Edinburgh ACCIES coach Simon Cross won’t hesitate to utilise any available professional players when the club make their debut in the British and Irish Cup next season.
Reflecting on a truly remarkable campaign which produced a top-four finish and looking ahead to Scotland’s oldest club going up a level in 2013-14, Cross said: “For the good of the club game and the professional game and the relationship between the two, if players are ever available to me, provided I pick the right type, like Alex Allan, Alex Black and Jamie Farndale, I’ll use them.”
By contrast Gala declined the option this season and while respecting their coach, Cross said: “George Graham, has done great things and backed it up his way, but I come from a different school of thought.
“I’ll bend over backwards to include pros and make sure they are aware of how we are playing. I’ve seen the introduction of pros work as a player, and I’ve seen it as a coach.”
“But I will find out before the draft who wants to be there and I know that in any case any Edinburgh Rugby guy would stick his head where you want him to in a B&I Cup game if required.”
Ultimately Accies’ qualification came down to fine margins especially recovering from 6-22 at half-time away to Heriot’s yet won 28-26. It was Accies’ first success at the fifth attempt yet they might have settled for a draw. With minutes to go and trailing by three points they gained a penalty.
“If that award had been five metres nearer the posts we’d have gone for the draw,” said Cross.
Instead Accies took a line-out and Josh Pecqueur scored a bonus point fourth try,
“There was a lot of character about Accies in the second half and they were fighting for their Premiership lives,” said Heriot’s forward coach Steve Lawrie in an ironic statement given that a few months later his club would finish behind the visitors that day.
There was drama to the season’s end, too, as Accies gained a vital bonus point from the final play of their concluding win at Boroughmuir.
Centre Iain Berthinussen collected a pass behind his back and juggled the ball over his neck on the run to complete the catch in a move which saw Johnny Adams provide a scoring pass to Ruaridh Young.
“It really was a crazy season in which we went from ninth in the table to fourth over the final three matches,” said Cross, satisfied the team are well placed to move forward.
“Altogether we gave starts to 37 players and although we have Cammy Murray and Euan Bonner heading to Australia for a while and Dan Teague retiring to concentrate on his business interests and a family that includes twins, there will be plenty of cover.
“What also helped me, though, was being part of the Scotland Under-20 coaching panel with Sean Lineen (ex Glasgow coach). That meant missing a few Accies games but I learned so much from Sean that could be brought back to the club.
“A win over Stirling who we had never beaten while I have been in charge was memorable as was a win at Melrose when a group of young players grew up. That Heriot’s game in September though was my lowest low and the highest high.
“It was a ridiculous game we maybe didn’t deserve to win but we sat down afterwards and analysed it and the game probably defined our season,” added Cross, who now looks forward to heading to France with Scotland Under-20s and a summer World Cup.