Ross Ford - ‘Edinburgh set to go back to basics’

ROSS Ford believes the Edinburgh squad are learning ­quickly under new coach Alan Solomons, and hopes the progress will be there for all to see when the team play their first home league match.

Edinburgh and Scotland hooker Ross Ford. Picture: SNS
Edinburgh and Scotland hooker Ross Ford. Picture: SNS

Edinburgh, who lost their opening game 34-23 at Munster, face Newport Gwent Dragons at Murrayfield on Friday night.

Solomons has predicted it could take a couple of months for his ideas to be implemented fully, but Scotland hooker Ford thinks he and his colleagues have already gone some way in coming to terms with their new instruction.

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“It’s a very simple game plan,” Ford said yesterday. “It’s direct, and I think it’s something that Edinburgh needed, just so ­everybody knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing.

“He lets you know in no uncertain terms what he wants from you, and that’s good. The boys have adapted well to it. It’s early, but everyone’s working hard to try and ­perform to their best. It may just take a little while to fine-polish it.

“At times last season we were a little bit indirect and trying to be a little bit too fancy.

“Alan has come in and said ‘This is the way we’re going to play’, and everybody has bought into it. This is the way forward.

“We’re picking it up pretty quickly, but it maybe will take a little bit longer than we would have liked – that’s just the way things panned out.

“The coaching staff arrived a little bit later than would have been ideal, but they’re here now and everybody is working hard.

“It’s coming together. There are parts of it that came through in the Munster game – it’s just, as I say, about fine-polishing it and making sure it’s up to scratch, and that will take a little bit longer.”

Other parts of the plan were not so evident in Cork on Saturday, but after his team went in 22-6 behind, Solomons was pleased by a much-improved second-half display that included a late try for Lee Jones.

Having also been yellow-carded, the winger accepted that the match had been one of contrasting feelings from a Scottish point of view.

“Mixed emotions,” Jones said. “The first half especially was disappointing – the way we ­defended, making silly mistakes. My yellow card was ­disappointing too.

“I was thinking with ten minutes to go ‘I’ve not touched the ball yet’. So to score with my first touch – I’ll take that as a positive. I got another touch after that. It was down to our mistakes – that’s how they managed to score. We can sort that out.

“If you look at the way Munster went last year and the kind of team they are, it’s always going to be tough in front of their support. But it’s when you look at things like that you realise it was us who gave them their opportunities, which is frustrating for us. We know if we clear it up we can challenge teams.

“We’re just starting to buy into what he [Solomons] is offering us. The coaches came in quite late, so we’ve not had them all pre-season, so it might take a bit of time for everybody to get up to the right level.”

The half-time entertainment on Friday night will go by the name of the Big Kick-Off – an event in which more than 50 young players from throughout the professional team’s region will kick for goal simultaneously. The brainchild of development manager Doc McKelvey, the Big Kick-Off is the first of a series of initiatives for schools and clubs designed to attract more young people to ­Edinburgh’s matches.

“The Big Kick-Off is about celebrating the fact that every club in the Edinburgh Rugby region will have the opportunity to get involved in more match-day activities,” McKelvey said.

“One in particular is our free coaching master-classes, which will be delivered by newly appointed staff and players to give youngsters a chance to test out their skills with top players or maybe even try rugby for the first time.

“We’ll also be holding events throughout the season which will deliver more of concentrated ‘blitz nights’ that we piloted successfully last season, taking our ­players into the heartland of grassroots rugby in our local clubs and schools.”

This season also features the introduction of a new group offer, which gives two adults free entry for every eight under-18s who buy tickets at £5 each.

“Friday night is our first home game, so it’s about launching things,” McKelvey added. “We’re trying to get the clubs and schools, and the whole rugby-playing community, more involved in our matches.

“We want to make it a bit of an experience for everybody to come along to.

“We want to increase ­attendances, and this is all about what we can do to make it more appealing to the family to come along.”