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Glasgow will finish above Edinburgh

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John Beattie | 11:12 UK time, Monday, 30 August 2010

Nobody knows it, but when I played international rugby I had specific bets that every ten minutes I would miss a tackle. A middleman would come to see me in the week leading up to the games and a syndicate paid me thousands of pounds.

That, your honour, is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Anyway, this weekend the Magners League kicks off with two brand-new Italian teams taking part. And although the Irish teams might be able to manage their international players and keep them for the Heineken Cup - Brian O'Driscoll played eight Magners League games for Leinster last year - the rest of the teams have to play their best each weekend.

In last season's Magners Grand Final there were 14 British and Irish Lions on view. It's a good league.

edinburgh_glasgow_595_sns.jpgEdinburgh and Glasgow will battle for supremacy once more when the Magners League kicks off this weekend. Photo: SNS.

So, sticking on my thistle-tinted glasses, how will Edinburgh and Glasgow do?

For people interested in ancient Celtic history, I captained Glasgow... and so they are my team, but when Edinburgh play I want them to win because I played for them for a season as I was helping to build the city bypass in my first career as a civil engineer at the time.

Yes, you guessed it, that's why some of the pavements are in the wrong place.

If you want to offload stolen goods then go see an Edinburgh rugby player, as they will offload anything in the league's most attractive game plan.

You know what they say: in Edinburgh some tables and chairs on the pavement are called a cafe, while in Glasgow they are called an eviction.

And those are their differences, but in truth both Glasgow and Edinburgh are in the grand "Andy Robinson" scheme of things as it is largely pointless having two teams feeding the international team and playing in completely different ways.

Glasgow's principal action plan will be to fill the gap left by the league's top points scorer Dan Parks. Two able understudies in Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson are waiting in the wings, while they will miss Thom Evans and the other injured players Al Kellock, Chris Cusiter and Johnnie Beattie.

But Richie Gray, Richie Vernon, and Ryan Wilson are certainly capable of filling some of the places.

Glasgow's pack is solid, with Jon Welsh and Moray Low two international-class props, the centres are as good as anyone with Graeme Morrison and Max Evans, and Bernie Stortoni is the most committed player in the league.

From what I have seen and heard of Glasgow, I don't think they will have a post-Dan Parks hangover and I think they could end up in the top five again.

Edinburgh, I think, will do better than last season but need to find a more dominant scrum. Their captain Roddy Grant is a fantastic player and could be capped this season, Tim Visser and Mark Robertson are big men on the wing, while Ben Cairns, Mike Blair and Ross Ford can bring bags of experience yet can't ever be sure of their places.

Yet although they will improve on the previous campaign, I think Edinburgh will still finish behind Glasgow. But, being me, I wouldn't put a bet on it.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Having watched Glasgow's friendly against Sale I can understand Sean Lineen's warning to the absent, injured players. The quality and depth of Glasgow's squad will hopefully result in another high-ranking position come next May (fingers-crossed for another play-off spot). With Parks' departure I'm looking forward to seeing how the Cusiter (once fit), Pyrgos, Jackson and Weir mix will work out. I was also pleased to see how Richie Gray stepped up against Sale in big Al's absence. A young man with so much potential. Friday night and the start of the season really can't come quickly enough for me.

  • Comment number 2.

    As an Edinburgh fan I have to disagree! I think you will miss Parks massively and your injury count will really hold Glasgow back. Take into account the 3 or 4 games during international periods (when the remains of your experienced players not injured are away on international duty) I just think Glasgow lack the depth required to be competitive all season.

    As for Edinburgh well they can either be brilliant or massively frustrating. They definitely have the ability but are ridiculously mentally fragile. If they can get their confidence up I think we're in for a good season. Lose a few games though and it will be game over if they don't mentally front up, as has happened in previous years.

    What do you make of the replacement 10s at Glasgow? I have never seen Weir play and still need more proof that Jackson isn't still living off that one game against Bath a few years ago!

  • Comment number 3.

