Peter Wright praises Glasgow, Edinburgh form filip

PETER Wright says the opening weekend successes for Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Guinness Pro12 have helped put a smile on the face of Scottish Rugby.

Glasgows Josh Strauss has the support of his team-mates during Sundays win over Leinster   Picture: SNS
Glasgows Josh Strauss has the support of his team-mates during Sundays win over Leinster Picture: SNS

On Friday, Alan Solomons’ Edinburgh made the journey across the Irish Sea to defeat Heineken Cup semi-finalists Munster 14-13 in Limerick.

Then, 24 hours later, at Scotstoun, Glasgow dramatically dispatched reigning Pro12 champions Leinster 22-20, thanks to an injury-time Stuart Hogg penalty.

It is the first time since 2009, when Edinburgh defeated Cardiff in the Welsh capital 22-21 and Glasgow trounced the Munster men 22-9 at Firhill, that a Scottish winning double has been secured on the maiden weekend of the Pro12 campaign, since its inception in 2005.

But, while the former Scotland prop was delighted with this rare Scottish double against such exalted opposition, Wright admits that the ultimate proof of whether this is a false dawn for Scottish professional rugby or the start of a brave new world will only be discovered in the coming weeks.

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In three days time, Edinburgh will host obdurate Irish outfit Connacht at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, while Warriors head for Wales and a Sunday 
afternoon clash with a Cardiff side who ruined their Heineken Cup hopes last term, at the Arms Park.

Thus, while Wright is looking forward with optimism, he believes the hard work has only just begun. “I can’t remember the last time both our pro teams won on the opening weekend and it certainly put a smile on my face and I would imagine it was the same for rugby fans all over the country at the weekend,” said Wright.

With Edinburgh’s last success on their last 23 visits to the Emerald Isle coming at Connacht in December 2012, Wright admitted: “Looking at the Edinburgh result first, although Munster may not have been at their strongest, it was a great victory against a side who are virtually impregnable at Thomond Park.

“On top of that, if you look at the beatings Edinburgh took off Munster last season, combine that with their abysmal record in Ireland, then this win was huge psychologically.

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“Also there was a real Scottish core at the heart of it and I was very impressed with Sean Kennedy at scrum-half and Hamish Watson at openside.”

Turning his attention to Glasgow’s 22-20 victory over their Irish bete noir Leinster, Wright was equally effusive. “Given how many times Leinster have stood in Glasgow’s way and shut the door in their faces, this was another huge win,” said Wright.

“In their last meeting with Leinster in the Pro12 final in May, Glasgow were disappointing, so, had they blown a 16-point lead and lost this one, I think there would have been significant scar tissue. But, while Gregor [Townsend] will have been disappointed with the way Glasgow let Leinster back in, he can take enormous satisfaction from the way his side refused to lie down, kept their composure and forced the winning penalty.

“In terms of the platform this victory gives the Warriors with respect to confidence and belief, potentially it is huge. It is a great start for both sides but it’s not going to get any easier.”

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Looking forward to this weekend’s encounters, Wright admits that both sides will face different types of examinations that will place intense scrutiny on their ability to build a Scottish challenge in the Guinness Pro12 on two fronts.

“From an Edinburgh perspective, what Alan Solomons can’t afford to do is to allow any drop-off in terms of the commitment, intensity and application his side produced at Thomond Park,” said Wright.

He added: “Before that victory, going back to last season, Edinburgh had lost their last five games and now they need to demonstrate they can produce consistently and the most important place to win is at home.

“Connacht are coming to Edinburgh on the back of a solid win over the Dragons and, in particular, their fly-half Jack Carty looks a real danger, but Edinburgh will start favourites for this one at home and it will be interesting to see how they handle that and whether they can back up the Munster victory.”

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Turning his attention to Glasgow’s Sunday meeting with the Blues, the former British Lion was sanguine about Warriors hopes. “Cardiff were tricky opposition for Glasgow last season in that they won both the league meetings with them but lost the two Heineken Cup pool fixtures. “You also have the artificial surface to take into account that will give the Blues a home advantage. But, if Glasgow want to build on last season and go all the way, they need to be beating the likes of Cardiff.”