What Edinburgh can expect from 'relentless' Castres in big European clash

Schoeman knows French club pose many threats to their Challenge Cup aspirations

Edinburgh defeated Castres home and away last season en route to a place in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup. But, as they prepare to welcome the French club to the Hive Stadium for Saturday’s Challenge Cup clash, Pierre Schoeman has warned his team-mates to expect a tough battle against opponents who have talent in abundance.

Castres are in significantly better form at present than they were a year ago, when their 31-20 defeat at the Hive Stadium in December was followed by a 34-21 home loss in January. They finished bottom of their Champions Cup pool then, but this time round have already won their opening Challenge Cup Pool C game against Zebre, and currently lie third in the Top 14. And despite those victories by his team, Schoeman – who played in both matches – is well aware that the French club carry a threat all over the park.

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"The individual brilliance they have – it’s not often you see that everywhere,” the loosehead prop said. “There’s quite a few of their players who can offload in contact, take two guys out and then play the pass. They are resilient as well. You might break through, but they will come back charging at you relentlessly for the next five minutes. So you have to be on it for the whole 80. You don’t want to slip up. If you give them a foot in the door, they will take that opportunity.”

Pierre Schoeman and Edinburgh took down Castres twice last season.Pierre Schoeman and Edinburgh took down Castres twice last season.
Pierre Schoeman and Edinburgh took down Castres twice last season.

Schoeman was rested last week as part of Scottish Rugby’s protocol that prevents certain senior internationals from playing more than five games in a row. He admitted he would far rather have kept playing instead of sitting out Edinburgh’s loss to Clermont, but knows that taking a break makes sense longer term. “When you have momentum, playing a good game against Ulster [who Edinburgh beat in the URC in Schoeman’s last appearance], you want to keep going,” he added. “But it is part of the strategy – there are a lot of games this season. So if it’s your turn to have a break or a rest, take your medicine and then crack on.”