Tag Archives: Murrayfield

Edinburgh Looking for Revenge in Heineken Cup

visser
© SNS Scotland

French side Racing Metro visit Murrayfield tomorrow night as Edinburgh look to avenge last week’s defeat in the Heineken Cup.

Edinburgh have made eight changes to the side that lost in France.

Scottish centre Ben Cairns returns after long-term injury. As Edinburgh’s all-time top try scorer in the competition, he is a welcome addition to a team struggling for points.

Cairns is joined in the back line by New Zealand centre Ben Atiga, whilst Piers Francis and Chris Leck form a new half-back combination. Lee Jones and Dougie Fife have been brought in to replace injured wingers Tom Brown and Tim Visser.

Robert McAlpine replaces Sean Cox in the pack, joining forces with his former Scotland age-grade colleague, Grant Gilchrist, in the second-row.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley could not explain how his side lost 19-9 at Racing Metro last week, slumping to their third defeat in the competition.

Following last season’s surprise surge into semi-finals, Edinburgh have failed to win qualification from the group stages.

Tomorrow’s game offers the team an opportunity for an improved performance ahead of their Pro12 double header against Glasgow Warriors.

We spoke to Scotland Centre Matt Scott and Edinburgh Second Row Robert McAlpine ahead of the clash.

scott12
Matt Scott © Edinburgh Rugby 2012
mcalpine12
Rob McAlpine © Edinburgh Rugby 2012

What was the feeling amongst the squad after last Saturday’s defeat to Racing Metro?

Matt Scott – It was a feeling of great disappointment and frustration as we felt we played good enough rugby to win the game. Rugby games at this level are won by small margins, and unfortunately we didn’t get the majority of these small margins right.

Rob McAlpine – Everyone was pretty gutted after the defeat in Paris, the game was for the taking. We provided enough scoring opportunities to win the game, but didn’t manage to convert those opportunities into points. It was disappointing.

Is the pressure now off for tomorrow’s game with qualification looking unlikely, or are players still feeling the stress of the situation?

MS – I don’t think the pressure is ever really off when playing professional rugby. There has been quite a few changes for this game, and the new players that have come in will be looking to stamp down a marker for selection in the upcoming games.

RM – No, there is no pressure off at all. We are desperate to put in a performance against Racing Metro at home, and we owe it to our fans and supporters to get a result. Having the home advantage is a great help and we should hopefully get a result.

What has training been like this week, have you been working on anything in particular?

MS – Training has been tough as everyone is keen to get a win on the board in the Heineken cup. We have targeted a few areas that Racing are weak in, so the boys will be looking to exploit those.

RM – Training has been really good this week, especially with players stepping in and playing that have been out injured. Netani Talei (Fiji), Ben Atiga (All Blacks), Ben Cairns (Scotland), and Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) all step in after time out injured.

What have the coaches been saying ahead of tomorrow’s game?

MS – They have been willing us to get a win in front of our own fans, particularly to gain some momentum going into the two Glasgow games, which are going to be really important in our season.

RM – .. Can’t answer too much about strategy..

Personally what do you think can be done tomorrow to get a result?

MS – I think if we get our set piece delivery better and hold on to the ball we will cause them all sorts of problems. They are a huge side and don’t like being moved around. Murrayfield is a particularly large pitch, so I’m sure you will see us using that on Friday.

RM – Racing Metro have a big forward pack and being able to move the point of contact and play a quick game we should expose weaknesses and create opportunities to score.

Finally, if you get a result tomorrow what kind of confidence would that give the team going forward?

MS – It would be great for momentum to get a win, especially against a team of racing’s calibre.

RM – The win would give us massive confidence going into the 1872 cup (Glasgow Edinburgh back to back matches) and will hopefully allow us to pick up where we left off in the Rabo Pro 12. Two wins from two against Glasgow would put us right back up in the mix in the table.

Edinburgh team look ahead to crucial matches

Murrayfield Stadium


By: Pamela Paterson

Edinburgh Rugby Team hope to reverse their poor run of results as they take on Welsh side Scarlets tonight. Nine international players have returned to the squad after taking part in Scotland’s winless Six Nations campaign, while several players have had their contracts extended for another two seasons.

Coach Michael Bradley stated, “We would love to win the match on Friday night because I think we need it for our sanity at this stage.”

Ross Rennie, who this week announced a contract extension, said, “Everyone is desperate for a win.”

Speaking about the team’s recent poor results, Bradley said, “We’ve had a bad run in the Pro12. We do need to stop the run we’re on and it’s a good opportunity for us to do that at home. That is our priority.”

If the team win their remaining matches they can finish ninth in the league. For the players, it is now time to look ahead to building up momentum for next season. Centre Nick De Luca, who also extended his contract with Edinburgh Rugby this week, said, “Even if we win all our games we’re still not getting a good finish, let’s be honest. It’s more important for going forward into the next season.”

