John Barclay backs Edinburgh to reach URC semi-finals if no repeat of ‘mental fatigue’

Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors both flirted with the top end of the table during last season’s United Rugby Championship but ended up seventh and eighth, respectively.

Edinburgh went top of the United Rugby Championship last season after their home win over Cardiff in January. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Edinburgh went top of the United Rugby Championship last season after their home win over Cardiff in January. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

John Barclay, who played with distinction for both clubs, believes they need to show more mental fortitude in the latter stages of the campaign if they want to sustain their challenge.

While a top eight finish is enough to make the play-offs, you need to be in the top four to land an all important home tie. Both Scottish teams were eliminated in the quarter-finals, with Edinburgh being edged out in South Africa by eventual champions, the Stormers, while Glasgow were utterly dismantled in Dublin by Leinster.

Hide Ad

“A lot of it is about timing your form,” said Barclay. “Both teams were guilty of what looked like mental fatigue towards the end of last season.

Premier Sports pundit John Barclay believes Edinburgh have the potential to reach the URC semi-finals. Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Hide Ad

“Edinburgh lost to Ulster a couple of games before the end of the regular season, and that cost them a home semi-final and completely changes the dynamic of the whole campaign.

“We saw Glasgow’s really tough end to last season, and they didn’t cope, so that’s a big challenge for both teams.”

Hide Ad

Barclay, who is part of the Premier Sports team for its TV coverage of the BKT United Rugby Championship, believes Edinburgh have the potential to go one better this season and reach the semi-finals.

“I think Glasgow will be looking at top eight,” said the former Scotland captain. “I don’t know what Edinburgh are saying outwardly or inwardly, but for me they have semi-final potential.”

Hide Ad
Read More
Hamish Watson outlines where Edinburgh need to improve, his faith in Blair Kingh...

For long stretches last year Mike Blair’s side looked like genuine contenders. They went to the summit of the URC after their win over Cardiff in January, the first time Edinburgh had topped the table since 2009.

Hide Ad

They lost just once in their opening eight games, and that was the agonising last-gasp defeat to Benetton in Italy. However, their form tailed off after the Cardiff game and they lost four of their next five while their squad was weakened during the Six Nations.

Glasgow, meanwhile, were third as late as mid-March following their home win over Edinburgh.

Hide Ad

“Edinburgh were good last year but that element of surprise they had won’t be there this year, so they are going to have to evolve their game,” added Barclay.

“And if I’m being critical, they were maybe a little bit loose sometimes and a little bit careless with the ball. When you come up against the really top teams, you see that they just do that – they take their opportunities and that’s the game gone.

Hide Ad

“Mike will know that. He’s super switched on. And he’ll be disappointed with how last season ended.”

John Barclay will be part of the Premier Sports team for its TV coverage of all 151 games throughout the BKT United Rugby Championship season. Join John for URC’s opening games this weekend - with all seven games live on Premier Sports as Glasgow Warriors travel to Benetton on Friday night (Premier Sports 1 from 5pm) and Edinburgh host Dragons on Saturday evening (Premier Sports 2 from 7pm).

Hide Ad

Premier Sports is the home of Scottish rugby in the URC with every Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh game home and away on its channels. To find out more see wwww.premiersports.com

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.