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Reports & Features


Zebre Parma: ( ) Edinburgh: ( )

The Embramen have been cutting a pretty jaunty look in the early weeks of this new URC season.  Whether it is the burnt orange change kit that reminds one of the legendarily chic Scotland change kit of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the bearpit that the recently hanseled DAM Health Stadium has quickly become, or the respectable sixth place they were sitting in prior to kick off this afternoon in Italy, life looks pretty rosy.  They are a work in progress as Head Coach Mike 'Blade' Blair steers a revamp in thair attacking philosophy.  But, so far, they seem to have retained the ability to match and beat others in their physicality, while layering on top of that a wider attacking game that is more in line with The Scottish Way and, thererefore, a better fit with the national team's style.

Already, once sees the benefits of playing the top South African provinces.  These are massive men, dominant in set piece and with suffocating defences that simply do not miss tackles.  The more both Scottish clubs play them, the better they will become.  LinEout apart, last weekend's hard fought victory over the Bulls was an excellent one and bodes well for the season.


Edinburgh: ( ) Newcastle Falcons: ( )

This moment has been a long time coming. One of so many frustrations of the last 18 months has been seeing Minified (or the Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, to give it its official name) gradually emerging on the back pitches, yet it has been tantalisingly out of reach.  A state of the art playing surface and a set of four surprisingly comfy stands have been waiting patiently for Covid lockdown measures to ease enough to permit the congregation in one place of 7,800 rabid Embra ultras. 

We are now at 'Beyond Level 0'.  I am not sure what that actually means, but I cannot adequately convey the joy I felt as we took our seats in the Main stand this afternoon, with the massed ranks of Jed-forest fans in the Riverside stand to our right, looking across to the hard core Embra tifosi in the Bill Lothian stand across the immaculate playing surface.  We have all really missed live rugby.

The new start also extended to the coaching team, where Richard Cockerill

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Scarlets: 28 (14) Edinburgh: 28 (7)

We have all been through the ringer over the last 18 months.  Lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost freedoms that we have all taken for granted as we deal with a pandemic, something that few of us have ever experienced before.  Even for those who feel that they've coped pretty well, all things considered, there can be moments when it can all seem too much. 

So I was so pleased to receive this week Edinburgh Rugby's e-mail to supporters advertising the sale of season tickets for next season, which begins this Monday morning for some.  It is a sign that the return of some sort of normal life is not far away.  More than that, as the Embra tifosi contemplate their seating preferences for the bear pit that will be the Gunners' new stadium on the BT Murrayfield back pitches, Minifield, it is a sign that maybe the new normal will be better than the old.  

The visitors fielded an experimental side at Parc y Scarlets in their last match of this unique

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