There were some big news announcements yesterday from both of Scotland’s professional clubs. The one from Edinburgh Rugby was about a departure while the one from Glasgow Warriors was about an arrival. Sticking one’s neck out it would seem that both announcements were seen as positive news by the clubs’ fans.
Edinburgh Rugby announced that Head Coach Alan Solomons was leaving and would be replaced in the interim by Duncan Hodge while Glasgow Warriors announced the acquisition of powerhouse player Langilangi Haupeakui from US PRO Rugby outfit Sacramento Express.
Alan Solomons vacates his post before completing his contract which would have taken him to the end of the current season. His previous contract expired at the end of last season and he had signed to stay on for one more year in Edinburgh.
There has always seemed to a bit of mixed feelings between the Edinburgh fans with some rather more supportive of Solomons than others. He took over at a time were really struggling and for some he has brought stability to the club and a measure of success, taking Edinburgh to a European Cup final, albeit in the second tier of Europe, and claiming back the 1872 Cup from bitter rivals Glasgow Warriors.
His critics feel that he has not done anymore with Edinburgh than a local coach could given the same level of investment and felt that his game plan was far too prescriptive and conservative and stifled his team, now where have we heard that before? It would seem that he didn’t have the copyright on this as far as many South African coaches go in the eyes of the various sets of fans.
Head coach Alan Solomons says criticism of Edinburgh’s playing style is ‘manifestly unfair’.
Solomons watched his team register their first win of the Pro12 season against Scarlets at Murrayfield, but some have criticised the side’s lack of attacking ambition under his stewardship.
“Personally I think the criticism is unfair,” Solomons said. “This talk they are under instruction not to run the ball is nonsense.”
Solomons is adamant that Edinburgh’s attacking prowess has developed under his assistant Duncan Hodge.
“We have worked very hard on our attack, Hodgy is doing a good job and it is a question of playing the conditions correctly and getting the result. It is professional sport and it is about winning.
“No-one has given them any instruction on how to play. They have all the options available to take under our game management plan. That criticism is manifestly unfair.
“We are improving year on year. We are carrying a number of injuries [Al Dickinson, Anton Bresler, Nasi Manu, Jason Tovey, Will Helu and Damien Hoyland are all currently unavailable] and we are not a big budget squad.
“We are not Toulon. We don’t have a massive amount of money but I think we have a good group of players.”
Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has signed an extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until June 2017.
The capital club started the 2015 / 2016 season strongly in the Guinness Pro12 with 4 consecutive wins and recently recorded back-to-back victories against French opposition in the European Challenge Cup.
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said: “Alan is successfully building on the improved performances achieved by Edinburgh Rugby last season, which saw them reach the European Challenge Cup Final and secure the 1872 Cup.
“The club has made a positive start to the new season and we wanted to ensure Alan was able to continue to develop the vision he started in 2013. We are therefore very pleased he has committed to Edinburgh through to 2017.”
As Edinburgh take to the home turf tomorrow (Friday 13 November) to meet FC Grenoble in the opening Round of this season’s European Challenge Cup (kick-off 19:30 UK Time, 21:30 SA Time), they will be led out by the player endearingly referred to by his team-mates as the ‘squadfather’, prop Alasdair Dickinson, who reaches his 100th cap for the club.
Meanwhile in the pack, at openside, John Hardie will be making his debut in the black and red jersey, after signing for the club last month following his Scotland debut at No 7 in the Rugby World Cup.
Loosehead Dickinson joins hooker Ross Ford and tighthead WP Nel in an unchanged front row, with Anton Bresler and Alex Toolis maintaining their partnership from last week at lock.
Mike Coman captains the team again at blindside with Hardie making his debut at openside and Cornell Du Preez retaining the No 8 jersey.
Meanwhile there is 1 change in the backs with Dougie Fife moving up from the bench to start at fullback. Damien Hoyland and Tom Brown stay on the right and left wings respectively while last week’s try scorer Will Helu and Matt Scott remain at outside and inside centre. The halfback pairing of Greig Tonks at flyhalf and scrumhalf Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is also retained.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne showed his promise in an Edinburgh shirt from minute one as he scored his first Guinness PRO12 try for the club in a thumping 48-0 victory over Treviso.
The 21-year-old, who has featured predominantly off the bench for Edinburgh this season, went over inside a minute, with Mike Coman, WP Nel, Grayson Hart, Roddy Grant and Dave Denton also touching down in the bonus-point win.
Treviso finished the game with 14 men after Romulo Acosta was shown a straight Red Card for punching, while the result means they are still without a win in this season’s competition.
Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons believes that his squad has got through the worst of an injury crisis which threatened to engulf the team just a few short weeks ago.
Edinburgh flew to Milan yesterday then took a 75-mile bus ride to Parma, ahead of facing Guinness Pro12 strugglers Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile tomorrow afternoon.
