After a few weeks of Heineken Cup rugby this weekend seems the return to action in the major leagues in the form of the Aviva Premiership and the Rabbo Direct Pro12 as well as the French Top 14. Of particular interest in Scotland is the big derby match between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh on Friday night in Glasgow.
This match will also double up as the first fixture of two between the two teams which will decide the winner of the 1872 Cup. The return match will take place at Murrayfield on Saturday 29th December.
Brief History of 1872 Cup
The first ever inter-district match between the then Edinburgh district and Glasgow took place back in 1872. Edinburgh won the match 3–0. It is said to be rugby’s oldest non-international representative match.
Glasgow are the current holders of the cup by virtue of a drawn first game at Murrayfield on Boxing day last year and victory in the return fixture at their old Firhill ground on New Year’s day.
Glasgow Warriors Team Announcement
Talismanic skipper Al Kellock returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up for the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh. Kellock, who suffered an arm injury against Castres Olympique at Scotstoun Stadium two weeks ago, has recovered in time for the big city derby.
After impressing in the Heineken Cup last week, Ruaridh Jackson and Niko Matawalu resume their half-back partnership with Peter Horne and Sean Lamont again the centre pairing for the vital RaboDirect PRO12 encounter.
There is just one personnel change in the back-line which faced Castres Olympique in the Heineken Cup last Sunday, with Peter Murchie taking the full-back position and Sean Maitland moving to the wing. Tommy Seymour, who signed a new contract with the Warriors this week, drops out of the squad with Stuart Hogg covering the back-line from the substitutes bench.
Jonny Gray, younger brother of Scotland star, Richie, is in line to make his senior professional debut after being named on the bench for the match this Friday.
The Scotland under-20 cap has impressed the coaching staff at Glasgow since signing as an Elite Development Player in the summer and will be on the bench to cover the second row in the RaboDirect PRO12 match at Scotstoun Stadium (21 December, kick-off 7.35pm)
Head Coach Gregor Townsend, who was announcing his team in George Square, the heart of Glasgow, commented: “I was very pleased with way we attacked Castres for long spells of the game last week, the players showed ambition, pace and intensity.
“If we’re to win this game on Friday we need to have a similar level of performance. We’re preparing for a very tough contest against one of the best attacking teams in the PRO12.
“They can put out a very strong pack with a number of different ways of playing so we need to be absolutely on top of our game.
“It’s a massive occasion for Scottish Rugby and there’s a lot at stake for both teams. I expect a lot of intensity on both sides and with the 6 Nations not too far away, there is no doubt added motivation around selection for the national team.
“For us, the focus has to be on our position in the PRO12 and over the course of the next two games there are points which can propel us back towards the play-off places.”
The pack shows four changes to the one that faced Castres, with Chris Fusaro returning to the open-side spot in place of the injured John Barclay. Rob Harley starts alongside Ryan Wilson in the back-row.
Moray Low again plays tight-head with Ryan Grant reinstated to the loose-head role with Pat MacArthur as hooker.
There is strength and depth on the bench for Glasgow with no fewer than five full Scotland internationals ready to enter the cauldron of the city derby.
Townsend said: “To be able to bring on players of the ability of the guys on the bench says a lot about the strength of our squad.
“There are a lot of players in the squad who will be disappointed not to be involved but the competition for places is fierce and, unfortunately, some have to miss out.
“We’re expecting a tight match – recent history will tell us that these games are always pretty close – so everyone in the twenty three will have to be ready to make an impact.”
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Al Kellock (Captain), 3 Moray Low, 2 Pat Macarthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 German Araoz, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 James Eddie, 21 Henry Prygos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Stuart Hogg.
Edinburgh Team Announcement
Head coach Michael Bradley today confirmed the Edinburgh Rugby team to face Glasgow Warriors in the opening leg of the 1872 Cup at Scotstoun tomorrow (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on BBC ALBA.
Scotland centre Nick De Luca has not recovered from the injury sustained to his face in training on Tuesday, meaning James King partners Matt Scott in midfield, while Lee Jones (wing) has recovered from his head knock and has been passed fit to play.
The news brings confirmation that the half-back partnership of captain Greig Laidlaw and Piers Francis that finished the club’s Heineken Cup loss against Racing Metro in Paris, will start the match against their inter-city rivals.
Bradley said: “It’s disappointing to lose a key player like Nick [De Luca] for such a big game, but James [King] has performed very well when given the opportunity this season and is desperate to get out there tomorrow.
“These are huge games for the players and the fans and I’m happy with the balance of the team and the firepower available from the bench going to Scotstoun tomorrow for what will be a hugely physical and intense match with our biggest rivals.”
The back-line is completed by ever-present full-back Greig Tonks and returning winger Tim Visser, who is one score short of equaling the all-time PRO12 record (48) in what will be his 65th appearance for the club in the competition.
Allan Jacobsen and Willem Nel are preferred to John Yapp and Geoff Cross alongside hooker Ross Ford in the front-row, while Heineken Cup tied lock Izak van der Westhuizen returns to partner Grant Gilchrist.
The pack is completed by the back-row of Roddy Grant, Stuart McInally and the returning blind-side flanker David Denton.
The 1872 Cup will be decided in the second leg at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 29 December (kick-off 4.05pm)
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 James King, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Greig Laidlaw (Captain), 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 David Denton, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 John Yapp, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ben Atiga, 23 Dougie Fife.