Jamie Ritchie outlines target for Edinburgh and uncertainty over Scotland summer tour

Top four finish in the URC the aim for Edinburgh flanker
Jamie Ritchie during an Edinburgh Rugby training session at Hive Stadium, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)Jamie Ritchie during an Edinburgh Rugby training session at Hive Stadium, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Jamie Ritchie during an Edinburgh Rugby training session at Hive Stadium, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Elimination from the Challenge Cup has not dimmed Edinburgh’s ambition and Jamie Ritchie believes winning their final five matches in the United Rugby Championship is within their grasp.

Such a scenario may seem like a tall order for a team who are currently ninth but, as Ritchie points out, there is little to separate the sides in mid-table. A top-eight finish is required to reach the play-offs, and top four would guarantee a home tie in the quarter-finals. That’s where Edinburgh want to be and the Scotland flanker insists it’s no pipe dream.

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“We firmly believe we can win all our games in the run-in,” said Ritchie. “I don’t think that is an unattainable goal. But these teams below us are fighting for something as well so we certainly know there are no easy games in there.”

Edinburgh’s next three games are against teams below them, beginning with a home match against Scarlets on Saturday night. That’s followed by a tricky away-day at Cardiff and then it's back to the Hive to face Zebre. The final two games look tougher, with Munster visiting Edinburgh on May 17 before Sean Everitt’s side fly to Italy to conclude their regular season against Benetton on June 1.

Everitt warned this week that time was running out for some of the club’s senior players to win silverware and expressed his frustration at the manner of their loss to the Sharks in the Challenge Cup, in particular the high number of penalties they conceded in the second half which handed the initiative back to their South African opponents after Edinburgh had led 16-14 at half-time.

Ritchie felt there were positive aspects to take from the game but his focus is now very much on the URC. The table is incredibly tight and Edinburgh are one of three teams, with Connacht and the Lions, who are outside the top eight on 34 points. Seventh-placed Ospreys and eighth-placed Ulster are both a point better off on 35, while Benetton are sixth on 37 and Stormers are fifth on 39. There is then a bit of a jump to Munster in fourth on 43 points.

“Five wins gets us in the top four, which is where we want to be with a home quarter-final,” predicted Ritchie. “But, I think [we need to] just keep improving like we have been doing and then put away these opportunities we have been creating.

“That middle part of the league is so close that it changes from one week to the next. I think there is one point between us and eighth at the moment so it's not a huge concern. We’re confident with the run-in that we’ve got that we can put some points on the board and climb all the way up that log.”

Ritchie is injury-free and keen to play in the next five games. The forward found himself in and out of the Scotland team during the Six Nations and said he was unsure as to whether he would be called upon by Gregor Townsend for the summer tour of North and South America.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m meeting Gregor at some point that week, so I am sure we’ll chat about that then. It is up to him.”



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