It may have been an arduous trip but Solomons was in good fettle – despite Edinburgh still being without several leading players, including Grant Gilchrist (broken arm), Hamish Watson (knee) and Cornell du Preez, who is set to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
Solomons said that the Autumn Tests came at just the right time for other leading players to recover and he is excited about his team’s chances of climbing into the top six of the Pro 12 table, which would qualify them for the Champions Cup next season.
Edinburgh returned to action in fine style last Sunday when they defeated Cardiff Blues at home, and they will fancy their chances against a Zebre side which was hammered 43-3 by Connacht on Friday night.
Edinburgh Rugby secured their second successive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, beating Lyon 25-17 at BT Murrayfield, after numerous injury setbacks and losing five players in the opening quarter.
Coach Alan Solomons afterwards praised the character of his Edinburgh side, who came through adversity to record a morale-boosting victory.
“This actually tops it [last week’s win at Bordeaux]. To lose five players like that – in 37 years, I’ve never seen anything like it – speaks volumes for the strength of character of this side.”
The hosts Ulster secured a bonus point win at Ravenhill on Friday evening as a lacklustre Edinburgh side failed to score any points.
“In the second half we had nine penalties against us and the two tries that killed us came from when Mike was sent off for a yellow card. I thought that [yellow card] was the turning point of the game.
“The final penalty count ended up 14-4 and when you get a penalty count like that and a card, that’s the difference. Having said that, Ulster deserved the win on the night.”
Experienced back row, Mike Coman, will captain Edinburgh this season, with Scotland international lock, Grant Gilchrist as vice captain.
Coman, who turns 27 later this month, said: “It’s a massive honour, we’ve got an exciting team and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.”
Signing for Edinburgh Rugby during 2013/14 on a two-year deal, Coman is no stranger to the captain’s armband.
Head coach Alan Solomons will start five of his new Edinburgh Rugby recruits in the club’s first pre-season match against Leicester Tigers at The Greenyards tomorrow (23 August, kick-off 14:00 BST, 15:00 SA Time).
With the exclusion of lock Fraser McKenzie – who returns from Newcastle Falcons to start the game alongside Ollie Atkins – four of the five signings will make their debut for the capital club.
Edinburgh Rugby are pleased to announce that Scotland A lock Fraser McKenzie has returned to the club where he began his professional career.
The lock, who can also play on the blind-side, made his Scotland 7s debut in November 2008, represented Scotland A in 2010 and 2011, and was included in the extended Scotland squad for the 2012 RBS 6 Nations.
Moving from Edinburgh Rugby to Sale Sharks in 2011, McKenzie then joined Newcastle Falcons last summer, making a total of 41 English Premiership appearances before earning a move home.
Edinburgh have extended the contracts of trialists Sam Beard and Carl Bezuidenhout.
Beard, who has made 13 appearances since arriving from Bay of Plenty in November, has signed a deal until 2016.
South African Carl Bezuidenhout has penned a contract until 2015.
Edinburgh Rugby have confirmed that nine players will leave the club at the end of the season, at the conclusion of their current contracts.
Among the nine are capped internationalists Lee Jones (Scotland), centre Ben Atiga (All Blacks) and back-row Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia).
When the curtain finally comes down on a long, hard and ultimately disappointing season for Edinburgh tomorrow night, it will surely come as a blessed relief to almost everyone associated with the club.
Coach Alan Solomons has made it abundantly clear that these last run of games have been an exercise in damage limitation. His focus has already moved on to next season, and he has apparently completed the planning and recruitment process (with announcements impending) which he believes will ensure that his troops hit the ground running.
The players are either exhausted after having to adapt during the heat of battle to a whole new way of doing things, or completely demotivated after being brutally apprised of the fact that they are no longer part of the club’s future.
Edinburgh Rugby lock Grant Gilchrist scooped this season’s coach-nominated Player of the Season award at the club’s 2013 / 2014 awards dinner. Roddy Grant, Dougie Fife, Cornell du Preez and Alasdair Dickinson were the other players who were honoured for their contributions this year to Edinburgh Rugby.
Edinburgh Rugby’s vision to build a sustainable club founded on young home grown talent emanating from the academy took a step forward today with the recruitment of three Scots into the senior squad.
Elite development players Hamish Watson (back-row), George Turner (hooker) and Jamie Farndale (wing) have all been awarded extended, senior contracts at the club.
With young Scottish centres Michael Tait, Chris Dean and wing Damien Hoyland also among the coming summer’s new recruits, head coach Alan Solomons believes the foundations of his long-term strategy are beginning to take shape.
Alan Solomons does not believe his Edinburgh side’s season will have been a failure if they fall short in their bid to reach the European Cup.
A 29-22 home defeat by Cardiff Blues dented Edinburgh’s chances of securing the top-six finish needed to reach the new top-flight European competition.
