Sean CROMBIE will lead Boroughmuir back to a happy hunting ground at Ayr tomorrow determined to keep alive a dream of achieving unprecedented Scottish Cup glory.
The teams meet in the semi-final and with three Murrayfield triumphs already in the competition ’Muir are well on course for a record-breaking fourth win.
What’s more, for former Edinburgh hooker Crombie Ayr’s home park, the picturesque Millbrae, already holds outstanding memories.
Crombie says: “I have still to win a cup with Boroughmuir, but Ayr was where we last clinched our league title and I well remember that day in 2008 with a big crowd bringing out the best in us.
“I also had the great privilege of captaining the Scottish clubs’ team to victory over French counterparts at Ayr only a few weeks ago.”
’Muir have gradually evolved this season, but while experienced ex-pros like Crombie, Malcolm Clapperton, Ally Warnock and Ali Davidson are still integral youngsters such as winger Redha Guedroudj and flanker Alex Henderson have come on to the scene.
Says Crombie: “At Boroughmuir we are pleased to have played our part in developing the likes of Harry Leonard and Robin Hislop for Edinburgh this season.
“But as well as players who are inevitably heading for bigger and better things in the professional game every club needs its core of individuals who will be there for the long haul. Who knows how far Redha and Alex might eventually go and it has certainly been exciting to see them come through so far.”
With Ian Moody moving to second row, Henderson is expected to make his first start this weekend after several appearances from off the bench.
Crombie said: “Our coach, Fergus Pringle, put it perfectly when he said Alex plays with the safety switch off. Alex isn’t the biggest physically, but does not allow himself to be dominated by guys who are much heavier.”
With two tries in a 22-15 win over Heriot’s to qualify as Edinburgh’s Cup representatives under a new format this season, Guedroudj has already proved his value.
Crombie added: “Redha adds physicality to a little bit of flair and in addition to finishing power he is capable of holding ball up for support when caught in possession.”
Guedroudj is undoubtedly benefiting from the presence alongside of a fit-again Malcolm Clapperton who has missed most of the season and the club international’s return has been particularly timely with Crombie insisting: “We were proving vulnerable to teams coming at us through the middle, but Malcolm has helped change that.”
One particular defensive tour de force was a 17-15 league win over Ayr earlier this month when the ’Muir website noted: “For the whole of the second half, Ayr were on the front foot, with the wind at their back.
“They must have neared a record for the length of time spent in an opposition 22, but ’Muir held firm with an incredible defensive showing.”
Something similar may be required tomorrow, but Crombie revealed an added incentive as revenge for bowing out at the same stage of this competition to the same opponents last season. Ayr went on to win the trophy for the second time on their third consecutive cup final appearance, but Crombie insisted: “The scoreline was close [21-15] last time we met Ayr in the cup semi, but it still means we owe them one tomorrow!”
n Edinburgh University rugby squad are this weekend in Casablanca contesting the fourth international student tournament hosted by the Hassan 11 University along with the Confederation of African Rugby.
Coach David Adamson said: “The trip follows up last year’s tour of Brazil and we will be doing some coaching work with children from a local club. “Stellenbosch won this tournament last year, beating Oxford in the final, so the standard is very high.”
Also assisting with coaching will be Edinburgh Accies development officer, Iain Berthinussen.