Interim coach Stevie Scott believes Edinburgh Rugby can reach the knock-out stages of the Heineken European Cup for the second time in three years after the draw for next season’s competition was made yesterday.
The Capital outfit have been grouped with Gloucester, Perpignan and Munster, and ex-international hooker Scott expressed optimism that the form which saw Edinburgh reach the semis in 2011 can be rekindled.
“It’s a group that is exciting but hopefully one we can do well in,” said Scott, who looks increasingly likely to have a more permanent role at Edinburgh next season.
As well as giving the club’s official reaction to a draw which has them facing Munster for the second successive year, Scott also outlined his desire to remain with the Murrayfield club.
“I am happy to be here pre-season coaching the boys,” he said. “I’m sure it will be getting announced soon what is happening. All things being equal I’ll be hoping to still be around.”
If, as expected, Scott gets the nod, he will be looking to draw on experience of working with Sale in the English Premiership especially when Gloucester, who qualified by finishing fifth in last season’s English domestic competition, are encountered.
The Kingsholm club have parted company with Scots such as Jim Hamilton, Rory Lawson, Scott Lawson, Ally Dickinson and Al Strokosch, but Scott is adamant they will be a dangerous opponent.
“Gloucester are renowned for having a good forward pack but they also look to use that as a base to allow some talented backs like Tom May and James Simpson-Daniel scope to attack,” he said. “They can score tries from anywhere.
“I know Gloucester particularly well and we will watch their progress at the start of the Premiership and follow them through, as we will with all the teams in our group.”
Al Strokosch, a former Edinburgh player, is now at Perpignan who, like Gloucester, were in the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup last season and actually qualified for the Heineken Cup through the extra (seventh) place awarded to France for Toulon and Clermont Auvergne reaching the final.
“French teams just don’t accept getting beat at home and that is something we will have to face but Murrayfield is also a hard place to come and win,” said Scott. “It is important we win our home games and look to get something on the road.”
One of Edinburgh’s better displays last season came when losing 26-17 at home to Munster in Europe. Scott knows the Irish side build their season around the Heineken, where the reached the semis last season. “For Munster’s season to be a success means doing well in Europe but we have the majority of the same squad as last season and some new players coming in,” said the coach.
“What we need is a good pre-season then momentum through the early stages of the Pro 12 to ensure we are ready for Europe.”