Rugby: Edinburgh to face Falcons and Saints in pre-season warm-ups
EDINBURGH have confirmed an Aviva Premiership double-header as their pre-season warm-ups for what has been labelled the most important season in the history of the capital club.
Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints have agreed friendly fixtures in August, which will come at the end of Edinburgh’s pre-season campaign.
Bizarrely, that pre-season kicks off on Monday, the players who helped Edinburgh to the Heineken Cup semi-finals having enjoyed their ‘summer holidays’ in May and this weekend savouring their final hours before head coach Michael Bradley blows the whistle for 2012-13 and throws up some new surprises.
The squad will be missing the Scotland internationalists currently in Australia, now including No 8 Stuart McInally, at the start of a three-Test tour, and they will have a fortnight off on their return before joining the rest of the squad in July.
The real action begins when the players head south to Kingston Park for the first pre-season friendly on Friday 17 August and that will be the first opportunity for supporters to see some of Edinburgh’s ten new signings in action.
Newcastle are now under the coaching of Dean Richards, the former England back row, who is returning from a three-year ban for his part in the ill-fated ‘bloodgate’ scandal at Harlequins.
However, there will be many familiar faces in opposition, with former Edinburgh duo Scott MacLeod and Rory Lawson having joined Allister Hogg and Scotland prop Euan Murray on Tyneside.
Edinburgh will then host Northampton, the Heineken Cup finalists of 2011 and former winners, at Murrayfield on Friday 24 August.
The Saints finished fourth in the Premiership last season and this will be the first fixture between the sides since their 2010 Heineken Cup clashes when, at Murrayfield, the hosts crossed the line three times in a stunning first half but still lost out 31-27 at the death.
Greig Tonks made his Northampton debut that day but will be on the Edinburgh side this time.
With increased funding and season ticket sales set for a record high, Bradley knows the team will be under new pressure to build on 2011-12, and is hopeful the English teams will provide the right level of warm-up.
“Facing English opposition is refreshing for the fans and the players,” he said, “and throws up a number of different challenges for the squad before we enter a new campaign.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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