Rugby: Cross happy to apply grunt not glory as team success replaces his own scoring run

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Sixteen players have scored tries for Edinburgh Rugby this season, but one name is conspicuously absent from that list.

It might be business as usual for Tim Visser (13) in breaching defences, but where is Geoff Cross, whose haul of three touchdowns from prop forward last season was remarkable enough to place him joint-sixth in the overall league charts?

So far Cross, who hasn’t failed to score a league try in each of the last three seasons, has drawn a blank.

But that raw statistic might just hold a clue as to why Edinburgh stand on the brink of Heineken European Cup qualification ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with London Irish in their final sectional match – their dominant scrummaging force. For glory, read extra grunt where Cross is concerned.

At this stage of his career, Cross seems particularly happy to acknowledge satisfaction gained from helping establish scrum ascendancy, and listening to him discuss the intricate points of the dark arts of scrummaging with young props Robin Hislop and Lewis Niven when each signed a contract extension this week hinted at a man enthralled by his subject.

“It is very important for me that the pack gives the back line a decent attacking platform. That is a point of pride and something I want to be part of creating,” says Cross, a qualified doctor, “and if we are not doing that, I want to know why.”

Indeed, having scored 13 tries in four Euro outings so far, Edinburgh are well placed to at least equal their best ever return in European of 15 in 2002-03, and even when victory at Racing Metro last time was achieved with a late drop goal the man who landed that kick, Phil Godman, quickly paid tribute to the pack in setting up field position.

“I enjoy contributing to different performances and understanding and identifying as a team how we control games is something I hope we continue to develop,” says Cross.

“When I was coming through I had help from George Graham and Bruce Douglas at the Borders, then Dave Hewitt at Edinburgh as well as Chunk [Allan Jacobsen] who has been doing this job [propping] for ages and is never going to stop!

“I enjoy helping the young lads around me better, not least because that will ensure I am continually challenged to be a better player.”

He added: “I’m pleased with the way the squad has been managed and our concerns for long-term player welfare is a healthy thing particularly in the increasingly physical nature of professional rugby.”