Is he thinking short-term success, or long-term development: Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons

Is he thinking short-term success, or long-term development: Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons

By Alan Dymock

CHANGE CAN be jarring. We all know that. Why go off Marathon Bars? You can’t replace that EastEnders character with a different actress!

Change for change’s sake in particular is just unsavoury. If anything it can feel like change is being foisted upon you; a decision you weren’t privy to being served up and called your only option.

So with Glasgow Warriors, any change is gradual. After all, with the relative successes of last season it would be nonsensical for head coach Gregor Townsend to wield a cleaver and tell the boys it’s time they became something different, forgetting anything that took years to build with or without their tactical leader.

No great shakes: It hasn't looked like a massively different Edinburgh side in preseason

No great shakes: Edinburgh didn’t look different in preseason

However, with Edinburgh Rugby it has become apparent in only a week that anything incremental will not be enough.

In the October edition of Rugby World – out now – Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw explains that the Edinburgh way of old would be out of the window. The problem is that new head coach Alan Solomons has had almost no time to impose will on his side while the man holding the rudder for the second half of the last season, forwards coach Stevie Scott, is still the constant. This is not to say he shouldn’t be there, but with Solomons not long warming his buns in the hot seat there is a chance that some may revert to type and with a team like Edinburgh in a league like the Pro12 there is unlikely to be a wholly positive outcome.

The call to arms can be heard by no one, though. With Laidlaw himself injured and Matt Scott and Tim Visser missing, and with Ross Rennie being so valuable but so fragile that he may well be the new RoboCop, the lack of depth is now apparent as the thing that needs addressing most in Edinburgh.

Glasgow have stalked towards the level they now enjoy. Granted they have brought in their share of players from outside of Scotland, but they have a cabal of local lads who, due to a few seasons of holding their nose in the deep end, have grown in stature and found themselves comfortable with Pro12 rugby.

Edinburgh do not have that, having relied on certain key players an awful lot in the past. Arguably their young fly-half options like Harry Leonard should be able to cope by now, but having no long-term experience while other young players make the bench at most means that Edinburgh struggle come international time or during injury outbreaks.

Edinburgh do look different with Rennie

Edinburgh do look different with Ross Rennie in the side

So one thing that Solomons must change in the coming months, even when his big hitters return, is to allow young players, and young forwards in particular, time in the field. Solomons plan should be a long-term one, for the best of the club for years to come.

We have seen fits and starts in the past, as a young player drifts in and out to a soundtrack of “he’s not good enough.” Solomons needs to back two or three kids and strive to play them for a prolonged period, when things are going well, in order to bring them on. It worked with Matt Scott in a relatively short timeframe, why not do it with a Bomber Hislop or a Hamish Watson?

Boldness now means a brighter future. Using youth is a more valuable ‘major change’ than scrapping the old Edinburgh style. Though it would help if they focused on defence as well…

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