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.

Friday Night Lights – Except for viewers in Scotland

Chris Paterson returns to full-back tonight while Super Hugoooooo is playing at centre for injury-riddled Edinburgh vs the Llanelli Scarlets, who have lost on trips to Murrayfield the last six times. Given Edinburgh’s recent form, the chance of the Welshmen overturning that record tonight seems plausible, but we’ll hope that is not the case. At this rate Andy Robinson will be borrowing back-row players from Glasgow before long, and rueing Simon Taylor’s departure before he took over. Ross Rennie can’t get back to fitness quickly enough.

Those self-same Warriors from the Weege travel to the Sportsground to face Connacht, a match they will be hoping to win now that Dan Parks has his record and can concentrate on playing rugby again. If the reliance on kicking is a sign of things to come under the new ELVs, Parks may find himself singing Flower of Scotland again before long. Which will delight and frustrate us in equal measure, I’m sure.

Both kickoffs are 7.30pm and you’ll get some coverage on Sportsound, BBC Radio Scotland (available online) from 8pm. You might also get a chance to catch Nikki Walker in action on BBCw, as the Ospreys take on title holders Leinster.

Woops – apocalypse

So what happened at the weekend then? Due to prior commitments to liver destruction at a friend’s wedding I didn’t catch much of the action and I’m fairly sure Al missed it too, that is if he made it home without falling into the river. However from the sound of things the Edinburgh scoreline pretty much speaks for itself. Andy Robinson will have to work hard to turn his team around, as Leinster are only going to get stronger with the addition of Rocky Elsom and others before the teams meet again in the Heineken Cup group stages. Edinburgh’s physios will need to work overtime to restore their pack to its full strength, although hope will be sparked in the news that new signing Jim Hamilton came through his first game back (playing for Watsonians). Glasgow only lost narrowly,so arguably they have less to worry about however their team was mostly at full strength, and failed to close out the game. Parks got a bit flaky as soon as the Magners League points record hove into view, but he did at least claim it, and should be congratulated for that.

In other news, Sean Lamont claimed a try for Northampton even though they lost (and Euan Murray was sin-binned) and Simon Taylor played at 5 again for Stade, where he seemed to be largely reduced to the role of roving ruck guardian rather than actually getting any ball in hand. And the ELVs produced a lot of kicking, or so it seemed based on the highlights I saw. The new ITV highlights show is good value though (Sundays ITV4 6.30pm), with plenty of match action and not too much banter – which let’s face it Sky’s The Rugby Club already does pretty well. More good news came in the discovery that S4C now offers an English commentary on its rugby coverage so no more watching in Welsh for Scottish rugby fans. I suppose it’s a bit of a moot point though, as there is not scheduled to be another Edinburgh or Glasgow match on BBCw or S4C this year.

I’ve also updated the About Us page to include some onformation on the sort of people we’d like to help expand and grow the blog into a bigger and better resource for Scottish Rugby fans, so if you think you might be able to help, have a look.

Scott who?

Good News: Glasgow beat the Dragons, in what is often referred to as “one for the purists” – a fairly unexciting match played in appalling weather. Still, Dan Parks kicked his goals and marshalled Glasgow to a decent away win against a Dragons side who had talked themselves up a bit in the pre-season. Mark McMillan had a shocking start to his second stint at Glasgow with a couple of dodgy passes, but felt his way into the game and was reassuringly solid by the end. Fa’atau and Stortoni looked sharp in attack and there was some solid defending all round in the Glasgow 22. Not really a day for the (Scottish) Evans boys, as although both had a few decent moments it was a bit too wet underfoot for any of their twinkly dancing feet.

Bad News: Edinburgh were outmuscled by Heineken Cup champs Munster. Didn’t catch much of the game save on the radio, but it sounded like they were hindered by poor set-piece and not actually playing until the last few minutes. Ordinarily it would be no bad thing, but we’re starting to expect more from Edinburgh, especially in front of record number of season ticket holders who will be hoping their newfound faith is to be rewarded. After De Luca had a try knocked off they got a bonus point out of it though, due to Mossy’s boot. I’m hoping he will not be relied upon too much as the season goes on.

