Edinburgh Accies have confirmed that former district coach Bob Easson will lead them into Saturday’s crucial Premiership play-off against Stewart’s/Melville at Lasswade.
The Evening News revealed yesterday that coaches Jonny Else and Malcolm McVie had been relieved of their duties in the wake of a disappointing campaign which has seen Accies slump to second bottom and consigned to now beating their near neighbours to preserve their top-flight status.
Many will be surprised at the timing of the decision even allowing for the fact that Accies have lost six in a row in the league stretching back to November 23 when they scraped past Stirling County by a point at Bridgehaugh.
However, Accies president John Wright maintains the club are looking ahead.
“Things for the weekend are in the hands of Bob Easson. We will see what happens after that,” said Wright, aware that the profile of the job is certain to be affected by what happens at Lasswade.
In appointing Easson on a temporary basis, Accies have not had to look far to find a safe pair of hands.
When the professional era brought an amalgamation of Edinburgh and the Borders to form the Reivers for a period in the late 1990s, Easson was put in charge of the combined districts.
Previously he had been a successful and highly popular coach at Accies.
Last season he was persuaded to return to Accies even though working at the sportscotland Institute of Sport as a high performance manager, and his cv also includes a ten-year stint as coach educator at Scottish Rugby.
Easson holds a Level 3 equivalent coaching qualification which has taken him to a role with Scotland at A, under-18, under-19 and under-21 level as well as the sevens. Currently he is involved in preparing Scottish athletes for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Strong connections with the Edinburgh professional side saw Simon Cross appointed for a two-year spell by Accies until he left to join Worcester Warriors last season and coincidentally another of the region’s back rows, Roddy Grant, has a role at present with Accies.
Grant is expected to be in the technical area on Saturday, while Easson’s son, Andrew, a former Edinburgh centre with European Cup experience until forced to retire through injury, could also be there.
Andrew Easson was appointed coach of Accies 2nds this season and is a Level 2 coach.
Depending on budgets which are likely to be shaped in part by Saturday’s encounter at Lasswade, Accies could find experienced talent to succeed Else on their doorstep.
Former Scotland and Lions prop Peter Wright recently parted company with National League Peebles and is a free agent while Bob McKillop enjoyed success with Heriot’s before he decided to take a back seat due to business and family commitments.
David Cockburn, ex-Watsonians, Lasswade, Peebles and Glasgow Hawks, as well as Scotland age-group sides, is another who could be keen for a return to high level club coaching and is currently uncommitted.
Meanwhile, StewMel president Colin Rigby has claimed underdog status for his team ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Rigby says: “Much will be written on Accies’ decline this season but let’s be under no illusion they are a British and Irish Cup team this year so represent a massive increase in pace, power and skill compared to what we are used to.
“They, quite naturally, will start as firm favourites on Saturday.”
In an appeal to supporters to travel to the out-of-town venue, Rigby adds: “Let’s get fully behind them (StewMel) as they aim for the promised land.”
n THE annual match between Edinburgh Academy and the BATS Under-18 youth initiative select side drawn from Accies, Trinity Academy, Fettes, Drummond and Broughton High takes place tonight at Raeburn Place (5.30pm) for the Ed Saunders Trophy honouring the contributions of a former PE teacher.
Edinburgh BATS: Scott Cusack (BATS/Edinburgh Academy), James Gordon, Richard Tait (both Trinity), Fraser Miller (BATS), Callum, Jones (Trinity), Ciaran Armstrong (Fettes), Jack Suggitt (Trinity), Mark Latta (BATS), Ian Liddle, Chris Thomson, Callum Gillespie, Cameron Avery (all Trinity), Callum Garvey (BATS/Trinity), Rorie Booth, Patrick Moynan (both Trinity). Subs: Thomas Neish, Dawel Zhao, Ronan Stewart (all Trinity), Gregor Devine (Drummond), Campbell Neill (Edinburgh Academy), Fraser Allan, Dan Tomanek, Michael Hamilton (all Trinity).
Edinburgh Academy: Matthew Clark, Finn Macpherson, Luke Taylor, Donald Menzies, Michael Jenkins, Blair Kinghorn, Lachlan Stewart, Nick Hutchon, Malcolm Jack, Constan Plevris, Donald Inwood, Will Munro, Mungo Wilson, Callum Rust, Michael Fleming. Subs: Rob Clarkson, Sam November, Scott McGinlay, Jamie Black, Nick Peters, Saul Melvin-Farr, Andrew Petrie.