Wilson: Scotland can bounce back against Welsh

Matt Taylor

Danny Wilson is confident Scotland can put on a good performance in front of a home support (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby Assistant Coach, Danny Wilson, believes his side can return to Edinburgh with a win against Wales after a disappointing 27-10 defeat in Paris.

The Scots will face off against a grand-slam hopeful Wales on Saturday at BT Murrayfield.

A number of key players have returned to the squad in the past week and many in the Scotland camp are quietly confident they can cause an upset and delay celebrations in Cardiff.

Wilson said: “We know we didn’t do ourselves justice in France but we need to bounce back this weekend.

“We had a blip in performance, and we have to make sure that we raise our performance to a level where we can put Wales under huge pressure.

“There is no better opposition to bounce back against. The motivation levels should be through the roof to play a side that is coming [to BT Murrayfield] and looking for a grand slam.”

Scotland will undoubtedly start the match as underdogs but Wilson doesn’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

He added: “From my experience, when Scotland have been underdogs they have been pretty dangerous and have produced some outstanding performances against some of the best opposition out there. That’s what this weekend is about.

Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw

Finn Russell comes back into the Scotland lineup while Greig Laidlaw has been dropped to the bench (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is an extremely passionate group of players. As a collective, coaches and players, we weren’t happy with our performances at the weekend against France and we have come back very keen to make sure we put that right this weekend. That starts first and foremost with a performance full of identity and passion.”

Scotland currently sit fifth in the table, above only a pointless Italy.

Should Wales be triumphant at the weekend they will still be on course for their first Grand Slam since 2012, whilst a Scottish victory (and a favour from Ireland) could see them leapfrog last weeks opponents. To do that, Wilson knows the importance of home form.

He said: “The pressure of playing in front of a home crowd is an important one, a driving one and we will want to put in a performance that will make that home crowd proud.”

If Scotland are able to live up to what they claim they are capable of it will restore confidence in the squad after back-to-back defeats.

Though Scotland are out of the running for the championship there is still a chance for silverware. Their reward, regardless of result, is sure to be a contentious final game at Twickenham against England to defend their title as the current holders of the Calcutta Cup.

Townsend drops Captain Laidlaw as Russell returns to Scotland lineup against Wales

Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend has made the surprise change by bringing in Ali Price over Greig Laidlaw (Credit: David Ronney)

Scotland Rugby Head Coach, Gregor Townsend has left out nation captain, Greig Laidlaw in his first XV as part of four changes ahead of their match against Wales this weekend.

Ali Price is preferred over Laidlaw at scrum-half as Finn Russell, Willem Nel and Darcy Graham all come into the starting line-up.

Scotland host Wales at BT Murrayfield on Saturday as they look to stop the visitors hopes of a Grand Slam this Six Nations Championship.

With Scotland unable to win the tournament this year, Townsend explained why he made the changes to the side that lost to France two weeks ago.

He said: “We looked at every position. We also reflected on the fact that we are out of the championship now, so if there is someone out there that has really earned his opportunity.

Grieg Laidlaw

Greig Laidlaw has started the last six tests for Scotland (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is a good time to see if it helps the team.”

Russell is a welcome return to the squad after missing the match against France due to a concussion. His creative flair was greatly missed and despite his absence the play-maker still leads in the tournament for most try assists. His total currently sits at three and he will be looking to add to this account in front of a home support.

Price is set to earn his 23rd cap in Scottish colours and Townsend praised the Glasgow Warriors player.

He added: “Ali [Price] is one of the best in the game at moving the ball away quickly, through his own speed but also through his accuracy of pass.

“He has started this season in really good form.”

Gregor Townsend

Scotland have conceded 69 points in three matches this Six Nations (Credit: David Ronney)

Despite criticism Laidlaw has received for his inability to get the ball away quick enough from the break-down, Townsend still sees him playing a pivotal part from the sideline.

He said: “Greig [Laidlaw] is the only player who has started our last six tests so he is a key part of our squad. He is obviously going to play a different role this week from the bench but we see him playing an important part of the game on Saturday.”

Nel returns for his first appearance since coming off injured in the first week of the tournament. He will be a welcome addition to the forward pack which has struggled in the scrum, despite having the heaviest squad in the competition.

The prop only played 49 minutes against Italy but made six tackles and will work to stop a leaky defence that has conceded 69 points in three matches.

