SCRUM Web Columnist ‘The Embra Express’ takes his latest look at Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish rugby in general:
Contemplating the rain continuing to fall in sheets this morning [Saturday], the wonder is that anyone managed to hold onto the ball at Mon Repos last night.
The Embramen lost again, granted. But it was a narrow 13-9 defeat against the table-topping Ospreys.
And it took a moment of genius from the latest in the long line of outstanding Welsh 10s, Sam Davies, to separate the sides. Quite why he is not starting for Wales is a bit of a mystery.
When I recall the early days of professional rugby in Morningside, all sorts of memories come flooding back. A young Chris Paterson scoring a classic stand-off’s try when he spotted a gap in the defence and sped through untouched. Hypothermia in a blizzard on the East terrace.
Another is watching with resignation as the home side were absolutely hammered by Bath in the Heineken. Mike Catt had been outstanding pulling the strings. When he was replaced, a frustrated observer directed some choice remarks his way. The response was a regal wave as ‘Catty’ took his seat.
It was men against boys in those days.
As I said here before the Ireland match, Scottish rugby seems to be getting the hang of professionalism at last.
It’s great to see the national team winning. But it is more exciting to see them winning in style, with swagger. They are not fazed. I am quietly confident that they can prevail at Twickenham. Increasingly, others fear them, hence the anxious talk about Scotland being ‘mouthy’.
That success is built on increasingly solid foundations, which have taken years of patient work behind the scenes to put in place.
It’s based on Glasgow’s success. But also on great coaching. I’m disappointed that Vern Cotter will not see Scotland through to the next World Cup. Scottish rugby has so much to thank him for. But Gregor Townsend will take Scotland further. There is no doubt. And Dave Rennie will take Glasgow further.
That, in turn, is built on the performance pathways generating young players fit for professional rugby, as seen in the performances of the under-20s in recent seasons and in the likes of Zander Fagerson. The Academies and London Scottish’s development role are now starting to contribute.
More children in state schools are having the opportunity to play rugby. And they’re finding that they like it. As Sevens takes off globally, the success of the national team will surely attract more to the sport. And the abbreviated game, together with Touch, may prove to be a means of keeping more in the sport.
And the most exciting, yet low-profile, development of them all will prove to be the SRU’s Technical Blueprint. This seeks to develop a pan-Scottish style of play suiting Scotland’s traditional strengths.
It is a work in progress. Scotland’s depth has been sorely tested this 6 Nations and a third pro team must be on the SRU’s medium term agenda, both to increase the pool of professional players and to act as a shop window for the sport in another part of the country.
Before that happens, Edinburgh need to be brought up to a similar level to Glasgow, both on and off the field.
They have come a long way since that match against Bath. A long way.
The question I am pondering is how far along that road ‘Jarvis’ Cockers will take them during his time at Mon Repos.
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