1872 Cup: Changing of the guard is opportunity for Edinburgh
While much of the focus on today's 1872 Cup season-ender has been on the fact it is Gregor Townsend's final match in charge of Glasgow before taking over as Scotland coach, Edinburgh are facing a similar sense of era shift and are determined to spoil the Scotstoun party.
With former England hooker and Leicester boss Richard Cockerill already making his presence felt before he takes the reins in the summer, through back-room appointments and team selections, the Edinburgh players know this is the perfect opportunity to set the tone for pre-season and look to improve vastly on what has been a fairly dismal season.
The Capital pro team are set for a second successive ninth-place place finish in the PRO12 and they head into this evening’s match with their two-year hold on the 1872 Cup looking doomed as they trail by 13 points on aggregate from the first encounter, but scrum-half Sam Hidalgo Clyne believes last Friday’s dramatic win over the Dragons has boosted belief that they can end on a high note.
“It will be tough [to beat Glasgow],” accepted Hidalgo-Clyne. “But what we showed in the last 10 minutes of our last game proved that we can score tries quickly. The guys just need to believe in themselves. If we don’t kick the ball away and keep it in hand we can play some good rugby.
“It is going to be a very physical game. We have to approach it very carefully and not make the errors we have been making throughout the season.”
Many are viewing this evening’s derby clash as a Scotland trial for the summer tour but, for Hidalgo-Clyne, who has slipped out of the national reckoning over the past year or so and struggled for club selection, it is more about staking a claim to be first-choice Edinburgh No.9 next season.
“To be honest, I’m not really looking at that [Scotland angle]. If I play well then you never know what might come on the back of it but at the moment I’m just focused on this game and trying to get a win for the club, trying to get one up on the opposition.
“We still have a chance of retaining the 1872 Cup, which is a big ask away from home. But we’ve done it before and we can do it again.
“I’ve been in and out [of the Edinburgh team]. I’ve been in every match day squad, but I would probably want to be starting a bit more than I have been. There is maybe been a bit more rotation this year than last year, which is a good thing, but at the same time you want to be playing every game.”
A couple of years ago, Hidalgo-Clyne was breathing down Greig Laidlaw’s neck but, when the Scotland skipper suffered injury in Paris this year, the 23-year-old from Corstorphine had fallen well down the pecking order and it was Glasgow’s Ali Price who took advantage.
“It is what it is. These opportunities come and go,” he said. “If one passes you like that then hopefully I’ll be in the same position that Ali was and I’ll be able to take it.
“First and foremost I’m just trying to play well for Edinburgh. I’m dying to get back into the Scotland setup.”
Hidalgo-Clyne is looking forward to working with Cockerill next season. “I am actually. I’m excited about Richard coming in and just having a fresh start,” he said. “It’s good to have a fresh start, have your opinions, let them come in.
Acting head coach Duncan Hodge has made four personnel changes to the backline with Blair Kinghorn making his first start on the wing and Phil Burleigh returning to inside centre.
Hidalgo-Clyne and Duncan Weir are both promoted from the bench to start as the half-back duo
Ross Ford starts at hooker, while Jamie Ritchie and John Hardie – who this week penned a new deal with the club – are named on the flanks.
Hodge added: “We’ve had a good week of preparation going into this game and we’ve got some confidence following our late win against Dragons last week. Although we didn’t perform well on the whole in that game, we showed belief in our ability and a mental resilience to get the win.
“It’s been a challenging season, but we want to finish on a high while playing the open and exciting brand of rugby we’re capable of producing.”