Grant Gilchrist:Fourth bite at glory for Edinburgh

Edinburgh Rugby's Grant Gilchrist (left) and Glasgow Warriors' Finn Russell square up ahead of the 1872 Cup clash. Picture: SNS

Edinburgh Rugby's Grant Gilchrist (left) and Glasgow Warriors' Finn Russell square up ahead of the 1872 Cup clash. Picture: SNS

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THE 1872 Cup is huge and I’m gutted not to be playing, first and foremost. I’ve played for the last three years and the games are always special. They’re exciting for the fans and for the players alike.

Obviously the rivalry that’s developed over the years is really good for both sets of teams and for Scottish rugby in general. The back-to-back matches are such a big spectacle, which is great.

As I said, I’ve played in the last three years’ matches and, despite closely contested games, we have come away second best. As gutting as this is for the team, and me personally, it is a reflection of how good Glasgow are and where we still need to develop. Looking at the games outwith the context of the 1872 Cup, Glasgow have consistently been one of the top teams in the league, finishing second last year and currently holding the same place this season.

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We’re a club who want to be challenging for the league but we’re aware of the fact that for the last few seasons we’ve finished in the lower half of the table so we have to be realistic. These games are a massive challenge for us so we will be doing everything we can to win both games; to beat one of the top teams, to help our league position and, obviously, win the 1872 Cup, which we hold in massive esteem for the fans and for ourselves. We’ve been tested as a squad recently, having had a lot of injuries, but we have coped well and we’re starting to see guys coming back, as well as other players stepping up. In my position, for example, Ben Toolis has been playing really well which is great to see.

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Hopefully the strength of competition for places in our squad will really drive us forward in the second half of the season.

We’re on the back of a good run of games and we’re looking to keep the momentum coming into the 1872 Cup. We’re fully aware that we’re away to Glasgow, it’s going to be a very tough game and we need to play at our very best – better than we’ve been all season, if we want to win the game.

I thought the match earlier this week, where our A side beat Glasgow A [27-10] was a really good game. It’s good to see some younger guys getting a shot, along with some club guys who thus far haven’t had a chance to play professional rugby, given an opportunity to stake their claim and play a higher level of game.

Our guys stuck in really well and it was good to see that fighting spirit, everything we talk about as a squad, shining through in that performance. We were physical, worked hard as a team and scored some nice tries too, which is always a bonus! I think there’s always been a good spirit in the club, this has been building from the start of the season and we’ve really gelled well as a squad.

We’ve had setbacks and a few bad results where we had to really pull together and we did that. I reckon we’re as tight a group as you’ll find anywhere. It’s great to be involved in the club, it’s starting to show on the field and it’s going to become more apparent as the guys come back [from injury] and there’s competition for places.

I think that both matches will be close – and I’m sure that both will be well worth getting along to see. The first match at Scotstoun is sold out, but supporters can get tickets for the deciding leg at BT Murrayfield on 2 January. It would be great to hear as many of our supporters as possible – they’ve stood by us and we really want to repay their faith by giving them something to cheer about.

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