Other News: Former Border Reiver (and single Scotland cap) Scott Gray put in a storming performance for Premiership returnees Northampton Saints on Sunday, in a game that also saw Sean Lamont’s return to rugby after almost 10 months out. Lamont made a few good runs, looked good under the high ball but in fairness didn’t get much to do in a slightly disjionted game – seems to be the pattern created by the ELVs where an unbalanced line-out becomes a bit of a risk unless you are Munster/Leicester. Northampton is also turning into a bit of a Scot-prop factory with oldest man in the Premiership Tom Smith still toiling ably away, followed by proteges Euan Murray and the oft-overlooked Barry Stewart. Back to Gray though, who put himself about in true Stroker/White style, hammering anything that moved and contributing to a few nice wee moves as required. Hopefully his season will continue in this vein and we’ll be looking at another potential Scotland back row champ. Speaking of which, I’ve a funny feeling I spotted (scrumcap-less) Simon Taylor playing in the second row for Stade’s win against Perpignan (Hines and Cusiter both on from the start). Anyone catch the game on Eurosport able to confirm – I turned over to watch Andy Murray!

An ill-informed look at what lies ahead…

So no sooner has season stopped than it’s up and running again.  A thankfully drama-free summer for Scottish Rugby and the focus (albeit a very limited focus from the nations media) has at least been on developments on the pitch and not in the boardroom.  Not that there has been much going on.  The big name transfers that have been ongoing in the rest of rugby seem to have largely passed by Scottish rugby, with incoming players not being prepared to play for the packet of sweets and a ‘See You Jimmy’ wig being offered by Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Regardless, the Scottish teams have attempted to build on the previous promising seasons and here are my quick thoughts on both:

EDINBURGH – Probably made the biggest signing of the summer by rescuing Chris Paterson from his miserable spell in England (well, it is England so you can kind of understand him being miserable!).  The addition of Jim Hamilton will also add considerable bulk to the forwards (all 19+ stones) so Robinson will no doubt be hopeful that he now has a side ready to kick on.  Last season turned into a sterling effort as Robinson’s impact started to show through in the later half of the season and Edinburgh will be realistically looking to claim their first ever Magners League championship.  They are certainly equipped with some exciting youngsters with a year’s experience under their belts and if they can get a strong start to the season, then come the end of it I think they’ll be there or thereabouts.

As for Europe there is a real opportunity that they could at last qualify from the group stage.  All 4 teams will fancy their chances but Wasps, Leinster and Castres will not be looking forward to a trip to Murrayfield.  Edinburgh are outsiders to qualify but a strong home record coupled with a slice of luck away from home could well see them become the first Scottish side to reach the later stages of Europe’s premier competition.

Predictions

Magners League – chance of the title but more likely a top 3 finish – 3rd

Heineken Cup – Mmmmmm, not sure….ach, early season optimism, 2nd in group.

Glasgow – a fairly quiet summer over in the West Coast.  The arrival of Mark McMillan from Wasps could be a major signing for our Weegie brethren who will hope that he can fill the scrum-half position which has been a troublesome area for some time.  If he can form a relationship with Dan ‘Parko’ Parks then Glasgow may then have attacking verve to trouble opposition defences.  Lineen had a decent season with Glasgow last year and, like Edinburgh, I’m sure he’ll be looking to kick on again and push harder for success in the League.  I don’t think they have the same depth as Edinburgh but Glasgow will certainly be pushing the top teams hard, and with some luck could still be in with a shout come the last run of games.

With regards to Europe I suspect 3rd in the group will be as good as it gets.  Toulouse and Bath will be hot favourites for top slot with the Dragons and Glasgow fighting it out for best of the rest.  I’m sure Glasgow will run both Toulouse and Bath close at home – indeed a sneaky win against either is possible – but away from home they might struggle, difficult to see them getting anything from trips to France or the West Country.  Still, they won’t be whipping boys and if you keep it close enough who knows what can happen.

Predictions

Magners League – outside bet for Championship glory, likely to push the top teams though so I’m going to say an improvement on last year and predict 4th.

Heineken Cup – Strong displays but not enough cutting edge will see Glasgow come 4th in my opinion.

So, there we go.  Told you it was ill informed.  Let us know what you think…enjoy the new season!

Al

Match of the Day?

It’s not quite in name at least, but it looks like the campaign for a Match of the Day for Rugby has finally scored some points, with the announcement of a highlights show to be screened on ITV4 (and repeated at an unsocial hour on ITV1) on Sundays at 6.30pm. ITV have recently acquired the rights to Guinness Premiership highlights previously held by the BBC, and the programme will be fronted by sometime BBC touchline/holiday reporter and double glazing salesman Craig Doyle. Quite what happened to our own little Scotsport version complete with handheld footage from your local rugby pitch, Doddie Weir’s trousers and the odd bit of pro-team action, we’ll never know.

