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.

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.

Weekend of Rugby

Al’s moving house this weekend, and I’m off on a course on Saturday so it seems likely that we’ll miss the bumper crop of rugby stuff on the TV this weekend, mostly on Saturday. However here’s a list, so you don’t have to miss a thing.

The Glasgow – Edinburgh Magners League derby takes place tonight for readers in the Central Belt I urge you to go along, the last one sounded like a cracker and will hopefully be a great advert for Scottish rugby. It would be great if they get the 5,000 support they are hoping for. If you’ve got Setanta, yes you can watch it there too. I’ll be listening on the radio. Ugh. Tough one to call, but I reckon Glasgow might have the edge. Heart goes with Edinburgh though, ‘mon HUGOOOOO.

UPDATE: Glasgow win 23-14, mostly due to Dan Parks from the sound of things. He doesn’t make it easy, does he?

The world famous Melrose Sevens takes place on Saturday, with a number of guest sides including Leicester Tigers, Ulster, Roma and a Chinese side that will hopefully not be ring-fenced with blue tracksuits. The Scottish Thistles are fielding a pretty strong looking side as well, featuring a number of pro-team up and comers, who should also be in with a shout. Coverage on BBC2 Scotland in the afternoon.

UPDATE: Well done to the Thistles for winning at the end of what looked like a great day. Melrose’s defeat of last year’s champions the Shimlas was a great match as well, it’s just a pity they ran out of legs in the niggly match against Leicester.

On Sky on Saturday you can have Gloucester vs Saracens, which may or may not have any Scottish interest depending on their current view of the Mossy situation. There will more thank likely be some Super 14 action too at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Also on Saturday, the EDF final (BBC2 England) Ospreys vs Leicester. No Nikki Walker, but can Shane Williams and Justin Marshall stop Andy Goode and Skynet? Hopefully it’ll be one for the Magner’s League (and the future of mankind).

UPDATE: Big Jason scored a try in Sales victory over Bristol tonight (Friday) to help them move into 3rd spot. Gloucester coasted to victory over Saracens, although Gordon Ross came on for the losers and looked quite sharp. Rory Lawson and Strokosch showed up well, with Mossy mostly confined to the bench. Well done to the Ospreys too for making it two finals defeats for Leicester in the one day! Mankind lives another day… as for Scottish pro rugby, well that’s another matter…

Heineken Cup Round-up

London Irish 20 – 9 USAP / Perpignan

Hines and Cusiter had a good start, with Cusiter in particular rescuing Percy Montgomery from a few classic Percy moments under high balls etc, but Irish piled on the pressure as the match wore on, and consequently ran out the winners. Hines kept his discipline, indeed what could easily have been an ill-tempered affair only really spilled over in the dying minutes, and for once big Nathan was far from the action.

Gloucester 3 -16 Munster

Paterson (starting on the wing) had a shocking start, missing two bread-and-butter kicks and one tricky one, which seemed to unsettle him for the rest of the game. Substituted after 55 minutes. You wonder what lies in his future at Kingsholm if he’s no longer considered a kicker, given the presence of Lamb at 10 and plenty of pacier/bigger depth in the back three. It is unlikely that he will have experienced anything like the high pressure of European knockout rugby, in an atmosphere created by such devoted fans as Munster and Gloucester posess, but I hope he will get a chance to do so again, and am sure he will bounce back. Lawson marshalled his forwards as well as he could but made a few poor decisions early on that led to turnovers and could in fact have led to worse. No sign of Strokosch (or Dickinson), and to be honest they could have done with Stroker’s physicality up front, considering the size of the hits even the Munster centres were putting in from start to finish. Dean Ryan will not, one suspects, be too happy.

Saracens 19 -10 Ospreys

No Nikki Walker due to injury, and SuperGordo is absent from the bench for Saracens.

Toulouse 41 – 17 Cardiff

No Scottish interest here either. So I can post this article now, rather than tomorrow. I’ll update it with the scores as and when.

