Why Six Nations solution to 1872 Cup doesn’t appeal to Edinburgh coach Mike Blair

Having just completed 10 days in isolation, Mike Blair is acutely aware of the difficulties involved in negotiating the pitfalls of Covid.

Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair was forced to isolate.   (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair was forced to isolate. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Edinburgh coach’s enforced quarantine meant he would have missed the first leg of the 1872 Cup had it been played on Monday as scheduled.

The game was postponed on match-day and the second leg has now followed suit, with a number of positive cases within the Glasgow Warriors squad putting paid to both fixtures.

Blair, whose own squad was affected by Covid last week, has nothing but sympathy for his inter-city rivals.

The 1872 Cup games were postponed due to a number of Covid-19 cases in the Glasgow Warriors squad. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“I don’t know how many cases Glasgow have and what positions they’re in but my understanding is the game can be called off for health and safety purposes,” the Edinburgh coach said.

“So if they’ve had two or three front-rowers out and if it would be a safety concern to bring an under-20s prop in, or something like that, then a decision will be made.

“We had a few cases last week but along with our injuries we had Glen Young, who’s a second row, covering the back row having not played for five months due to injury. He wasn’t meant to be back until this week, but we tried everything we could to get the game played because it wasn’t a health and safety concern.”

The tough business of finding new dates is now underway as the United Rugby Championship sets about picking its way through an already congested calendar.

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One solution would be to play the matches on Six Nations weekends but other potential new dates could include the slots set aside for the European competition knockout rounds in April and May, although that would hinge on the Scottish clubs’ progress in their respective tournaments.

Both clubs are understandably keen to avoid playing the games during the Six Nations when they would be without large numbers of Scotland internationals but they may not have a choice.

“Being new in this job, I don’t know how much say in this I’ve got,” said Blair, tongue half in cheek. “I would imagine not a huge amount. My bosses, the URC, they’ll tell me when the game is and to best prepare as we can for that day.

“I’d imagine it would be difficult to do in the Six Nations because ourselves and Glasgow will have 15-20 players involved in that. That would make it very difficult.

“I think we want the games to go ahead and if that’s the viable option then we have to do it. But it’s not going to be me who makes this decision.”

News of the second postponement came just after Blair had reported that his Edinburgh squad were in decent shape.

“We’re good at the moment,” he said. “We had our lateral flows this morning, all good. I’m really pleased where we’re at with our Covid.

“I’m aware these things can change pretty quickly, but we’ve been really strict with our guys. Last week we didn’t scrummage at all because that was high risk. We didn’t do some of our contact work. Meetings were held outside, lunch we cut down to half an hour and tables were at five metre gaps. We’ve been really tight on all protocols to get these games on.”

Alas, it wasn't to be.

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