    OK - a tenner says Edinbrugh will finish higher than the weegies!
    I think our west coast friends will miss Parks - he ran the game for them - and the much underrated Brown and will struggle until their injury list clears up. Not many teams can cope with losing players like Kellock, Barclay, Beattie and Cusiter and I suspect that the lack of experience and leadership will tell in Sept and October.
    Edinburgh have a more settled look about them and made some good signings in the summer. There is probably more depth to the squad and competition for places will be fierce! They could, barring injuries, field two good quality sets of backs:
    - Blair, Godman, Visser, Grove, Cairns, Robertson, Patterson
    - Laidlaw, Blair (D or A), Webster, Houston, De Luca, Jones/Turnbull, Thomson
    The key area for both teams will be at no.10. Glasgow have 2 young, inexperienced but promising stand-offs and the hope is that at least one of them rises to the occassion! Edinburgh have a different problem - do they persevere with Godman - who looks increasingly predictable these days - or go with one of the Blair bros? Having seen the youngest Alex Blair on a couple of accassions I thought he looked a real prospect - good hands, real pace and can kick. my hope is Moffat is brave and gives him a chance. If they are good enough they're old enough!
    Will either make the play offs? I think both will struggle against the the likes of Cardiff, Leinster, Munster, etc who have the size of squads that can cope with what is now a very long season! Edinburgh 4th or 5th and Glasgow 7th or 8th is my prediction! Patterson will also win the golden boot - again - and Visser will be top try scorer - again!
    PS John - I will accept a cheqque!


  • Comment number 4.

    I don't think we'll mix Parks for too long. I think there will be an initial hangover at the knowledge that we can no longer rely constantly on the boot of Parks, but Glasgow have always had the pack and strength to move forward and score tries. Without Parks it will just drive us to do more and to keep disciplined.

    Hopefully it will be an exciting season for both teams though. The better for Scottish rugby as a whole.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Nobody knows it, but when I played international rugby I had specific bets that every ten minutes I would miss a tackle. A middleman would come to see me in the week leading up to the games and a syndicate paid me thousands of pounds."

    have you been keeping an eye on the cricket then, John??

    as much as i'd like to see edinburgh do well, i don't just think that glasgow will finish above edinburgh, they will do it with a couple of other teams as buffers. i think edinburgh flattered to deceive last season and can't see them looking any stronger.

    your money's safe!

  • Comment number 6.

    I would really like to see more of the younger squad members given a run of games for both Edinburgh and Glasgow. These boys need exposure for our game to advance, it is no use to just having them as back up. This will only promote competition within the squads and improve quality. I do like the new system of young academy players contracted to pro teams.
    I really enjoyed watching ross samson in his fleeting appearances in the edinburgh first team. Blair and Laidlaw offer a similar package and although Laidlaw finally came of age, samson offered a high tempo combative pace and abrasiveness to a game. He kept the forwards motoring and is an organiser, direction was lacking at stages last season. If given a run of games and some go forward he can marshall a game and improve edinburgh.
    A.Blair can also do the same and there does seem to be a bit of excitement about some of the talents on the fringes of Edinburgh. Hopefully the can take a step forward this season.

  • Comment number 7.

    The Warriors could well have a wobbly start but should be able to beat everyone but the Irish away when the injured players return.

  • Comment number 8.

    The absense of Parks will give Jackson an opportunity. It may be to Glasgow's disadvantage to lose him, but Scotland will benefit if he he takes the opportunity well.
    Ultimately the inclusion of the Italian sides will force regions to blood more young players in order to get a competitive squad. If you can't put your strongest side out every week, but you only need to field a weakened side 4/5 times if you squeeze the senior players, then you try to get by with a little rotation here and there. If you know that you have to have a stronger all-round squad then you will throw the youngsters in a bit more and develop them to enlarge the squad

  • Comment number 9.

    As a "Fifer" I choose to sit on the fence and will be happy if we can have both teams pushing the top Welsh and Irish teams for a top spot at the end of the season. Whats equally important is that squad development is given priority within the teams such that we can start to furnish the Scotland team with strength IN DEPTH. Hopefully Andy Robinson will be able to exert the appropriate level of influence to ensure that happens...
    Best o luck to both teams...
    ps hugely enjoy your blogs John, and the "healthy" debate that follows.

