Despite the “Rambo” moniker, Stuart McInally is one of the deeper thinkers among the front row fraternity but even he is stumped by one brain-teaser.
After Edinburgh won back-to-back matches against Glasgow at the turn of the year, climbing to third in the Guinness Pro12 as a result, how on earth do they now find themselves down in eighth place ahead of the last round of the regular season games with Glasgow perched serenely on top of the pile?
“If I am honest,” McInally says, “I don’t know the exact reason. It’s something we will need to discuss in the off-season. I know the coaches look to analyse how we can get better and I know the players do that as well.”
There was so much hope that Edinburgh might finally emerge from their rivals’ shadow but instead the Scottish pro-teams passed each other going in opposite directions, Edinburgh down the ladder, Glasgow back up it.
Edinburgh have managed just 38 tries all season, earning a miserable two try bonuses in the process, while free-scoring teams like Glasgow and Connacht boast eight try bonus points. At the end of a tight season those extras can make a big difference but Edinburgh simply didn’t close out enough matches and that includes last weekend’s game against Munster. Trailing by a point in the final five minutes, Edinburgh conceded a late try which removed even the consolation of a losing bonus.
To grab a coveted top-six slot, Edinburgh now need a bonus-point win against Cardiff on Saturday and hope that Munster are left pointless against the Scarlets at Thomond Park. That would leave Edinburgh level with the Irishmen on points and wins but the Scots boast a superior points difference.
“They [the Blues] will rock up and play with absolutely no fear,” said McInally. “Both teams are not where they want to be in the league and it’s just about finishing the season on a high.”