Edinburgh v Glasgow: The key questions ahead of 1872 Cup clash

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Edinburgh v Glasgow: The key questions ahead of 1872 Cup clash

Richard Cockerill and Danny Wilson
Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh and Danny Wilson’s Glasgow have managed just two league wins each this season
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 2 January 2021 Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and on the BBC Sport website and app.

“I don’t think either side would go into the weekend saying they’re the form team and they’d expect to win.”

The words of Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill serve as an accurate precis of the circumstances surrounding their 1872 Cup meeting with Glasgow on Saturday.

Both sides have managed just two wins in their Pro14 campaign so far, with an extended autumn window and Covid disruption making for a miserable few months.

After the first derby of the season was cancelled due to an outbreak of coronavirus at Glasgow – a game which will now be played on Friday, 8 January (19:35 GMT) – what are the main issues this time?

Who needs a win more?

Given Cockerill has so much credit in the bank, arguably it’s Glasgow and new head coach Danny Wilson who need the win more, in order to have something positive to cling to.

However, with the same Pro14 record, it is hardly a free hit for Edinburgh. In reality, a derby has rarely been as important to both sides. Losing is as much of a habit as winning, and one that both clubs have spent years shaking. Both sets of players will be desperate to emerge from the gloom.

Will Covid take its toll on Glasgow?

Glasgow are without a total of seven players who have either had Covid-19, or have been unable to train due to an extended isolation period after an outbreak followed their match with Exeter Chiefs.

That’s on top of injuries to Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Leone Nakarawa, Kyle Steyn, and Tommy Seymour.

Glasgow Warriors XV
Glasgow make five changes to the XV that lost to Exeter three weeks ago

Then there’s the fact that the majority of the squad couldn’t even run or lift weights during their isolation period, only returning to training on Christmas Eve. Wilson admitted his squad is looking “skinny”, so it will be far from a full strength Warriors team. Richie Gray is, at least, fit to play.

It’s been a brutally tough first campaign for the new head coach, and the challenges keep mounting.

Where are the key battles for Scotland?

These derbies are often considered as the key battle for Scotland selection, and Wilson admitted as much this week. Gregor Townsend’s strongest XV is arguably as settled as it has been in a while, with number eight one of the few areas of contention with the Six Nations looming.

It will be intriguing, then, how Glasgow’s Matt Fagerson and Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury go – albeit from the bench in the latter’s case. Or could a barnstorming display force Townsend to ponder re-introducing Ryan Wilson for the Six Nations?

With Brown injured, George Turner will likely have a chance to outshine his Edinburgh counterpart Stuart McInally at hooker, while Glasgow centres Nick Grigg and Sam Johnson could do with convincing displays.

Edinburgh make five changes to the team that beat Sale Sharks in the Champions Cup
Edinburgh make five changes to the team that beat Sale Sharks in the Champions Cup

Will the result tell us much?

What we know from the season so far is that Glasgow’s squad is very thin, and when they get hit with injuries, they struggle.

Edinburgh appear to be in a slightly better position, and will be considered the favourites after a win over Sale in the Champions Cup, but even a convincing success may not tell us much about the rest of the season.

By the end of January, Cockerill will lose all of his internationals and they will be back to how things were for the majority of the campaign. The same goes for Glasgow.

As the Edinburgh boss himself quipped this week: “When we’ve had 20-plus players missing from our squad, funnily enough we’re not as strong as we’d like to be.”

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