Also announced was the news that several regulars from Edinburgh’s squad last season – plus a couple of newly minted pros – will be living it up in the Premier League until such time as they regain form or fitness, having not been registered as part of Edinburgh’s playing squad for the season. Big surprise on the list is Ross Rennie (injury), who presumably will be re-instated when he recovers. Roland Reid has also been left off.

And the SRU have announced that anyone buying an Autumn test ticket will be eligible for a free ticket for the Boxing Day derby between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Which is nice of them.

Your Rugby Season Starts Here

Scheduled matches to kick off the Magners League this coming Friday involving our favourite pro-teams:

Edinburgh vs Munster – this one’s on Setanta but why not pop along to the match if you’re in Edinburgh. Season ticket sales have been going well so the atmosphere should be well up on what we’ve had in the past. Buoyed most likely by Andy Robinson’s no nonsense approach, a solid (if unstarry) squad and outreach to the local clubs, this is a season in which Edinburgh have to keep improving into genuine challengers for honours. The Heineken Cup final is at “The Castle” this year, and with our pro sides (let’s face it) unlikely to be weakened by too many Lions removals it could be a good chance to do something sneaky. Munster can be slow starters, so a good home win would be the first step.

Dragons vs Glasgow – our cousins in the principality are being kind to us and showing this one on BBC Wales (Sky channel 991 for viewers in Scotland). Traditionally whipping boys just above Connacht – and our lot – they’ve recruited a fair bit in the off-season. It’s a sign of the changing times that the Magners is starting to look like the Premiership in that most teams could be able to beat most others on any given day. Still, Glasgow will be looking to cement their end of last season form (and ignore some of their pre-this-season form) and grab an early away win. It’s the away form that has dogged them and if they could improve that to go with their strong home performances they could be battling with Edinburgh for the highest Scottish finish.

We hope you’ll come along and rant with the rest of us as we follow the upcoming season, which culminates in the 2009 Lions Tour to South Africa, still arguably the special event in World Rugby besides the World Cup. Hopefully we’ll get a Scot or two on the plane…

Edinburgh Beat Wasps

Bet you never thought you’d see that headline – indeed you may not see it again this season when the Heineken Cup warms up properly. For now though, Edinburgh Rugby seem to have given the visiting Premiership champs a decent game under the new ELVs, and more importantly held out for the win in this pre-season friendly.

Mossy as predicted came on at full-back amongst a half-time bucketload of subs, but Godman still seems to have done a fair bit of the kicking. Ben Cairns worryingly may have picked up a ligament injury, but De Luca seems to have once again come through with honours against a reasonably strong Wasps side. Even better news was a good sized crowd of 4,225. Let’s hope the crowds – and the wins – continue. Next up: Bath away.

Anyone at the game?

UPDATE: In other news, Glasgow lost narrowly 15-12 to Bristol in a game that sounds a lot less fun.

Magners League Ends

So another season of Magners League rugby comes to an end, another disappointing year for the Scottish pro-teams. Oh, no, wait. That’s not entirely true, is it?

With wins away at Llanelli and Munster respectively yesterday, Edinburgh and Glasgow secured fourth and fifth places in the table, which I am pretty sure are record highs for them. Munster’s losing bonus point against Glasgow held Edinburgh out of third. Edinburgh put a tired looking Llanelli to the sword, which was worth seeing even if I had to watch it in Welsh. If they had a play-off system – and word is they will soon – Edinburgh would be in them. Would you have said that, this time last year? Glasgow very nearly beat Biarritz twice – once was more than most people hoped for. Both teams have a solid base of young talent (+ Dan Parks) and have boosted their strength with some useful signings for next year (Paterson, McMillan). I am also heartened to see Fa’atau starting to score tries at Glasgow, hopefully he’ll stick around and prove as useful as some of the other southern hemisphere imports have been elsewhere (Munster, Bath, Sale, Worcester).

