Philip earns first start for Gunners

RISING star Tom Philip will achieve another milestone tomorrow night when he makes his first start for Edinburgh Rugby side in the inter-pro series clash with Borders at Galashiels.

The teenage centre is one of three changes to the side beaten 50-17 by Toulouse in the Heineken European Cup last weekend.

But, while injuries account for Ally Dickson and Scott Murray, with Craig Smith being preferred to Joel Brannigan, it was claimed today by management that as one door closes another, inevitably, opens.

Guy Perrett comes in for Murray and manager Ian Rankin said: "We are fortunate to have the calibre of reserves we have - for example Guy has come off the bench for the past three weeks and done well."

It was 19-year-old Institute of Sport prospect Philip, though, who received the most glowing vote of confidence from the manager.

"Tom was introduced at half-time last week end made a strong impact to the extent we look forward to seeing him trying to close in on a blue (Scotland) jersey," said Rankin.

That remark by Rankin undoubtedly reflected the double-edged role being fulfilled by Edinburgh partly as a Scotland development team.

He added: "In particular Tom was heavily involved in the lead-up to our second try when he made the initial break then linked with colleagues before Simon Taylor went over."

It was that type of play that strengthens hopes that Edinburgh will be able to further their bid to be among the two top (from three) Scottish pro teams who qualify for next season’s European Cup by seeing off Borders in the first meeting between the pair in an extended series.

"There were some huge positives to come through from rubbing shoulders with a side of the high calibre of Toulouse over the past two weeks," said Rankin.

"Edinburgh Rugby did not disgrace themselves."

Rankin took a swipe at critics who said that because of a sizeable injury count accruing from Sunday’s clash, Edinburgh would be happier if frosty conditions in the Borders continued - a thawing is forecast which is as well since the underground heating at Netherdale is not yet functioning.

"We want to get back into the saddle as quickly as possible with a prime aim being to show how much has been learned that can be put into effect," he said.

Rankin, who indicated a back may have to be drawn from the club scene to augment the substitutes’ bench, said that all players would be at training today in praising the recovery players of some of those injured in France.

They include Chris Paterson, Martin Leslie and Allan Jacobsen.

Edinburgh: D Lee, C Sharman, C Joiner, T Philip, C Paterson, B Laney, M Blair, A Jacobsen, C Di Ciacca, C Smith, N Hines, G Perrett, T Blackadder captain, S Taylor, M Leslie. Subs: D Hall, J Brannigan, A Kellock, A Hogg, A Dall, G Burns, AN Other.

ANDREW WOOD, the Edinburgh-based secretary of the Glasgow Schools Rugby Association, has died suddenly, aged 50. Heriot’s educated, he was well known as a leading cricket umpire and until recently refereed youth football.

Tributes today included one from John Blain, the Scotland and Northants cricketer.

Blain said: "A lot of young sportsmen in Edinburgh and beyond have plenty of good reasons to be grateful for the unselfish work carried out by Andrew in encouraging them to take up sport and I count myself among them."