Edinburgh Rugby face crunch time as Six Nations approaches

Edinburgh Rugby are currently in the midst of a short, hard-earned break in their 2019/20 season. Here, Erin McRitchie takes some time to look at what is coming up in the remainder of the season for Richard Cockerill’s squad.

(Credit: EN4 News)

The loss of internationalists

With the Guinness Six Nations fast approaching, Richard Cockerill has had to wave goodbye to 16 of his Edinburgh players as they head off on international duty with Scotland, and one – Pietro Ceccarelli – with Italy.

Of all those called upon, 13 are forwards and four are from the backline, so the impact of the internationals will be felt the hardest in the forward pack.

Cockerill will really have to put a lot of faith in the depth of his squad in the scrum in the next month or so.

However, this could produce many positives, as it is in times like the Six Nations period that young players can step up and utilise all of the opportunities afforded to them throughout the competition’s run.

The Pro14

Edinburgh have three crucial games during the Six Nations, as they face Scarlets away before back-to-back fixtures at BT Murrayfield, against Connacht and Cardiff Blues.

In terms of the Conference B table, Edinburgh head into the break in pole position on 34 points, whilst their first competitors after the break – Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets – are just three points behind them in second place.

Scarlets will most likely have a clear purpose in mind when Cockerill’s men arrive in Llanelli and will be boosted by the re-signing of back Steff Evans, as well as the fact they have won all but one of their home fixtures this season.

Following that tussle between first and second place, the Scottish club will welcome Irish outfit Connacht to BT Murrayfield, who reside in fourth position, before Welshmen Cardiff Blues, currently sitting fifth, arrive in the Scottish capital just a week later.

Connacht will arrive in Edinburgh with their attention solely on pushing ahead in their Pro14 campaign having missed out on the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup through a narrow 35-29 defeat to Montpellier at the weekend.

And finally, Cardiff Blues make a trip to Edinburgh having fallen 19-11 at home to Cockerill’s team in October.

The Challenge Cup

By defeating Agen 36-0 at BT Murrayfield last weekend, Edinburgh earned their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Going into the play-off stage in sixth place means that Edinburgh will face fellow pool 3 team, Bordeaux, for their chance to advance to the semi-finals of the European competition.

Thankfully for Cockerill and his team, they will not face this challenge until after the culmination of the Six Nations, as the quarter-finals take place on the weekend of April 3.

Edinburgh’s Mata pens one-year-contract extension ahead of Pro14 clash

 

Edinburgh Rugby’s star flanker, Viliame Mata, has committed himself to the Scottish side until 2021 after signing a one-year contract extension.

The Fijian, known around BT Murrayfield as ‘Big Bill’, signed for Edinburgh in 2016 and has played a huge part in the transformation of Edinburgh Rugby into a top, competitive side.

Before coming to Edinburgh, Mata was an international sevens player for Fiji and won a Gold medal at the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.

Head Coach Richard Cockerill was full of praise for his influential play-maker. He said: “We’ve got to keep our best players.

 

“Bill is very happy here. he came [to us] as a world-class sevens player and with the environment that he’s in, he’s now a world-class 15’s player.

“We are delighted to have him for the next two and a half years.”

Edinburgh travel to Italy this weekend to face off against Benetton for a crucial Pro14 tie. Mata could prove pivotal to the side’s success on Saturday.

Speaking about his decision to stay in the Scottish capital, Mata said: “Edinburgh is growing into a great team right now. I am excited to be part of it for the next two seasons.”

“My family is settling well and we are loving the environment around Edinburgh.

“It is a beautiful city, but [perhaps] not the weather.”

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