Final league positions:

Leinster
Cardiff Blues
Munster
Edinburgh Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Llanelli Scarlets
Ospreys
Dragons
Ulster
Connacht Rugby

You can also vote for your Magners League dream team of the year. Hopefully there will be a few Scottish representatives among them, Moray Low and Nick De Luca would surely merit inclusion, regardless of international performances. Mine would look something like this, with a slight Scottish bias I’ll admit:

Lee Byrne (Ospreys)
Doug Howlett (Munster)
Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
Lifeirni Mafi (Munster)
Shane Williams (Ospreys)
Felipe Contepomi (Leinster)
Mike Blair (Edinburgh)

Ryan Jones (Ospreys)
Martyn Williams (Cardiff)
Ally Hogg (Edinburgh)
Paul Tito (Cardiff)
Donnacha O’ Callaghan (Munster)
Moray Low (Glasgow)
Fergus Thompson (Glasgow)
Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)

They’re not asking for a coach, but Andy Robinson would be my choice!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the Magners season, limited though the viewing of Scottish teams has been for those of us without Setanta. Our thoughts now turn to the summer tour of Argentina – word is Moray Low has picked up an ankle injury that may rule him out, which has us gutted for him, the Churchill Cup, and the announcement next week of the Lions coach for 2009, and South Africa.

Oh, and an official SRBlog trip to Cardiff’s home of rugby, the Millennium Stadium, to see, um… Bruce Springsteen.

Scotland Squad to Tour Argentina Announced

Backs: Chris Paterson (Gloucester), Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh Rugby), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh Rugby), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh Rugby), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Mike Blair (Edinburgh Rugby) (capt), + 2 players tba

Forwards: Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), Dave Callam (Edinburgh Rugby), Johnnie Beattie, John Barclay, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), + 3 players tba

So it looks like the Mossy debate will rage on, with Paterson seemingly picked amongst the full backs. Thom Evans adds a bit of zip to a back three shorn of both Lamonts and Simon Webster. Cairns will most likely be used as utility cover. Glad to see faith has been retained in De Luca, hoepfully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do – more likely if Godman gets the nod at ten although apparently Parks has been playing a lot flatter (and better) of late. Perhaps Parks’ club coach Lineen will get the best from him where Hadden has thus far had limited success.

Not sure who the additional backs are going to be, but if Rob Dewey stays fit I imagine he will be one of them, and Max Evans has been in good form too, but perhaps he will get a run in the Churchill Cup A Team squad (announced tomorrow). The additional forwards may feature some of the absent French contingent depending on how their various clubs are performing come end of season. Given that there is only one second row selection currently (and Jason White is not available to slot in there either), I would look to see Murray or possibly Hines in the mix for those slots. It just goes to show that Jim Hamilton’s move to Edinburgh may prove a blessing until some younger second rows come through. Good to see former Highland man Moray Low rewarded for his form this season.

Players who may yet get an A Team selection include the likes of Max Evans, Gordon Ross, Nick Lloyd, Mark McMillan – newly signed for Glasgow, David Blair, Alan MacDonald, Roland Reid etc. We’ll give you details on that as and when.

It’s All Good News for Edinburgh

Ospreys 18 – 19 Edinburgh

Edinburgh sneaked victory away to the Ospreys in a last minute nail-biter (this side of the border anyway). Edinburgh were definitely worth the win, with both sides alternating between throwing it about and throwing it away. Nick De Luca was a deserved man of the match – and it looked like he would be man of the match on the losing team, until a 3 or minute spell at the close where Edinburgh refused to let the ball die, and refused to finish without scoring another try. One lucky bounce later and Edinburgh edged it by a point, to resounding boos from the home fans, and the delight of (miracle-worker?) Andy Robinson who had been frustrated by some of the decisions to that point. Answers on a postcard (but not in the comments section please) as to precisely which word it was that caused the ref to give a penalty against De Luca though. Edinburgh currently sit in third in the Magners League, and with immediate neighbours Munster (hopefully preserving their strength for the Heineken Cup final) and Llanelli (in disarray after the sacking of Phil Davies this week) to play each other tomorrow, it is not inconceivable Edinburgh could still finish in the top 4. Who would have thought that at the start of this season?

And so according to BBC Sport Chris Paterson’s European adventure is over, with the Gala man set to return to Edinburgh after only a year away at Gloucester in which he didn’t get picked much, and – shock horror – missed the odd kick. One or two contributed to Gloucester’s exit from the Heineken Cup, so you can see why the Kingsholm faithful didn’t have much patience… Here’s hoping he settles home again and finds some good form under Andy Robinson. I wonder if he’ll join Gregor Townsend’s stand-off class with Al Warnock, Phil Godman and David Blair…?