Bradley was also keen to stress the importance of the return of the international players, who started training earlier this week, saying, “They are a big part of Edinburgh Rugby. It’s been great to have them back.”

Rennie believes that their return has bolstered the team prior to both their coming matches. He said, “I think we’ve obviously had a tough time in the league as we did in the Six Nations. I think us coming back together has brought a new bit of life to the people who were here and a bit of life to the guys who were away. I think everyone is just looking forward to building towards something really special.”

Head coach Michael Bradley believes that Scarlets will bring a strong side, as along with Edinburgh, they will be selecting “with a view to fine tuning for the following week,” when both sides are taking part in separate Heineken Cup quarter finals. Speaking about the clash against Toulouse, he said, “It is a one-off event, a separate entity.”

Dumfries-born De Luca believes that the performance of the team in the Scarlets match is key to preparing for next week’s game. He said, “We need a huge performance this weekend to get things very right, or close to perfect.”

De Luca also spoke about the Scotland team’s fortunes in the Six Nations, including the yellow cards he received in both the Wales and Italy matches. He said, “I felt myself that I was under a lot of pressure, I just have to look at my own discipline and why I’m putting myself in those situations. The one in Wales I panicked and just had a moment of madness.”

Along with De Luca and Rennie, Irish coach Michael Bradley has re-signed the services of 17 other players for the following two seasons, as well as gaining new players, WP Nel, Greig Tonks and Ulises Gamboa. There are several other new signings which have yet to be announced.

These new unknown signings were a major factor for both De Luca and Rennie when they decided to extend their contracts. De Luca said that while he looked elsewhere he knew that remaining in Edinburgh was the decision he wanted. Rennie, meanwhile, was keen to stay at the club where he began his professional rugby career. He said, “I’m very happy to be offered something here and very happy to stay. I think with the new signings coming in a lot is going to change. I think it’s going to be an ambitious club next year.”

 

Edinburgh Rugby Team to play Scarlets at Murrayfield Stadium 30 March (KO 7.35pm):

Tom Brown, Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw (c), Mike Blair, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, David Denton, Ross Rennie, Stuart McInally.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Jack Gilding, Esteban Lozada, Roddy Grant, Chris Leck, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson.

Fiji must try without big names.

Scotland take on Fiji at Murrayfield tomorrow in  Andy Robinson’s first game in charge as national coach, although the visitors will be without several first choice players.

The club versus country row, synonymous with football, has reared its head within the oval game, with clubs refusing to release their Fijian internationals for the game.

isa_nacewa
Unavailable: Isa Nacewa

Several British and Irish based players are unavailable for Fiji. Isa Nacewa of Leinster and Saracens’ Kameli Ratuvou have not travelled to Edinburgh, whilst Ulster winger Timoci Nagusa remains in Fiji on holiday with his pregnant wife.

Other less established squad members have remained in New Zealand due to NPC Cup commitments. Ulster and Leisnter would not comment on why the players were not being released.

2543
Kameli Ratuvou

With international football matches taking place across the globe this weekend, conflict between clubs and national associations was bound to be an issue, although it is an argument that is perhaps not often associated with rugby.

The International Rugby Board introduced new regulations on player availability at the beginning of this year.

The designated global release periods include the November international period, which applies to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Fiji coach Glen Ella believes the regulations are not being applied across the board. He told the Scotsman: “All Test rugby nations should be treated equally and you can see the lower-level nations are not and it’s just not good enough.

“We have a regulation in IRB law and it’s still not being enforced. We understand the clubs pay their wages, but we’re only asking for three weeks a year.”

The absence of several of Fiji’s top players could be seen as a boost for Scotland, although Neil Hunter from the Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters would rather see a full strength Fijian line-up.

He said: “If anything I’m sympathetic to Fiji. Having done so well at the last World Cup and to battle their way up the rankings above Scotland, it’s a problem that they now can’t field their best players, and its a problem the IRB has to deal with.”

Super six set for battle

By Stewart Primrose

The RBS Six Nations tournament kicks off this weekend and is set to be one of the most exciting since ever.

Rugby at this time off year captures the imaginations of millions, whether they are fans of the sport or not. Although the Tri Nations has a higher quality of player, rugby clubs throughout Western Europe will be full and the beer will be flowing. And this could be the closest championship since Italy’s inclusion back in 2000, with Europe’s elite six expecting to thrill fans across Europe.

But how will each team fare? Will Wales defend their crown and continue to sing in the Valleys, or will the Irish eyes be shinning? And what for Scotland? Can they get that elusive victory at Twickenham? Either way many of the home nation players will be looking to boost their chances of being picked for the Lions tour to South Africa this summer.

