Ben Vellacott backs Edinburgh to bounce back after URC flop

Edinburgh captain says fine-turning is required ... not a complete overhaul

Ben Vallacott says the Edinburgh will regroup and come back stronger next season. Image: © Craig Watson -
Ben Vallacott says the Edinburgh will regroup and come back stronger next season. Image: © Craig Watson -

BEN VELLACOTT pinpointed Edinburgh’s struggles to accumulate bonus points, misfiring attack and one particularly shocking home defeat as reasons for their URC failure.

The capital club flopped spectacularly in a must-win game against Benetton in Treviso on Saturday, collapsing to a 31-6 defeat when victory would have sent them to the play-offs.

A bruising afternoon in the Italian sunshine saw Edinburgh slide from seventh – which would have brought Champions Cup qualification as well as a place in the knockouts – to 10th on the final day of the regular season.

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That abruptly brought an end to an underwhelming campaign, but scrum-half Vellacott looked all the way back to their first meeting with the Italians, a 24-22 defeat at the Hive Stadium in November, when assessing where things went wrong.

“I think the big thing for us was losing at home against Benetton. That was a defining moment in the season,” Vellacott said.

“Not picking up bonus points against teams when we should have, whether that’s losing bonus points or scoring tries, that’s somewhere we’ve been lacking this season.

“Our attack hasn’t quite functioned as well as we hoped, as it has in previous seasons. But we’ve improved in other areas of our game where we’ve struggled in the past.”

Edinburgh achieved 11 league wins in 2022-23, five more than last season and their highest tally in four years.

That included four victories on the road, including a statement win over Ulster in December, and impressive victories at home against South African heavyweights the Lions and the Bulls.

But Sean Everitt’s side picked up only five bonus points – three try bonuses and two losing bonus points – which was the second-lowest tally in the league behind the second-bottom Dragons.

“The big thing for us is looking at the performances throughout the season,” Vellacott continued.

“We had a big away win at Ulster, something the club hasn’t done in a long, long time. Beating the South African teams at home has been a big one for us.

“But soft moments have killed us, like losing to Benetton at home, we’ve just been inconsistent at times.

“We had a pretty strong performance against Munster last week and they won it last year, so it shows we can perform with the big guns at the top of the table. We just have to be better at our decision making.”



Although Edinburgh fly-half Ben Healy finished the regular season as the top scorer in the league with 175 points, the capital club’s attacking game failed to impress in former Sharks boss Everitt’s debut season.

Edinburgh scored 22 fewer tries over 18 URC games than in 2022-23, and Vellacott admitted that something has to change.

“We’ve got to get a healthy balance. Over the last couple of years, we were very attack minded and leaking a lot of soft tries which was hurting us,” he said.

“This season we’ve been pretty defensively strong and our kicking game has been good.

“We’ve got to get that balance of where our attack can grow and where our defence can grow. We’ll get there.”

Edinburgh’s efforts weren’t helped by injuries to key players like Darcy Graham, Emiliano Boffelli and most recently Wes Goosen, while the club also lost star full-back Blair Kinghorn to Toulouse in mid-season.

And Vellacott believes finding a way to keep the core of the team fit will be crucial to seeing improvement next season.

“The more players you can keep fit, the more consistency you can pick in your selection, the more time boys are playing together, and you end up building those relationships which brings consistency on the pitch,” he said.

“If you can keep your players fit towards the back end of the season in the big games, then you’re going to fly.

“We probably haven’t done that as well as other clubs, we’ve had a lot of chop and change, some big injuries. Darcy Graham has been out pretty much the whole season, so he will be a big positive coming back. He makes a difference.”

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  1. How many tries as Duhan scored this season? There is a summary of Edinburgh’s problems in a nutshell! One of the best strike runners and Edinburgh have him running laterally across other defence lines.

    • Impossible for centres and wingers to thrive when the half backs only tactic is kicking the ball away. As ever with GT and the SRU they only double down instead of backdown so the Price Healy axis will continue and Edinburgh will achieve nothing. It’s a shame the current Edinburgh coach doesn’t have the backbone to say no and allow the likes of Vellacot Shiel and Thompson to release the potential in the backline.

    • and we are regretting signing him as no doubt the SRU offered him way too much money to come

  2. The Edinburgh game plan is so negative. They either box kick from 9 or up and under from 10. It’s so dull.

    You have one of the best strike runners in Europe in Duhan and he hardly ever gets touches in attack.

    Why play such negative rugby in a league with no relegation?

  3. Lack of bonus points and lack of killer instinct along with poor midfield penetration. Anyone got midfield gain line break statistics compared to other teams? Probably Edinburghs Achilles heel this season

    • slow ball means middle filed breaks less likely. Also means more box kicks. Seems like Everett and others cannot see the wood for the trees. The old adages still apply. Earn the right to go wide. Forwards should do that work. And forwards win matches, backs decide by how much. Edinburgh’s forwards are all names and no performance. Slow slow ball

    • The back line has been pretty disrupted this season. The pack is pretty much the same group that provided the same ball for the most exciting and penetrating back line in the league not much more than a season ago. (not so good on defence mind)
      But with Kinghorn removed from 10 and then FB, Graham, Boffelli, Goosen missing significant chunks due to injuries and a centre partnership that has been regularly rotated to cover other area, it’s little wonder things have not been as organised and free-scoring of late.
      Fingers crossed that we get a more balanced mix and a couple of signings to help the depth and we can look ahead with a bit more confidence.

      • Very much doubt there will be any more significant signings? No centres are leaving and Tuipolotu added.Also extra wings and again no one leaving. Forward roster looks pretty full-and in any event keep hearing playing budget being trimmed anyway.
        So afraid it will be same old same old-unless Ross Thomson can spark some midfield penetration which is clearly lacking with Healy.

        • Controversial but there needs to be a real re-balancing of midfield options at either end of the M8. Glasgow have Tuipulotu, Jones, McDowall and Jordan all either capped or soon to be knocking on the door and Edinburgh have an unknown quantity just signed and then no-one else who’s really put their hand up. Surely that imbalance needs addressing rather than shuffling an aging Ali Price to Edinburgh when there’s already Vellacott, Shiel (& would have been Steele had he not had such a horrible time with injuries). Thompson’s move makes sense with the return of Hastings as back up/alternative to Healy definitely needed. 2 pro teams isn’t enough but it’s all we can afford so have to make sure there is a decent balance in all positions across the 2 of them, which would also allow new guys the chance of game time as part of squad rotation. Unless we ignore the national team & simply recruit from wherever we like to promote the clubs in the URC, turning them into a meaningless ragtag of international journeymen – don’t think that’s what anyone wants.

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