Jamie Ritchie stays upbeat despite Edinburgh Rugby's campaign hitting the buffers
While some sides continue to fight on two fronts, the capital club’s season was effectively ended by Friday night’s 16-6 loss to Leicester in the last 16 of the Champions Cup. They have two league games left - at home to Ospreys on Saturday week then away to Ulster six days later - but both are merely perished rubbers, their loss to Connacht last weekend having extinguished their hopes of qualifying for the URC play-offs.
Edinburgh only briefly looked like troubling the Tigers at Welford Road: Emiliano Boffelli’s two penalties gave them a 6-3 lead early in the second half, but the home side quickly regained control of the contest thanks to a solo try from half-time substitute Jasper Wiese. Even so, Jamie Ritchie, the team’s co-captain in addition to being Scotland skipper, was able to discern some encouraging signs in the performance of his team.
“I can’t fault the effort of the lads,” the back-row forward said. “We spoke about fronting up and being a lot more physical than we had been in the past few weeks, and I certainly feel we did that.
“For us there were a lot of good things to take out of that game. We put a lot of pressure on their lineout, we defended a lot better than we had been doing, so I’m frustrated with the errors - but there’s stuff to build on for the last couple of games of the year. At some point it will click, I’ve no doubt of that, and it’s important to remain positive in terms of the things that we have done well.
“It’s been a tough old season. We’ve still got two games and we want to finish well. [The Ospreys match is] a massive challenge for us in terms of getting something out of the season and making sure we put in a good performance. Putting the good parts together into a performance which results in a win will be important for us, and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”
From Boffelli in the No 15 jersey to Pierre Schoeman at No 1, the Edinburgh team is full of players of real quality, and simply should not be losing so many games. So where did it all go wrong in the current campaign?
“It’s hard to put it all into words,” Ritchie continued. “I think it’s probably just being in and out of games. There have been moments when we have lacked that clinical edge to put away opportunities - I think we’ve had no issue in creating them.
“I think it’s just been stringing together that 80-minute performance. I can think of a few examples. In that Munster game” - a 17-38 home defeat in early December - “we were the better team for the first half, probably the first 50 minutes, and then the game switches on a dime and we just seem to switch off and we’re not in it for the 80 minutes and we allow teams back into it. So that’s probably something that we’ll be looking to improve on - getting those consistent performances together.”