Stuart Hogg: Warriors won't be doing Edinburgh any favours
While there may be suspicions, particularly from Ulster fans this week, about just how fierce the Edinburgh-Glasgow rugby rivalry is, there are times when genuine needle bubbles to the surface.
Both are owned by the SRU, so many of the players involved spend large chunks of the year as international team-mates and, of course, the teams have been in existence as professional club entities for less than 20 years. Despite the historic sounding name, the 1872 Cup, referring to the first inter-city match, was found in a cupboard in the 21st century, rebranded and this year marks the ten-year anniversary of its first contesting.
It can all seem a bit manufactured at times but Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill did his bit to stir the pot this week by insisting that his side were out to supplant Glasgow as the “favoured sons” of Scottish rugby.
Just more than four years ago it was Scotland star Stuart Hogg who set the derby tone when he said “everyone hates Edinburgh” and that he didn’t even bother watching them on television.
The full-back breaks into a smile when reminded of the barb. “I was young,” joked the now 25-year-old.
There is no such incendiary comments this time but Hogg makes it clear that he and his Warriors team-mates are very much up for Saturday evening’s showdown at BT Murrayfield. Glasgow may have nothing at stake, having already booked a home semi-final, and Hogg is glowing in his praise of Edinburgh’s improvement this season, but you get a sneaking suspicion that the Borderer wouldn’t shed a tear in the unlikely but not impossible event that a heavy Glasgow win scuppers the Capital side’s play-off hopes.
“We have a lot of respect for Edinburgh and they have done incredibly well over the last few weeks,” said Hogg.
“We know how big a challenge it is going to be. They have some key players who have been going well over the last few weeks. We need to be on our A game defensively to shut these boys out.”
As ever in these matches, there are international head-to-heads across the pitch, with Hogg relishing coming up against his opposite number Blair Kinghorn.
The 21-year-old Edinburgh full-back broke into the Scotland team in this year’s Six Nations, scoring a try in his first start on the wing against Ireland in Dublin.
Cockerill has suggested that his man may be a serious rival for Hogg’s dark blue No.15 jersey sooner rather than later and that is something the two-time Lions tourist welcomes.
“He [Kinghorn] is great boy who works incredibly hard on his game,” said Hogg.
“You have seen over the last few years he has got better and better. He is keeping me on my toes. I have to work incredibly hard here to make sure I am still involved in Scotland stuff.
“I even have a battle here with Jacko [Ruaridh Jackson]. It has been a tough old season trying to get consistency in my game but I have boys keeping me on my toes and competition for places is huge. That is making me a better player and driving Blair on to become better as well.”