  • Comment number 10.

    as what other people have said, the main test will be the international windows. Was at the Cardiff Blues game last season, and the difference in the two teams was unbelievable. Cardiff had a team of Kiwis and Australians out, while Glasgow had a team of essentially Premier 1 players. We just don't have the depth of experience to step up in these times. Hopefully with the introduction of the B&I cup the standard of P1 keeps improving and cuts the step up between P1 and the Magners.

    Maybe Glasgow and Edinburgh should do the opposite of the Irish teams and blood the fringe players in the H-cup and go all out for the Magners League?

  • Comment number 11.

    John - In the face of the Glasgow "injury crisis" the performance against Sale gave cause for some optimism. The result of the Wasps game has tempered this, but I remain optimistic.

    I agree with you that Welsh and Low are class acts, but I think it will be a couple of games before we see Welsh replicate the form he has last season. That means we'll be vulnerable at the scrum, and without big Al we may be predictable in the line out. The other issue is that there is quite a drop in ability from Welsh and Low to our other props, faithful and committed though they may be.

    That said I think we'll get more bonus points than the 3 we got last year. Dan may have had a great season, but he also kicked the ball away when there were clear try scoring opportunities.

    Ryan Wilson looks to be a great find, and what people keep overlooking is the number of quality players who have renewed their contracts with Glasgow! The future is bright, the future is in the West!

  • Comment number 12.

    They are going to really, really struggle without Parks, marjority of their success came from his kicking

  • Comment number 13.

    Having watched Glasgow being totally ontplayed in every department by Wasps on Saturday - the scrum was pitiful. Based on that performance I think Glasgow are in for a very tough period until the key players return. And whilst both Duncan Weir and Jackson looked very capable in open field play, neither of their kicking was a patch on Dan Parks and indeed there were some awful place kicking howlers.
    So I really hope Glasgow do well but on that performance, they are in for a very torrid time.

  • Comment number 14.

    Having a little dig at the Irish teams John?
    Leinster can never be accused of ignoring the league by fielding weak teams if their postion the last three years has been 1st, 3rd and 1st again.

  • Comment number 15.

    ThomasF - no, am a big fan of Irish rugby, but I see that Leinster might be resting 15 internationals for this Friday's game against Glasgow.

    Mcany's - I heard that the Wasps scrum got the upper hand.

    Munkian - the big thing for Glasgow this year as a team is to hope that the name Dan Parks doesn't cup up in match reports as they need to move on from Dan and find a replacement

    Scotsdiver - I appreciate your comments, and neutrality is always tough

    Mocko 500 - yup, I like cricket

    Took the train to London earlier in the week - magic.

  • Comment number 16.

    John,

    Your a good man - great blog!

    I took my STAG do to the Sale match at Firhill last week - 15 guys and I was the only Glasgow fan. My group consisted of Northamton, Bath, Edinburgh, Sale and Ulster fans. Everyone in my group was surprisingly impressed by Glasgow's performance - as it had been previoulsy predicted that Sale would beat them comfortably. Even my friends from Manchester were frustrated and annoyed by Sales performance and therefore agreed that Glasgow played the better rugby.

    We have a very young squad, however, young does not equal bad. There will obviously be a bedding in period giving the new lads time to find their feet, however, from what I seen last week, it took Pyrgos, Muldowney, Smith and co.. less than 10 minutes to find their game on the Firhill pitch.

    Dan Parks will always be a Glasgow legend an I wish him all the best at Cardiff, however, I refuse to admit that we are nothing without him. That sort of chat is a massive insult to the remianing lads that drove themselves into the ground last season finishing 3rd in the ML and getting into the play offs.

    In my opinion, Glasgow will have to develop and new style of playing - with the 10 playing alot flatter and running the ball into contact - as opposed to putting boot to ball. Weir will be our number 10 for the majority of the season as I don't think Jackson is built to play a flatter game. Hopefully he will prove me wrong and we will have two top quality 10's competing for Glasgow and Scotland.

