be looking at another replacement in the centre. Speaking of which, the Sunday Times reported that former Lions scrum half and backs coach Rob Howley was dispatched to watch Chris Cusiter in Perpignan this weekend – bit of a shame as he didn’t seem to get on the pitch. Ian Macgeechan went to watch Danny Care who didn’t have the greatest game either. No word if anyone was watching Blair, as we await the rumoured announcement this week.

UPDATE: The Times is now reporting that Rob Howley was in the crowd for the Edinburgh match, which seems more likely. Someone (in the Murdoch empire) got their info wrong.

Review and Preview

This week has seen Geech face the possibility of a 3 man reshuffle to his Lions squad, with Tom Shanklin now joining Tomas O’ Leary on the injury list and Munster’s Alan Quinlan facing the possibility of a ban for gouging Leo Cullen in the Heineken Cup Semi Final. While there are a couple of Scots in the running to fill the spare 9 shirt in Cusiter and Blair, it is less likely there will be any chance of them filling the other shirts. If Quinlan is banned out of contention, Tom Croft and Ryan Jones (or Dennis Leamy) would be considered the front runners – perhaps Strokosch if he had been fit would have been in with a shout. In the backs, there is no real direct replacement for Shanks (if fit I suppose Tindall has the same amount of hair) but they might look to bring in the likes of D’Arcy or Hook as a different sort of centre. Max Evans is probably an outside bet at this stage I would say, but a demolition derby of the Ospreys at the weekend on his part would certainly help his cause… see below.

No news on when any announcements would be made, but it will probably be after this weekend’s Premiership semi-finals and round of Magners League matches.

Transfer update: Sean Lamont’s move to Llanelli has also been confirmed.

Edinburgh, still chasing an improvement on last season’s fourth place finish – they are currently on course to match that – are at home to the Dragons on Saturday. This match is not being televised. Assuming Edinburgh can beat the Dragons, on Sunday Glasgow could do them a favour by beating the Ospreys away, a result that would take the battle for the last few places down to the final weekend of the season. Ospreys vs Glasgow is on S4C at 2.30 on Sunday. These games offer the second to last opportunity for Scottish players to keep their heads bobbing above water in the Lions standby pool.

Edinburgh Go Third

Edinburgh beat off the Leinster seconds at a cold Murrayfield while Glasgow failed to edge out Ulster at home with Parko missing a late kick. That puts Edinburgh only two points behind Leinster on the table, however the Ospreys who currently sit 2 points adrift of them with two games in hand. Edinburgh’s visit to the Liberty Stadium next week could be key (it’s live on S4C, 7.30pm on the Saturday). Glasgow currently sit in fifth.

Edinburgh 26 – 17 Leinster | BBC Report | Scotsman Report

Glasgow 19- 20 Ulster | BBC Report | Scotsman Report 

In other news, current Scotland forwards coach Mike Brewer has announced his intention to apply for the post of Scotland head coach.

Huuuuuuggoooooing?

According to this article in the Scotsman, Hugo Southwell might be heading to pastures new. While a move to Harlequins so they could have shouted Ugo AND Hugo might have been better for the amusement of people like me, it sounds like he could be heading to France. Presumably the reason for this is Paterson’s kicking will cement his place in the Edinburgh team, but it leaves them a bit short when Mossy gets injured or is away on international duty. Cairns and De Luca have both filled in at full-back for Edinburgh in the past, and Jim Thompson could follow the example of Colin Gregor for Glasgow last month as a sevens man slotting in at 15 and playing a blinder. From there they get plenty of space to look up and see what’s on, rather than, say, just hoofing it skywards. I thought Gregor did a pretty decent job, and Thompson is physically more what you’d expect a full back to be. Sorry Colin, but you’re wee. Speaking of which, he’s playing 15 again this weekend as Glasgow take on Matt Williams’ Ulster. Ruaridh Jackson once again gets a shot at the 10 shirt and Andrew Henderson returns from injury to take a slot on the bench. Meanwhile Edinburgh take on a Leinster side still featuring plenty of internationals, just not the front line ones. Gordon D’Arcy may take a last tilt at the Lions tour here, and it’s a final chance for the Scottish guys to put a hand up. To be fair, the squad is announced on Tuesday so they’d have to do something pretty spectacular to get in at this late stage!

Anyway, should Hugo indeed be away to pastures new, we at Scottish Rugby Blog would of course wish him all the best.