Edinburgh RUGBY star Greig Laidlaw today reflected on his “toughest ten minutes as club captain” while pinpointing the moment when he felt a passage into the Heineken European Cup semi-final was the team’s for the taking.
“At half-time we were jogging off the pitch [feeling] quite fresh and Toulouse were all wandering about. We spotted that and tried to expand the game we were playing.”
Laidlaw had just landed a drop goal to cut the deficit to 10-14 having seen his side come through a period with 13 men, Ross Rennie having followed Allan Jacobsen into the sin-bin.
As the former Jed-Forest and Edinburgh Accies player, who will lead his side into a last-four meeting with Ulster in Dublin on April 28, also noted: “Playing Toulouse with 15 men is hard enough, never mind going down to 13! It probably was my toughest spell as captain when we were down to 13 men. We just said to keep tackling and spread the field by getting as many men in the front line as we could to force them to kick. Let’s get out of our own half was the plan.”
Edinburgh did venture upfield for Laidlaw to land what was only his second drop goal as a pro. He said: “We had been down to 13 men and had been struggling, so it was important to get as close to them as we could.
“As to the last penalty I kicked, I knew time was up and that if the ball went over we’d won. But I also wanted to kick the ball as hard as I could to go out of play just to be sure.”
And Laidlaw added modestly: “It didn’t come down to anything I did as captain. There are leaders such as Fordy [Ross Ford], Dave Denton, who is stepping up, and Nick De Luca in the backs spread through the team.
“We got back in the dressing room [having conceded just eight points during the short-handed stint] and Michael Bradley said: ‘Stick to the game plan and we will grind them down.’”
Bradley has maintained that there has been no specific targeting of the Heineken Cup over league honours, but Laidlaw, in paying warm tribute to the coach, believes the priority may be subliminal given he comes from Munster who have a rich tradition in the competition.
“Michael Bradley has brought a clear way [of thinking] about how he wants to play. It’s just direction, really.
“Coming from where he comes from in Munster he values the Heineken Cup. That is their baby back home.
“I felt it from Michael this year; it is something he wants to do well in.”
Bradley, who joined Edinburgh this season, had only ever participated in the second tier Amlin tournament as a coach with Connacht. Said Laidlaw: “Michael had never been in it as a coach, but it is a big part of the rugby culture back in his homeland.”