Graham makes his first start for Scotland after previously making two appearances as a substitute. He comes in place of the injured Sean Maitland and will join Edinburgh team-mate Blair Kinghorn at the back. The young winger turned full-back has impressed this year scoring three tries and leading the tournament in most carries, metres gained and clean breaks.

Tommy Seymour completes the back three and joins Jonny Gray to earn a half century of caps for his country.

Therefore the squad looks as follows:

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The squad facing Wales (Credit: David Ronney )

To read more articles about Scottish rugby, click here.

Sports paper review: March 1st

EN4 News sports reporters Bryce Donaldson and John Menzies sit down with Luke Barry to discuss today’s sporting headlines from the Scottish newspapers.

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.”

Cockerill: Tough match against Benetton a must win

 

Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Richard Cockerill has labelled Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 match against Benetton as a must win.

Cockerill’s squad travel to Italy where they face second placed Benetton in Conference B with Edinburgh hot on their heels, four points behind in fourth.

A win at the weekend for the Scottish side would bring them one step closer to the Pro14 play-offs.

Cockerill spoke about how important a positive result would be over the weekend. He said: “It’s huge for us in the context of the conference. We have had a couple of defeats in the last three games.

“It’s going to be a very tough day but we need to go there and win. The reality is we need to win and we can’t hide away from that.”

The last time the two sides met was in September last year where Edinburgh scraped a narrow 31-30 victory. Benetton are currently the third best form team in the tournament behind only Leinster and Munster.

However, Cockerill believes that there is the opportunity for another high-scoring game. He added: “They are a good side but teams create opportunities against them.”

Centre Mark Bennett, knows that the days of disregarding Italian opposition are long in the past. He said: “We can’t take them for granted. They are a top, top side.

“We need to go into this one rearing to go. We all know how big a game this is for the club.”

Edinburgh are coming off the back of a disappointing 17-19 home loss against Cardiff Blues. This was the first defeat at BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh since April 2018 but Bennett insists that team morale is still high.

He added: “We have won eight out of our last 10 games. We’re in great form.

“We’re full of confidence. We have a great team and we have to just go for it.”

Six Nations Podcast: Can Scotland defeat Ireland?

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Scotland play Ireland tomorrow in the Six Nations (Credit: Scottish Rugby / Facebook)

Scotland host Ireland tomorrow in the Six Nations, looking to record back-to-back wins in the tournament following last week’s victory over Italy.

David Ronney and Bryce Donaldson join Luke Barry to assess Scotland’s chances.

 

To read assistant coach Mike Blair’s thoughts on tomorrow’s match click here, while for Jamie Ritchie’s thoughts click here.

Blair has “no concern” about Scotland’s defensive issues

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Blair isn’t worried about conceding late on last weekend (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby assistant coach Mike Blair isn’t concerned about Scotland’s defensive issues despite conceding three late tries in their Six Nations victory over Italy last weekend.

Scotland beat Italy 33-20 at BT Murrayfield with tries from Blair Kinghorn, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris helping them to the top of the table, but were 33-3 up with 10 minutes to go.

Blair admitted that Scotland made “poor” defensive decisions, but the coaching staff will leave “no stone unturned” as they prepare to host Ireland tomorrow.

“We were 33-3 up against the Italians but that last 15 minutes really hit home that if we do not get things right that teams will expose you,” he said.

“There were a few poor decisions in defence, perhaps a lack of energy, [which] meant that it was certainly a disappointing finish to the game. We are aware of that, we are aware of where our standards need to be to avoid that happening in other games.

“There is no concern. We have got a very hardworking coaching team who leave no stone unturned.

“We have conceded a few soft tries but that is nothing to do with our system. We just need to make sure the players are making smart decisions under pressure.”

 

 

Blair Kinghorn was one of the stand-out performers in last weekend’s victory, becoming the first Scottish player in history to score a hat-trick of tries.

Blair was quick to praise Kinghorn’s efforts even though he misses out on a starting spot against Ireland tomorrow.

“There’s not many who will doubt his ability after Saturday [match against Italy] and I think Blair has something like 80 or so games for his club Edinburgh already which, for a 22-year-old is crazy numbers,” Blair said.

“He’s building up a lot of experience early on in his career, obviously he’s a great talent, the height he’s got and the speed that he’s got on top of the superb handling ability that he has as well.

“We are all delighted with him, he is gaining experience all the time and already looks comfortable at international level already.”

Edinburgh Rugby look ahead to European clash with Newcastle Falcons

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh host Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield this week. (Photo Credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

Edinburgh Rugby will face off Newcastle Falcons in a double header in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the first match coming on Friday night at BT Murrayfield.