Die Skotse rugbyklub Edinburgh se Suid-Afrikaanse spens raak al hoe voller. ’n Amptelike aankondiging word eers later verwag, maar Alan Solomons (afrigter) het glo ’n sewende Suid-Afrikaner na Edinburgh gelok.
Die slot van die Haaie, Anton Bresler, sal hom glo ná die Super Rugby-reeks by Edinburgh aansluit. Bresler kan hom as plaasvervanger vir die oud-Cheetahs slot, Izak van der Westhuizen, wat op pad terug na Suid-Afrika is, daar aanmeld.
Edinburgh and Scotland centre Nick De Luca will join French Top 14 side Biarritz at the end of the season.
The 30-year-old has made 125 appearances for Edinburgh and won 41 international caps.
One of the advantages of having the national rugby union in control of its clubs was highlighted by today’s announcement by the Scottish Rugby Union of the loan of Edinburgh tight head prop Geoff Cross to Glasgow Warriors for the rest of the season due to injuries to two of Glasgow’s props.
Glasgow Warriors are currently in fifth position on the RaboDirect PRO12 log, 3 points behind the forth placed Ospreys, with two games in hand over the teams above them. This loan arrangement indicates that Glasgow reaching the knockout stages of the PRO12 must be considered priority by the Scottish Rugby Union, and as such they and Edinburgh Rugby need to be applauded for this decision.
Edinburgh Rugby yesterday announced the signing of Scotland 7s and under-20 starlet centre Chris Dean on a two-year deal.
A former pupil of Law Primary School and Edinburgh Academy, Dean lifted the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup in three consecutive seasons: in 2009 (under-15) and as under-18 captain in 2010 and 2011.
He has represented Scotland at every age-grade, and skippered Scotland under-17 through the Wellington Festival in 2011, before his development was fast-tracked on a Scotland 7s elite development player (EDP) contract in May 2012.
Edinburgh Rugby confirmed on Tuesday that scrum-half and captain Greig Laidlaw will leave the club to join English Premiership side Gloucester at the end of the season.
Long-serving Edinburgh Rugby duo Ben Cairns and Steven Lawrie have been forced to retire from rugby due to long-term knee injuries.
The news ends the tenure of the long-serving local lads, both capped for Scotland, who will now pursue careers on the other side of the white paint.
Sometimes it seems you have only to say things are going better for events to make you look a fool. Last Saturday I wrote that Edinburgh’s coaches had successfully tightened up their defence, and then their team concedes six tries to Munster.
The Scotland squad came together yesterday with head coach Scott Johnson’s first task being to re-focus minds away from Heineken Cup disappointments and on to a Six Nations Championship.
Edinburgh Rugby forwards Ross Rennie and Stuart McInally will join former Scotland head coach Andy Robinson on loan to Bristol Rugby to the end of the season.
The sound of Afrikaans being spoken among a group of Edinburgh players yesterday fuelled the belief that Murrayfield is taking on a strong South African flavour, but prop Willem Nel emerged from the huddle to insist that the capital side is not losing its Scottish identity.
It is nothing more than a few distant murmurs at the moment, but there are already dissenting voices over the influx of South Africans at Edinburgh.
Alan Solomons, who left the Southern Kings last year to take up a role as head coach at the Scottish outfit, has plundered his home country for talent to help the team based in the Scottish capital back to its feet.
It was speculated here on rugby-talk on Saturday that South African centre Andries Strauss was going to sign up with Edinburgh Rugby. The news was confirmed on Sunday by the club. Strauss has signed up for two and a half seasons, subject to passing the customary medical tests.
Glasgow Warriors make several changes for the New Year’s Day meeting with Edinburgh with Chris Fusaro taking over the captaincy from Chris Cusiter.
Edinburgh Rugby have recruited 2013 Currie Cup (First Division) and Vodacom Cup winning stand-off Carl Bezuidenhout on an extended trial until the end of the season.
The 27 year-old began training with the squad at Murrayfield Stadium this morning (Monday 30 December) two months after the Pumas’ unbeaten Currie Cup First Division triumph, in which he ended the season as tournament top points’ scorer.
Edinburgh Rugby moved up to sixth position on the RaboDirect PRO12 table with their hard fought victory over Leinster (11/6) at a cold, wet and windy Murrayfield on Friday night. This after they have spent much of the PRO12 season languishing near the bottom half of the table. This win followed a good one they achieved the weekend before in their Heineken Cup pool game against Gloucester.
The first round of Heineken Cup 2013/14 matches kick off this weekend in what may be the very last tournament with the European premier club rugby competition going through a much publicised meltdown.
Edinburgh Rugby recorded their first win under new coach, Alan Solomons with a 15-5 victory over Newcastle Falcons in their final warm-up game before the 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12 season gets under way.
Edinburgh Rugby back-row Stuart McInally has set his sights on the career path travelled by fellow club player, Scotland and British & Irish Lions internationalist Ross Ford – to make the positional switch from back-row to hooker.