WATCHING Glasgow put 60 points past a hapless Dragons team on Friday night, I couldn’t help but stare slack-jawed at the rank incompetence of the Welsh side.
The Dragons used to be feisty and tough to beat, the mirror image of Glasgow who, by the final quarter, were running the ball from all points and clearly having a hoot.
The Dragons were spineless, leaderless and clueless, a disgrace – and their very existence is under threat. The Dragons have also won the same number of league matches this season as Edinburgh… four. Edinburgh have now lost nine on the bounce. The Dragons may be one place below Edinburgh in the RaboDirect but Eurorugby.com, a website that takes into consideration every match, including European ties, ranks the Dragons (35th) one place higher than Edinburgh (36th).
Only Zebre and London Welsh are rated lower than Edinburgh Rugby, who are ranked below the likes of Worcester, Agen, Connacht and Mont-de-Marsan.
When it comes to budgets, Edinburgh are in a pretty healthy state, at least if you believe SRU chief Mark Dodson, who stated that Scotland’s pro teams are funded in line with a middle-ranking English Premiership club. Admittedly there have been some poor signings at fly-half and Allan Jacobsen, who has been playing in name only this season, was not replaced at prop but still Edinburgh should have been in the top half of the table.
The point is that Edinburgh are not just bad, they are atrocious, it’s a crime scene, a place where some of Scotland’s best and brightest learn new and increasingly incompetent ways to lose each and every week.
With the departure in the summer of Michael Bradley confirmed last week, the club are looking to hire their fifth coach in four years, and that doesn’t include Henry Edwards who did a brief stint on an interim basis. In contrast Guy Noves has led Europe’s most successful club, Toulouse, since Moses was in short trousers.
Somehow Scottish Rugby got itself into the absurd position whereby it hired a New Zealand high performance director Graham Lowe who recommended the hiring of an Irish coach with absolutely no history of success unless you count a modest run in the Amlin Cup.
Lowe’s background was in strength and conditioning. Much of the blame for the All Blacks’ botched 2007 World Cup campaign was put on the players spending their weekends in the gym pumping weights rather than honing their skills on the paddock, which is pretty much the problem with Scottish rugby; too much conditioning, too few intensive matches.
On Lowe’s recommendation Scottish Rugby spent its hard-earned money on Bradley, Neil Back, Billy McGinty and Phil Greening for the sevens squad. Two of the above have already gone, Greening under a disciplinary cloud, Bradley is off in May and no one seems to think Back will hang around much longer. This is not a “little Scotland” rant, I am all in favour of foreign coaches, I’d just prefer to hire the successful ones next time.
Alternatively we could have faith in our own and give Edinburgh a Scottish coach in the form of Gloucester’s Carl Hogg or Glasgow’s Shade Munro. Throw in Duncan Hodge as attack/kicking coach and add Simon Cross to the mix as forwards/defence coach and then leave well alone as they start the long, slow, painful process of changing the entire culture of Edinburgh Rugby.