Friday’s reverse against Glasgow Warriors was their fourth consecutive defeat in the United Rugby Championship and they have already lost as many games this season - seven - as they did across the whole of the regular 2021-22 campaign. Their home form has been particularly disappointing, with two wins and three defeats from five URC games on their own patch.
Blair is in his first post as a head coach and there were always going to be bumps on the road. He admits to “feeling challenged” and is looking at ways to instil more belief in a squad that seemed to play with carefree abandon last year after the more prescriptive reign of Richard Cockerill.
Just as they did against Munster at home last month, Edinburgh gave up a half-time lead against Glasgow Warriors on Friday. They went in at the break at Murrayfield 20-12 ahead but failed to score a point in the second half until Patrick Harrison’s late, late try which at least secured a losing bonus point in the 32-25 defeat.
Injuries to key personnel have not helped Edinburgh’s cause. They have been without both frontline hookers, Stuart McInally and Dave Cherry; outstanding back-row forward Hamish Watson as well as full-back Henry Immelman. Perhaps the biggest loss, though, has been Darcy Graham who was in the form of his life before suffering a knee ligament injury in the Munster game. As if to underline his impact, the winger remains the URC’s top try-scorer with nine despite not having played since December 2.
Edinburgh’s problems have been compounded by the absence of Wes Goosen, Graham’s natural replacement. The summer signing missed the start of the season with injury then made a brief impact before being sidelined again. He was down to start both legs of the 1872 Cup only to pull out before kick-off with a calf problem, forcing Blair to move Emiliano Boffelli to the wing and bring in a rookie full-back in Harry Paterson.
Edinburgh have spent big to tie down Boffelli on a new deal, bring back Duhan van der Merwe and sign Goosen and appeared to have an abundance of back-three options until injuries hit. Van der Merwe is the latest concern, with the winger going off in the second half against Glasgow with what appeared to be an ankle problem.
There will be concern that they were unable to get either Boffelli or van der Merwe into the game much on Friday but credit must go to the Warriors who stifled the home side in the first half and dominated possession in the second.
“I still don’t believe we are far off because we are playing good rugby,” Blair said. “We need to start looking more at our belief and psychologically where we are, because we are doing enough good stuff, but we’re having periods where teams are finding it too easy to put points on us.”
The good news for Edinburgh is that they are well placed in Europe at the halfway point of the Champions Cup pool stage, and their next URC game is at home to bottom club Zebre. A big win on their return to the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday would be a welcome way to bring in the new year.