Two big scoring wins, by two Scottish rugby teams, who now enter into the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup. Shocking isn’t it? So shocking that, before you read any further, I want to reassure you that what you are reading is indeed correct.
Last week, Edinburgh christened their new ground, Myreside, with a 49 – 3 victory over Timisoara Saracens, while Glasgow humiliated the proud Leicester Tigers in a 43 – 0 thrashing at Welford Road. Does this finally mean that Scottish rugby is on the up? Yes and no.
First let’s look at Edinburgh. There is no denying that Edinburgh have got better and were indeed on top form when they demolished Timisoara Saracens last Friday night. However, during the entirety of the game, Timisoara’s repeated offenses in the ruck and their overstretched defence cost them dearly.
It was expected that Edinburgh would win, as they defeated Timisoara last season by an equally big margin. Edinburgh have showed that they are playing well but I would be more confident in concluding that Edinburgh were on the up if they had defeated a team that presented more of a challenge, like Munster, by a margin of 46 points.
Nonetheless, Edinburgh have done very well in the European Challenge Cup table. They are the winners of Pool 5 after facing Harlequins, Stade de Francais and Timisoara, and only losing one game out of six.
Edinburgh’s performance in this season’s Pro 12 is another matter entirely. Out of 23 games so far, Edinburgh have lost 14. Edinburgh may be doing well in the Challenge Cup, but their performance in the Pro 12 does suggest that the black and red army’s silverware dreams will not come to fruition.
Now to our neighbours: Glasgow Warriors. The Warriors only needed a victory against Leicester Tigers to secure a place in the last eight.
Not only did Warriors win, they metaphorically slayed the tiger with an impressive display that saw tries from Seymour, Penalty, Bennett, Gray, Wilson, and Swinson. Glasgow had even secured the much coveted bonus point by half time.
In this encounter Glasgow looked like world beaters. Their speed, footwork, dynamism and clever manoeuvring completely left the Tigers in the dust. To top it all off for Leicester, a magnificent kicking display by Finn Russell and Swinson’s try cemented the Tigers humiliating fate.
Again like Edinburgh, Glasgow have been consistently performing well. In the Challenge Cup table, the Warriors are only 10 points behind pool leaders Munster.
It’s the same story in the Pro 12. They are third overall in the rankings, and have consistently produced big margin victories this season, including a 70 – 10 win over Zebre and 41 – 5 victory against the Irish province of Connacht.
Glasgow’s change in fortunes can be summed up in two words: Gregor Townsend. Townsend has invigorated Glasgow: he has brought in new and talented players from abroad and has a perfect mix of young exceptional talents and experience in his team. Townsend’s work has made Glasgow, as a team, seem to gel and make everything effortless.
Edinburgh have got better but Glasgow are the Scottish team that is on the up. Townsend perfectly summarised this in his interview with BBC Scotland: “Some 20 years ago”, he began, “Glasgow were conceding 90 points, and 10 years ago there wasn’t that much hope in the future of professional rugby with one of Scotland’s teams closing down and the other two not doing well.
“Now, we’ve got a situation where we’ve had a huge number of fans down here and the team winning.”
Both teams are good and improving but, when all aspects of the Scottish team’s performances are considered, we have to admit – albeit begrudgingly – that Edinburgh’s western neighbour is the team in the ascendency.
Image courtesy of Mike_P @flickr