Edinburgh aim to start producing the goods for Duncan Hodge

Edinburgh Rugby acting head coach Duncan Hodge. Picture: SNS Group
Edinburgh Rugby acting head coach Duncan Hodge. Picture: SNS Group
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It felt a bit like the day after the Lord Mayor’s Show at 
Murrayfield yesterday afternoon. The euphoria of Scotland’s swashbuckling victory over Wales on Saturday in front of a packed house had given way to a major clearing-up operation.

It will be another three weeks before the national stadium is back in action when Italy visit for the final match of this year’s Six Nations campaign – but for Edinburgh Rugby there is no hiatus.

They may not play at Murrayfield anymore, but that is where the struggling outfit are based during the week, and so they go about the business of trying to generate some momentum during the remainder of the season in this eerie environment.

The players are used to it, and perhaps even immune to it, but, from an outsider’s perspective, it is hard to escape the sense that this is an organisation without identity and purpose.

The players talk positively, but they have been let down. Alan Solomons’ uninspiring tenure as head coach was brought to an end last September, and Duncan Hodge, pictured right, was given the job on an interim basis until the end of the season.

In theory, the former Scotland stand-off was on an extended trial for a permanent appointment, but the SRU were also shopping around for a high-profile recruit from outside Scotland. We now know that former Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill will take over next season, which leaves Hodge in the unenviable position of trying to guide and inspire a squad which he didn’t assemble and won’t inherit through the remaining matches of this campaign.

Again we enter the business end of another season with Edinburgh having nothing to play for in the league except pride. The silver lining this year has been the team’s progress to a European Challenge Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle at the end of March but the league is what really matters, and their record in that in recent weeks has been abysmal. They have lost seven of their last eight matches in the competition stretching back to the start of November.

However, scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne believes that his team’s performance for most of last Friday night’s game against Cardiff Blues at Myreside provides cause for optimism – even if the final outcome, a 18-17 defeat, was pretty hard to swallow. “It was a really gutting experience. We dominated the game for 65 minutes and there was maybe a lack of mental edge when we switched off and made a couple of mistakes and they ran in under the sticks,” he said.

“Then, as we tried to get back into the game, we made another error, and it was back under the sticks again. It is really frustrating because we know we should’ve been going for the bonus- point win – that’s what we were thinking at the start of the second half – but we let it slip.

“You’ve got to take the good and the bad out of it. We know we can win these games but actions speak louder than words. We’ve got some games coming up that we think we can win, so it is a case of taking it week by week.

“We’ll have some of the Scotland boys coming back in this week, and we’re back at Myreside for the Ospreys game on Friday night, so we’ll have a vocal crowd behind us – we just need to get out there and start winning.”

“Duncan Hodge is still head coach. He’s been fantastic with us and I feel bad for him that results haven’t gone the way we wanted as a club because it’s not reflected the work he has put in to improving the team. He’s been fantastic on and off the pitch. He’s put all the structures in for the way we want to play, but we, as players, need to take ownership of that and start providing 
the goods,” the 23-year-old added.

“You can’t dwell on these things – the decision has been made. Hodgy is still going to be here next year [as an assistant coach], so we just need to accept things, move on, and try to work together to get back on the field with the right head space.”