    Glasgow will beat Edinburgh at Firhill and Murrayfield - Edinburgh will get a losing BP at Murrayfield. That's my prediction. Glasgow's pack is stronger, back row is faster and hopefully by then we will have a confident 10 that will control the game. Not to mention our injury list will hopefully have dimished by then so we will be even stronger.

    My ML prediction for May 2011:

    Cardiff
    Leinster
    Ospreys
    Glasgow
    Munster
    Edinburgh
    Ulster
    Dragons
    Benetton Treviso
    Scarlets
    Connacht
    Aironi

  • Comment number 17.

    Can I ask?

    1, How did you feel playing for Edinburgh V Glasgow?

    2, How did your former Glasgow team mates feel about you?

    3, And when you went back to Glasgow, were you welcomed back to Edinburgh next game?

  • Comment number 18.

    DavidJbrodie. Very interesting. I felt very, very odd playing for Edinburgh against Glasgow. My former team mates ribbed me mercilessly, especially as Edinburgh at the time were favourites to win the game but Glasgow beat us....in Edinburgh.

    Yes, I was welcomed back to play for Glasgow, they were my friends

    The best thing about rugby is friendship. Worst? Injuries

    JB

  • Comment number 19.

    Forget preseason matches,all they are the way we play them here is to indicated the players fitness levels. Two seasons ago Edinburgh put away a very strong Wasps side, Geoff Cross scoring one of the best prop tries you'll ever wish to see. Yet come the real stuff in the Heineken Cup Edinburgh just did not go for the jugular when they had Wasps by the throat.
    We were at the Sale match and were impressed by the young lesser lights of Glasgow against what looked like a very very big set of Sale forwards. There is ability in both the Edinburgh and Glasgow squads but what you must have to succeed is attitude. Edinburgh didn't have it last season. John if you wanted to allude to betting scandals you could have easily looked at Edinburgh's last 5 matches. No-one would have predicted those defeats, yet I couldn't believe what I was seeing at Newport Murrayfield and Dublin - Dublin was actually the exception.
    If the SRU only see the two teams as feeders for the national squad then they will remain as they are and crowds will not grow. There has to be some freedom to obtain individual success for either of the teams.
    Good luck to Glasgow tonight and for Edinburgh tomorrow at Cardiff.
    No unlucky 1872 shirts from Edinburgh this year and Edinburgh to be above Glasgow in the League.

  • Comment number 20.

    I take it back. That is a needlessly weak lineup from Leinster. They might still pull a result but I don't see any reason why they should field a weakened side for the first match. It's back for the league.

  • Comment number 21.

    Rather than debate over which of the two Scottish teams will prevail over the other, I would just like to offer both teams the best of luck for the season. I am sure that both teams are capable of competing for silverware, and I look forward to what I predict will be a good year for scottish rugby, with more players of the future stepping up to make their mark on the rugby world.
    I will be watching the Glasgow game tonight due to the new improved coverage of the scottish games on BBC ALBA, and am looking forward to hopefully witnessing Glasgows first win of the season!
    Good luck in particular to Ruaridh Jackson starting at 10. Dan Parks has left big boots to fill, but Jackson I feel, will tkae on the role well. He has great potential and with more starting opportunities at 10 could become a key player for both Glasgow and Scotland.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a Scarlets fan ( yes, pray for me) I was very impressed with the way that Dan Parks played today against Caeredin. A really sound, crowd-winning performance. Nice. Cardiff could REALLY be a team to watch once they warm up.
    By the way, down in south Wales, we haven't heard too much about Tom Evans. I assume he's had to give up the game ? He'll be a great great loss to rugby, and I hope he's getting on ok after all the terrifically bad luck he's had. One of those rare guys that lights up a game, and even when he scores against you , you have to smile.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mr Beattie sir, totally off subject, but you might be able to answer a question that has annoyed me every day of my working life!

    Why did they build a bypass for a nations captial city and only give it two lanes?

    5mph along a duel carridgeway each day (I'm sometimes late for rugby training because of it)

 

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