Castres v Edinburgh: big names return for Champions Cup clash

Boffelli, Gilchrist, Ritchie and Schoeman are among those to return to the ranks for the trip to France

Jamie Ritchie
Jamie Ritchie could make his Edinburgh return on Friday alongside new boy Ali Price. Image: © Craig Watson -

EDINBURGH welcome back Emiliano Boffelli and a number of their senior Scotland internationals for Sunday’s Champions Cup pool match against Castres. There are eight changes in all from the team that struggled to dispose of Zebre in last week’s URC match.

In addition to winger Boffelli, Henry Immelman also returns from injury to take his place in the back three. The other six changes are in the pack, where Pierre Schoeman, Luan de Bruin, Marshall Sykes, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie and Bill Mata all feature. Sykes, De Bruin and Mata all came off the bench to help the side to a 24-17 win over Zebre last Saturday, while the other three were rested along with WP Nel, who is named among the substitutes tomorrow.

Blair Kinghorn continues on the left wing, having played there last week because of the number of injuries in the back three. Charlie Savala keeps the No 10 jersey. Sam Skinner, who played at lock last week, moves to blindside to make way for Sykes and Gilchrist, while Jamie Hodgson drops to the bench.

“There’s often a different buzz around the club when European rugby returns and we’ve felt that in training this week,” head coach Mike Blair said. “There’s been a brilliant energy and guys are really excited to take on Castres in their own backyard.

“Castres are a quality outfit and their proud home record is well documented. I was lucky enough to play in the club’s win at Stade Pierre-Fabre back in 2008 alongside our head of strength & conditioning, Mark Robertson. It was a team performance filled with guts and determination – we’ll need that again from 1-23 this Sunday.

“We’ve spoken a lot this week around Edinburgh’s history and tradition in the Champions Cup – it’s a competition that we really enjoy playing in. I want our players to express themselves in France, while fronting up to the physical challenge of a Castres side who will be energised by their home support.”

Fourteen players are listed as unavailable for the trip: Luke Crosbie, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Wes Goosen, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, James Lang, Stuart McInally, Ben Muncaster, Harry Paterson, Pierce Phillips, Duhan van der Merwe, Hamish Watson and Angus Williams.

Castres (v Edinburgh at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, Sunday 1pm UK time): T Larregain; M Laveau, V Botitu, A Seguret, G Palis; B Urdapilleta, G Doubrere; Q Walcker, G Barlot, W Hounkpatin, L Nakarawa (captain), T Hannoyer, B Cope, J Raisuqe, T Ben-Nicholas. Substitutes: P Colonna, M Tierney, A Azar, R Pieterse, T Staniforth, K Kornath, S Arata Perrone, A Cocagi.

Edinburgh (v Castres): H Immelman; E Boffelli, M Bennett, C Hutchison, B Kinghorn; C Savala, C Shiel; P Schoeman, D Cherry, L de Bruin, M Sykes, G Gilchrist (captain), S Skinner, J Ritchie, V Mata. Substitutes: P Harrison, B Venter, W Nel, J Hodgson, N Haining, B Vellacott, C Scott, J Blain.

About Stuart Bathgate 1436 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. Would prefer Crosbie at 7 for the Culcutta Cup.Hopefully he’s just being rested this weekend rather than injured (not totally clear as he’s amongst the huge list of “unavailable” in the Edinburgh team announcement.0
    Be good to see him back next week against Saracens.

      • Maybe it’s because he’s not a 7?
        Remember when he played 7 against South Africa in 2021?
        Did well for about 30 minutes, won a couple of turnovers and then started coughing up penalties.
        If he is Captain and he does the same at Twickers then he will have even less chance of getting the refs ear when it comes to 50/50 decisions.

    • I think Richie is best suited to 7. I’ll explain. I like 2 serious ball carriers in the back row, and these days they all jackal (some better than others obviously). Richie is many things but a serious ball carrier isn’t one of them.
      He could play 6 if partnered with say Dempsey at 8 and Crosbie or M Fagerson at 7.
      Should Watson or Darge be available, one would probably take the 7 shirt, and we are left without enough carrying power in the back row (Richie would be at 6) – a problem made worse if Zander isn’t fit

      And he will be captain, that is not going to change now until after the RWC, so he needs to change his ways with refs; if he doesn’t then Toonie needs to not just change captain but Richie’s place is – should be – under threat

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