UPDATED:

Scores posted above. Semi Finals will be as follows: London Irish v Toulouse and Saracens vs Munster on the weekend of the 25th April. Not a Scot in site, unless you count uncapped but eligible Sarries prop Nick Lloyd, or Marcus di Rollo makes an appearance for Toulouse in a random display of rashness by Guy Noves. Stranger things have happened.

DOUBLE UPDATED:

As Giorgia pointed out, Mossy is taking a kicking (sorry) on the Gloucester Forum. Interesting, a Worcester fan posting there claims to have heard rumour linking him to the Warriors (Worcester that is) next season. Interesting. I wonder if a lack of pressure – and a better chance of first team games with Shane Drahm heading off to Japan – would suit him more, assuming they escape relegation.

Transfer rumblings, Magners League Round-Up

Edinburgh defeated Connacht on Friday to move into 3rd spot in the Magners League for a day, securing a 4-try bonus point along the way after the Irish team maintained parity up to the half way point. After Munster’s win over new boss Matt William’s Ulster, they leap frog into 3rd with a game in hand and start building the momentum as only they know how.

Glasgow struggled against league leaders Leinster and failed to do their east-coast counterparts a favour as Leinster forged on in their challenge to secure the title, seeing them nearly ten points clear. Next weekend sees Edinburgh play Cardiff and the Scarlets play Leinster in match-ups that could well affect how the top of the table looks come the end of the season.

Suggestions on the Scotsman website are that both pro-teams could be looking to bring some exiles home, in Edinburgh’s case the long mooted Jim Hamilton move from Leicester, and much more interestingly Mark McMillan from Wasps to Glasgow, who in this blogger’s opinion are in fairly urgent need of a class scrum half. McMillan has been on fire for Wasps in Reddan’s Six Nations absence and would make a valuable addition to the team. Expect him to make an appearance alongside either Cusiter or Lawson in the Churchill Cup squad.

Dreigiauing the Bottom of the Barrel

Don’t forget, Edinburgh vs Dragons is on BBC2 Wales (channel 991 on Sky Digital if memory serves) tonight from 7pm. Edinburgh are fielding a pretty decent team (including Rennie, De Luca and Godman) that should be in with a shout of getting a win, although the Dragons are looking for their double over Edinburgh this season, having won at Murrayfield in October when Andy Robinson was only weeks into the job.

In other news, it turns out Gregor “Toony” Townsend has begun to coach the Edinburgh backs one day a week, in particular focusing on imparting his 82 caps worth of knowledge to the Edinburgh standoffs Blair, Godman and Warnock. More positive news coming out of the Edinburgh camp. Although I can hear Al choking on his lunch from here. Let’s just forget about the national team for a week and hopefully we’ll be rewarded with a victory tonight!

Also diminutive ball-ferret Donnie Macfadyen makes a long-awaited comeback for Glasgow vs Ospreys tonight in a game refereed by a Mr J Kaplan (with the Super 14 trialling the ELVs, I suppose all the officials currently north of the equator are kept here even in the off weeks to avoid confusion). Here’s hoping there are soon three dedicated open-sides for the Scotland selectors to choose from – all the best to Donnie and the Glasgow boys tonight.

Apologies for the appalling pun in the title, but you’d expect nothing less from us by now.

UPDATE WITH TONIGHT’S RUGBY RESULTS:

Dragons 10 – 10 Edinburgh
Not the most stunning of games, but the wind was pretty appalling. The Dragons failed to capitalise on the wind advantage in the second half and put Edinburgh away, but Edinburgh possibly should have made more of chances in the first half. Cairns scored a good try and World Class Phil was as sparky as the weather allowed, but worryingly Nick De Luca may have picked up an ankle sprain which led to his substitution on the first half.

Glasgow 9 – 6 Ospreys
Caught the end of this on Internet radio, Glasgow sounded like they were putting up a good fight (Moray Low especially) exciting finish although again not much of a try fest, and again very poor weather. Macfadyen made it through 62 minutes before coming off for John Barclay, and the crowd sounded in good form too. However I was a little concerned at all the BBC Scotland reports of Moray Walker and Edinburgh playing the Llanelli Dragons. Come on, guys.