The rugby year has not pegged out just yet but, even before the first of the thunderous 1872 Cup clashes between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the sport seems to have lapsed into reflective mode.
So, too, your correspondent, croaking towards 2014’s finishing line in a clapped-out but generally contented frame of mind. So when the stockings have been hung, I shall allow myself a few moments of rheumy-eyed and entirely random reflection on what made this twelve-month memorable .
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.
Head coach Vern Cotter yesterday added two players to Scotland’s viagogo Autumn Test training squad in Newcastle.
Peter Horne, the five-times capped Glasgow Warriors centre, and uncapped Edinburgh scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, have been brought in as precautionary injury cover for Alex Dunbar and Chris Cusiter respectively.
Dunbar reported ankle discomfort during the Warriors’ European Rugby Champions Cup win over Montpellier in France on Saturday, while Cusiter missed Sale Sharks’ corresponding Cup clash with a calf strain.
The pair will require further assessment from the medical team over the coming days to determine their time of return.
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a 33 man squad for the End Of Year Internationals with lock Grant Gilchrist being named as captain.
The honour represents a return for the 24-year-old product of Alloa and Stirling County rugby clubs, who led Scotland twice during the June Internationals, including a 21-19 victory over Argentina in Cordoba.
He will return to the role against the same opposition when the Tests get underway at Murrayfield next month, when Scotland face the Pumas on Saturday 8 November (kick-off 17:30 BST), before facing Rugby Championship winners New Zealand, at the same venue (15 November), followed by Tonga at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (22 November).
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.
Grant Gilchrist will captain an inexperienced Scotland side against Argentina in Cordoba on Friday.
The 23-year-old Edinburgh lock will be playing in his seventh international, having scored a try in last Saturday’s 19-17 win over Canada.
Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Peter Horne also keep their places as 13 new faces joined the tour party this week.
Scrum-half Grayson Hart, lock Jonny Gray and back-row forward Kieran Low all make their first starts.
With scrum-half Greig Laidlaw among those returning home after victories against USA and Canada, Gilchrist becomes Scotland’s youngest captain since Gregor Townsend led the team against Australia 18 years ago.
Peter Horne will make his first Scotland start in Saturday’s Test against Canada in Toronto.
The Glasgow centre replaces the injured Duncan Taylor in one of four changes to the side that beat USA 24-6.
Grant Gilchrist takes Jim Hamilton’s place in the second row, while prop Moray Low is in for Geoff Cross.
Kelly Brown returns to the back row for his 64th cap, with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw retaining the captaincy and Finn Russell staying at fly-half.
Russell, 21, enjoyed a promising debut in Texas along with Glasgow team-mate Gordon Reid, who also keeps his place in the front row. Brown’s inclusion means Blair Cowan drops to the bench after winning his first cap.
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.
Scotland have made four changes to their pack and finalized their back division for Saturday’s viagogo Autumn Test against Australia, having declared winger Tommy Seymour fit to play and take his spot in the starting line up.
Grant Gilchrist, the 22-year-old Edinburgh Rugby lock, will win his first cap for Scotland in Saturday’s final 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship match against France in Paris.
Gilchrist, the 6ft 8ins product of the Alloa and Stirling County clubs, replaces the injured Richie Gray. The only other change to the starting line-up sees the experienced Alasdair Strokosch preferred to Rob Harley at blindside flanker.
Ten uncapped players have been named in interim head coach Scott Johnson’s first Scotland squad. The 35-strong squad will convene in Glasgow next Sunday for a three-day training camp ahead of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Head coach Andy Robinson has today named seven uncapped players in his 34-strong Scotland squad for training at St Andrews next week in preparation for the first EMC Test against New Zealand at Murrayfield next month.