Here is a run down of each team, plus a few players to watch out for. Let the games begin…

England

Andy Goode will play ahead of Cipriani
Andy Goode will play ahead of Cipriani

Martin Johnson will be looking to improve on England’s Autumn International performance in his first Six Nations as coach, starting with dropping Danny Cipriani in favour of Andy Goode. Johnson will be going back to basics by playing a tactical and territorial game. Once their fall back tactic, this looks to be their new plan A.

He is still to shore up the midfield after Will Greenwood’s departure and the current pairing of Ricki Flutey and Mike Tindall have yet to find their feet at international level.

Anything less than three home wins will be seen as a failure for England.

Key Man
Danny Care: This is a tough one as there are no real superstars in the team. The scrum half had a good 2008 and England will need him to be on top form to have a successful Six Nations.

My Prediction – Fourth

France v Wales could be crucial
France v Wales could be crucial

France

They face a tough opening match at Croke Park, which could determine how their campaign will be fought. They have picked a more conservative squad than in recent years. With Shabal in the second row they add a lot of muscle and aggression, but weaken their lineout as a result.

Poitrenaud sums up the French team. Brilliant one day, disastrous the next. Coach Marc Lievremont will be seeking consistent performances from his squad. They will miss the mercurial talents of Freddy Michelak and the team will have to step up if there is going to be a new generation of French flair.

Key Man
Yannick Jauzion: A deadly mix of pace, balance and precision passing. He could be not only a match winner but a Grand Slam winner.

My Prediction – Third

Ireland

Inconsistency has been the main theme for the Irish in recent years. Coach Declan Kidney will have to rectify this in 2009. There are a few promising young players coming through including Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald and these will add impetus to ageing stars like Brian O’Driscoll. The centre is no longer the devastating attacking force he once was, but is still strong in defence.

The Irish need to get off to a good start
The Irish need to get off to a good start
The front five remain strong and in David Wallace they have one of the best back rows in the tournament. They have a decent fixture list with England and France at home. Wales at the Millennium Stadium may prove to be a game too far for their Grand Slam hopes.

Key Man
Ronan O’Gara: Some say the stand off dominates games, others say he fails to inspire. He needs to take the ball up to the game line and throw those defence splitting passes we all know he is capable off.

My Prediction – Second

Italy

As in any year the Italians aspire to just the one win. This year they could struggle to achieve this as they have no recognised half backs. There have been several stop gaps with centre, Paz, asking coach Mallet to stop playing him out of position.

Italy do have some genuine world class players in Prop, Castrogiovanni, Sergio Parisse and Bortolami.

They may surprise Ireland in Rome, but apart from that Murrayfield may prove yet again to be their only hope of avoiding that dreaded wooden spoon.

Key Man:
Sergio Parisse: One of the best players in the tournament. If he hailed from New Zealand he would be a household name. He is a top performer for club side Stade Francais and is easily the Italian’s best player.

My Prediction – Sixth

Scotland

Scotland have 3 home matches
Scotland have 3 home matches

Scotland will be looking to improve on last year’s performance on one win, albeit against England. Scotland has still to field a backline capable of worrying an international defence since the turn of the century. However there is a degree of optimism this season with Tom Evans emerging as a genuine try scorer. There is also a new pace and creativity in the centre.

These players are untested at the highest level so it could go either way. There is still debate about the number ten jersey – Godman’s flair versus Park’s boot and reliability, but Godman could galvanise the exciting backline if he is in the starting lineup.

A key to Scotland’s success will be the powerful forward pack – a match for any team – and contains some genuine world-class players. They will have to create quick ball to allow the backline to function. Maybe then Scotland can start crossing the try line.

Key Man
Mike Blair: The IRB world player of the year nominee can make Scotland tick. His roaming runs and crisp delivery must free up the midfield runners and build on the quick ball if Scotland are to start chalking the teams off their list. The captain needs a big tournament to boost his Lions credentials and his nation’s chances.

My Prediction – Fifth

Can the Welsh make it 2 in a row?
Can the Welsh make it 2 in a row?

Wales

Without a doubt the most talented team in the competition. They were the only northern hemisphere team to beat one of the big three in the autumn, pushing South Africa close and beating Australia.

Shane Williams is back from injury which will be a massive boost for Coach Warren Gatland. Roberts and Henson will provide a good mix of muscle and skill in the midfield and both James Hook and Steven Jones are capable match winners.

Pivotal to their success is the back row trio – Martin Williams, Andy Powell and Ryan Jones all complement each other and the rest of the Welsh side.

They could sneak the Championship on points difference, but watch out for a hiccup at Murrayfield this Saturday.

Key Man
Ryan Jones: The defensive lynchpin, ball carrier and inspirational leader. He’s also tipped to lead the Lions this summer. His performance last year was awesome and the same will be required again.

My Prediction – First