Tighthead prop WP Nel is among four changes to Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV to face Harlequins in Saturday’s round five European Challenge Cup clash at Twickenham Stoop (kick-off 1500 GMT, 1700 SA Time).
Scotland cap Nel – who has been out of action with a neck injury since October – comes in to take the number three jersey in one of two changes to the starting pack.
The other amendment comes in the back-row where Hamish Watson – who this week signed a new two-year deal with the club – starts on the openside flank.
In the backline, experienced operator Phil Burleigh returns at inside-centre, with club centurion Tom Brown set to start on the left wing.
Acting Head Coach, Duncan Hodge, said: “There’s a lot at stake for both sides tomorrow, which makes for an exciting tie. Harlequins’ home record speaks for itself, and we have no doubt about the size of task ahead, but there is a good buzz in camp and a belief that we can go down to London and do what is required of us.”
Reigning 1872 Cup holders Edinburgh Rugby host Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield in their Guinness PRO12 league match which doubles up as the first leg of this season’s 1872 Cup.
Glasgow Warriors are currently in 6th place on the PRO12 log with 27 points, 10 points off leaders Munster after 10 rounds, while Edinburgh who parted ways with Alan Solomons earlier this season are down in lowly 10th place with a mere 17 points. Both teams are doing fairly well in Europe although Glasgow are playing in the top European Rugby Champions Cup while Edinburgh are playing in the Challenge Cup.
There will be a mouth watering battle of the back rows, especially at number 8 where players who both used to ply their trade in South Africa Josh Strauss and Cornell du Preez have been selected for Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively.
Edinburgh Rugby Acting Head Coach Duncan Hodge has made eight changes to his starting side to face Stade Francais in the second of back-to-back European Challenge cup fixture against the Parisian outfit tonight (Thursday) at Stade Jean Bouin (kick-off 8.45pm local).
The majority of changes come in the pack where five players come in to start following Saturday’s round four 28-23 defeat of the French side.
In the front-row Simon Berghan and Ross Ford – who will captain the side – are promoted from the bench to start, while Fraser McKenzie is named in the pack in place of Grant Gilchrist.
Nasi Manu is set to don the number eight shirt while Cornell Du Preez packs down on the blindside flank.
Tom Brown returns from a groin injury to start on the wing in the only change to the back-three, with Chris Dean coming in at inside centre and Jason Tovey given the nod at stand-off.
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.”
A team of 28, captained by flanker Roddy Grant, has been announced for Edinburgh Rugby’s opening pre-season friendly against Romania at the Greenyards tonight (Friday 21 August, kick-off 18:30 UK Time, 19:30 SA Time).
Bolstering the backs for this season, Edinburgh Rugby announce the signing of winger Otulea Katoa on a 1-year deal.
The Tongan international, who arrived in the capital earlier this week with his wife and 1-year-old son Eli, will bulk up the backs with a number of players involved with Scotland throughout the year.
The 24-year-old, who has been capped 7 times by Tonga, most recently represented his country in July’s Pacific Nations Cup and has been signed from New Zealand provincial side, Southland.
Edinburgh welcome fullback Greig Tonks back into their side for tonight’s European Challenge Cup final against Gloucester.
He is 1 of 2 changes made by head coach Alan Solomons, who also brings Cornell Du Preez in at eighthman.
Greig Laidlaw, who was 1 of a number of players rested for Gloucester’s Premiership fixture against Newcastle, returns to face his former club.
Billy Twelvetrees captains the Cherry and Whites, while Richard Hibbard and James Hook also come back in.
Edinburgh Rugby’s players are in open revolt against their managing director, David Davies, after he sacked the long-serving team manager. Lynsey Dingwall was a popular and efficient member of the backroom staff at Edinburgh Rugby yet she was given an hour to clear her desk after working at the club for 14 years.
The players sent an email to the board and the council of the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) which Scotland on Sunday has seen. In the missive, sent on 23 March, the players offer their full support to Dingwall.
“We feel the dismissal of Lynsey Dingwall was unfair and unjustified,” the e-mail reads. “Lynsey was part of Edinburgh Rugby for 14 years. Over that period she worked tirelessly with and for the players and was hugely respected within the organisation. Numerous past coaches and players have commented that she was the best team manager that they have ever worked with. We feel she has been the victim of a personal attack.”
Edinburgh confirmed on Tuesday that due to personal reasons Omar Mouneimne has had to leave the Pro12 outfit to return to South Africa.
“We are sorry that Omar has had to return to South Africa to deal with some personal issues,” Edinburgh coaching boss Alan Solomons said.
Edinburgh Rugby are delighted to announce the signing of 22-year-old Scotland stand-off Tom Heathcote, from Bath Rugby, on a one-year deal to 2015.
Born in Inverness, Heathcote won his first cap for the nation as a replacement in the 2012 EMC Test against Tonga at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen.
He was selected in Scotland’s 2013 RBS 6 Nations squad and subsequently started at stand-off for Scotland A, kicking eight points in the 13-9 win over England Saxons, the side’s first win on English soil.
He then went on to make two starts for Scotland in the 2013 summer quadrangular tournament against Samoa and Italy, and is considered one of the brightest young contenders for the national number 10 jersey.