RBS Premiership: Accies improvement on and off pitch is Cross’ purpose
SIMON Cross learned a bit about near-things and hard luck stories in a professional career bedevilled by injury and an international moment where he stood at the side of the Millennium Stadium pitch only for a last play to go for ever and the final whistle to scrunch up his hopes a Scotland cap.
Now head coach at Edinburgh Accies, and defence coach with Scotland under-20s, he is looking forward to the second half of a league campaign in which he hopes his team can push the famous old club back among Scotland’s leading clubs.
Accies are in the midst of am ambitious plan to redevelop Raeburn Place, after a decade of strife and frustration trying to create a bright future for the birthplace of international rugby. They now face opposition from neighbours against the scale of a development that proposes a 5,000-capacity stadium and shops to help to make it viable. The city and Edinburgh Rugby are crying out for such a small-scale stadium, and Accies committees have worked tirelessly to find a solution that will avoid Raeburn Place being left to grow wild, but Stockbridge residents fear that it will ruin their neighbourhood.
But, for all the work being put in off the field, for too long the club has lacked presence on it and Cross is acutely aware of the importance of backing up the club’s aspirations with a team that Scottish rugby takes seriously.
“It’s massively important,” he said. “The target set for me was to stay in the Premiership, and it’s tough with a zero budget, but we have a good number of players, many young guys, who are finding their feet and giving us hope. Last weekend, we fielded eight Trinity Academy boys, from boys who left school this year to ones that left a few years ago, and all 20 this weekend are Scottish-qualified, not a single foreigner, which is testament to the work going in to develop rugby across the north of Edinburgh.
“But it feels like we’re digging a trench with a spoon with these poor facilities. We need new facilities if the club is to be a big player in Scottish rugby again, and encourage more youngsters in the area to play rugby.”
But, as in his playing career, Cross the coach is finding luck a difficult lady to court. They have lost five games, but only once have they been beaten by more than a score, when they went down 22-12 at home to Melrose. In each of the other defeats, they lost out by just one or two points, 29-27 to Gala, 34-32 at Stirling, 20-18 to Ayr and 26-25 up in Aberdeen, and drew their opening match away to Currie. Agonising.
A month ago, they claimed a thumping 40-17 victory at home to Dundee and last week showed Cross that they were listening with a last-minute drop-goal, well planned and executed, to seal an 18-15 win over Boroughmuir.
That has taken Accies to fifth in the Premiership, only ten points off the bottom but also just 15 points from the top and four off the top four places, albeit Gala and Melrose have games in hand.
Today, Accies welcome a burgeoning Currie to Raeburn Place with Cross exhorting his troops to take confidence from the first half and turn those tight encounters into wins.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
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