Scottish Players sign on the dotted line

According to BBC news, Kelly Brown, Dan Turner and Thom Evans have all signed new contracts with Glasgow. In slightly more exciting news, Jim Hamilton has finally left Leicester and signed a 3 year deal to bolster Edinburgh’s second row, in a move that has been rumoured for some time. It’ll do him good to get more game time, and he will no doubt help with Edinburgh’s power up front.

Worryingly, there is no word on Mossy’s future at Gloucester, despite everyone and their grandma signing new contracts at Kingsholm (including Scotland’s other famous Als, Dickinson and Strokosch). With incoming Olly Barkley providing a solid kicking boot – not to mention cover at 10 – next season, will he be seen as surplus to requirements?

MEGA UPDATE: at the exact moment I chose to upgrade the site’s software and kill it, it was announced that Chris Paterson will be returning to Edinburgh next season. Initial thoughts are that this won’t be great news for either Phil Godman or Hugo Southwell, if he is indeed to be used to play at 10 or 15 as has been proposed. More likely they’ll get short of wingers and chuck him out there, just to get his kicking boot on the pitch. Sound familiar? More on this over the weekend, I’m off to watch the Edinburgh game on TV. Apologies for any ongoing technical blips.

Edinburgh vs Ospreys

Probably the last chance for those of us without Setanta to see one of the Scottish pro-teams in action on the telly, tomorrow night on BBC Wales (Channel 991 on digital). Edinburgh will be hoping to finish strongly, but they have picked a side shorn of Southwell and Webster so they will look to the young guns in the backs to see them through to a decent finish in the table. Captain Mike Blair returns from a head knock (assuring him the job of Scotland captain in Argentina given Sales’s Jason White absence) and his little brother sits on the bench. Ospreys are without (player of the season?) Shane Williams and Scotland’s own Nikki Walker, but still boast some impressive talents who will be smarting from a failure to perform in the Heineken Cup and a fairly poor Magners League campaign.

Despite the end of term feel in celtic rugby at the moment with players everywhere departing for pastures new, knee operations or international tours, it should be a good game, as both sides like to keep the ball alive. I feel however that Ospreys will have the edge at the Liberty Stadium. Teams are as follows:

Ospreys: Lee Byrne; Aled Brew, Sonny Parker, Andrew Bishop, Johnny Vaughton; James Hook, Justin Marshall; Duncan Jones, Huw Bennett, Cai Griffiths, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Jonathan Thomas, Marty Holah, Ryan Jones (capt).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Filo Tiatia, Rhys Webb, Shaun Connor, Jonathan Spratt.

Edinburgh: MacRae; Maxwell, Cairns, De Luca, Turnbull; Godman, Blair; Allori, Ford, G Cross, Mustchin, Gissing, Hogg, MacDonald, Callam.
Replacements: Lawrie, Traynor, Pringle, Newlands, Laidlaw, Blair, Dey.

Two Point Perspective – Pro Team Round-up

Edinburgh 15 – 13 Leinster

Leinster turned up in Edinburgh needing “only” 4 tries and the victory to clinch the title. Despite Edinburgh’s best efforts to throw it away in the dying minutes, the home lads clung on against heavy pressure from the Leinster forwards to grab the points and move up to fourth in the Magners League (for now) – with a little help from the goal post that denied Contepomi in the final minute. Despite pack dominance, Leinster never seemed like scoring as often as they needed to, with the back division a little bit clueless at times, even with Contepomi and O’ Driscoll a world class centre pairing. De Luca and Callam both had good games, and Godman sounded a wee bit hit and miss. Hugo missed a drop-goal. Telling that Leinster didn’t cross until the 75th minute – the championship will have to wait.

Glasgow 25 – 23 Llanelli

A decent sized crowd at Murrayfield from the sound of it too, although not as enthusiastic as the support at Glasgow, who also came out the end of their rollercoaster match against Llanelli two points ahead. Once again Parks made it difficult for his critics with a try scoring and kicking display. Colin Gregor seemed to pop up at scrum-half and full-back, scoring a try in the process. Afterwards, coach Lineen criticised his teams decision making, that “butchered” a number of potential tries, but it seems they couldn’t be faulted for effort at the end to hold on to the win. They may regret allowing Llanelli the bonus point though.