The European expedition is a welcome break from the Pro14 where they have lost their last two matches against Munster and the Dragons respectively.

The Scottish side will be looking for back to back wins in the competition after their emphatic 40-14 win against Toulouse earlier this season.

Scrum-half, Henry Pyrgos was optimistic ahead of the clash and spoke of Edinburgh’s formidable home form.

He said: “The group is wide open at the moment so this double header coming up will be big, if we can go out and play well and get a win it’ll put us in a good position.

“They have a lot of quality, we’re going to have to play really well and expect Newcastle to bring their best game.

“We want to make it as uncomfortable as possible for away teams.

“We’ll get the chance to play in front of our home fans, it’s really exciting. I’ve always thought it’s an awesome place to play.”

Head coach, Richard Cockerill spoke of the impact that returning International players have had on the squad.

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. Photo by David Ronney

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. (Photo Credit: David Ronney)

He said: “It’s been good to get them back and get them integrated back into the team.

“They will be involved at the weekend and will all play a big part.

“It’s great that we have so many guys playing for Scotland and obviously Viliame Mata with Fiji but with the injuries that we’ve had its hurt us a little bit. But that’s life. The season is very much alive for us.

“If we can get two wins it puts us in a great position to qualify. There’s no reason if we get it right that we can’t do it.”

New Stadium could give Edinburgh a Fortress to Defend

 

A new stadium planned to be built next to the Scottish national Stadium, Murrayfield, has been given the go-ahead by Edinburgh council.

It is hoped that the new build will be completed next year in time for Edinburgh Rugby to make it their new home.

With just under 8,000 seats it is hoped that sell-out crowds will gather to watch a revitalised capital side. With significantly less seats to fill than Murrayfield’s 67,000.

Less seats mean a more intense atmosphere can be achieved making Edinburgh a more daunting opponent, allowing them to build a club identity and creating a closer connection with fans.

Edinburgh forward, Rory Sutherland said:

“We would like somewhere we can call a home.

“It’s going to be important for creating an atmosphere, getting the support in … it can make a big difference.”

Head Coach Richard Cockerel added:

“It’s great to have your own home. we had over 7,000 here at the weekend and with the new stadium holding 7,800, we can start to get sell-out crowds like they have at Scotstoun.

“It then becomes our own atmosphere, our own pitch, our own stadium, our own branding, all those things. We can build our own identity and move forward.

“Edinburgh will have a permanent home that we can build a team and a club around.”

 

Edinburgh Rugby seeking to build new stadium

Edinburgh Rugby is exploring the possibility of building a new stadium next to BT Murrayfield stadium.

It is understood the club are looking to construct a 7,000 seat “mini-Murrayfield” on the training pitches next to the home of Scottish rugby.

The capital side have been in search for a permanent home for some time. Temporary stadiums used by the club have included Murrayfield, Meadowbank and their current location Myreside.

Scottish Rugby has seen interest rise in the past year with the national side fortunes improving on the pitch. Myreside stadium holds a max-capacity of 5,500 with temporary stands being used for Edinburgh Rugby games.  Any increase in match attendances would force the SRU to invest in improving facilities at Myreside to accommodate fans.

Fans have been calling for the team to move to a permanent stadium to build a strong base and would likely appeal to rugby fans living in the east of Scotland. Editor of Scrum Magazine, Stuart MacLennan believes the proposal would be a good step:

“I think it would be of great benefit to the club and the surrounding area. Every sporting club wants their own home and this could help build a culture.  I don’t think it’s ideal that they play at Myreside and it’s much better alternative.”

Many issues stand in the way of the proposals that could prevent the move going ahead. Miller Developments owns part of the SRU’s land and would likely need to be consulted before constructions plans could take place.  The Murrayfield ice rink and Murrayfield Wanderers’ Clubhouse is also on the site.

It is understood that any objections to the move could put a timespan of up to five years before proposals can be approved. Plans are believed to be at an early stage with no application for planning yet been made.

No precise details have been revealed about costs but it is understood a new stadium would cost in excess of £10 million. Stuart MacLennan suggests costs could be an issue for the club:

“I do not know how it would be financed. If they can utilise for things other than rugby then that might help.  They would have to install a 3G pitch so other organisations could use it all year-round.”

A similar concept exists in Cardiff where the 13,000-capacity BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park is situated next to the Principality Stadium – the home of Welsh rugby.

Edinburgh Rugby officials refused to comment on the speculation.

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