Edinburgh want to stay focused for French trip

Jamie Ritchie is set to be given his first run-out of the season. Picture: SNS
Jamie Ritchie is set to be given his first run-out of the season. Picture: SNS
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Edinburgh Rugby’s players know Agen’s Stade Armandie will be an emotional place on Friday night in light of the Paris tragedy, but they are trying to focus on the match as much as possible.

When Edinburgh run out for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool Five clash they will be one of the first Scottish sports sides to compete in France since the terrible events unfolded in the capital last Friday.

As a result they know the atmosphere will be different from a regular outing and back-row Jamie Ritchie said: “We will pay our respects when we get there, but I don’t think we can get too much into the emotional side of things. We have to take ourselves away from that and concentrate on the game.

“Of course we will pay our respects because it was a devastating thing that happened, but for us it is about concentrating on our rugby. The boys will be focused on the game and that will be the main thing going into the fixture.”

Edinburgh travel looking to back up their win over Grenoble while Agen went down heavily at London Irish in the opening round of fixtures.

Head coach Alan Solomons looks likely to shuffle his pack slightly, with 19-year-old prospect Ritchie set to be given his first run-out of the season – and his first ever European outing.

Ritchie has had to be patient over the last season and a half as there are a whole host of experienced back-rows ahead of him in the queue at BT Murrayfield, but the man who captained the Scotland under-20s last term is ready to grab his chance with both hands.

“I’ve not had as much rugby as I’d have liked this season so I am looking forward to getting out there and pulling on an Edinburgh jersey,” he stated.

“I’ve been fit all season, but I’ve been doing a bit of sevens stuff which has been good and we had a couple of ties down south which were enjoyable.

“I think blindside flanker is where Alan sees me playing at the minute so that is what I am concentrating on, but I just want to play rugby.

“The competition for places in the back-row is huge, massive, but the experienced players around me are guys that you can learn off all of the time.

“If I have to ask questions I will ask questions and they are all really approachable guys – it is easy to learn from them all and I am feeding off their 
experience.”

Ritchie has relatively recent experience of playing against French opponents.

That night in February his under-20s lost 47-6 in France though, so he will be hoping for a better result on Friday.

“With the French, you don’t know what to expect. You can do as much analysis as you want, but they throw a lot of different things at you,” he said.

“The main aim is to build on the Grenoble result when the set piece worked really well.”