After a taxing summer tour(for fans as well as the players), rugby supporters in Scotland inevitably find themselves glancing at the headlines in the few newspapers that dare to print ‘egg-chaser’ items for details of the latest player to commit to the Guinness Pro 12 clubs.
Glasgow have so far failed to excite anyone outside of the ‘Front Row’ club, with 3 Props joining to replace the 3 that left/retired earlier in the summer. Euan Murray provides a short term solution at tight, but his best days are way in the past. Challenging him for the 3 shirt will be Rossouw de Klerk – 24 year old South African with Super Rugby experience. He looks a decent prospect and could be another ‘Project Player’. Completing the triumvirate is Alex Allen – EDP at Edinburgh, he has jumped ship (or been pushed?) and will be cover during International windows. At 22 he has time on his side, but no one this side of the M8 would be surprised if ‘Tooney’ ended up playing him regularly.
Other than the front row we have seen the return of Murray McConnell to Scotstoun. The Scrum Half will provide cover for Pyrgos and Matalawu and will again only see game time in International windows (I expect). Finally, James Downey has jumped across the Irish Sea to join from Munster. At 33 he is a short term cover for the center and surely will not take game time away from Mark ‘the God’ Bennett, Dunbar, Lamont(still never a center but there you go….), Horne and Vernon.
Over the M8, after a shocking 2013/14 season, The Republic of South Edinburgh have continued to recruit heavily, with10 player shoring up the ranks. Admittedly 22 players have left the official squad listing but this still represents a significant recruitment drive.
Of those coming in, Tom Heathcote has grabbed most people’s attention. Scottish Capped Fly Half, he has been chronically short of game time stuck behind George Ford at Bath, now he has a chance to really challenge Russell and Weir for the Scotland 10 jersey.
Further to this Anton Bresler will add some fight to the pack, but the other signings are of no great quality. I fully expect Edinburgh to struggle yet again this season.
In conclusion – both teams seem to have consolidated their player numbers, but Glasgow have edged it with the recruitment so far. Keeping ‘problem child’ Stuart Hogg is like a new signing in itself also. Whilst the teams are only separated by 41.4 miles on the road, the gap on the pitch is now measurable only in ‘Country’ miles..